The Symphony of the Seas at sea
Harmony previously held the title of world’s largest cruise ship, with her 5,497-passenger capacity, but has been knocked off the pedestal by Symphony’s additional 21 passengers.
“This ship is the perfect blend of our greatest hits we know guests love and a line-up of vibrant new restaurants, activities and unparalleled entertainment – all purposefully designed around vacationers’ preferences,” said RCI’s president and CEO Michael Bayley at the shipyard exchange ceremony before Symphony’s inaugural season sailing the Mediterranean.
New for Symphony of the Seas is the Ultimate Family Suite, a two-level stateroom that has a slide from one deck down to the other and a private cinema with an 85ft HD screen, a floor-to-ceiling Lego wall and 212sq-ft balcony with a full-size whirlpool and table tennis.
Like other top RCI suites, the Ultimate Family Suite can call on a Royal Genie to grant butler-style service to the eight-guest accommodation, which also includes a living room.
Other suites and staterooms will be largely the same as the previous Oasis Class ships, with seaview balcony cabins but also balcony cabins overlooking the Boardwalk – with traditional carousel and views of the AquaTheatre – and more overlooking Central Park – the garden in the middle of the ship with real trees and flowering shrubs.
Inside staterooms have RCI’s innovative Virtual Balconies, a floor-to-ceiling LCD screen that can stream real-time footage from outside.
Among the 20-plus speciality and complimentary restaurants onboard Symphony is the brand new Hooked Seafood, a New England-style seafood restaurant and oyster bar next to the Solarium with uninterrupted sea views at lunch and dinner time.
Also new is El Loco Fresh, serving made-to-order Mexican food such as tacos and burritos in an open-air setting near the Sports Zone.
There are also new menus at established favourites such as 150 Central Park, which serves steaks and other American food.
Jamie’s Italian will also have a new design and menu, as will the off-the-wall Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, Park Café, Izumi Hibachi and Sushi.
El Loco Fresh Cafe serves Mexican food
Symphony’s ice rink will stage a new high-tech skating show called 1977, based in London around the Queen’s Jubilee and a story about the Crown Jewels being stolen, while a new acrobatic aqua show called HiRo has been developed for the open-air AquaTheatre at the back of the ship.
The excellent RCI version of the hit musical Hairspray will be staged at the Royal Theatre, as well as Flight – the RCI’s homage to air pioneers the Wright Brothers that takes you on a 3-D flying journey.
Studio B will be transformed into the world’s largest laser tag arena for a time-travel adventure around the fate of the last planet in the galaxy called Battle For Planet Z.
And there’s also Puzzle Break: Escape The Rubicon, another first for Symphony, where teams work together against the clock to escape from a submarine-themed room before time runs out.
Playmakers sports bar and arcade
Elsewhere the seven “neighbourhoods” that distinguish Oasis Class from other RCI ships sees a new candy and ice-cream shop – Sugar Beach – on the Boardwalk beside the Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade.
The Entertainment Place is the night club district, with the largest casino at sea, comedy club The Attic and live jazz and blues venue Jazz On 4.
The Pool and Sports Zone not only has its own version of The Ultimate Abyss – a slide from the top of the ship down to the Boardwalk – but there’s also The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, two FlowRider surf simulators, a zip line that’s nine decks high and the beach pool.
As you would expect there’s a massive Fitness Centre, extensive treatments from the Vitality At Sea Spa and bars including the popular Bionic Bar – where you’re served by robots – and Rising Tide Bar – that moves up and down between several decks.
Family fun is also central to Symphony and the complimentary Adventure Ocean youth programme has age-appropriate clubs for children from three to 17 as well as facilities for parents to amuse babies from six to 18 months – Royal Babies – and 18 to 36 months – Royal Tots.
Candy and ice cream shop Sugar Beach
Symphony of the Seas will spend summer 2018 in the Western Mediterranean, typically on seven-day itineraries around Spain, the south of France and Italy.
In November she will cross the United States to be based in Florida’s new state-of-the-art Miami Terminal A for cruises to the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas.
A seven-night Western Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona in Spain calling at Palma in Majorca, Marseille in France, La Spezia on the Italian Riviera for excursions to Pisa and Florence, and Civitavecchia for excursions to Rome, then Capri for visits to Sorrento, Pompeii or Naples before returning to Barcelona costs from £899pp, two sharing, departing September 30 2018, cruise only.
For details go to royalcaribbean.co.uk