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We booked this cruise as an opportunity to take advantage of a brand new ship sailing over spring break while we were already located in Europe. Embarkation: We boarded at Terminal B in Barcelona, and were the first individuals through the whole process. We arrived entirely too early, but noted that in normal operations, Luggage Drop Off starts at approximately 9:45, then through a quick security check. Check-in will normally begin around 10:00, with plenty of check-in agents awaiting to assist. The lines were broken down by general boarding, then the various C&A levels had their own line, and finally Suites & Pinnacle. Afterwards you move through some duty free shops if you need to buy that last minute wine or other necessities. At 10:30 is when general boarding should start, and you walk past some pre-boarding photo ops, then up a quick escalator to the gangway. Crossing the bridge and you are on to the ship to sign in with your set sail pass. On our particular trip, we were the first paying guests to board so we were greeted by the Hotel Director, and both cruise directors. Food and Drinks: We will start with the bad food to get that out of the way. Any time we ordered a fish dish from the main dining room it would come out bland, and often overcooked. It didn't matter what type of fish it was, it just was never good. The other terrible food we had was the personal pizza from Sorrentos. They used a pre-made crust which had the rigidity and taste of cardboard, and once you ruin the base there is no saving it from there. That said, the large pizzas and calzones were quite good. Now that that's out of the way, onto the good stuff, which was just about every other thing we ate. Main dining room meals that were not fish were very good and they came out quick and hot. Windjammer was pretty standard buffet fare for breakfast and lunch and would hit the spot when we stopped there. Solarium Bistro was a worthy stop for some Mediterranean inspired meals. The restaurant concept is like a weird cross between Windjammer and the MDR, in that they would hand you a menu so you could see what was offered, but you would get up and get it yourself from the buffet islands. Best lobster bisque we have had in a long time was featured here, totally worth it. El Loco Fresh is a new eatery to Symphony. It replaces the Mini-bites from other Oasis Class ships and fills in the Tex-Mex gap removing Sabor left. They have an excellent breakfast with burritos, huevos ranchos, and other Tex-Mex breakfast items. For lunch and dinner they offer Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas, and Nachos. They also have good desert selection. Playmakers on the Boardwalk replaced Sabor, and is a sports bar themed upcharge restaurant. The wings and sandwiches are very good and are completely worth the additional money. They have plenty of large TVs showing all kinds of sporting events around the world. Each day, they display what games and at what times they will be showing that day. In the back there is an arcade and the tables come with a variety of table top games, like mini corn hole, connect four, Jenga or cards. Hooked Seafood is another new dining concept onboard and is themed to New England style fish restaurant. The fresh grilled fish was fantastic and the lobster roll was good, but a little heavy on the mayo. The real winner from here was the blueberry cobbler, a dish alone we would go back if that is all we could order. This restaurant does have an additional charge, which I believe was $20 pp for lunch and $45 for dinner. The dinner menu has a few more options to include lobster tails. Our favorite meal hands down was Wonderland. This place was super whimsical in its themeing and presentation of food. It is a gastronomical experience which means the chefs get real creative on preparation and presentation. If you are adventurous in food, this is a can't miss place. Public Rooms and Spaces: Everywhere was spotless and well laid out. Our favorite place to hang out was the very well done Schooner Bar. Central Park was another great place, very relaxed and a perfect way to cross from front to rear or vice-versa. They would play recordings of birds and insects to give it that true park feeling throughout the day. The Boardwalk was always lively with its many activities. The only area we felt that was lacking was the size of the Thermal Spa. It consisted of seven or eight heated loungers, a steam room, and a sauna. For a ship this size, we felt that they could have made it much larger. The biggest complaint we had was that none of the indoor locations have any views to the ocean. Service: We experienced outstanding service from all the crew everywhere we went. Our cabin steward was the best we have had, as was our serving team in the MDR. The bar staff were equally wonderful. They were always quick and friendly plus they made great drinks for us. Even just regular crew members who would pass by were courteous and made us feel very welcomed. Overall thoughts: Overall fantastic cruise and we can not wait to sail again. There were some minor hiccups as the ship was fresh out the shipyard, so there were a few things not quite ready or would end up not functioning properly. But we did get to do everything we wanted to do but there is still so much more we would like to do that we plan on doing it all again as soon as possible. We would say that if this was someones first cruise they would be highly spoiled, as there will be activities that will be missed when we sail smaller ships. If there were a few things I wish that could be changed about this ship is that: 1. They work on getting the fish dishes in the main dining room so that they do not come out overcooked or bland. 2. They incorporate some of the Interior Balcony View room technology to the interior bars and lounges so that there are some sort of ocean views from inside the ship. 3.The behind the scenes tour is rather pricey for what you receive. The two-ish hour, $120 tour takes you through the galley, I-95 service corridor, laundry rooms, and the bridge. Other than that, it was absolutely great and can not wait to go again! Here is a link to 600+ pictures from our trip https://photos.app.goo.gl/TcBrtAjNrYpHxiUW2 Also, a link from our Semi-Live thread so that you can read our thoughts as we went. https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2618662

