It’s here: the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas. It cost $1.5 billion to build, it has more individual works of art than the Louvre in Paris, and it’s made out of half a million individual pieces (27 times the number of parts in the Eiffel Tower).
It’s so massive that it weighs more than 17,000 African elephants, and it’s twice as tall as the Washington Monument. The Ultimate Abyss slide is taller than Mount Rushmore, and its two dozen pools, waterslides, and Flow Rider surfing experiences contain 94 times the water of an eruption of Old Faithful.
Don’t worry, you won’t get lost, thanks to an exceptional system of maps that guides guests through the ship’s seven neighborhoods. Another plus is that the ship is 25 percent more energy-efficient than sibling Allure of the Seas, once heralded as the most energy efficient ship ever built. According to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line chairman Richard Fain, “a thousand little things” have helped to improve the design and environmental impact; for instance, you won’t find plastic straws on board. It employs bubble technology sending out bursts of microscopic bubbles at the front of the ship to essentially help the ship “float on air,” reducing friction. The reduction in heat produced by florescent and LED lighting becomes less taxing on the air-conditioning.
Whether you plan to sail this monolith’s Mediterranean or Caribbean itineraries, follow these six tips to maximize your experience aboard the newest in Royal Caribbean’s line of Oasis class ships.
Know the view you want. With so many room categories, there is a view for every budget. At the bottom of the price list are interior cabins with virtual balconies showing the passing sea behind curtains. Rooms with balconies are not all created equally, with some facing Central Park’s more than 20,700 trees and plants, but no sea views. The handful of balcony units overlooking AquaTheater offer unique bird’s-eye views of the acrobatic water show. The two-floor Ultimate Family Suite, which comes with a huge balcony, its own slide between floors, and floor-to-ceiling Lego wall, is one of a kind and has been booking up quickly.
Discover the secret food spots. There are too many dining options to experience on one sailing, so it is helps to know where the best goodies are. Windjammer serves buffet-style meals throughout the day, but you will discover a healthy stash of fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries back by the chocolate fountain station. Don’t miss the hot dog stand by the carousel with a variety of sausage options and toppings or the Park Café’s grab-and-go salads that come in to-go containers that are great for taking on excursions. If you have a sweet tooth, there are occasional cupcake decorating classes at Sugar Beach on the Boardwalk. Nearby is a new sports bar concept with 31 TVs showing professional sports live-streamed and classic games like Jenga to distract you if your team is losing (no need to stay in the room to watch the game).
Get off the beaten path. Even experienced sailors have to engage in a little digging to discover and test out the latest activities. Aboard Symphony of the Seas, these include glow-in-the-dark laser tag in Studio B and late-night disco parties where everyone wears headsets and dances to tunes of their own choosing. There’s also a Mexican taqueria with a sensational salsa bar. If you can’t find a whirlpool to soak in, head to the Solarium where the newly added pools there will surprise repeat cruisers. These are often less crowded. Yes, even on the world’s biggest, most bustling cruise ship, it’s possible to find a little solitude.