My husband and i have recently returned from a cruise on Symphony of the Seas to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary and without a doubt it was one of the best cruises we have done. We arrived in Barcelona on 27th April and had one night at the Onix Liceo Hotel which is centrally located about half way down Las Ramblas on a side street, and is a great location for a pre cruise stay if you are looking for something central.
We took a taxi to the port the following morning where the check in procedure was slick and there was no waiting around. The luggage was taken straight from us by the porters and within 30 minutes we were onbaord. They announced that the cabins would be ready by 2pm so we had a bit of time to explore the ship while we waited.
Although we had been on Harmony of the Seas it was still nice to be back on a brand new ship where everything smells fresh and still had the smell of freshly laid carpets. One thing about Royal Caribbean is that they always have quirky decor around the ship which I love and catches your eye as soon as you get on.
We had a Central Park Balcony on Deck 11 which was in a great position and although I was worried about the noise from the pool decks above during the day, especially when the bands were playing on deck, my worries were unfounded. As soon as you closed the balcony door you couldnt hear anything. The bed was positioned next to the patio doors so you did have to keep curtains closed while you were getting dressed as you could see straight accross to the balconies opposite! The cabin was very spacious with plenty of wardrobe space and a lovely bathroon with a proper shower cubicle. We were given a complimentary bottle of Red Wine for having one of these cabins and also had a choice of a free lunch in Johny Rockets or Jamie’s Italian on one of the Seas days. I will tell you all abaout that in my next blog about the food and bars.
Although the layout was very similar to Harmony the Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade has replaced “Sabor” restaurant and the shops that were next to it on the Boardwalk. Playmakers is a large bar that opens out onto the boardwalk and shows all the sporting events on large TV’s dotted around inside. El Loco Fresh, situated on Deck 15, was similar to Sabor but was a self service Mexican rather than a restaurant and was great for lunch. Unfortunately it was only open from 11.30am -6pm and I think if it had been open later it would have been popular in the evenings too as an alternative to the Windjammer if people didnt want to go to the main dining room.
The Main Dining Rooms were on decks 3, 4 and 5 with the ones on deck 3 and 5 for early and late dining and the dining room on deck 4 was for My time dining. These were beautifully decorated and could not fault the food and service. As we had chosen My Time dining it was still best to pre-book a time for the following evening as people who hadnt did have to queue, although these didnt take long to go down.
Main Dining Room
The Splashaway Bay and Perfect Storm Water Slides were open every day from 11.00am until 4.00pm and then again from 5.30pm until 7.30pm and of course not forgetting the Ultimate Abyss which was also open during these times, weather permitting. These were really popular with children and adults alike. The swimming pools were watched by life guards every day and personal floatation jackets and devices were available free of charge for the children which is a great idea as other cruiselines do not provide these. The Kids and teenagers also had a large area for themselves where the kids clubs were.
The Carousel on the Boardwalk was open every day from 11.00am until 4.00pm and again from 5.30pm until 10.00pm and would have been rude not to have a go at least once!
The ship provided shuttle services in the ports of call and the cost varied from Port to Port and where they were not provided an independant service were available. In Palma this was the case and the cost was only 10 euros for the round trip. In Marseille, as this was run by the ship, the return cost was $18. In La Spezia, as it was an industrial port, a complimentary service was provided to the town centre.
I will be back next time to tell you about the bars and restaurants and entertainment!