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18 months in the making! Symphony of the Seas 7 Night Eastern Caribbean Review!


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I've used many reviews here on cruise critic to not only gather as much information as possible but also to pass the time and build up excitement in the weeks leading to upcoming cruises. I've seen so many great reviews that I figured I would take a shot at it. As with any review, there are so many variables that can change someone's experiences for the better or worse. I'll try to highlight my experiences and opinions of the current largest ship at sea!

 

Before I begin, let me give you a bit of background! DW (Nichole) and I have been really fortunate to have completed 9 cruises! We both work hard but love to vacation and try to do it as much as we can! (Always have to have something to look forward to!) Our vacation tastes range from numerous Vegas and Disney trips (both world and land) and multiple cruises. People frequently comment on the fact that we travel to repeat destinations or same style vacations but I guess when you know what you like, you just keep going back for more. I can imagine that I'm amongst like minded individuals here!

 

In 2014, we decided that we were going to give cruising a try. We had always been interested in trying it out and seeing all the new entertainment and offerings of modern ships continued to build our interest. Not knowing if we would enjoy it and both of us being worried that Nichole may have some some sea sickness issues, we chose a 4 day cruise. Not only did we love it, but 4 days was not long enough and we found ourselves booking another cruise. The rest is history and as I've mentioned, we've been fortunate enough to complete 9 cruises across 3 cruise lines. We've landed on Royal Caribbean for our last 4 and currently really enjoy RCI and their fleet of ships.

 

Thanks for reading along so far. Now for the part you've all come here to read and see! Without further ado, let's get started on the review of Royal Caribbeans beautiful and newest oasis class ship, Symphony of the Seas.

 

This cruise was 18 months in the making. After our first Royal Caribbean cruise on the Allure of the Seas. We decided that we enjoyed the cruise enough to return to RCI again and visited the next cruise desk while onboard the Allure. We chose the Symphony knowing she would be the biggest and newest when our time came to cruise! 18 months seemed like a long time, heck the ship wasn’t even done being built yet!

 

Sailing: 7 Night Eastern Caribbean April 27th 2018

Players: Myself and my most excellent traveling partner my wife Nichole. (Our daughter Lilly was also along for the ride down to FL but stayed with grandma and grandpa for the week)

Ports: St Kitts & Nevis, St. Thomas, Nassau

 

 

 

Day 0:

 

Pre cruise day

 

The excitement had been building and we were really excited to get down to FL and begin our vacation! After all we waited 18 months to get our hands on Symphony. We were scheduled on a 11:00 flight out of Boston and Flying into West Palm Beach. We’d be flying down to PBI and our daughter Lilly would be staying for a whole week with grandma and grandpa.  My in-laws were ecstatic to be seeing Lilly and getting her all to themselves for a week!

 

The flight was uneventful. Typical deal. Shuttle to airport, security (if you travel often and don’t have TSA pre-check, you must get it), no issues at the airport or with the flight. Arrived in West Palm on time and it was a beautiful 83 degrees! Since we had left 45 and rain, I’d say this was quite an improvement.

 

MIL picked us up at the airport and we were on our way. We’d be staying with them the night and heading to the port in the morning.  On our way to the house we stopped at Lucky’s Market.  I figured for all their help, the least I could do was to cook dinner. The specific Lucky’s we were at was Coral Springs but I believe that there are a few of them throughout the Southern FL area. We make it a habit to visit this place every time we visit the in-laws. Lucky’s is amazing. Think, Whole Foods but much better and they have a bunch of beers on tap to allow you to sip and shop. We’re not huge beer drinkers but we both got a decent cider and got some shopping done! Ahh, vacation is officially starting.

 

Shopping complete, we headed to the house and Lilly got her first taste of the grandmas swimming pool! The little girl will absolutely be a fish and one of those kids that you will need to drag out of the water!

 

After the pool, we got Lilly off to bed, had some dinner, enjoyed the beautiful 75 degree evening and got some rest ourselves. Tomorrow was the big day that we've waited a year and a half for!

 

 

 

Edited by danp2482
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1 hour ago, phabric said:

Will be following along.  I was on the Symphony in January with the same ports.

Thanks for following! The ship was awesome! Our ports and weather were great too! I will do my best to keep it entertaining!