Outstanding Pre-opening Symphony of the Seas Cruise

Symphony of the Seas Cruise Review by stp_mmh5

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We booked this cruise as an opportunity to take advantage of a brand new ship sailing over spring break while we were already located in Europe.

Embarkation: We boarded at Terminal B in Barcelona, and were the first individuals through the whole process. We arrived entirely too early, but noted that in normal operations, Luggage Drop Off starts at approximately 9:45, then through a quick security check. Check-in will normally begin around 10:00, with plenty of check-in agents awaiting to assist. The lines were broken down by general boarding, then the various C&A levels had their own line, and finally Suites & Pinnacle. Afterwards you move through some duty free shops if you need to buy that last minute wine or other necessities. At 10:30 is when general boarding should start, and you walk past some pre-boarding photo ops, then up a quick escalator to the gangway. Crossing the bridge and you are on to the ship to sign in with your set sail pass.

On our particular trip, we were the first paying guests to board so we were greeted by the Hotel Director, and both cruise directors.

Food and Drinks:

We will start with the bad food to get that out of the way. Any time we ordered a fish dish from the main dining room it would come out bland, and often overcooked. It didn't matter what type of fish it was, it just was never good. The other terrible food we had was the personal pizza from Sorrentos. They used a pre-made crust which had the rigidity and taste of cardboard, and once you ruin the base there is no saving it from there. That said, the large pizzas and calzones were quite good.

Now that that's out of the way, onto the good stuff, which was just about every other thing we ate. Main dining room meals that were not fish were very good and they came out quick and hot. Windjammer was pretty standard buffet fare for breakfast and lunch and would hit the spot when we stopped there.

Solarium Bistro was a worthy stop for some Mediterranean inspired meals. The restaurant concept is like a weird cross between Windjammer and the MDR, in that they would hand you a menu so you could see what was offered, but you would get up and get it yourself from the buffet islands. Best lobster bisque we have had in a long time was featured here, totally worth it.

El Loco Fresh is a new eatery to Symphony. It replaces the Mini-bites from other Oasis Class ships and fills in the Tex-Mex gap removing Sabor left. They have an excellent breakfast with burritos, huevos ranchos, and other Tex-Mex breakfast items. For lunch and dinner they offer Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas, and Nachos. They also have good desert selection.

Playmakers on the Boardwalk replaced Sabor, and is a sports bar themed upcharge restaurant. The wings and sandwiches are very good and are completely worth the additional money. They have plenty of large TVs showing all kinds of sporting events around the world. Each day, they display what games and at what times they will be showing that day. In the back there is an arcade and the tables come with a variety of table top games, like mini corn hole, connect four, Jenga or cards.

