We were asked by a group of friends, 8 in total, to join them on this cruise. We had cruised before with 6 others before on 3 other cruises and had a great time. This was our first time on a Oasis type ship and The Symphony is a thing of ... Read More
We were asked by a group of friends, 8 in total, to join them on this cruise. We had cruised before with 6 others before on 3 other cruises and had a great time. This was our first time on a Oasis type ship and The Symphony is a thing of beauty . We are Diamond Plus so we have seen a few ships and love that feeling you get when you first get on if you get that WOW feeling. The Symphony "almost" gave us that feeling, I guess the similarity to some of the other ships, only bigger came to mind.
Let me start with the POSITIVES:
Embarkation: What a breeze! We got to the curbside around 11:00 am, bags to the porter in about 2 minutes and off to the races getting on. We went up some escalators and saw people directing us to people with iPads, we handed Sea Pass information, took some pictures, and BOOM, we are on the ship at 11:20. So it's time to go meet this new lady.
Entertainment: I would say that this was the highlight of the week. We went to all of the shows. Hiro was excellent, Flight was also excellent, 1977 (Ice Show) was also fabulous, and Hairspray was good (my least favorite but the actors really tried). I believe that Royal has upgraded their entertainment considerably in musical, dance, and talent in general over the years. On the same note, the singer in the Schooner Bar was fantastic, there was a strolling piano player that was great, also a classical guitar player from Cuba that also was wonderful....she also played in the English Pub.
Specialty Dining: We bought a 3 night package so had the opportunity to eat at Hooked which was delightful, 150 Central Park which was our highlight of the trip, and Jamie's which was our least favorite. We also had My Time Dining - This began as a real problem since 2 couples were on reservations from a TA and 2 couples were on reservations from Royal. We were unable to reserve a table for 8 online because of Royal's "rules" so we could only link the reservations and get 2 reservations at the same time and wait until we got onboard to fix the problem. Thanks to the Head Waiter and the Maître D', we got this fixed and had a great time at the same table each evening....average food but a good time.
Solarium Bistro: We found this restaurant to be our absolute go-to place for breakfast, lunch and even evening dinner once. Most times it was quiet, great views off the bow of the ship and even though is was a buffet, the food seemed to be a step up from the Windjammer.
Windjammer: I may be unfair here since we were only in the Windjammer twice but both times it was very crowded, the food was picked over and seemed only warm at best and not really appealing. Several food stations but several seemed to overlap with the same things. The only really good thing were the French Fries.
Cabin: We were in a Jr. Suite on Deck 12. We normally book at least a Jr. Suite or better but since our sailing mates were in a balcony on Deck 12 we tried to stay close. The size was OK, closet OK, but where there used to be drawers - only shelves (like next to the bed). Safe was small, so we had to cram our valuables inside. We were on the bump so the balcony was nice but our bathroom was a challenge. We had a tub with a shower that only had a glass enclosure that partially enclosed the tub so you had to crowd up to the showerhead to shower so water did not get all over the floor. Door to the cabin was the hardest thing to open I have ever seen. I had to give it the old shoulder bump every time.
Bars: While there are bars everywhere, it just seemed that they were understaffed most times of the day. At some times, there may be 15-20 people being served by 1 bar staffer and yes they tried to do their best but times were slow. We had a drink package so maybe this is an effort to control the use of the package.....just saying. Just so you know we always tip a little extra each time.
HO HUM THINGS:
Itinerary: St. Kitts & St. Thomas we have been to several times so do you stay on the ship and get to know her a little better or find something different to do on the island. Well we opted to go to a Resort on St. Kitts and it was a pretty good day with the exception that the water was murky from Dorian so we spent the day in their pool. It was nice but so was their bar bill. In St. Thomas we went on a walking tour, little did we know that the temperature would be a blazing 98 degrees, almost lost it with little shade. However none of this was the fault of the ship except taking us there. CocoCay was a nice surprise.
