While Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas is set to become the world’s largest cruise ship next year, it will have a lot in common with its sister ships.
Except they won’t have laser tag.
“I think it will be a mind-blowing blast for kids of all ages,” said Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley on a call revealing some of what will make the fourth Oasis-class ship unique.
Bayley touted it as the “world's largest laser tag arena,” and headed for the ship’s Studio B, which is also where the cruise line’s signature ice skating productions take place. It will be a glow-in-the-dark venue themed around the fate of the last planets of the galaxy, Bayley said.
“We think the kids are going to engage with this big time,” he said.
It’s part of an overall pitch by the line to target families, according to Bayley, as is a new Ultimate Family Suite, a two-level suite that will feature a slide, a floor-to-ceiling Lego wall, air hockey, movie-theater-style TV room with popcorn machine as well as a 212-square-foot wraparound balcony with its own climbing wall feature, bumper pool table and whirlpool. It’s a two-bedroom suite that can accommodate up to eight guests.
“I think we should put a guarantee on it that if you kids aren't happy we'll give you your money back,” Bayley said.
Much of the ship will be similar to sister ship Harmony of the Seas including the presence of the 10-story Ultimate Abyss dry slide, Perfect Storm water park, twin 40-foot-tall rock climbing walls, FlowRider surf simulators, zip line and more.
Something slightly different than Harmony of the Seas, though, will be a shift in the design of the Boardwalk neighborhood.
“We're bringing a whole new level of energy and interactive experience mostly with technology,” Bayley said. “We're going to kind of change the whole vibe to a kind of day-night experience.”
Those changes include the removal of the Sabor’s Mexican dining venue and Starbucks in favor or a sports bar and arcade called Playmakers that will span the length of the Boardwalk. Some shopping venues will also be making way for Sugar Beach, an ice cream and candy venue.
Starbucks fans will be glad to know that the venue isn’t going away, although it won’t be on board for the ship’s European sailings that begin when it debuts next April. It will be located on the Royal Promenade, though, when the ship makes its ways to PortMiami to begin Caribbean sailings in November 2018.
And while Sabor’s is leaving, there will be a Mexican food option called El Loco Fresh as well as a new casual seafood option called Hooked that will be located in the redesigned Solarium.
“The focus of the new seafood restaurant will be fresh seafood, a robust raw bar, oysters shucked to order,” Bayley said, “Casual, high quality and the most unbelievable views at seas.”
The ship will also feature many dining venues found on its sister ships including fusion food venue Wonderland, Jamie Oliver's Italian dining venue, Japanese cuisine at Izumi, the Chops Grill steakhouse and 150 Central Park, which serves seasonal American cuisine.
Entertainment offerings were also announced including the return of the Broadway show “Hairspray,” which was once the featured show on board Oasis of the Seas. Augmenting the marquee stage show will be an original production called “Flight” that is a humorous look at the history for flight from the Wright Brothers all the way to the first tourist trip to Mars. On the ice will be a skating show titled “1977” and in the AquaTheater will be a show titled “HiRo.”
“We're the only brand and product that can offer you ice shows, air shows, water shows and stage shows,” Bayley said.
One other feature coming to the ship will be the introduction of app-based mobile check in, that will be available in both Europe and when it comes to North America.
“The nickname we've given this is frictionless arrival, which means guest will be able to use their mobile phone to check in and walk on the ship with just one security check,” Bayley said.
Symphony of the Seas' gross registered tons will be more than Harmony of the Seas, which comes in at 226,963 tons. Harmony of the Seas currently holds the title for world's largest cruise ship, slightly larger than the original ships, 2009's Oasis of the Seas and 2010's Allure of the Seas.
Symphony will feature 28 more staterooms than Harmony of the Seas with a Royal Suite class, neighborhood balconies overlooking Central Park, virtual balconies on inside staterooms, and the highest number of ocean-view cabins at sea.
The ship is set to debut April 21, 2018 with an inaugural sailing from Barcelona as it spends its first season of cruising in the Mediterranean. It then repositions to PortMiami on a 12-night transatlantic voyage that departs Oct. 28 and begins Caribbean sailings on Nov. 9 with the first seven-night cruise on Nov. 17.
By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel