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After lots of research my wife and I chose the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas for our first cruise experience. We chose this ship because it was the newest and largest ship with many activities. I have wanted to cruise for a long time and was finally able to convince my wife to try it out for my 40th birthday. It was great and there was so much to do! We flew into Fort Lauderdale the night before and stayed at an airport La Quinta -it was better than expected. In the morning we arranged a Ride Share service that picked us up at the hotel and dropped us off at the Port of Miami. It was $15 a person plus tip. We used MJS transportation both times and would use them again. We were the last ones to be picked up by MJS so the trip was 45 minutes to the port. Embarkation was a breeze in about ten minutes from when we dropped off our luggage to getting on the ship. It helps to have your security photo entered prior to the trip. Plan Ahead. I read a recent review where someone gave the ship a 1 star rating. That person complained that the were lines for everything and it was tough to get into a show. Using the Royal App you can book restaurants, shows, enrichment classes (wine tasting, sushi rolling) and excursions up to 60-90 days prior to your cruise. If you don't you will have to wait in a long stand by line and might not get into the show. You have to prepay but, it was worth it. I booked all shows and specialty dining months prior to the cruise and only experienced a long line at guest services. Certain activities on sea days such as flow rider and zipline had a line but they moved fast. El Loco Fresh at lunch also had a small line. Prior to the cruise, I booked both a two night Buy One Get One Free specialty dining package and a three night dining package. We ended up getting a 6pm time for the BOGO package and an 8pm time for our three night dining package. I did both because the we wanted to try three specialty restaurants but the time was way too late. First thing we did on the ship was go to the main dining room kiosks and scheduled our three restaurants. We were able to get the restaurants we wanted at the times we wanted. I dropped the BOGO package as a result. The packages require the first choice to be on nights one or two of the cruise. We went to Hooked, Wonderland and Central Park 150 for our dinners. Drink Packages: My parents took a cruise on Allure back in March and got the soda package with the souvenir cup. I was wondering if I could reuse that cup on this ship so I brought it along. No luck, the old cup did not work since the cups have a chip that expires a few days to a week after the end of the sailing. We ended up getting the Deluxe drink package for both of us. On the first day of the cruise the deluxe package was available as a buy one get one half off at all of the bars and restaurants. When we did the math it was slightly cheaper than the Royal app price prior to the cruise. When you add up the drinks for the day it is possible to get your monies worth without getting drunk. We figured multiple water bottles per day at about $4, morning specialty coffees from Café Promenade (Seattle's Best), 2-3 soda refills a day, a few $8 dollar beers or $12-14 specialty drinks at the pool during the day, a couple drinks/$12 glasses of wine at dinner and a drink or two at the bars or shows in the late evening. Port days might be a little tough to get your monies worth but, we did it or came real close. It was nice to not have to keep signing receipts for each drink ala cart. An 18% gratuity was automatically added to the package price at time of purchase. Starbucks on the royal promenade is not included with the deluxe drink package. The ship has a changing drink of the day available at all bars for $8. Pools: We were pleasantly surprised that we were able to find chairs around the pools any day considering the amount of people on the ship. We spent most of our time at the Solarium deck, pool and hot tubs. The solarium is for guests 16 and up so it was more relaxed. Two downfalls were that the solarium had two towel exchange stations that had wacky hours. The Starboard side never opened and the portside one would be open for say an hour, it would close and then reopen for a short time randomly. In the late afternoon the towel stations would be closed so you would have to go out to a main pool area station to return towels. The other downfall was there were not enough servers on sea days so timely service suffered. The Perfect Storm slides were thrilling on the main pool deck. Flow rider was great. Zipline was great. Specialty Dining: Hooked Seafood: The service was great and the waiter keep bringing us lots different appetizers. For the main course we had the surf and turf which was filet mignon and a lobster tail. The food was cooked perfectly and the service was great. Wonderland: The food presentation and taste was unique. The initial service was slow both to be seated and to get waited on. The specialty cocktails were good. Central Park 150: We ended up getting some appetizers and the steak dinner for two. Good place for a date night. We found in all of the dining venues on this ship, that the food was under seasoned. Perhaps it is due to RCL trying to appeal to the masses. Excursions: Every where we went the US Dollar was an accepted currency. Bring small bills for tipping. We found that we could get change for a twenty in the ship casino Roatan, Honduras - We did the Gumbalimba Park tour with the parrots and monkeys. We booked this through Royal Caribbean. It was fun to hold the parrots and have the monkeys climb on us. We also saw a sloth hanging from a tree. The beach is murky but, there is also a pool there as well, which we swam in before heading back to the ship. It was nice and I would do it again. Costa Maya, Mexico - We booked a Chacchoben Extreme Tour through an outside company called The Native Choice. The Chacchoben Extreme Tour includes a guided tour of the Chacchoben Ruins followed by a visit to the tranquil Bacalar Lagoon Resort for a swim in the crystal clear waters of the Seven Color Lagoon.The trip was much cheaper than the RCL excursion. You have to walk about 4 long blocks to get to their location. We spent about an hour at the ruins which was enough. The ruins were just okay since they are basically 4 temples in the jungle. Then, we headed to the Bacalar Resort. The warm taco/fajita (beef, Chicken, pork) lunch was good. The trip included 3 drinks of alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages. The resort and the swimming was nice. Bring water shoes because the lagoon bottom is rocky -large flatish rocks. We wish we could have spent more time at the resort. If we don't have an excursion planned for the next time we visit Costa Maya then we would stay on the ship. Cozumel, Mexico - We took a taxi ($8) and shopped downtown to get souvenirs for our kids. After that we headed back to the ship. We were going to go to a beach resort but, decided to return to the ship since we had the deluxe drink package to use. Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas - We are late risers and got onto the island after 10am. It didn't take us long to find two unoccupied chairs under an umbrella by the Oasis Lagoon pool. We did the half-day waterpark pass which allowed us to enter the park at 12:15pm. The various slides were fun and thrilling and worth it. We booked this prior to the trip and saved some money. The food was good and the drinks were too. Overall, I am now ready to book our next cruise on Royal Caribbean on a mega ship!