Hooked Seafood is another new dining concept onboard and is themed to New England style fish restaurant. The fresh grilled fish was fantastic and the lobster roll was good, but a little heavy on the mayo. The real winner from here was the blueberry cobbler, a dish alone we would go back if that is all we could order. This restaurant does have an additional charge, which I believe was $20 pp for lunch and $45 for dinner. The dinner menu has a few more options to include lobster tails.

Our favorite meal hands down was Wonderland. This place was super whimsical in its themeing and presentation of food. It is a gastronomical experience which means the chefs get real creative on preparation and presentation. If you are adventurous in food, this is a can't miss place.

Public Rooms and Spaces:

Everywhere was spotless and well laid out. Our favorite place to hang out was the very well done Schooner Bar. Central Park was another great place, very relaxed and a perfect way to cross from front to rear or vice-versa. They would play recordings of birds and insects to give it that true park feeling throughout the day. The Boardwalk was always lively with its many activities. The only area we felt that was lacking was the size of the Thermal Spa. It consisted of seven or eight heated loungers, a steam room, and a sauna. For a ship this size, we felt that they could have made it much larger.

The biggest complaint we had was that none of the indoor locations have any views to the ocean.

Service:

We experienced outstanding service from all the crew everywhere we went. Our cabin steward was the best we have had, as was our serving team in the MDR. The bar staff were equally wonderful. They were always quick and friendly plus they made great drinks for us. Even just regular crew members who would pass by were courteous and made us feel very welcomed.

Overall thoughts:

Overall fantastic cruise and we can not wait to sail again. There were some minor hiccups as the ship was fresh out the shipyard, so there were a few things not quite ready or would end up not functioning properly. But we did get to do everything we wanted to do but there is still so much more we would like to do that we plan on doing it all again as soon as possible. We would say that if this was someones first cruise they would be highly spoiled, as there will be activities that will be missed when we sail smaller ships. If there were a few things I wish that could be changed about this ship is that:

1. They work on getting the fish dishes in the main dining room so that they do not come out overcooked or bland.

2. They incorporate some of the Interior Balcony View room technology to the interior bars and lounges so that there are some sort of ocean views from inside the ship.

3.The behind the scenes tour is rather pricey for what you receive. The two-ish hour, $120 tour takes you through the galley, I-95 service corridor, laundry rooms, and the bridge.

Other than that, it was absolutely great and can not wait to go again!

Here is a link to 600+ pictures from our trip

https://photos.app.goo.gl/TcBrtAjNrYpHxiUW2

Also, a link from our Semi-Live thread so that you can read our thoughts as we went.

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2618662
stp_mmh5’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Central Park View Balcony
Cabin 2J 10229
We were booked into a Central Park Balcony in one of the exclusive double-wide balconies next to the living wall. This cabin was gorgeous! Quaint with still enough space to maneuver without running into each other. We loved having the bed next to the balcony. *The only semi downer was how small the bathroom was. I know that may be subjective to some, but it was tough to move around in there, especially with two people in there. The closet space!! Holy macaroni! We had, what I would consider, 2 full size wardrobes each on the side of the couch. This made it so easy to know we had enough space to unpack and have our clothes hanging without getting all wrinkled up. Since we were on the 5-day preview, we didn't use as much cabin space as I sure some people would use. There were plenty of outlets as well, which made it easy to charge our phones and our Go-Pros all at the same time with different plugs. This balcony was huge. Having that double wide balcony was awesome. It came with table and two chairs, and I would bet if we had asked for it, two loungers could have easily fit there. Another great thing about it, was that because we were on deck 10, we were nice and close to the activity of Central Park. We would people watch as they meandered through, and could catch glimpses of activity down on the Royal Promenade. The overall peacefulness of the scene was very relaxing, but could on rare occasion be noisy if the wind was blowing the right way and if the pool deck music was extra loud. Neither would be noticeable when the door was shut.
Deck 14 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins