All the wows, a week onboard Symphony of the Seas.

I’m not sure how it has taken this long for me to get onboard a Royal Caribbean Oasis class ship, but February 2019 would be my first time.  Symphony of the Seas would be my home for seven days as we sailed through the Western Caribbean and Bahamas.  I would be sailing solo this trip, but as part of a larger group, made up of members from The Royal Caribbean Club on Facebook.  Come join me as I take you through my day by day adventures onboard the world’s largest cruise ship!

Day 1 – Embarkation

I have to start off by saying the new Royal Caribbean terminal (A) at the port of Miami is fantastic.  A ship this size with so many guests can be a logistical nightmare, but this had to be the easiest and quickest embarkation I have ever experienced.  From my Uber to being onboard had to be no more than 15 minutes.  Kudos to Royal Caribbean and Port of Miami!

When I boarded, most of our group had not arrived yet, so I took this time to head to one of the specialty restaurants and my make my dining reservations for the week.  This was quick and painless and I was on my way in a few minutes.

Since I carried my suitcase onboard I wasn’t in the mood to venture around the ship quite yet.  I decided to grab a table at Playmakers, which is located on the Boardwalk, and wait for the rest of the group.  Drinks and lunch ensued as friends old and new started to arrive.  Most of us hung out at Playmakers until our cabins were ready at 1:30pm.  Around that time I headed to check out my cabin, unpack, and get settled into my  new home for the week.

After getting settled in it was almost time for the muster drill.  My muster station was located in the gym.  The process was quick and easy and soon we were off enjoy sail away.  Our group was meeting on deck 5 after muster, just below the Aquatheater.  It is a great location to watch sail away, unfortunately it was cloudy and raining for most of the time.  After grabbing some photos and watching other ships leave port we decided to head inside.  A portion of the group all headed to On Air to finish off our “sail away”.  We hung out there until it was time to get ready for dinner.

Tonight I would be dining with three others from our group at Jamie’s Italian.  I experienced Jamie’s for the first time a few month ago and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to another great experience.  I was not disappointed.  Appetizers were served family style which included a meat and cheese plank.  Yum!  Main courses and dessert were also delicious.  After dinner a few of us headed to the casino for a little while, but I ended up calling it a pretty early night because I had been up so early from flying in for the cruise that morning.

Day 2 – At Sea

Since I had gone to bed pretty early the night before, I took this opportunity to get up for an early morning photo session.  This time of day is perfect for photos because there aren’t many people around and who doesn’t love sunrise photos?  It was quite cloudy this morning though and I didn’t have high hopes for the sunrise.  I was almost ready to call it quits but I noticed the cloud cover was burning off just as the sun was rising.  It ended up being one of the best sunrises all week.  I was so glad I held out!

The rest of the day was mostly spent lounging in the Solarium.  I loved this space as it wasn’t super crowded and most of the area is covered by glass ceiling.  This meant being able to be in the sun without getting burnt.  Plus there is a bar in the middle of the Solarium so a drink was never far away!

Tonight for dinner we had a large portion of our group heading to Wonderland.  I believe there ended up being 16 of us.  We had a couple large tables in the back pushed together to accommodate all of us.  Wonderland is definitely a special dining experience and the presentation is phenomenal.  Tonight the staff suggested having the entire meal served family style.  I know there was some hesitation around this but I really think it worked out for the better, at least for me.  We were able to try almost everything on the menu.  I will say that if you plan on dining in Wonderland, you really should have an open mind to trying everything even if the dish description doesn’t sound entirely appealing.  I even forced myself to try a couple things I normally wouldn’t eat and I was glad I did.

We capped off the night with a little casino time and danced the night away at one of two silent disco parties that week.  Appropriately named “Hush Parties”.  I really enjoyed these parties and think they bring an extra dynamic to the night club scene.

Day 3 – Roatan Honduras 

I had no real plans for Roatan, other than getting off the ship to get some photos.  Since that was the case I was able to sleep in a bit this morning.  I met with a couple others from our group and got off the ship around 10:00 am.  We headed to a small dock on the other side of the harbor to get photos from.  On our way back we stopped at a bar just outside the port area.  We headed back on board about an hour and a half later.

Once back onboard we grabbed some lunch at El Loco Fresh and utilized the empty ship to take advantage of doing the water slides.  Afterwards we hung out in the Solarium, before we knew it day three was winding down and it was time to get ready for dinner.

Tonight we had a group of five dining at Hooked.  This is Royal’s new signature seafood restaurant.  Again appetizers were served family style and we were able to get more of anything that we really liked.  I must have had a dozen oysters myself!  We really enjoyed all the food here.  Highlights for me were of course the oysters, the calamari, and my Maine lobster.

I was so full from dinner this night that I just couldn’t get in the party mood.  I spent some time in the casino and called it another early night.  I know, super lame!  (Don’t worry, that would change the next couple nights!)

Day 4 – Costa Maya Mexico

Today a bunch of us were headed to Maya Chan Beach Resort.  $59 per person gets you a personal area with loungers and umbrellas, unlimited drinks, and lunch.  Unfortunately the resort was having seaweed problems the week that we were there so the beach was basically unusable.   They did offer us a full refund if we did not want to visit, but our entire group decided to go anyway.  I was really glad we did.  Even without use of the beach it was a great day with rum punch flowing and an absolutely delicious Mexican lunch.  The weather was perfect for not being able to use the beach.  It was warm but not too hot with a breeze going all day.

