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danadi18

Symphony w/ three kids and in laws - oh my!

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Hi everyone!

Before I cruised, I scoured these boards for any and all info I could find on the Symphony so I decided to contribute and write my own for future cruisers. I took a million and one pics, but I haven't uploaded them yet.  I'll add them as soon as I do.  But for now, I just want to write my review as it's fresh in my head.

We were a group of 10 - My husband and I with our three daughters - ages 9, 7, and 5. My mother, father, aunt, uncle AND mother-in-law also joined us.  So we had a multigenerational group.

 

Embarkation - The husband and I have done 7 cruises together and several were out of Miami.  I have to say that this was THE FASTEST I have ever arrived at the port and walked onto the ship.  At 11 AM, we were dropped off at the front, walked into the doors, went up the escalator, showed our passports and flashed our set sail passes on the RCCL app and boom.  Done.  After putting our carry-on luggage through the machine to get scanned we were already walking into the Promenade.  It was so fast that I remember saying "That's it?  We're on already?"

 

 

TIME FOR OUR FIRST DRINK!  Yes people, I bought the drink package.  Highly recommend it if you're going to have more than a few drinks a day.  Think about it - mimosa in the morning, drinks of the day by the pool, wine at dinner, and chocolate martinis after dinner.  Totally worth it in my opinion. Specialty coffee is also included which I took advantage of as well.  The room service coffee is "meh" at best. We all got a glass of champagne at the Rising Tide Bar, raised our glasses and cheered to the amazing week we had ahead of us.  

 

The next to-do was to get the girls registered for the kids club.  We went on a Disney cruise last Spring Break and were super excited to see what this kids club was all about.  (More about Disney vs RCL kids club comparison later in this post) I was nervous though because RCL splits up the age groups and Disney does not.  I think the ages are 3-5 year olds, 6-8 and 9-11.  Just great.  I was worried all three girls would be split up and wouldn't want to go in on their own.  My girls are a gang and like to stick together!  As I signed them up I very politely asked if all of them could be placed into the 6-8 group and they said "no problem at all."  Victory is mine!  I read reviews on here regarding this very issue and have heard that it can go either way.  Some of the kids club counselors say yes and some say no.  This one obviously said yes and that was that.  The girls were super psyched. After celebrating our victory with another glass of champagne, we met up with the rest of our family and had to make the very tough choice of where to have our first meal.  

 

Suvery says...The Solarium Bistro!  I knew I didn't want to go to the Windjammer buffet because it was a mad house and I personally don't like being treated like herding cattle while I pick out my food.  The Solarium was a perfect choice because it was so quiet and also had a great variety of food.  We all got two tables together, ate some lunch and yes- had another drink. Before we knew it, it was already 1PM and the captain came on the loud speaker to tell us that our staterooms were ready.  So there we went.  We had two adjoining balconies on Deck 10 - staterooms 10-550 and 10-552.  Nice and spacious as far as cabins go. Also- super clean!  No stains on the carpets, the bed linens were white and bright it just overall felt clean to me.  Bonus- our bags were already waiting for us outside of our rooms.  I've been on cruises where we didn't receive our luggage until 4 even 5:00, so this was a treat.  We quickly unpacked, let the girls play in the cabin for a bit and then it was time for the muster drill.

 

Ughhh I dislike muster drills.  Yes they are necessary and important and blah blah blah, but they are always boring.  This one though wasn't bad at all.  Our muster station was in the Royal Theater and we just sat and watched a cutesy movie and DONE!  Easy peasy! AND air conditioned.  Ever bent a muster drill outside?  Yeah, that sucks.

 

TIP- If you are interested in doing activities such as laser tag, ice-skating, or even signing up for a show - HEAD TO THE ATTIC ON DECK 4 AFTER THE MUSTER DRILL. We were one of the first people in line and were able to sign up for two sessions of laser tag, add Flight, and also find the information for ice-skating.  If we hadn't done this, we would've had to wait in stand-by lines to do these activities which is never fun on a cruise when you could be doing other things!  

 

We then went up to Deck 15 for the Set-Sail party and got the drink of the day and said Bon Voyage to Miami!  


Since we  had the first dining time at 5:30 since we have little kids, so after we got all signed up for our activities, we decided to head back to the stateroom to get ready for dinner.  We had a beautiful table right next to a window in the Main Dining Room on Deck 3.  Our waiter and assistant waiter were cheery and fun and did well with our girlies.  The food was pretty good.  I had the escargot, caesar salad, chicken marsala and creme brûlée.  My husband got the prime rib and that was WAY BETTER in my opinion, so I ended up eating his.  Yum!

 

After dinner, we did some more exploring and the girls wanted to go to the kids club to check it out.  After looking up their names, they were all welcomed in, asked to take off their shoes and off they went.  I was totally a creeper mom and hid behind the door for a bit just to make sure they were settled before I left.  Yep, they seemed fine.  Now for the kids club comparison.  HANDS DOWN- Disney does this the best.  They practically have an entire deck dedicated to their club and there are many, many counselors walking around, playing with kids, and facilitating fun activities.  I'm talking about arts and crafts, decorating cupcakes, blowing up volcanoes, dance parties, video games, EVERYTHING.  Nope, RCCL doesn't hold a candle to this.  They were all in one big room and it seemed like a free for all in there.  Bunches and bunches of crazy kids and TWO counselors.  I was pretty sure they were violating some kind of kid-to-adult ratio here.  The girls still had fun though.  Some days more than others.

 

The hubby and I got a drink at On-Air, laughed at some karaoke, and headed to see our first show of the week - 1977.  

Tip for the shows- GET THERE AT LEAST 15 MINUTES EARLY.  Since there were only two of us, it wasn't too difficult to find seats together but if we had gotten there earlier, they wouldn't have been in the back! Oh well though, I was still super impressed with it.  Better than any other ice-skating show I've seen on a boat. My advice?  Don't miss it.  We watched it until the end, scooped up our exhausted children from the kids club, and took them back to our state room to get to bed.  The perk of having an adjoining room with your mother-in-law is that she babysits!  MIL goes to bed early so she stayed with the girls while we went back out for the balloon drop.

 

Let me tell you this-  having three girls this age is exhausting.  Most nights I'm in bed at 9:30 and up at 6.  I wasn't sure I was going to make it to the Balloon Drop at midnight.  But the excitement got to me and we partied until those balloons came down and were all popped.  I also have to note that the band was great!  They sang lots of fun songs and I danced like nobody was watching.  Although apparently my aunt was and recorded me. *Places hands over my red face in embarrassment.*  That's what the drink package will do to you. Definitely worth staying up late for.  What a great way to kick off our vacay!  

 

And that's it folks for Day 1!  I'll be back for Day 2!

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Thanks for doing a review for this. I have one on Symphony later in the year and love reading these reviews. 

 

 

Quick question Solarium Bistro for lunch. We are thinking of doing this as well to avoid the crowd of the windjammer but are traveling with a veterinarian. Did you happen to notice if there were any options for vegetarians there? Thanks 

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You're welcome!  And yes, there's a huge salad bar but as far as main entrees, I wasn't paying attention to vegetarian options.  I would assume being such a huge ship that caters to many people that there must be, right?!  LOL but you know what happens when you assume... 😆

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42 minutes ago, 37645 said:

Thanks for doing a review for this. I have one on Symphony later in the year and love reading these reviews. 

 

 

Quick question Solarium Bistro for lunch. We are thinking of doing this as well to avoid the crowd of the windjammer but are traveling with a veterinarian. Did you happen to notice if there were any options for vegetarians there? Thanks 

 

Are all veterinarians vegetarians? 😉 

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30 minutes ago, KelJ said:

 

Are all veterinarians vegetarians? 😉 

 

Haha, Autocorrect fail 😆

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Great review! Did you have expedited boarding since you checked in with the app? 

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11 hours ago, ryguy2008 said:

Great review! Did you have expedited boarding since you checked in with the app? 

Nope!  I checked in a couple of weeks before and they gave me a 12 PM boarding time but we went early anyway.  

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9 hours ago, SCruiseFam said:

Great review so far! I can’t wait to see pictures!

