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A Cruise Expert's Review of Symphony of the Seas

31st July 2018

Updated March 2019

We love sending our staff out on various cruises and ship visits so that they can continue to hone their expertise and pass on knowledge to our customers. This being said, we felt it absolutely necessary to send a few of our guys out on what is now (at the time of writing!) the world’s largest cruise ship; Symphony of the Seas. Find out what cruise specialist Chelsea thought of this incredible ship.

 

 

There are many, many awe-struck moments that you will feel onboard Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas. But then, this is what they do best.

When you arrive you are hit instantly by her sheer size. She dwarfs all other ships in port and dominates the view. Many people are a little worried about the 5,518 passenger capacity onboard, but they really don’t need to be. Most of the time, you don’t even realise you are sailing, never mind on a cruise ship!

The ship is so vast that you don’t feel swamped by other passengers at all, and instead, you simply feel relaxed. The only time you might see the majority of the other passengers is in the theatre, which spans over two decks towards the front of the ship. I was lucky enough to watch Hairspray here, and was taken aback by the staging, the lights, and the whole performance. It really does rival the West End!

Inside the ship, you feel as though you are in a huge shopping centre. It’s filled with entertainment, restaurants, shops, and bars. Each ‘neighbourhood’ is truly amazing in a different way;

 

  • Central Park with its trees and plants really makes you feel like you’re having a coffee in a park
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  • The Boardwalk boasts the Aqua Theatre and sports bars
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  • The Royal Promenade is the heart of the ship, and where you will find the majority of shops and bars
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    Not to mention all the other amenities onboard the ship; waterslides, the Abyss, the Pools, FlowRider, the zip-line, rock-climbing walls, laser tag - is it possible there’s too much to do?

    The cabin we had was a Balcony cabin overlooking the Boardwalk. It was perfect for two people and had a sofa area by the balcony. We had a great view of the Aqua Theatre, but this did also mean we could hear the Aqua Theatre Show when our door was open. If the door is shut, you hear next to no noise at all which is great for the evenings.

    As great as our accommodation was, I would, in fact, recommend an Oceanview Balcony cabin on this ship. Aside from these cabins, you can only see the ocean beyond the Aqua Theatre and from the windows in the main restaurant - it isn’t visible elsewhere on the ship. By staying in an Oceanview Balcony, you would know you were holidaying on a cruise ship after all!

     

     

    A cruise isn’t a cruise if you don’t mention the food. The Main Restaurant on Symphony of the Seas is beautiful, and the standard of the food you just cannot fault. The Windjammer is everything you expect and caters for every fancy. The speciality restaurants that you see on other Royal Caribbean ships are also present; Jamie’s Italian, Izumi, and Chop’s Grille for example. As with some of the other large ships in the fleet, 150 Central Park and Wonderland are also both onboard. My only regret is not being able to try Wonderland’s ‘Imaginative dining’ - I would advise anyone to book a table here in advance through your Cruise Personaliser, so as not to miss out.

    As for the staff, we couldn’t fault any of them. They always - always - went above and beyond as usual.

    Take a closer look at life onboard Symphony of the Seas, or if you’re already sold, browse through our range of Symphony of the Seas cruises.


    Oriana retires- but what does the future hold for the P&O fleet

    4th July 2018

    It came as a surprise to many when P&O announced the retirement of another of their much loved, intimate adult-only cruise ships; with Oriana’s service scheduled to come to an end in August 2019.

     

     

    Given that she was only refurbished as recently as 2016, the news sent ripples throughout the cruise world. Possibly, Oriana will follow her sister ship Adonia who was sold to Azamara Cruises and now sails under the name Azamara Pursuit. However, these two departures do not mark the downsizing of the P&O fleet. In fact, exactly the opposite is the case. Not only are there two new ships replacing this pair, but these new additions are bigger and better than any P&O - and many other cruise lines - have ever seen before.

     

     

    The two new ships take P&O up to another level when it comes to onboard cruising experiences. Already proudly hosting shows such as Stephen Mulhern’s magic show “Astonishing”, Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises and P&O Food Heroes with your favourite celebrity chefs , as well as once hosting Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway Live onboard Britannia , P&O have always strived to bring the best of British entertainment onboard their shops. This charming British feel is built on more than everyone enjoying getting dressed up, bingo, karaoke and Afternoon Tea. On the contrary, on Iona you can wine and dine al-fresco enjoying the view, or take in a show in the fantastic Skydome, with the feel of the best bank holiday weekend imaginable while at sea. In addition, the future - unnamed ship - will roll out in 2022 to bring even more choice to the P&O fleet, and give them two vessels capable of hosting 5,200 passengers each.

