Robot bartenders, a 10-story slide, and 23 pools – what can’t you find on the biggest cruise ship in the world?
The largest cruise ship in the world—Royal Caribbean’s new Symphony of the Seas—is more like a floating city than a ship. It carries a whopping 6,680 passengers (in addition to 2,200 crew members!), has seven neighborhoods, and packs in more entertainment per square foot than many towns, too. Traveling on that scale isn’t for everyone, but for families who love being active, it can be the ultimate vacation. Marvel with us at the coolest, craziest things you can do on this giant metropolis at sea.
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Rent a $50,000-Per-Week Suite
Spanning two floors at 1,346 square feet, the Ultimate Family Suite is every kid’s dream. It features a full sized slide, an air hockey table, a hot tub, a Lego wall, and a 3D movie theater room. Probably the most outrageous detail is that it’s already booked through the rest of 2018.
Order Drinks From a Robot
File under “Not Something You See Every Day”: watching a pair of robot arms shake up a cocktail at the Bionic Bar. Order a classic or custom cocktail from an iPad (Long Island Iced Tea seemed to be the crowd favorite) and be mesmerized at the mechanics. At night, the wait time can climb to upwards of 15 minutes and the $12 charge might seem steep, but it’s worth it for the spectacle at least one time.
Race Down a 10-Story Slide
If a slide called “Ultimate Abyss” sounds intimidating, it’s because it is. Looming 150 feet above sea level, the steep, twisting slides produce their fair share of screams. If you take the plunge, try not to think of the fact that it’s taller than Buckingham Palace.
With all the other adrenaline-pumping activities, it’s easy to overlook the rock climbing wall on the starboard side of the ship. Go in the morning to avoid lines and earn a view 220 feet above the ocean.
Zip-Line High Above Deck
I hope you’re not scared of heights, because in yet another high flying activity, you can zoom from one end of the ship to another, nine stories above the ship’s Boardwalk neighborhood. You don’t have to make reservations, and it’s complimentary.
Battle Your Friends in Laser Tag
Symphony of the Seas is the first of Royal Caribbean’s ships to have laser tag, a glow-in-the-dark space adventure that’ll have you battling for “Planet Z.”
Hang Ten on a Surf Simulator
Every passenger 52 inches and up can surf free of charge at FlowRider, the ship’s 40-foot-long surfing simulator, a staple on many of Royal Caribbean’s ships. Don’t worry, wiping out doesn’t hurt (trust me; I did it many, many times).
Catch a Broadway Show
Cruise ships aren’t usually renowned for their stage shows, but Symphony of the Seas’ rendition of “Hairspray” was surprisingly full of talent.
Watch High Divers Perform
If you’re not into heights yourself, you can watch as high divers plunge off two 10-meter Olympic diving boards in a nighttime show at the open-air AquaTheater at the back of the ship.
Channel your inner Olympic gold medalist during complimentary ice skating sessions, or catch the pros during a nighttime show.
Eat Your Heart Out
The buffet isn’t spectacular, sure, but of the ship’s 20 restaurants (totaling more than 300 menu options), there are some winners. My favorites were the specialty restaurants that require advance reservations and an upcharge: Jamie’s Italian, featuring a menu from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, serves up good Italian fare while a new seafood restaurant, Hooked, is a good choice for lobster rolls, surf ‘n’ turf, and oysters. The most entertaining meal is at Wonderland, a whimsical Alice and Wonderland-themed restaurant where you can dig up veggies from truffle-flavored pumpernickel “dirt.” To capture a cool video, order a Cheshire Cosmo: the base is a towering bed of cotton candy that melts down when the drink is poured.
Lounge by 23 Pools
It’s still hard to snag a spot on some sunny days, but you have lots of options: There’s a water park for kids, a main pool open to families, and several hot tubs, but the adults-only solarium has the most peaceful pool and hot tubs.
Ogle at the Size
Contemplate the enormity of this thing. It’s a feat that took three years and around $1.3 billion to build. It’s twice as high as the Washington Monument, has more works of art than the Louvre has paintings, and was constructed out of 500,000 pieces. It’s 230,000 tons, has 18 decks, and is 1,188 feet long. It’s so big, in fact, that only certain ports are equipped to handle it. I could go on. Bottom line: choose this ship, and you’ll find out quickly if you think traveling bigger really is better.