Inside the world's biggest ship, Symphony

Petrina Berry

In just two days I have squeezed in zip lining, laser tag, silent disco dancing, karaoke, sipping drinks made by a robot, watching live shows and plenty of drinking and eating.

I ended all the action with a cocktail in hand while lazing in a spa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea at a head-spinning height.

This was all possible because I was one of a few guest journalists to experience and explore the world's largest ship before her maiden voyage.

Symphony of the Seas is the same size of the MCG, in volume terms, and is Royal Caribbean International's latest and grandest floating city.

She has 18 decks, takes a maximum of 6,680 guests on top of her 2,200 crew and is slightly bigger than her sister ship Harmony of the Seas, which previously held the title of world's largest cruise ship.

With 20 restaurants, numerous pools and hot tubs, two surf stimulators, a kids' water park, an ice skating rink, a Central park, a theatre with Broadway-style shows, a casino, a day spa and so much more, Symphony is jammed pack with places for thrilling and chilling.

One of its thrills is the zip line. I found the scariest part was stepping onto the block and looking down right before I plunged.

After that, it was a pleasant, short and gentle flight about nine storeys high.

Nearby is the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea that spits you out at the boardwalk, which is one of Symphony's most fun-filled decks.

The boardwalk has a carousel, a family friendly sports bar, a game arcade, a scrumptious hot dog stand and a colourful confectionary shop called Sugar Beach, where I dared to try the eye-watering tabasco-flavoured lolly.

Towards the end of the boardwalk are two rock climbing walls that overlook the aqua theatre where acrobatic divers flip through the air.

On a lower deck, there is an ice skating rink that at certain times of the day is converted into a battle zone.

Strobe lights break up the dark arena and as I clipped on a laser tag vest and toy gun with eleven others, a pre-recorded video message informed us that aliens and robots were fighting for control of Planet Z.

Our vests lit up and I noticed that I'm green, which I'm told means I'm an alien while those glowing pink are the robots, my enemies.

Ramping up the excitement was dramatic background music as a booming voice began the countdown from 10 before yelling "commence battle".

I burst into an inflatable maze and glowing bodies darted everywhere.

A stranger called out for me to cover his back and for me to do the same for him. He was glowing green, so I figured he's a friend.

I'm pretty sure I hit a few but got hit more often than not, and at the end of the game, the score board proved me right.

Despite my lack of skill, I found laser tag in the dark a lot of fun.

Later that night, I danced at the ship's disco with headphones on and flipped between two channels, Latin pop and R'n'B.

It was a silent disco night where music was not played over loud speakers but into individual headphones, creating a private yet social event.

There are plenty of places to get a drink, with two of the most intriguing bars onboard being Rising Tide and the Bionic Bar.

Rising Tide gently rises and falls like a tide from the promenade, which has shops, bars and pubs, to Central Park which has restaurants and shops in and around its gardens, including Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant.

The bar tenders at the Bionic Bar are two robotic arms that can make any drink, all I had to do was enter my order into a tablet. Or they'd create my own concoction.

There's a whimsical touch around the ship from the piano steps that light up and play music as people climb them, to the many art installations, including a giant upside-down red lollipop that looks like it's melting into a pool of red tiles.

The most eccentric of them all is Wonderland, a gastronomical restaurant that is themed around Alice in Wonderland - the second of its kind to feature on one of Royal Caribbean's ships.

A man dressed as the Mad Hatter swoons around talking in riddles to diners, while waiters bring out imaginative food.

Everything I sampled was delicious and it was a nice touch that the menu looked like a blank canvas until I was handed a paint brush and bottle of water and with every stroke, the menu revealed itself.

Entertainment at the ship's Royal Theatre includes the Broadway musical Hairspray and an ice skating show that has a stunning introduction involving drones.

As for the accommodation, Symphony's 2,700-plus cabins range from low-priced windowless rooms to super expensive luxury apartment-styled suites.

Royal Caribbean executive vice president Michael Bayley says size does matter and the bigger the ship, the more they can entertain.

"When we design these ships we design them for maximum fun and entertainment and (inevitably) we end up with big ships," Mr Bayley said.

Symphony will enjoy its title for a time; in three years Royal Caribbean plans to roll out an even bigger version.


COSTS: From $A1,049 per person, twin-share, for a four-night cruise to the Western Caribbean and from $A1,579 per person, twin-share, for a Western Mediterranean seven-night cruise.

ITINERARY: Symphony's maiden voyage departed Barcelona on April 7 for a seven-night round-trip Mediterranean cruise. In November, Symphony will sail from Europe to her permanent home port in Miami, where she'll cruise year-round to the Caribbean. For more information, visit

ACTIVITIES AND MUST SEES: Zip lining, glow-in-the-dark laser tag, Ultimate Abyss - world's tallest slide at sea, the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, Puzzle Break escape room, all new family-friendly sports bar Playmakers, ice skating spectaculars, karaoke, trivia nights, cooking and cupcake-making classes at Sugar Beach candy-land, acrobatic aqua shows in the Aquatheater, Broadway musicals in the Royal Theatre including award-winning Hairspray musical, 20 dining options including the all new Hooked New England seafood restaurant, El Loco Fresh Mexican restaurant, as well as revamped Royal favourites such as Jamie's Italian and Wonderland.

The writer travelled as a guest of Royal Caribbean.