Symphony of the Seas Ship Scorecard

We are back from a trip on the world's largest cruise ship and share what we liked, loved, and would improve in this Symphony of the Seas ship scorecard!

Symphony of the Seas Ship Scorecard

Having sailed on all three prior Oasis-class ships, we had been looking forward to sailing on the newest member of the fleet, Symphony of the Seas. We began planning this cruise over a year ago, and of course, we had some pretty high expectations for this largest ship in the world. After sailing a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise, we are back with our Symphony of the Seas ship scorecard. Continue reading to see if the ship met our high expectations.

Embarkation/Disembarkation

Exceeded Expectations

Being the world’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas accommodates over 6,000 passengers. The good news is that the brand new, state-of-the-art Terminal A in Miami, FL offered a seamless and speedy embarkation despite the number of eager cruisers. Our entire check-in process took only a few minutes. Getting off the ship a week later was a pleasant surprise as well. Disembarkation was just as smooth and effortless with improved processes, technology, and plenty of staff.

Sports Deck

Met Expectations

If it isn’t broken, why fix it? That is the case with Symphony of the Seas, as Royal Caribbean did not change up much when it came to the outdoor sports decks. Oasis-class favorites like the FlowRider, a zip line, a 9-hole mini-golf course, the Perfect Storm waterslides, and a children’s Aqua Park are all present on Symphony of the Seas. The Ultimate Abyss which debuted on Harmony of the Seas is also onboard this brand new mega-ship. If you are a thrill-seeker, you will want to test out all these fun-filled activities.

Symphony of the Seas Ship Scorecard

Service

Met Expectations

There are 2,200 crew members onboard to take good care of you during your trip. Like many large cruise ships, some venues did seem understaffed especially during peak times. For the most part though, the crew was friendly, attentive, and helpful. Our wait staff at dinner were nice but always appeared rushed as was the case in many of the bars and lounges as well. Chito, our stateroom attendant, was excellent and definitely a standout for service on our cruise. 

Symphony of the Seas Ship Scorecard

Daily Activities

Met Expectations

With all the bells and whistles, you will not be bored on Symphony of the Seas. Along with four pools, the sports decks, and other amusements, there are also your typical cruise selections. Trivia, seminars and classes, the cruiser favorite Belly Flop Contest, and more. Nothing stood out to us as different or innovative in this category. We spent most of our daytime hours enjoying the various neighborhoods, the sports deck, and lounging by the pools.

Main Dining Room

Met Expectations

We dined in the main dining room five out of the seven nights of our cruise. After a glitch on the first evening, we were able to acquire a table for two in a different section for the remainder of the nights. Our waiter and assistant waiter met our service expectations but were not overly memorable. The menus on this sailing were a slight departure from the typical Royal Caribbean menus, but the food was on par with past cruises. The one exception was the lobster tails which were some odd hybrid species and unlike anything we have ever seen served on a cruise before. 

Specialty Dining

Did Not Meet Expectations

Over the recent years, we have been testing out more specialty restaurants while cruising. On this sailing, we sampled three restaurants. Besides our lunch at Playmakers which was great, we were a bit disappointed with the new Hooked seafood restaurant and our dinner at Wonderland. Compared to the main dining room, the seafood at Hooked was better, but still not on par with what we New Englanders have on land. We have dined at Wonderland on two other ships and have to admit that the food during this trip was the least impressive (the menu has been changed a bit as well); although, the addition of the “host” (the Mad Hatter) was a great touch.

Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade on Symphony of the Seas

Casual Eats

Exceeded Expectations

Where the specialty dining suffered during our trip, the casual restaurants shined. While the Windjammer was underwhelming for us, the rest of the options were great. The new El Loco Fresh is a nice replacement for the old Wipeout Cafe. Our favorites, including the Park Cafe and the Boardwalk Doghouse, as well as the new and improved pizza at Sorrento’s provided plenty of diversity for casual eats throughout the day. Even during peak times, these restaurants never had long waits for breakfast or lunch. 

Night Time Activities

Met Expectations

Similar to the other ships in the fleet, Symphony of the Seas is home to several venues with regular entertainment. The performers in these venues ranged from Billy Pando in the Schooner Bar to the house band that tended to be found in Dazzles. When there wasn’t a signature show to catch, there were other activities including parties and parades in the Royal Promenade, the Quest adult game show, the Love and Marriage game show, and the RED party in Studio B. With so many options, there is really something for everyone to enjoy on this new ship.

Signature Entertainment

Exceeded Expectations

Even with our very high bar when it comes to entertainment on the Oasis-class, Symphony of the Seas still surpassed our expectations. Hairspray was top notch and one of our favorite Broadway musicals found at sea. The Royal Caribbean original production of Flight was spectacular as well with several state-of-the-art stage pieces that truly enhanced the show. Along with two ice shows, two Aqua Theater productions, and comedy shows, the seven nights were packed with high quality entertainment.

Hairspray on Symphony of the Seas

Staterooms

Met Expectations

We booked an ocean view balcony stateroom on Deck 11 (11210). The room was laid out in a typical fashion with plenty of space. Among the amenities were added USB outlets near the desk and a power outlet near the bed. The room boasted a well positioned flat screen television and two closets offering plenty of space for our clothing. After sailing on competitor cruise lines, the size of the balcony was also a breath of fresh air.

Bars and Lounges

Met Expectations

With several familiar venues, it was surprising that the cruise line didn’t add anything new to the ship in terms of bars and lounges besides Playmakers. For the most part, the bars on the ship offered reliable service but did seem slightly understaffed at times. Finding seats at popular venues did not prove to be too much of a problem. Our favorite go-to lounge was the Schooner Bar for its specialty martinis and live piano music. Other venues with signature menus included Boleros, the Bionic Bar, and the Rising Tide Bar.

Bionic Bar on Symphony of the Seas

Crowd Control

Met Expectations

There are a lot of cruisers onboard Symphony of the Seas, but you should know that when booking a cruise on a ship of this size. With that being said, we were pleasantly surprised that wait times for elevators were never a problem. Even on disembarkation day! Getting pool side loungers was also not as difficult as expected. We would have rated this category as exceeded expectations if it wasn’t for the crowds at shows. Even with reservations, there were lines forming as early as 45 minutes prior to showtime. If you want a good seat, plan to show up early.

 

Symphony of the Seas Ship Scorecard – Special Categories

Battle for Planet Z 

Did Not Meet Expectations

One of the new additions to this class of ship is laser tag. Occurring in Studio B on select days of your cruise, this is a first come, first serve activity. The line for the game got quite long, and the staff seemed unorganized. The execution could have definitely been better, perhaps having a sign up for specific time slots to avoid long wait times. As for the game itself, it is a bit dark and tough to see, and the technology seemed dated compared to laser tag on competitor cruise lines. Still, it is a family fun activity as long as you are willing to wait.

The Ultimate Abyss

Met Expectations

Another exclusive to Symphony of the Seas is the “enhanced” Ultimate Abyss slide. While we did do a test run on Harmony of the Seas, we gave this slide another go. The addition of lighting and sound effects didn’t really change the experience for us. As thrill seekers, we were expecting a bit more from the slide. Although, it does feel like this version is slightly faster than its predecessor on Harmony. As an activity that is included in your cruise fare, it is worth at least one ride on this slide to test it out for yourself.

Boardwalk on Symphony of the Seas

Overall

Met Expectations

As one of the most innovative cruise ships, we were expecting a lot from Symphony of the Seas. We are happy to report that the ship delivered an exceptional vacation. Royal Caribbean is still the leader when it comes to entertainment, and this ship truly embodies the line’s commitment to productions that blow the competition out of the water. 

Generally speaking, food, staterooms, and bars and lounges were on par with what we have come to expect from mega-ships. One area we found a bit lacking though was specialty dining, especially for the expensive price tag.

Symphony of the Seas Ship Scorecard

When it comes to mega-ships, you can’t get any bigger than Symphony of the Seas. So, there is something to be said about the crowd control and seamless embarkation and disembarkation processes. Symphony of the Seas definitely ranks near the top of the best options for vessels of this size. With a little bit of planning, your family can have an unforgettable time on board this world record holding ship.

 

Comments

Have you sailed on Symphony of the Seas? How would you rate this brand new vessel? Drop us an anchor below to share your review of the world’s current largest cruise ship.