Great New Ship - Plan Ahead

Symphony of the Seas Cruise Review by GIS jeff

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
After lots of research my wife and I chose the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas for our first cruise experience. We chose this ship because it was the newest and largest ship with many activities. I have wanted to cruise for a long time and was finally able to convince my wife to try it out for my 40th birthday. It was great and there was so much to do!

We flew into Fort Lauderdale the night before and stayed at an airport La Quinta -it was better than expected. In the morning we arranged a Ride Share service that picked us up at the hotel and dropped us off at the Port of Miami. It was $15 a person plus tip. We used MJS transportation both times and would use them again. We were the last ones to be picked up by MJS so the trip was 45 minutes to the port.

Embarkation was a breeze in about ten minutes from when we dropped off our luggage to getting on the ship. It helps to have your security photo entered prior to the trip.

Plan Ahead. I read a recent review where someone gave the ship a 1 star rating. That person complained that the were lines for everything and it was tough to get into a show. Using the Royal App you can book restaurants, shows, enrichment classes (wine tasting, sushi rolling) and excursions up to 60-90 days prior to your cruise. If you don't you will have to wait in a long stand by line and might not get into the show. You have to prepay but, it was worth it.

I booked all shows and specialty dining months prior to the cruise and only experienced a long line at guest services. Certain activities on sea days such as flow rider and zipline had a line but they moved fast. El Loco Fresh at lunch also had a small line.

Prior to the cruise, I booked both a two night Buy One Get One Free specialty dining package and a three night dining package. We ended up getting a 6pm time for the BOGO package and an 8pm time for our three night dining package. I did both because the we wanted to try three specialty restaurants but the time was way too late.

First thing we did on the ship was go to the main dining room kiosks and scheduled our three restaurants. We were able to get the restaurants we wanted at the times we wanted. I dropped the BOGO package as a result. The packages require the first choice to be on nights one or two of the cruise. We went to Hooked, Wonderland and Central Park 150 for our dinners.

Drink Packages: My parents took a cruise on Allure back in March and got the soda package with the souvenir cup. I was wondering if I could reuse that cup on this ship so I brought it along. No luck, the old cup did not work since the cups have a chip that expires a few days to a week after the end of the sailing.