    Take a look at our cruise deals for P&O Iona and see what adventures she could take you on. Meanwhile, if you were a fan of Oriana and Adonia’s intimate adult-only atmosphere and sailings, never fear as Aurora will be converted to an adult-only vessel alongside Arcadia. This means P&O cruisers have the best of both worlds, whatever your cruise holiday tastes and group size or situations. From mighty cruise ships hosting whole floating cities, jam-packed with fun and facilities to cosier cruise itineraries where one can truly unwind, it’s never been more true that there’s a cruise and ship for everyone onboard P&O.


    Exciting New Cruise Ships 2019

    21st March 2018

    Many exciting new ships are on the horizon in the cruising world, and we can’t wait to get onboard each and every one. Find out about some of the upcoming vessels that will be seen on shores all over the world by reading more about these new cruise ships 2019.

    P&O Cruises: P&O Iona

     


    The Nation’s favourite cruise line has released details of their upcoming vessel that is scheduled to grace the seas in 2020. The design has a brilliant focus on the sea, with plenty of opportunities to view the surrounding, gorgeous ocean scenery. Some of the best features onboard will be:

    The Dome – an adaptable space that doubles up as a pool and a dining and entertainment venue, thanks to the retractable stage.

    The Atrium – a spectacular area with an elegant, grand staircase, and extensive art gallery. This will be a centre of entertainment and socialising for all to enjoy.

    The Lanai Deck – at half a mile long, guests can spend time here sunbathing, socialising, dining, and soaking up those beautiful views.

    Sign up here to register for more information about P&O Iona.

    MSC Cruises: MSC Seaview

     

     

    June 2018 will see MSC Seaview make her inaugural cruise in the Mediterranean, where she will spend the season before across the Atlantic to South America. The design of the ship seeks to place the sea at the centre of the guests’ attention, with ample chance to admire the view. There are panoramic glass elevators, glass-floored walkways, and the brilliant Bridge of Sighs – a glass-bottomed bridge located at the aft of the ship, at 40 metres above the sea.

    Other features onboard include MSC’s well-loved F1 simulators, a full-sized bowling alley, arcade games, a zip line, and 7 original West End style shows. As well as entertainment opportunities, there are a number of great places to dine. Butcher’s Cut for superb steak, Teppanyaki for a range of Asian cuisine, and Ocean Cay for creative seafood dishes are just a few of your choices.

    Carnival Cruises: Carnival Panorama

     


    This new Vista-class ship will be a sister to Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon, and will boast a lot of the same fabulous onboard features;

  • The SkyRide – an elevated pedal-bike that enables riders to see a panoramic ocean view
  • WaterWorks Aqua Park – a family friendly water park with a range of slides and pools
  • Havana Cabana – a Cuban themed bar and pool area glowing with holiday atmosphere
  • Family Harbor – an enclosed area with family suites and a lounge
  • The ship will be able to accommodate up to 3,960 guests, and is due to grace shores in 2019. Carnival Panorama’s home port will be Long Beach, California, from where she will embark on sailings along the beautiful Mexican Riviera.

    Marella Cruises: Marella Explorer 2

     

     

    Marella Cruises’ latest addition has been superbly designed for its purpose as an adult-only ship. The prime social spot on Marella ships – The Veranda – is twice the size as on other ships, and will be the place for sunbathing, meeting fellow cruisers, and sipping on cocktails. Marella Explorer 2 will also boast the brilliant Champneys Spa onboard – a perfect venue for cruisers to relax and treat themselves to a little pampering.

    Cruisers can choose from destinations like Venice, Rome, Dubrovnik, Livorno, and Croatia among others; all fabulous places where it’s possible to indulge in delicious local food, learn about history and culture, or simply relax in a café by the water.

    Marella Explorer 2 will accommodate up to 1,814 guests, and 40% of its cabins will have balconies. This all-inclusive ship will surely provide many adults with the ideal holiday to escape and recharge.

    MSC Cruises: MSC Grandiosa

     

     

    MSC Grandiosa will debut in November of 2019, with a maiden season in the Mediterranean. Destinations including Valletta, Genoa, Barcelona, Rome, Palermo, and Marseille will all be featured on itineraries.

    Built to accommodate almost 6,300 passengers, it should come as no surprise to learn that MSC Grandiosa will be stock full of exciting and exhilarating things to do onboard. Some of our favourite features include:

  • 2 Exclusive Cirque du Soleil shows
  • A large, Mediterranean style promenade
  • L’Atelier – a new bar/lounge venue complete with dance floor and stage
  • 2 F1 Simulator cars
  • Guests will experience never a dull day on a cruise on this fantastic new ship, with these facilities paired with such memorable destinations.

