Wole Shadare writes about the inside story of how cruise ships went from pensioners’ pastime to floating cities engaged in an all-out entertainment arms race.
How does one describe the experience on Symphony of the Seas, regarded as the world’s largest cruise ship? It is one that is difficult to capture in just one article. Symphony of The Seas has just everything.
She is about five times the size of the Titanic. At 362 metres long, you could balance it on its stern and its bow would tower over all but two of Europe’s tallest skyscrapers.
Owned and operated by Miami-based cruise line Royal Caribbean, it can carry nearly 9,000 people and contains more than 40 restaurants and bars; 23 pools, jacuzzis and water slides; two West End-sized theatres; an ice rink; a surf simulator; two climbing walls; a zip line; a fairground carousel; a mini-golf course; a ten-storey fun slide; laser tag; a spa; a gym; a casino; plus dozens more shopping and entertainment opportunities.
To put it another way, Symphony of the Seas might be the most ludicrously entertaining luxury hotel in history. It just also happens to float.
Designed for holiday-makers who love big, bustling mega-resorts, Symphony is built on the same platform as Royal Caribbean’s 22 month old Harmony of the Seas, the previous size leader in cruising. But it eclipses its sibling by more than 1, 000 tonnes and offers several new features.
The opportunity to be part of one the biggest media events; pre media launch of Symphony of The Seas came after invitation was sent to me by Tour Brokers International, the official Royal Caribbean cruise agent in Nigeria and West Africa.
I was thrilled because of all the good things I have heard associated with cruise and I looked forward to the fun.
The intriguing part of the ship is the Futuristic Bionic Bar. Here, you have robots mix a drink of your choice; second ever at sea after Harmony of The Seas.
Symphony of The Seas combines the distinct seven-neighbourhood concept that Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class of ships is known for.
Nothing could have prepared me for my first sight of this wonder! “The Real Big Experience on board her. I had an incredible two-day experience, sailing from Malaga to Barcelona. And I must say that the excitement at sea could not be more adventurous.
Registration was seamless. Check-in was hassles free and efficient. The journey to Spain started from London and a great thanks to the Country Commercial Manager for Nigeria and West Africa for British Airways, Mr. Kola Olayinka who facilitated it while Tour Brokers International completed the trip by air from London to Malaga via Madrid and back to London from Barcelona where the ship sailed to.
After all the formalities, I was handed the key to my stateroom on Deck 5. The room compares favourably with five star rating of many big hotels around the globe. It was spacious. I was lucky to get a balcony room and loungers. My room was strategically located, facing the Atlantic Ocean.
The king-size bed was very comfortable (double occupancy) and the compact bathroom had an excellent power shower.
Symphony of the Seas is a game-changer in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class with ripple effects in the cruise industry.
Once on-board, venture into the Ultimate Abyss – world’s tallest slide at sea – for a thrill of a lifetime as you prepare to scale every height on the dual 43-foot rock-climbing walls.
This one is for the adventurous and brave at heart. I declined to slide from the over 43-foot rock-climbing walls. The Managing Director of TBI, Mrs. Uloma Egbuna mustered courage to slide on it, and before we knew it, she was sliding the on the high seas. She is really courageous.
For a more adventurous experience, zip line nine decks in the air above Symphony of the Seas. Now how’s that for a cruise vacation?!? Accommodations range from Royal Suite Class and Family Suites to Balcony, Oceanview and Interior Staterooms.
With 20 dining options ranging from quality, hand-cut steaks at Royal Caribbean’s Chops Grille to Japanese grill specialties and a new teppanyaki menu at Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, your gourmet, globetrotting cravings will be satisfied.
Royal Caribbean has taken cruising to a new level over this past decade introducing one magnificent vessel after another.
Now the cruise recently unveiled line is preparing to unveil the Symphony of the Seas, which will boost the title of the world’s largest cruise ship.
While the Symphony of the Seas will have numerous standout amenities and on-board experiences, one feature is getting a lot of attention, especially from families.
The new ship will debut a two story family suite, which will have a slide connecting the children’s room on the second floor to the main living space on the main floor. An air-hockey table, popcorn machines and movie-theater styled TV room will also be part of the family suite.
In addition to those fun features for children, the family suite accommodate eight people and will come with its own butler! This suite will truly be in a class of its own and will provide families with a once-in-a-lifetime experience while on their vacation.
Royal Caribbean cruise lines have taken their entertainment expertise to a whole new ground. Their innovation and imagination are wild. There is broadway show, Mama Mia and the list goes on and on.
The Ice show was something that literally took my breath away. Grease the musical show was fantastic and particularly featured a full size grease lightening car. Food on board was, plentiful and tasty with an amazing service.
These two are top priority for cruisers. Sampling over 20 different restaurants wasn’t something I dared to try, keeping in mind, I had only 48 hours to spend on board, so, I just stuck to foods that I am familiar with at windjammer on deck 16.There’s always a wide variety to choose from and the best part is that it’s (food) is included in your cruise package.
Symphony had been under construction since early 2015 at the giant STF shipyard in St. Nazaire, France-the same shipyard that built Harmony. Built at a cost of $1.5 billion, it was delivered to Royal Caribbean in St. Nazaire on March 23 and spent the past week repositioning to Barcelona before the pre-media sail.
Symphony is more works of art than the Louvre has paintings. Many of the unique pieces were specifically created for Symphony of the Seas, and designed to intrigue and bring joy and harmony to all, guests and crew alike.