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Symphony of the Seas Review

I've been cruising a lot over the last three years- I love a cruise vacation. Whether I like multiple destinations and only unpacking once, the magnificent ships, or being out on the high seas, I'm not sure, but I plan on continuing to cruise for years to come. I've been taking advantage of multiple complimentary cruise offers from Royal Caribbean's Club Royale gambling loyalty program over the last year, and was excited to redeem my annual free cruise certificate for the Symphony of the Seas. This would be my third “Oasis Class” ship, and the newest of the three. With many ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet, is the biggest truly better? I plan to explore that very question in this Symphony of the Seas review!

Symphony of the Seas Home Port & Itinerary

My cruise left from Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades, which is incredibly convenient to access from either Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) or Miami International Airport (MIA). It's about a 15-minute Uber from the airport to the ship, but if you're not flying in same-day, there are dozens of great pre-cruise hotel options, including the Hyatt Centric Las Olas Fort Lauderdale. Later this year, Symphony of the Seas will be sailing from Cape Liberty, New Jersey and PortMiami, other very convenient ports to access.

My six night itinerary would take my brother-in-law and me from Port Everglades to Labadee, Haiti, Falmouth, Jamaica, and Nassau, Bahamas. Labadee is Royal Caribbean's private destination in Haiti. Some questions arose mid-cruise on whether or not we'd be porting there, as the unrest in the country began after our cruise departed.

Symphony of the Seas: Ship Review

The Symphony of the Seas is a behemoth- 1,184 ft long, 228,081 gross tonnes, and built for over $1 Billion in 2018. In fact, she's currently the third-largest ship at sea, beaten out by her sister ship Wonder of the Seas and the Icon of the Seas. There are 18 decks on board.

Symphony of the Seas Review
Symphony of the Seas Review: Mini Golf

Symphony of the Seas Review: Activities

The Oasis-class ships have some of the best activities for guests at sea. You'll find ziplining, rock climbing, Flowrider boogie boarding, mini golf, ice skating, and three waterslides available complimentary, among other free activities. There's a daily slate of things to do like trivia, bingo, game shows, and belly flop contests to keep you constantly entertained.

Symphony of the Seas Review
Shows & Performances

Where I think the Symphony of the Seas shines in this review is in its scheduled shows. The Oasis-class ships all have the Aquatheater on Deck 6's Boardwalk. Here you'll find the diving show, which is called Hiro. This is one of the most unique things offered by any cruise ship, and shouldn't be missed! In addition to Hiro, Symphony of the Seas has two ice skating shows, 1977 and iSkate 2.0 (I'm not kidding, that's the name). These shows are always fun because the athletes skating are so talented. The rink does open up at times during your cruise to skate yourself, so check the app for reservations.

The full Broadway production of Hairspray is also on board, and this is in addition to a fully original show Flight that's also hosted in the Royal Theater. Flight features an amazing finale where a full-sized bi-plane flies over the audience. Finally, the ship also has comedians that do shows in The Attic. Contrary to the name, it is confusingly located on Deck 4, one of the lowest decks.

A tip: most of the production shows can be pre-booked before your cruise, and do require reservations. I recommend linking your reservation to the app and checking around 60 days before your cruise to make sure you don't miss a show!

Symphony of the Seas Review: Wonderland Restaurant

Symphony of the Seas Dining

Another area that Symphony of the Seas gets high marks for this review is dining. Cruising is an all-inclusive fare- there's no obligation to buy any food once you step on board. Though, to be fair, there are many upcharge options.

The main dining room on Symphony of the Seas stretches over three decks, and is open for breakfast and dinner every day. It is sometimes available for lunch on sea days as well. Royal Caribbean recently streamlined their menus, and I'm not the biggest fan of the change. Because of that I've been electing to pay for the “Unlimited Dining” option on my recent cruises. For about $150, I received specialty dining reservations each evening of my cruise, as well as lunch on embarkation day and sea days. Furthermore, there's a $20 credit I could use each day at the Playmakers Sports Bar, which had an a la carte menu of burgers, wings, and other bar food.