    AS well as this blog on new cruise ships 2019, you can find more info on all new cruise ships coming out in future by checking out our up-to-date blog!


    8 Incredible Technologies Onboard Cruise Ships

    15th January 2015

    Whether you are a tech lover or not, there is a part of everyone that gets excited when a new gadget takes the world by storm. Whether it’s a new app on your phone, a robotic hoover that claims to clean your house without you moving or an exciting new wireless device that you all of a sudden 'need' in your life, we can’t help but evolve into the ever changing technical world.

    Technology is everywhere and plays a major part in all of lives, and this doesn’t stop when we go on holiday. The cruise industry has taken a lead on the technology front and these floating hotels are now home to some of the most exciting technologies in the world.

    Here are eight incredible cruise ship technologies:

    Movies Under the Stars

    It is possible to catch the latest flick almost anywhere now, whether on an aeroplane, train, or pretty much anywhere with your smartphone or tablet.

    Although all cruise lines have televisions in staterooms and throughout the ship, it was Princess Cruises that took this one step higher with the 'Movies Under the Stars' concept. A gigantic 300 square foot, 69000 watt movie screen was added to the top deck of select ships. Offering guests the unique opportunity to enjoy blockbuster movies with a real backdrop of sea and sky, this concept has been a huge hit.

    Available on: Royal Princess, Regal Princess

    Robotic Bartenders

    The leaders in cruise ship technology, Royal Caribbean did not disappoint with their latest creation on new ships Quantum and Anthem of the Seas. The Bionic Bar consists of two robotic bartenders that serve up a host of exotic cocktails.

    Guests order their cocktail of choice via tablet and then watch in amazement as the robotic bartender mixes their desired drink. Each robot can produce one drink per minute and up to 1000 drinks a day.

    Available on: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas

    Interactive Restaurant

    A dining experience like no other, Disney wanted to create an experience for guests to bring their imagination to life and successfully accomplished this with 'Animators Palate'.

    As guests sit down at their dining table, they will find a black sheet and markers where they can draw characters of their choice within the lines given.

    During dinner the restaurant changes colour and design through a shift of lighting and digital walls. As dessert time approaches, the entire restaurant comes alive. The interactive screens throughout will display movie clips featuring your very own drawn character.

    Available on: Disney Magic, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy

    Digital Wayfinders

    With cruise ships increasing in size, it made sense to cater for those with a fear of getting lost or missing a show due to not finding their way.

    When the world’s largest ship, Oasis of Seas launched in 2009 she came equipped with a new LCD wayfinder system. Located throughout the ship these screens offer a way for guests to find their way around using a touch screen display. These screens also show whats on, the way to your stateroom and a map of how to get to the location of your choice.

    These Wayfinders won three awards for technological excellence from the Digital Screenmedia Association and Hospitality Technology Magazine.

    Available on: Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Legend of the seas

    Cruise Apps

    There is an app for almost everything nowadays. From fitness, cooking, and checking your finance to making your shopping list, booking a taxi and even planning your next holiday. With the significant increase of smartphone users, apps are vital.

    Many cruise lines now have their own apps to enable guests to pre-book entertainment, view their itinerary and find out what’s happening onboard.

    Some cruise lines raised the bar even higher, among our favourites are Norwegian Cruise Lines who realised an app where guests can keep all their holiday pictures in one place, navigate around the ship and get up-to-date event information.

    Available on: Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises 

    Virtual Balconies

    Everyone likes to see the outside view when cruising so Royal Caribbean wanted to ensure even those staying in an inside stateroom could experience the incredible views the ship is passing. Early in 2014 it was announced virtual balconies would be added to select ships, starting with Navigator of the Seas.

    These 80 inch LED screens are attached to the inside wall and project a real-time view of the outside. They work both in port and at sea so guests can experience exactly what it is like to have an outside stateroom.

    Available on: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas 

    Salt Room at Sea

    Norwegian Cruise Line made a breakthrough in the spa category with the first ever Salt Room at sea onboard Norwegian Breakaway.

    This special treatment room releases dry aerosol micro particles of salt into the room in a session with is proven to improve the immune and respiratory systems, leaving guests feeling healthier and refreshed.

    Available on: Norwegian Breakaway

    Sky Diving Simulator

    Known for pushing all industry boundaries, Royal Caribbean wowed once again with their latest innovation on Quantum of the Seas. iFly is an indoor sky diving simulator that stands at the back of the ship to offer flying views like no other.

    This 23-foot tall glass cylinder blows wind up to a speed of 160 mph for guests to feel like they are taking part in a real life sky dive.

