The Coolest, Largest, Most Family-Friendly, Floating Theme Park Is A Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean to rest of the cruise industry: You’ve been served!

Symphony of the Seas is not a new rock opera, but the name of the world’s largest, newest cruise ship – which just set sail on its maiden voyage.  


Weighing in 230,000 tons and 1,200 feet long – the equivalent of four football fields – this is the latest offering from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Housed in this floating apartment building is almost everything you could possibly want on vacation. Sixteen guest decks, 24 elevators, 2,759 staterooms – 2,759! – and a two-level family suite which includes a slide from the upper to lower level. At double occupancy, the ship would accommodate 5,535 holiday makers, plus a crew of 2,200. There are seven different “neighborhoods” including the grandly named Central Park, Boardwalk and Royal Promenade.



The Aqua Theatre at night SBW-Photo



The Entertainment Place is of course the entertainment center, plus 18 restaurants, a spa (more details later), something enigmatically referred to as the youth zone (one is not sure if this is a place where old people can get young again, but probably not) and The Ultimate Abyss, a 10-story water slide in the pool area.


The family suite is 1,346 square feet with a 212-square-foot wraparound balcony, a pool table, climbing wall and whirlpool, and the two-story slide from the oceanfront. Plus a 3D TV room with a popcorn machine and all the video game systems mom and dad refused to buy you for Christmas (poor you!). And the suite has the Royal Genie who will grant you whatever you need whenever you want it. Not sure if you have to rub it though.


The Perfect Storm, a trio of waterslides on Symphony of the Seas SBW-Photo

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley is confident that the liner, a theme park on the ocean, will surpass all expectations and we think he may be correct. “We set out to create a new level of vacation adventure and deliver the ultimate escape for families of all shapes and sizes. Symphony will introduce the most cutting-edge, customized and digitally-enhanced experience in the Royal Caribbean fleet.”


Normally that would sound like run-of-the-mill hyperbole, but he may actually be understating things here.


In the Boardwalk neighborhood, the Playmaker Sports Bar and Arcade shows all sports from around the world on 30 flatscreens, amid a plantation of classic arcade games. There is a seafood restaurant called Hooked, a Lewis Carroll-inspired Wonderland restaurant which you enter through a rabbit hole; a Bionic Bar complete with robot bartenders (who probably haven’t heard them all…); and Sugar Beach, a creamery and confectioner. (Hmm, that should keep the kids up.) Then there is Studio B, a battlefield for laser tag, The Perfect Storm waterpark, a LEGO climbing wall, a California-themed (whatever that means) solarium on the top decks, ice skating, rock climbing, outdoor aqua theater and ice-skating shows and onboard shows of Hairspray and Flight, a historical satire on the history of aviation. At night when, hopefully, the kids are in bed, the big kids can visit the nightclub, casino and all the wonderful retail shopping.


Cruises are scheduled to start from Barcelona in April for a week-long sail around the Mediterranean, brushing up against Mallorca, Provence, Rome and Naples. In November, you can take the cruise from Miami when Royal Caribbean’s new terminal opens and tour the Western Caribbean.


Central Park neighborhood SBW-Photo



The Solarium pool onboard the Symphony of the Seas SBW-Photo



The over-the-top Ultimate Family Suite. Of course it has a slide SBW-Photo



The Bionic bar that would make <em>Six Million Dollar Man</em> Steve Austin proud SBW-Photo



Let’s face it, that’s a pretty serene looking sunrise…. SBW-Photo