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Day 1:

 

Embarkation Day!!

 

Sleep was tough the night before! I was really excited to be heading onto Symphony and back to the Eastern Caribbean. Our last attempt at Eastern was adjusted multiple times due to the massive hurricanes that struck there a few years ago.  I did manage to get some sleep though and man I didn’t know how much I would need the rest!

 

We awoke in the morning pumped that it was embarkation day but sad knowing we would miss our Lilly during the week.  We knew she was going to be in great hands with grandma though.  We caught a quick workout (knowing I would definitely need it for the weeks plans ahead) and then got our stuff together and headed to the port.

 

MIL was taking us down to the port from the Fort Lauderdale area and we calculated a 60 minute ride for a Saturday morning.  We had a 12:30 arrival time but we’ve never noticed any issues arriving earlier than the assigned time.  We planned to get to the ship at 11:00 right as boarding started so we could get on the ship as early as possible and start enjoying all the wonderful things she had to offer. Our sailing was leaving from Royal’s new terminal A in Miami and it is a really nice facility.  We barely were able to see it on our February Mariner cruise because door to ship time was around 12-15 minutes.  Things are so streamlined that we were able to get bags dropped, through security and on to the ship in 15 minutes!! We were hoping for the same experience for our Symphony cruise but unfortunately, it wasn’t the same this time!

 

We had joined some pre-cruise social media pages specific to our sailing and many of the other cruisers on those pages were either already at the port or in the MIA area while we made our way down from Fort Lauderdale.  While making our way down, I started seeing posts from others about massive lines and computers at the terminal being down.  I guess us being 15-20 minutes late wasn’t going to matter in the least.

 

We made it to Miami (just over 60 mins. Not bad!) and just before we entered the tunnel for the port, we caught a glimpse at all of the massive ships lined up to give everyone a great vacation! I may have let out a “Yay!” What can I say, I was a bit excited. When we arrived around 11:20, no boarding had begun yet.  There was a long line already forming at the door, there were rope lines in place to keep order and the switchback was 4 or 5 if I recall. 

 

RCI staff was saying that a computer glitch had crashed the system and that the computers were all down.  The staff was saying that an issue like this had never happened before and that IT was working the problem but the time to fix it was unknown.  There was also some chatter that if they couldn’t get them back online, they would have to manually check everyone in and that would take a really long time.  We dropped our bags, took a breath and joined the long line of others who all wanted to get on this massive beauty. The RCI staff was doing an amazing job and people were actually all being very patient and dealing with it.  There was no one pushing, cutting or even really complaining about the crowds or delay. People were just excited to get onboard and start their vacation and the fact that there was no negative vibe was awesome!

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Day 1 Continued:

 

We could see the line starting to move and after about 40 minutes we started to move as well.  I will say, Royal handled the situation very well! Things happen and it can’t be easy trying to keep thousands of passengers/customers happy when something like this happens.  Royal kept everyone informed, staff kept smiling, water was handed out to all those waiting and they even send text and email notifications asking others to delay their arrival until the situation was rectified.

 

We had finally reached the front of the line and entered into the terminal!

 

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As I mentioned, the terminal is a nice facility and really starts of the vacation the right way. I also mentioned, the embarkation process is so streamlined that you can barely stop to look around never mind take pictures! Even with the computer mess, we were now moving right along but I did manage to snap a few pictures.

 

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The famous golden propellers and obviously the SOS behind them! The massive glass windows really do allow for a big reveal when you walk into the terminal and see your home away from home. I think I heard these propellers weigh over 14,000 pounds and they rotate and spin!

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Before I knew it, we had passports scanned, ID photos taken and were past security! Only a few more steps and we’d be stepping onto the biggest cruise ship in the world!

 

We approached the podium, had our sea passes scanned and we were onboard!

 

First impression: The oasis class ships are really something. There is a ton of wow factor when you step into the promenade for your cruise. When you board a new ship, that is in the same class as a ship that you’ve already been on, you have to expect similarities. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it but you’ll also notice that as technology evolves that will be worked into the new ship too! Having been on Allure, Symphony had a similar feel but I was still wowed when I walked on.

 

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We have started a tradition that one of our first orders of business on a cruise is very similar to a lot of other people and that is to get our first drink! The twist that we add is that our first drink is always a shot.  As we entered the ship right near Boleros, we headed in and ordered. We chose to ask for a melon ball shot this cruise. I know its a bit tame but there is a reason for it. Our first shot we ordered when getting on the Mariner was a lemon drop. When the shot arrived it was legit a pool wine glass with the equivalent of 3 lemon drop shots in it. We opted to go with something a bit tamer this time, incase the same thing happened. The bar tender took our order and instead of shots, we got full melon ball drinks.  Something must have gotten lost in translation but we were fine with it and they were quite tasty actually. In fact as we walked through the promenade a few people asked what it was and where to get it.

 

We decided that if we were going to keep drinking, we'd need to get some lunch. So many different options on this ship, even on embarkation day. After hearing tons of good things about it, we chose El Loco fresh on deck 15.  It would be the first of a few meals there for the week.  

 

Due to the confusion in Boleros we were still on the hook for our shot so we stopped in Central Park and Visited the trellis bar before we headed up to El Loco Fresh.  This time we kept it simple. I asked for a mandarin vodka and orange juice shot.  I figured that one would be easy. Figuring it would be mixed together, shaken and shot sized. Instead, two shot glasses came out, filled with mandarin vodka and a splash (barely changed the color of the vodka) of orange juice. I don't want this to sound like a complaint because it certainly wasn't. In fact, I thought it was hilarious! Down the hatch! I was starting to draw a conclusion that not many shots are ordered on the ship.  From what I was seeing later in the week, I think it is more venue and bartender dependent!

 

Here is a view of Trellis from our stateroom. Really nice open air bar in the park!

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We headed up to El Loco Fresh!

 

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Following along.  We were on Symphony in March and loved it and also booked it way in advance (and have been on Allure too).  And totally get the 'repeat vacation thing. We've recently gotten cruise addicted and our family will ask 'another cruise?' when we book.

Looking forward to hearing more.

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16 minutes ago, LuCruise said:

Following along.  We were on Symphony in March and loved it and also booked it way in advance (and have been on Allure too).  And totally get the 'repeat vacation thing. We've recently gotten cruise addicted and our family will ask 'another cruise?' when we book.

Looking forward to hearing more.

I knew I recognized your SN! I read your review as well! I loved it and it was great to pass the time leading up to our cruise! We get that same thing! 'Another cruise? Aren't you tired of that yet?' Nope! Looks like we have some similar upcoming ships too! We booked Adventure while on Symphony. We're a bit apprehensive about it though because there isn't much online about her and even though she is the same size as Navigator and Mariner, she won't be amped when we sail. Thanks for following!

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Day 1 Continued:

 

El Loco fresh! The hype was definitely true!

 

I was a bit concerned heading up to deck 15. I’ve read a bunch of reviews that included El Loco fresh and they all have been rave reviews. I wasn’t worried about the food but I was worried word would be out and this hidden gem would be mobbed when we got there.  Fortunately, my worries were unfounded. Don’t get me wrong but it wasn’t slammed. Quesadillas, chicken or beef burritos, do it yourself chicken, beef or pork soft tacos with all types of toppings from pico to cilantro lime sour cream. Then even had tortilla chips to make nachos or beds of lettuce to make taco salad. All of the food was really good and as I mentioned they’d be a few more lunches or snacks consumed here throughout the week.  Another thing to note is there is a Freestyle machine at ELF for those that have cups from the drink package.

 

We finished lunch and due to the late boarding because of the computer issues, our stateroom was ready! We’re usually done with lunch before this happens and trying to kill 30-45 minutes but not this time. We headed to the room.

 

We had stateroom 11609. A midship, central park balcony.  Unless you’ve never cruised before, you know what type of cruiser you are. We know that we spend very little time in our stateroom. Since we don’t take advantage of it, the cost benefit of an ocean balcony just doesn’t seem worth it.  At this point in our cruising, we usually get an interior stateroom. For us, there are plenty of places on deck to go and see the ocean. Although, that may change at some point. We do prefer a mid or higher deck and more midship though. Even though there are interiors on Symphony, we wanted to be more midship so we ended up with a central park balcony.