Symphony of the Seas Ship Scorecard

Don Bucolo, or “DB”, loves everything about cruising- the ocean, the food, and the atmosphere. While he may be obsessed with doing extensive amounts of research on ships and all elements of a cruise, Don enjoys sharing his new found knowledge with fellow cruisers. When he is not sailing the high seas, he does whatever his wife tells him to do-it only took 10 years to realize this.
Don
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11 comments on Symphony of the Seas Ship Scorecard

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  1. We just got back, found the staff, not friendly, captain you never saw or heard from,the diamond lounge they kept check your sea pass ,the food was ok , hooked you nail it from New England they model red lobster ?. I love there bran muffins very hard time score one.we took a gallery tour (free ) they made us wear long pants and close toe shoes,told us fda rules. We met up with a paying tour they all had on shorts and sandals on! Go figure.nice ship tho

      Hi Dave, thanks for reading and your review. We appreciate your feedback. Happy sailing.

    We just got back, found the staff, not friendly, captain you never saw or heard from,the diamond lounge they kept check your sea pass ,the food was ok , hooked you nail it from New England they model red lobster ?. I love there bran muffins very hard time score one.we took a gallery tour (free ) they made us wear long pants and close toe shoes,told us fda rules. We met up with a paying tour they all had on shorts and sandals on! Go figure.nice ship tho

    We recently sailed on the symphony. I expected to see some differences between this ship and the harmony. They are exactly the same. Food was good, but nothing outstanding. We enjoyed the guitar player Carlo in the venue on the promenade across from the pizza parlor. Skating show was good and enjoyed the comedy shows. They do need a better way to enforce saving chairs at the pool or do away with the rule. That would be a task difficult to manage and there were many inconsistencies in mgt. They waited until the last sea day to try to enforce the rules and were met with much adversity. Also allowing people to stand at one edge of the pool and drink as opposed to the opposite edge or on the middle made no sense to me. Seemed to be a rule just to have a rule and again difficult to effectively manage. Overall great time. We will go again

    I went last year, and was shocked how similar it was to Harmony. But I can say the food was a bit better. The statement was convenient as we stayed on deck 8. The staff was ok but the passengers were rude. I did find that the entertainment was very nice, especially Hiro!! Hopefully next year I will be checking out the activities. Overall I really enjoyed the cruise and the ship.

      Thanks for the review. You can’t beat the entertainment on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships!

    We went on a 4 day Bahamas cruises on Symphony at the end of May. We had a great time but mainly was due to our first taste of the new Coco Cay. That was stupendous!!! We did not see much difference in other Oasis ships as we had been on Harmony in January. One thing I am very upset with RCCL about is the removal of the solarium pool on Harmony and Symphony. That is the pool we always use to escape the noise of little ones. Also we often have our lunch hour there and enjoy sea days especially. Now the solarium area seems like a wasted space with no ambience alot of chairs no one uses and hot tubs that are small. We love the ice shows and Broadway at sea and Flight was definitely one of the best productions ever. I still think there is a lot of poor planning as to when things are scheduled especially on Sea days. Often trivia was at dinner time or several things we liked were at the same time. Also cruise staff were often late starting activities or didn’t know how to operate equipment. Our other complaint on Symphony and Harmony is the location of the Diamond lounge. It is so small that you need to get there a half hour before happy hour to ensure getting a seat. Most of Royals ships have two lounges and often up in Viking Crown area. We are surprised that the largest ship has the smallest lounge.. .There was a larger lounge across the way that was occasionally used for private functions that seemed to be more suitable. But overall we had a good cruise. We always do my time dining and had a friendly and efficient waitstaff. We decided to try 150 Central Park this time and we’re disappointed in the food. Selection choices, portion sizes and taste nothing spectacular. Should have gone to Chops as usual.

      Thanks for the review Susan! When’s the next trip?

    Cruised December 8, 2018 with two other family couples. We are Emerald members, so can’t speak to Diamond amenities. Main dining room food was good and wait staff was excellent. We dined at 5 specialty restaurants, with 150 Park Central and Chops Grill being really good and worth experiencing, and Wonderland was a great treat.
    Shows/Entertainment was still RC top notch. Escape room was fun, but extremely difficult. Two of us used the Ultimate Abyss side in place of the elevators that were terribly tasked. Boarding and disembarking was excellent. Best of all was overlooking Centeal Park and visiting the Park Cafe.

    Sailed 10/26/2019
    Will go again, very soon.
    Jamie’s wasn’t what I expected. No real issues.

    Hi, and thanks for the review. We have been on Symphony 3 times, and I have enjoyed each every one of them.
    We have to disagree with you on Hooks. We’ve eaten there all the cruises, and have found the food wonderful, and the service great. In fact, our portions were so large, we couldn’t finish. Maybe your expectations are higher because you’re from New England. Otherwise your review was spot on.