Disembarkation: We had a fairly early flight so we grabbed a quick bite from the Windjammer and headed down. Elevators were a nightmare, people were going up to go down (typical), but we finally got to where we needed to be, got a porter, found our bags, thru security and headed to Uber. Oops, maybe should have gotten a taxi....after a 45 minute wait our Uber showed, then off to MIA.
NOT SO GOOD THINGS:
Reservations: First time making reservations for everything online. Didn't know what to expect but soon found out. Reservations for the show at 8:00pm meant you really needed to be at your reservation by no later than 7:45pm....but wait, there is a line of people that also have reservations for the same show that have already been in line since 7:15pm so at 7:45pm you might not make your reservation at 8. So when you made your reservation for dinner at 6pm, thinking you would have 2 hours to eat (like on other ships and then go to the show), WRONG. So it's a hurry, hurry, hurry, eat real early, go get in line, wait, wait, sit and wait, sit and wait, watch the show, go to bed exhausted. This went on for a week. Being unfamiliar with the reservations thing and how it worked, my wife and I walked off the ship just exhausted, not just the normal "tired", after a great week onboard.
Cabin Attendant: We finally met our attendant on day 4. Nice enough guy, he kept our cabin clean, clean towels but we never had any ice, however we did get a WOW envelope the night before departure asking for an additional tip. Nice of him, as we never had anything to write with to leave him a note. First time ever.
Photo Department: We had several pictures taken. Went to look at them on the last day and selected 2 from our Diamond Plus package. We were told to come back at 6 pm to pick them up....came back at 6 pm on the way to dinner...not ready, come back at 10pm. Went back at 10pm, waited in a line for 45 minutes where 1 person was trying to check out everyone (must have been 200 people in there). Nope, not ready. Talked to a manager, most apologetic, said they would be ready at 6am or he would have them delivered to my cabin, I opted to have them delivered. Never got the pictures!!!
Spa: Went in for the $99 special message on the Diamond Plus Package, reserved a time. Went in at the appointed time and the therapist finally came out 30 minutes late to get me. I told her that I had some areas that needed some special attention and to be more gentle in those areas, reminded again, reminded again. Thank God the session was over. Bill came, $139 less 20% Diamond Plus...lets go talk to Management....refused to pay more than $99 special because it came with a 20% discount as well. Finally gave up...I will take it up with Royal directly.
Diamond Lounge: The Lounge was always slammed with no overflow options. Many evenings I went down before 5pm and there were no seats available, waited a while and left. Other times I went down and maybe one seat was available or there was a table for 4 available then I sat there and almost immediately someone came in and took the chairs. Not one evening did I get to sit with my wife for a drink before dinner.
This ship is lovely but big. It is not the size ship for my wife and I so we will not be going on an Oasis Class Ship again. The people on her are just like the people everywhere, there are chair hogs but this ship seems to patrol a little better. I call them "elevator rushers", but this ship seemed to have more of them trying to rush on the elevators before people got off than I have seen before, however I did like the color bar above the active ones (green for up, red for down). I liked the washing stations, better ways to keep your hands clean however saw a lot of people not using them. I liked the Solarium but there was no air moving in there. One thing that I noticed on the Symphony vs. other ships we have been on is everything seems to be "inside" on this ship (very few outside decks except on top), where on other ships there are more outside decks like on deck 4 & 5 then the top decks as well. My wife mentioned (she is a smoker), that the smoking areas are so cramped and crowded it was uncomfortable for her to enjoy her time there and meet people....she just grabbed a quick smoke and left.
Let me also say that I have never seen so many tank tops, ball caps, bathing suits with cover-ups, shorts and flip-flops in the Main Dining Room for dinner in all of my life, formal nights included. There were a few tuxes, suits, some sports coats but those were in the 5% range. Call me old fashioned, but I would not eat in the Main Dining Room unless I were wearing long pants and I always wear at least a sports coat on formal night. I blame Royal for not enforcing the suggested dress code better. When I sit there in a jacket looking at someone in shorts and a ballcap turned backward with his wife/girlfriend in a cover-up, both have flip flops on....I'm sorry, IMO, Royal should do something. Read Less