 

As we made our way down the hall to the room, Nichole and I both looked at each other and said, Vegas! The halls and decor on the ship have a very contemporary feel to them. It reminded us a lot of the modern resorts in Vegas.

 

The room was nice. The stateroom doors have RFID tap locks as opposed to key slide locks. (This will come into play later) The lighting is controlled by having your sea pass card in the slot on the wall (standard now on new ships) The bathroom was a standard stateroom bathroom but modern, the bed was closer to the bathroom as opposed to the slider. There was a couch and small fridge. We noticed tons of storage for our clothes. There were closets on either side of the bed as opposed to one large closet. One closet had floor to top space for long dresses and the other had shelving making it better for shorter dress or shirts and pants. There was also a safe in the closet with the shelves. The safe is small. It took some maneuvering to get my standard sized iPad in there. It needed to lay on the bottom or the door wouldn’t shut. Don’t think we could put another device in there. We were able to fit one ipad, our wallets, passports, some cash and some jewelry in the safe and that pretty much maxed it out.

 

There were outlets over the night stand on each side of the bed as well as USB outlets with the outlets by the makeup mirror. We did have a few issues with our USB outlets intermittently working so by day 5 I think we both had abandoned them for regular plugs. The bed...the bed was hard, like really hard. Obviously not an issue if you like hard beds but if you're like us and like soft beds, it may bother you. I had heard the beds were a bit uncomfortable on SOS and expected an uncomfortable bed. We did ask for a mattress topper and our awesome stateroom attendant was happy to help but it it didn't help too much. In fact Nichole continued to joke about sleeping on the couch because it was way better than the bed.

 

The balcony was decent sized with a full height table and 2 chairs. The chairs do lay completely flat but our central park balcony lacked the foot rest. Not sure if the ocean view balconies had the foot rest to make lounging easier.

 

View from 11609

 

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I forgot to mention! When we made it to our room at 1:15pm, our bags were already there! We took the time to unpack and then headed back out for more exploring!

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Day 1 Continued:

 

We had a few things to address on the ship before muster drill at 3:45. The first, was sign up for the Caymus wine tasting at vintages. We had Caymus wines when we did Chefs table on the Allure and loved them. When we saw this on the Royal app we knew we wanted to do that. (I’ll make sure to review in detail when I come to it because it was a great experience) We were able to get that out of the way when we were headed to Trellis bar earlier so that was taken care of.

 

Speaking of the Royal app, I’m not sure if its true for every cruise but as they finalized things leading up to the cruise, it continued to change. Parties and shows were on different nights or at different times than originally listed which meant we had to change some of our my time reservations or adjust which showtimes to go to. It also messed with Nichole’s outfit planning a bit. Not that she is that particular but she had a specific outfit planned for the RED nightclub night and that ended up getting moved just before sailing.

 

Knowing a lot of the things on was awesome because not only did it create excitement when planning what to do but it also let you plan out your day ahead of time if that’s your thing. Since we travel to Disney a lot. It’s almost natural for us to do it. Can’t say we really stuck to it for the daytime activities but at least we knew we had options.

 

Since there were changes to the schedule, we had to move some reservations around. Before we even made it to any place that we could change things, Nichole had everything changed in the app on her phone. Very useful and score! Now even more time to explore before muster drill!

 

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Snapped a picture of the kids pool because we already have big plans for Lilly when she's old enough! There was a smaller kids pool just on the other side of this with smaller slides and plash pads.

 

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We continued our walking tour and made it back to Boleros where we took a seat and had one of their amazing Coconut Mojitos. It's one of their signature drinks. We love them so much that we make them at home and every time someone new tries it, they fall in love with them too!

 

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The ship was starting to come alive with more and more of our fellow passengers joining us on board. Bars were getting busier with laughter and excitement filling the air. Muster was coming up soon but we headed back out to the Boardwalk to check out playmakers. I ended up getting a goalpost margarita there for last call. What the heck...vacation right?! Muster was starting and we headed to studio B for the muster drill.

