Royal Caribbean reveals new details on Symphony of the Seas

Rendering of the Ultimate Family Suite on Symphony of the Seas. The suite will have room for eight. (Royal Caribbean International/TNS)

Rendering of the Ultimate Family Suite on Symphony of the Seas. The suite will have room for eight. (Royal Caribbean International/TNS)

MIAMI — Royal Caribbean International’s new ship, Symphony of the Seas, will be an ode to the family vacation.

The massive vessel will begin sailing from PortMiami in November 2018, carrying with it the title of biggest ship in the world and, inside it, a bevy of family-focused activities the likes of which the cruise line has never seen.

Like each Oasis-class ship before it, dating back to the debut of Oasis of the Seas in 2009, the 5,535-passenger Symphony will introduce a new “biggest at sea” feature. This time, it’ll be the largest laser tag arena at sea, located in Studio B, a multipurpose performance and activity space that also doubles as the ship’s ice skating rink.

The laser tag feature is a popular choice this year. Norwegian Cruise Line is also debuting a laser tag arena on its new Norwegian Bliss, also sailing from PortMiami in November, but Norwegian’s will be outdoors. Both Royal and Norwegian’s laser tag features will carry space themes, with Norwegian’s modeled after an abandoned space station and Royal Caribbean going with a battle for the fate of the last-planet-in-the-galaxy vibe.

“We think the kids are going to engage on this big time,” said Michael Bayley, the Miami-based line’s president and CEO, on a call with reporters last week.

The other major family-friendly feature will be the 1,346-square foot Ultimate Family Suite. This massive, two-level suite will include a kids-only bedroom — with slide access to the living room, no less — a separate adult’s room, a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, an air-hockey table, a 3D movie theater-style TV room — with a popcorn machine, of course, and video games — and a wraparound balcony with a full-size whirlpool and pool table.

There will only be one of these mega-sized suites on the ship, Bayley said, with room for up to eight guests.

“We should put a guarantee in it that if your kids aren’t happy, we will give you your money back,” Bayley joked. “Family is key and core to our market. Every detail for families is being carefully designed with guests of all ages in mind,” he added.

Other guest-favorite features from previous Oasis-class ships are sticking around for Symphony, including the 10-story slide Ultimate Abyss, robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar, surfing simulator FlowRider and a trio of waterslides.

And some of the areas on the Oasis-class’ seven-neighborhood concept are getting refreshed. At the Boardwalk, for instance, the line is adding Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade in place of Mexican restaurant Sabor found on other Oasis-class ships. The new venue will have more than 30 TVs, arcade games and pub fare. Across the Boardwalk will be a new candy and ice cream shop called Sugar Beach.

Two other new culinary venues are also being added: Hooked Seafood, a casual New England-style seafood restaurant with a raw bar located at the adults-only Solarium, and on-the-go Mexican restaurant El Loco Fresh, with made-to-order tacos, burritos and other Mexican fare at the open-air Sports Zone.

On the entertainment side, Royal Caribbean will bring back “Hairspray,” the line’s first Broadway musical at sea, which debuted on Oasis of the Seas. Symphony will also feature three new shows: “Flight,” a comedy satire on the evolution of air travel, “HiRo,” a new high diving and acrobatics show at the AquaTheater, and “1977,” a London-themed ice skating show.

Royal Caribbean will have a redesigned check-in experience eliminating lines. Guests will check in from home, take their ship “selfie” at home and only be required to pass through security at check-in. A new mobile app will be the home base for each guest’s information while on board.

The ship will also have the line’s VOOM internet, the fastest at sea, and wayfinding capabilities on board, as well as virtual balconies in some staterooms.

Symphony of the Seas will sail a summer Mediterranean season beginning in April 2018 before heading to PortMiami in November, and then operate Caribbean sailings from the cruise line’s new terminal in Miami.