We made our way back to the ship around 3:30pm.  I did a little shopping in the port area and stopped for a drink before making our way back onboard.  With all the drinking and eating we did today a couple of us elected to just hit up Windjammer tonight for dinner.  The selection was good and I was impressed with how good the steak was that I got.  After dinner I decided I needed to get a drink from the bionic bar and ride the rising tide bar before the week came to an end and I didn’t have a chance to do them.  I was glad I experienced both and crossed them off the list of things I wanted to do this week.

Tonight’s night club was held in the Solarium.  It was a nice change of pace and we danced the night away until early morning.  Pizza at Sorrento’s followed before heading to bed.  Why did I book an early morning excursion for Cozumel?

Day 5 – Cozumel Mexico

I hope future Matt remembers this morning for years to come and never books an early morning excursion on a sailing I know I’ll be out late on.  Tired and hungover, I managed to get myself out of bed on time to head to our meet up point for the Fury Catamaran.  To top it off, the weather was subpar today.  Clouds and occasional rain filled the morning.  I’ll be honest, I was kind of glad that the weather wasn’t great because I didn’t feel so bad about sleeping and resting the entire excursion.  Finally as the Fury made her way back to the pier I was starting to feel better and got a second wind.  We returned to the ship and had some lunch.  After lunch we got back off the ship do take some photos and do some shopping.  This was the extent of our day in Cozumel.

We had a planned group dinner in Windjammer tonight.  So after avoiding the buffet for the first 4 days of our trip, I’ve now dined in there two nights in a row.  It was the same selection tonight but there was plenty of things I had not tried the night before.

Our night time activities were kicked off watching the Love and Marriage Show.  It’s always an entertaining show and this was no exception.  Following the show some of our group headed to Studio B were the famed “Red Party” would take place tonight.  We stayed out late again dancing the night away.  Almost too late this time, as we missed Sorrento’s pizza which closed at 3 am.  Fortunately, Café Promenade was still open and we were able to get some sandwiches and snacks before calling it a night.

Day 6 – At Sea

After the rough go the previous morning and another late night, a relaxing sea day was just what I needed.  First thing on the agenda was sleeping in late!  I then headed to Johnny Rockets around the time they opened at 11:30.  A burger, fries, and a milkshake really hit the spot.  I should note that there is a surcharge to dine at Johnny Rockets, but you can use your deluxe beverage package to cover the milkshakes (assuming you are also dining).

I lounged for quite a while in the Solarium this afternoon.  This really became my go to place to relax on sea days.  Before long it was time to head back to the cabin and get ready for the evening.

Tonight would be my first go at Izumi for dinner.  Two others from the group joined me tonight.  We would be dining on the sushi side of Izumi, not the hibachi side.  I am a huge sushi fan so there was an endless amount of options.  We really enjoyed our food but the service tonight was downright slow.  I was reluctant to be concerned and just chalked it up as a one off night.

Later tonight would be the infamous Quest Game show.  A large part of our group was in attendance, and we all sat in the same section to be sure we were all on the same team.  I obliged to be the team captain even though I knew what that would mean at the final quest challenge.  Sadly our team did not win but we did well.  There was one challenge that only 3 teams were able to complete, I believe this set those teams apart from the rest in the standings.  Regardless, we had tons of laughs and a lot of fun.  We also now know that I cannot do the worm!

We wrapped up tonight at round two of the Hush Party.  Similar to the party earlier in the week, those of us that attended had a great time.  I hope the silent discos are here to stay.  A quick stop for pizza and I was off to bed, as night six came to an end.

Day 7 – Nassau Bahamas

Nassau days always feel a little bit like coming home.  This would be visit number 26 to the island for me.  Today I would be taking some of our group on the Cruise Life Matt Bar Crawl.  I have done this with a couple other groups on previous visits, and it always seems to be enjoyed.  Today was no different.  Our day was filled with drinks, sunshine, and laughing with friends.  We started at Pirate Republic Brewery and finished at Senor Frogs.  If you would like to hear about the places we stopped in between be sure to check out the link above.  After a day full of drinking and eating we made our way back to the ship well in advance of all aboard.  We quickly made reservations for Izumi again tonight and then headed up to the Solarium for sail away from Nassau.

There were 12 of us dining in Izumi tonight.  Even though there were four times as many of us this time versus the previous night, the service was much improved.  Dining with a large group is a really fun experience for me and definitely is one of the perks of sailing as part of a group cruise.

I promised myself I would take it easy the last night, especially after drinking all day in Nassau.  There is nothing worse than traveling home and being hungover.  I spent a little time in the casino and some time at karaoke before heading to bed.  It was hard to believe our week long sailing was coming to an end!

Debarkation and Wrap Up

Debarkation was as easy as embarkation was.  I did self-debark and walked off the ship around 7:00 am.  No line to speak of, I simply walked off.  In no time I was off in my Uber headed for FLL airport.

I had an absolute blast aboard Symphony of the Seas and the big ship feel definitely grew on me.  Friends, old and new, made the experience that much better and  I hope to cross cruising paths with them again in the near future.  Now for the big question, would I sail on one of Royal Caribbean’s behemoths again?  The simple answer is yes, with the caveat that it wouldn’t be all too often.  I’m thinking maybe it’s a type of ship for me to sail once a year or every other year.  I missed feeling as connected to the ocean as I do on many other ships, but I also loved the endless options and amenities.  If you have a sailing coming up on Symphony of the Seas I hope this helps you get excited for your cruise vacation.  If you have already sailed on an Oasis class ship, what did you think of the experience?

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