The new giant of cruising, Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas, finally has reached its year-round home.
Unveiled earlier this year in Europe, the much-awaited, 228,081-ton vessel pulled into the Port of Miami on Friday before dawn after a 12-night voyage from Barcelona. The arrival came a day after the 18-deck-high vessel made a brief stop at Port Canaveral, Florida — its first call in North America.
Arriving in the vicinity of Miami's cruise port before 3 a.m. on Friday, Symphony was met by fire boats spraying water in the air in celebration. It made a turn in the basin in front of Miami's Museum Park before docking at the port's new Terminal A around 4 a.m.
Symphony will be feted again late Friday with fireworks over the Miami harbor. But the ship's main coming out party in North America will take place next Thursday in Miami when it is christened by actors Carlos and Alexa PenaVega, along with their 17-month-old son Ocean.
The vessel will begin year-round, week-long sailings to the Caribbean out of Miami starting Nov. 17.
Designed for vacationers who love big, bustling mega-resorts, Symphony is built on the same platform as Royal Caribbean's 2-year-old Harmony of the Seas, the previous size leader in cruising. But it eclipses its sibling by more than 1,000 tons and offers several new features.
Among the additions are a first-of-its-kind, two-deck-high family suite with a slide between floors, a revamped Boardwalk amusement area, a new laser tag attraction and a new-for-Royal Caribbean seafood restaurant. Symphony also has more cabins than Harmony.
Like Harmony, Symphony also offers such gee-whiz attractions as a thrill slide that plunges nearly 100 feet and a "bionic bar" with a robot bartender. It boasts three main pool areas, a water slide complex, an adults-only solarium, an ice skating rink, two rock climbing walls, a basketball court and a mall-like indoor promenade with shops, bars and eateries. Like Harmony, it also has an open-air, tree-lined area called Central Park with restaurants, bars and upscale shops such as Bulgari.
Symphony can hold up to 6,680 passengers and sails with a crew of 2,200, meaning that on busy weeks it can be home to nearly 9,000 people.
The ship was constructed over three years at the giant Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France — the same shipyard that built Harmony. Built at a cost of more than $1 billion, it was delivered to Royal Caribbean in St. Nazaire on March 23 and has spent the past few months sailing out of Barcelona.
Symphony and Harmony are the latest, biggest vessels in Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class series. Two other Oasis Class ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, debuted in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class vessels have made waves in the cruise industry since they began debuting in 2009. All of the Oasis Class ships are in excess of 225,000 tons — more than 30% larger than the next largest cruise vessels.
With the addition of Symphony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has 25 ships.
By Gene Sloan, USA Today
Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
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