We ended up getting the Deluxe drink package for both of us. On the first day of the cruise the deluxe package was available as a buy one get one half off at all of the bars and restaurants. When we did the math it was slightly cheaper than the Royal app price prior to the cruise.

When you add up the drinks for the day it is possible to get your monies worth without getting drunk. We figured multiple water bottles per day at about $4, morning specialty coffees from Café Promenade (Seattle's Best), 2-3 soda refills a day, a few $8 dollar beers or $12-14 specialty drinks at the pool during the day, a couple drinks/$12 glasses of wine at dinner and a drink or two at the bars or shows in the late evening. Port days might be a little tough to get your monies worth but, we did it or came real close. It was nice to not have to keep signing receipts for each drink ala cart. An 18% gratuity was automatically added to the package price at time of purchase.

Starbucks on the royal promenade is not included with the deluxe drink package. The ship has a changing drink of the day available at all bars for $8.

Pools: We were pleasantly surprised that we were able to find chairs around the pools any day considering the amount of people on the ship. We spent most of our time at the Solarium deck, pool and hot tubs. The solarium is for guests 16 and up so it was more relaxed.

Two downfalls were that the solarium had two towel exchange stations that had wacky hours. The Starboard side never opened and the portside one would be open for say an hour, it would close and then reopen for a short time randomly. In the late afternoon the towel stations would be closed so you would have to go out to a main pool area station to return towels. The other downfall was there were not enough servers on sea days so timely service suffered.

The Perfect Storm slides were thrilling on the main pool deck. Flow rider was great. Zipline was great.

Specialty Dining:

Hooked Seafood: The service was great and the waiter keep bringing us lots different appetizers. For the main course we had the surf and turf which was filet mignon and a lobster tail. The food was cooked perfectly and the service was great.

Wonderland: The food presentation and taste was unique. The initial service was slow both to be seated and to get waited on. The specialty cocktails were good.

Central Park 150: We ended up getting some appetizers and the steak dinner for two. Good place for a date night.

We found in all of the dining venues on this ship, that the food was under seasoned. Perhaps it is due to RCL trying to appeal to the masses.

Excursions: Every where we went the US Dollar was an accepted currency. Bring small bills for tipping. We found that we could get change for a twenty in the ship casino

Roatan, Honduras - We did the Gumbalimba Park tour with the parrots and monkeys. We booked this through Royal Caribbean. It was fun to hold the parrots and have the monkeys climb on us. We also saw a sloth hanging from a tree. The beach is murky but, there is also a pool there as well, which we swam in before heading back to the ship. It was nice and I would do it again.

Costa Maya, Mexico - We booked a Chacchoben Extreme Tour through an outside company called The Native Choice. The Chacchoben Extreme Tour includes a guided tour of the Chacchoben Ruins followed by a visit to the tranquil Bacalar Lagoon Resort for a swim in the crystal clear waters of the Seven Color Lagoon.The trip was much cheaper than the RCL excursion. You have to walk about 4 long blocks to get to their location.

We spent about an hour at the ruins which was enough. The ruins were just okay since they are basically 4 temples in the jungle. Then, we headed to the Bacalar Resort. The warm taco/fajita (beef, Chicken, pork) lunch was good. The trip included 3 drinks of alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages. The resort and the swimming was nice. Bring water shoes because the lagoon bottom is rocky -large flatish rocks. We wish we could have spent more time at the resort.

If we don't have an excursion planned for the next time we visit Costa Maya then we would stay on the ship.

Cozumel, Mexico - We took a taxi ($8) and shopped downtown to get souvenirs for our kids. After that we headed back to the ship. We were going to go to a beach resort but, decided to return to the ship since we had the deluxe drink package to use.

Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas - We are late risers and got onto the island after 10am. It didn't take us long to find two unoccupied chairs under an umbrella by the Oasis Lagoon pool. We did the half-day waterpark pass which allowed us to enter the park at 12:15pm. The various slides were fun and thrilling and worth it. We booked this prior to the trip and saved some money. The food was good and the drinks were too.

Overall, I am now ready to book our next cruise on Royal Caribbean on a mega ship!
GIS jeff’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
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Dining
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