Royal Caribbean finally got its hands on Symphony of the Seas, and the ship has inherited the title of world’s largest cruise ship.
The ceremony that took place at the STX France shipyard in St. Nazaire, France on Friday is the culmination of 36 months of construction on the fourth Oasis-class vessel in the fleet, which will make its way to Miami this fall.
On hand for the flag-changing ceremony marking the official delivery of the vessel were Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Laurent Castaing, General Manager of STX France.
“Symphony of the Seas is the latest example of how our people work to push the envelope of innovation with each new ship,” said Fain. “The Oasis Class has been a trend-setting design, but the team has evolved the design to build on that success to provide even more incredible family adventures. We’re thankful to have a partner in STX France that is every bit as ambitious as we are about building technologically advanced ships.”
The 228,081-ton, 1,188-foot-long ship has a maximum capacity of 6,680 guests with 2,200 crew. At double capacity, though, the guest count is 5,518 from 2,759 staterooms.
The Oasis-class vessels have each held the title of World’s Largest Cruise Ship, certified each in turn by Guinness World Records. Each one has been slightly larger than the last, with Oasis of the Seas first inheriting the title almost a decade ago when it debuted in 2009, followed by Allure of the Seas in 2010 and Harmony of the Seas in 2016. The ship becomes the 25th in the Royal Caribbean fleet.
“It is a proud and exhilarating moment to welcome a new member to the family. Thanks to our stellar crew and partners at STX France, we now are ready to embark on this new boundless adventure that comes to life on Symphony of the Seas,” said Bayley. “Symphony will take family vacationing to an all new level with energy and options never before found in one place. This ship is the perfect blend of our greatest hits we know guests love and a lineup of vibrant, new restaurants, activities and unparalleled entertainment – all purposefully designed around vacationers’ preferences.”
The new ship features the same design, with seven distinct neighborhoods and several of the same features that debuted on Harmony of the Seas or are mainstays across the fleet. Those include the 10-deck twisting dry slide The Ultimate Abyss, twi FlowRider surf simulators, a zip line, twin 40-foot rock climbing walls, ice skating rink and the AquaTheater.
Unique to Symphony of the Seas will be the “world's largest laser tag arena,” in the Studio B space where the ice skating is performed. It will be transformed into a glow-in-the-dark venue themed around the fate of the last planets of the galaxy.
Also new to the fleet will be the 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. 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.
A new Mexican food concept called El Loco Fresh and casual seafood option called Hooked will debut on the ship. While other of the many dining options will be the same as other ships in the fleet 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 include Broadway show “Hairspray,” original production “Flight” that is a humorous look at the history for flight, skating show “1977” and in the AquaTheater, a show titled “HiRo.”
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 ship will sail to Barcelona at the end of the month and then debut with a full set of passengers on the already sold out April 7, 2018 inaugural sailing. It will spend 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.
Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
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Edited by Jason