There are other complimentary options available on board, including the Windjammer buffet, El Loco Fresh taco bar, Cafe Promenade, and Sorrento's, the ship's pizza place. Specialty dining options included Chops Steakhouse, 150 Central Park (my favorite), Wonderland, Jamie's Italian, Hooked Seafood, and Izumi Hibachi and Sushi.

Symphony of the Seas Review: in port in Nassau, Bahamas


While it doesn't play a role in my Symphony of the Seas Review, I'll come out and say that I wish that Royal Caribbean itineraries were more exciting, especially on their larger ships. Many itineraries have too many sea days, aimed to generate more revenue for Royal Caribbean. This itinerary wasn't awful, as it included Labadee.

Labadee, Haiti

The port, while a private destination in Haiti, is pretty unique given its location and is beautiful. It's a great beach day, but there are several activities you can choose from that I can recommend. We opted to book an off-island excursion on a speedboat to a snorkel stop ($40 per person). It was a quick 3 hour trip, but it was great to meet our local guides and to experience some pretty decent reefs away from the manufactured private destination. Once back on shore, we checked out the included buffet as well as the beach at Columbus Cove. Then, we took a spin on the Dragon's Tail mountain coaster, which takes you up a lift hill in your own roller coaster car, complete with hand brake. You then can go speeding back down the mountain towards the beach. For $12 pre-cruise, it's a great deal.

Falmouth, Jamaica

In Falmouth, Jamaica, we took an excursion to Dunn's River Falls and some river tubing. The location of the port of Falmouth is frustrating, given there are two other ports in Jamaica that are much closer to the activities everyone wants to do. The port of Ochos Rios is a short drive from Dunn's River Falls, instead of the 1.5 hour drive we experienced (with traffic). While the river tubing and Dunn's River Falls were fun activities, the required stop at a touristy jewelry shop was not, and a big reason why I won't book ship excursions. Often, I like to find local guides from Viator wherever possible- it's also typically cheaper.

Nassau, Bahamas

Finally, we visited Nassau, Bahamas. Nassau is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, and consequently is one of my least favorites. There are several options for excursions, including a day pass to the Aquaventure water park at Atlantis, but that's over $200 per person! There's also “free” activities like visting the Atlantis or Baha Mar casinos, but we all know that can get out of hand quickly. We opted for the free John Waitlings rum distillery tour, which is a 20 to 30 minute walk from the ship. It's located in a beautiful old mansion from the 1700s, and they'll take you through the distillery as well as give you a few samples of their rums. Our tour guide was great, and the bar after the tour had reasonably priced drinks for the Bahamas, at least.

A tip: If you want to go to the Atlantis water park, without paying $200 a person, then check the Comfort Suites for a points room. Guests there get access to the Atlantis pools and the hotel can be booked affordably with Choice Hotel points. This is a way to get access without forking over any cash.

Symphony of the Seas Review: Spacious Ocean View Cabin

Cabin Review

We chose a Spacious Ocean View cabin for this trip, and were happy to have a forward facing view. It felt at times like we were on the bridge, and had an oversized window as well. The room was a bit larger than a normal cruise cabin, and fit the two of us nicely. The bathroom was a standard cruise ship bathroom, complete with shower, (loud) toilet, and sink with plenty of storage for our toiletries. The bedroom has two twin beds that push together to form a “Royal King” if there's a couple sharing the cabin. There's also a small couch and television with some satellite channels and on-demand movies.

Cabin selection factors into my Symphony of the Seas review because she is so large. Selecting a cabin in a middle deck or one that's too forward or aft on the ship may cause long walks to the activities, food, and fun. For us, we didn't mind the long walks, but we definitely would double check that we had everything we needed before departing our cabins each morning.

Symphony of the Seas Review: ToP Thoughts

Overall, the Symphony of the Seas cruise was an excellent one, enhanced greatly by the ship itself and her crew. Royal Caribbean's service is top-notch, especially considering how many passengers are on board. While the activities, entertainment, dining, and destinations are always fun on a cruise, the crew can make or break a passenger's experience, which is why I continue to recommend Royal Caribbean to many first time cruisers.


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