 

Edited by danp2482
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Day 1 Continued:

 

Our muster station was Studio B. From previous cruise experience, people haven’t been allowed to bring beverages into the muster drill. On the way to muster, I was trying to finish my drink but as I arrived at muster, they scanned our cards and in we went. I wish I hadn’t been trying so hard to finish it! Not sure if this is everyones experience though because I overheard others saying that they were not allowed to bring theirs in but I didn’t hide it or anything and fully expected to part ways with it.

 

The muster drill is different on Oasis class ships! It’s a video based safety video set to the theme of a spy thriller. Nice modern idea in an attempt to keep everyone interested. It is also showing in your stateroom when you arrive and since it was playing in our room when unpacked and kept repeating, I probably could’ve acted it out or at least recited it! After the video and life vest demonstration, Captain Rob welcomed us aboard and dismissed us for sail away.

 

As you know by now, we’ve cruised before and we’ve gone to the big sail away party every single time. This time, we talked about doing something different. Since the sail away party can be a bit busy we grabbed a drink and headed for the solarium. At first the intention was to just watch sail away from inside the solarium but the ‘King of the world’ wings weren’t that busy so we stepped out there for sail away. World off, cruise on!

 

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An awesome sight seeing all these ships leave at once! Carnival has the lead, Equinox and them SOS!

 

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Selfie!

 

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Goodbye Miami! See you in a week!

 

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Day 1 continued:

 

Sail away was finished and we headed back to the room to get ready for the evening.  We have a blast when cruising and we use the nights as an excuse to get dressed up (resort casual, except on formals in which we do participate) and do dinner, drinks, shows etc…) We basically treat each night like a different date night! We know Lilly will change our Cruise experience but for now, we have a blast this way!

 

We finished getting ready and we headed down to the promenade to grab a pre dinner drink at schooner. As we sat, we decided to do the Windjammer for dinner. Not sure what prompted that decision. We’ve never had dinner in windjammer but we talked about it after our Mariner cruise. The idea of casually getting dinner and not making a big production of it like in the MDR. We like the MDR we just thought maybe one night this cruise, we’d try windjammer. So we headed to the WJ for dinner.

 

When we arrived we found the big cake! We’ve heard about the two giant cakes they make but we’ve always seemed to miss them, every single cruise with Royal so far. Well not this cruise I guess!

 

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I have to be honest. I didn't love the WJ on Symphony. The food was good and they had a lot of offerings but I feel the flow really throws you off.  The way the WJ is laid out really causes a lot of congestion, people cutting people off and confusion. It's bad enough that one of the comics joked about it during his routine! The layouts for the WJ on Freedom class and Voyager class ships are much better. Also on Freedom and Voyager class, both sides of the WJ are joined by a bar. A layout which I think was driving our decision to try WJ for dinner. We expected to get an adult beverage to have with dinner but other than a small pop up bar serving a small selection of beer and wine, there wasn't any other option except lemonade, water and obviously the freestyle machines which there are 4 of. We finished dinner and headed back down to the promenade. We had reservations for Hairspray at 8:30.

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Day 1 continued:

 

We got seated for Hairspray. We arrived at 8:15 or so. Still plenty of seating available. It wasn’t prime seating but still plenty of decent seats. Hairspray was absolutely awesome! I loved it. I have never seen the movie but I was able to follow it without any problem and it was a great story. The cast for this sailing was extremely talented as well!

 

We finished up in the theatre and headed back out to the promenade. We were doing our best to make it to the balloon drop! We were certainly fading though! We headed over to schooner bar to grab a drink and listen to the party band get the crowd going for the balloon drop!

 

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Drinks at the Schooner!

 

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The party band was pretty good! Great mix of music and they were even live mixing from one song to another which was impressive! Midnight was close so we made our way down to the promenade for the drop!

 

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The crowd was excited for the drop. The concept of this is kind of cool! The excitement is almost like New Years eve! Mike our cruise director who was a riot and impressive throughout the trip counted the crowd down and the balloons fell! Although it wasn't a new year ahead but a week full of fun and great experiences!

 

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It had been a long day and we headed back to the room to get some rest! First sea day was coming up! Stay tuned!

Edited by danp2482
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Nice review.  We will be on her in couple of weeks.

 

Interesting about the outlets on both sides of the bed.  On the Harmony there was one on only one side of the bed.  Can't remember about Oasis and Allure as they were pre CPAP cruises

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