Thank you!  Now to figure out how to add them 🤔

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15 minutes ago, danadi18 said:

Nope!  I checked in a couple of weeks before and they gave me a 12 PM boarding time but we went early anyway.  

Good to know! I also have a 12 pm arrival time and was considering going early. 

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I am following along.  I am interested in what you did at each port?

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Day 2!

 

And just like I knew they would, my girls woke up around 6:30 AM ready to start their day. Hubby and I dragged ourselves out of bed only to see that we were docked in the Bahamas!  Huh?  How much did we drink last night?  Today was supposed to be a sea day!  We ordered room service coffee and some pastries for the girls to snack on so we could drink our coffee in peace and try to figure out why we weren't looking at the open ocean...

 

Soon after, the captain came on the loud speaker and informed everyone that we had to make an emergency stop this morning because a passenger on board needed emergency medical assistance and needed to be let off the boat.  He said it wouldn't affect the rest of our schedule and that we would be leaving as soon as possible.  At this time, we had no idea what happened and could only speculate.  As the week went on, I heard rumors from several people around the boat that a kid in the kids club had hit his head on the show rack badly and needed stitches or something else of the sort.  Remember how I told you that I thought the kid-to-adult ratio wasn't right?!  Yep.  This may have been a result of that.  They need more counselors in there.

 

Anywho - we weren't docked in the Bahamas for too long and like he said - it didn't affect the rest of our port days.  Plus we had to get to rock climbing for our oldest child at 9.  (Another activity we found out about when we went to The Attic after the muster drill).   We walked right up to rock climbing and my daughter climbed to the top and rang that victorious bell.

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After working up an appetite, we went to the Windjammer for breakfast.  Here are a couple of pics I took along the way.

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IMG_3089.thumb.jpg.0fa68babe50d95fb1c3cfed008260447.jpgWe got to the Windjammer, washed our hands, grabbed a mimosa and then I found the item that I ate every single day.  Avocado toast!  Nope, I'm not a millennial but I looooove all things avocado.  And every day they made it a little different.  One day it had a slice of prosciutto on top, another day it had tomatoes, mozzarella and balsamic vinegar, another day it had smoked salmon.  They had the rest of the breakfast culprits there.  Definitely enough to keep my girls fed and happy.  Later in the cruise I ate at Park Cafe for breakfast and wished we had eaten some more breakfasts there.  Park Cafe has amazing breakfast paninis.  A breakfast item I much prefer to greasy, thin bacon and undercooked breakfast potatoes.  As you can tell, I wasn't that impressed with the Windjammer breakfasts but they were good enough...

 

We left and decided to head to the pool.  There we ran into the rest of our crew and joined them.  We basically pool hopped and had some cocktails until it was time for our first Laser Tag session at 1 PM in Studio B.  Thank goodness we had reservations because we were able to walk right up and get ready to play.  There was a stand-by line that seemed to move very slow because obviously reservations take priority.  NOTE- You have to wear sneakers to play.  If you show up wearing flip-flips, they won't let you in. Laser Tag was FUN!  This was the first time my girls have ever played and they had the best time.  I was super impressed with the set-up they had too.  

 

Lunch time!  But where to go?  To the Park Cafe!  I read a review on here that he roast beef sandwich there is a MUST and let me tell you- it is.  They carve it right there and add au jus, horseradish, mustard or all three.  It is so tasty!  I also got a fresh greek salad which I loved so much and went back to get seconds.  It wasn't packed in there at all and the food was way better than in the Windjammer in my opinion. 

 

By the time we were done, we decided to go back to the room to give the girls some downtime before dinner at 5:30.  I brought coloring books, cards, and games for them to play which was imperative to keep them from bouncing off the walls in our room.  Although sometimes they literally did bounce off the walls. Didn't matter to us though.  We sat on the balcony, shut the door, had a drink and watched the waves.