    Available on: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas


    By Sally Grimes


    5 Things To Be Excited About In 2015

    22nd December 2014

    As the year comes to a close, it is not only a good time to look back on the events of the past 12 months, but also look at what’s to come in the new year. With 2014 being such a huge year for cruise, can 2015 match it?

    Already shaping up to be another exciting one, cruise lines have started to make us feel like next year is going to be a phenomenal year for the cruise industry. 

    Here are my top 5 cruise events to look forward to in 2015…

    1. The launch of Britannia

    It feels like we have been waiting for Britannia for ages and the excitement began back at the beginning of 2014 when P&O Cruises held a launch event to give us a sneak peek of the amenities we can expect on Britannia.

    The largest ship ever built for the UK, she is set to be 'inspired by the past, but designed for the future'. Showcasing everything we love about P&O Cruises with a host of new twists, there is no doubt she will take the world by storm.

    A foodies heaven, she will be home to five celebrity chefs working alongside each other including James Martin, Marco Pierre White, Eric Lanyard, Olly Smith and Atul Kochhar. There will also be the first cookery school at sea and a host of exquisite restaurants.

    Her elegant staterooms, fascinating atrium and giant spa have been designed to amaze guests at every moment.

    Launching in March, she will sail a range of Mediterranean and Fjord itineraries. See our Britannia Cruise Deals.

    2. The arrival of Anthem of the Seas into Southampton

    With the launch of Quantum of the Seas being one of the most significant cruise events in 2014, will her sister ship cause a similar stir? The second SMARTship to launch, she will have everything we loved about Quantum and more.

    Ever since it was announced Anthem of the Seas will call Southampton home for the summer months, bookings for her maiden sailings have rocketed and the suspense for her arrival has been at high levels. Once again everyone is ready to see a ship that "changes everything".

    With a skydiving simulator, bumper cars, robotic bar tenders and an elevating pod, Royal Caribbean once again push every industry boundary and stand ready to give guests a completely different view of cruising.

    A strong emphasis on entertainment will be portrayed again with world-class Broadway musicals, the technology of 270 and a Music Hall where an array of show-stopping bands will perform.

    Arriving into Southampton in April, her maiden voyages will include sailings to Paris and Bruges. See our Anthem of the Seas Cruise Deals.

    3. World cruises

    2015 will see an array of new destinations added to cruise itineraries and as the industry expands, so do the ports. You can cruise to almost every corner of the earth now and new ports for 2015 are starting to be announced.

    As more people want to explore the world on a cruise, it made perfect sense for cruise lines to start introducing world cruises to their schedules.

    New ship, Quantum of the Seas will sail a 53 night world voyage from New Jersey, USA to Hong Kong.

    P&O Cruises will have ships sailing around the globe in 2015, from Asia, Australia and Dubai. Cunard will continue their unique cruises such as Hong Kong to Sydney, Cape Town to Southampton and Dubai to Sri Lanka.

    2015 will see Fred Olsen Cruises explore exquisite locations such as Arctic and Antarctica.

    4. Sailing from Southampton

    There has been a huge rise in people wanting to cruise without flying and 2015 will see the largest choice of ships sailing from Southampton.

    Two new ships Britannia and Anthem of the Seas will go head to head with summer sailings from Southampton. Making it a huge year for the port of Southampton, having two brand new ships here will see a significant increase in guests sailings from the UK next year.

    Replacing the popular Independence of the Seas, Royal Caribbean is sending Explorer of the Seas to the UK for the first time. The voyager-class ship will complete a major refurbishment before arriving to Southampton and include new virtual balcony staterooms, a flowrider and revamped entertainment.

    Voted best ship from Southampton in 2014, Celebrity Eclipse will return for the 2015 summer season and sail to Scandinavia, Russia, Iceland and the Fjords.

    Cunard will continue to have a strong presence in Southampton and offer guests the opportunity to sail to long-haul destinations such as New York, Canada and New England without flying.

    Princess Cruises, Fred Olsen and Azamara will also sail a range of new itineraries from the popular UK port.

    5. Princess Cruises 50th Anniversary

    Princess Cruises have an incredible story to tell as they have grown from one ship sailing to Mexico to becoming one of the best known names in cruising and have a fleet of 18 ships sailing all over the world. 2015 sees an extremely special year for them as they prepare to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

    Every ship in the fleet will host celebratory parties and events throughout the year and all guests are invited to join in these celebrations. There will also be commemorative merchandise and gifts onboard.

    As well as the celebratory events, the line has launched their 'Golden Deals' campaign for guests to receive special discounts and onboard credit offers for sailings from December 26th 2014 – February 28th 2015.


    By Sally Grimes


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