On Symphony of the Seas, Size Matters

Cruise Week

The new world's largest cruise ship is also Royal Caribbean's best Oasis-class ship and its ultimate family ship. Symphony of the Seas is packed with more enticements for families and millennials, with wows around every corner, according to Anne Kalosh, who travelled on the ship on behalf of Cruise Week.

Symphony measures 228,081 gross tons, making it slightly larger than 2017's Harmony of the Seas, at 226,963 gross tons.

"From the beginning, this class of ships has just resonated with the public," Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said.

"People today are looking for experiences," he continued. "We wanted to provide more memories, more activities and more experiences. When you're onboard, you don't think of it as a large ship. You think 'I've got lots of choices.'"

When Oasis of the Seas kicked off the class in 2009, it was a stunner. Typical of Royal Caribbean, though, each subsequent ship was improved, and Harmony even borrowed a few tricks from the newer Quantum series, which made their way to Symphony, too. They include the Royal Promenade's Bionic Bar, where robots shake the cocktails, and specialty restaurants Wonderland and Jamie's Italian.

This fourth Oasis ship has an extra edge. Standouts from a two-night preview cruise included the Ultimate Family Suite, incredible new shows, a greater array of dining choices and the fact that everything overall is being executed so well.

Symphony had just carried 4,000 people on a shakedown cruise prior to that, and Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean brand president and CEO, was thrilled the net promoter score pushed close to 80. A "phenomenal rating," he said.

On board we heard numerous company executives talking about a "flawless delivery" by STX France. What that meant, Fain explained, is fewer items on the punch list (things to finish/fix) than he's ever seen. That's saying something.

It makes life much easier for the crew, since there's more time for training and getting used to new systems.

Indeed, the crew on our sailing seemed not just happy, but polished. There were no long waits in restaurants (however, the ship wasn't full) or items missing from the staterooms that hadn't been unpacked.

Fain quoted Capt. Rob Hempstead, who calls the ship "a tool. The people bring it to life ... We give them good tools. They provide outstanding service."

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