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I cannot remember what we ate that night, I only remember what we did after dinner.  Hiro!  Woah, I think my jaw was on the floor for the whole show.  Have you ever seen O in Vegas?  This show reminded me of that.  So many amazing things going on at once and I didn't even know where to look.  They do crazy acrobatics on top of you, dive into that tiny little pool, and their dance moves are amazing.  If I had to pick only one show to see while on board, Hiro would win hands down.  It is a MUST SEE.  Make reservations as soon as you can.  We sat in the splash zone which the kids got a kick out of.  The dancers are right in your face and you get splashed often. 

 

My youngest fell asleep on my lap during the show, so we dragged them - yes dragged because they were so exhausted - back to our stateroom, got them tucked into bed, waved good night  to my MIL, and headed back out for some late night fun.  Like I mentioned, I usually go to bed early and I was surprised at how late I was able to stay up most nights.  We headed to the Wonderland Bar for a specialty cocktail.  It was EMPTY!  We had the bar to ourselves so we tried a couple of drinks on their menu.  I got a drink with some cotton candy in it and my husband got something with a bunch of smoke which he inhaled and started coughing.  The bartender laughed at him and said most people let the smoke disappear BEFORE taking a sip.  We all had a laugh, finished our drinks and headed down to the promenade. We heard lots of laughing coming from On-Air. Karaoke night again!  Some people really get into it and it can be hilarious. If you're really into karaoke, get there EARLY!  It's a small venue and there's never enough places to sit for everyone.  Most nights we ended up standing.  

 

Then we headed to the pub, listened to the singer in there (he's awesome), and had a beer and some late night pizza and garlic sauce from Sorrento's. I'm pretty sure that's where we ended our night.  We were exhausted but tomorrow is another sea day so we could sleep in a bit.

 

Next post will be Day 3!

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1 hour ago, phabric said:

I am following along.  I am interested in what you did at each port?

I'll get there!  Our itinerary was St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and Labadee.  I chose it because I prefer the at-sea days to the port days.  The only exclusion we did was in St. Maarten - Caribbean paddling.  Highly recommend it and I'll get into it in more detail when I write Day 4.

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1 hour ago, ryguy2008 said:

Good to know! I also have a 12 pm arrival time and was considering going early. 

Do it!!  You'll get right on and have an extra hour of exploring!

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15 hours ago, KelJ said:

 

Are all veterinarians vegetarians? 😉 

Too funny. I can sort of see it though.  You know, not wanting to eat anything that could be a patient.   LOL 
I was wondering at first though. What does a veterinarian have to do with a vegetarian?
 

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Following!

We just got off Anthem of the Seas, our first Royal Caribbean cruise after 7 on DCL. I was so disappointed with the kids club. My 8-year-old daughter tried it 3 times. Every time, they were just playing with balls and hula hoops. It was totally not her cup of tea. We are booked on Oasis of the Seas for 2021, so I hope there is more for her to do on that ship if the kids clubs are still not a good fit for her. (My 11 and 15-year-old sons loved Anthem though).

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27 minutes ago, MissDaisyofTexas said:

Following!

We just got off Anthem of the Seas, our first Royal Caribbean cruise after 7 on DCL. I was so disappointed with the kids club. My 8-year-old daughter tried it 3 times. Every time, they were just playing with balls and hula hoops. It was totally not her cup of tea. We are booked on Oasis of the Seas for 2021, so I hope there is more for her to do on that ship if the kids clubs are still not a good fit for her. (My 11 and 15-year-old sons loved Anthem though).

Totally agree. With all the amenities on the RCL ships, they should really amp up their kids club. After we got off, I asked my girls which they liked better - Disney vs Royal. It was a unanimous decision - DISNEY. And all because of the kids club. 

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Of course Disney would win😊 Its Disney for goodness sake. The problem with Disney is that you can take about 2 RCI cruises for one of theirs. They are a tad expensive! Enjoying your review and pictures.

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51 minutes ago, blueridgemama said:

Of course Disney would win😊 Its Disney for goodness sake. The problem with Disney is that you can take about 2 RCI cruises for one of theirs. They are a tad expensive! Enjoying your review and pictures.

Totally agree. This is the reason we did this cruise in the first place. Spending that much $$$ on a cruise when I can spend half is hard to justify. But you know the saying “you get what you pay for!”

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