I rode on the BIGGEST cruise ship in the world: My Review + Photos

I went on a cruise with my friends Tynan, Nylo, and Helen.

We rode to the Caribbean on the BIGGEST cruise ship in the world.

Man standing next to the Symphony of the Seas cruise ship in the Bahamas
Me pointing to our cruise ship, the Symphony of the Seas

In this post, I’ll tell you some of my “Pro Tips” about what I learned to have a great cruise experience. Including:

  • The best port excursion in Roatan, Honduras
  • When to visit the Flowrider for zero wait times
  • My favorite spot at the onboard gym
  • How to get a balcony room with 50% more space
  • A free onboard cafe that serves great sandwiches
  • Where to snorkel at CocoCay with the most fish

Overview

First, if you’re curious about WHY I like cruises or what I do on them, watch this video about how to be productive on a cruise that I made a few years ago:

Now, on this cruise, we hung out with monkeys and macaws in Roatan, Honduras.

man with a Capuchin monkey on his shoulder
“Wild” capuchin monkey on my shoulder in Roatan, Honduras

We lounged on the beach in the Bahamas.

man wearing all blue on the beach in Bahamas with blue rash guard and blue hat
Clearly I am very, very sun-safe.

And we surfed our faces off on the two Flowrider machines.

woman wearing a wetsuit riding the Flowrider machine
My friend Nylo learning how to surf or boogie board on the Flowrider. One pro tip is that you can get a half-wetsuit like this for $45 on Amazon. I’m glad I brought it!

Plus lots more!

This was our route:

map of the Caribbean journey for Symphony of the Seas
Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; and finally CocoCay, Bahamas. We sailed on the Symphony of the Seas in February 2022.

The Symphony of the Seas

The Symphony of the Seas is currently the biggest ship in the world.

Two cruise ships side by side: Mariner of the Seas and the Symphony of the Seas by Royal Caribbean
Look how much bigger our ship, the Symphony of the Seas by Royal Caribbean, is compared to a normal “large” ship to its left

It was built in 2016 at a cost of US $1,350,000,000. More facts about the ship on its Wikipedia page here.

Here are some of my favorite things from this ship.

Central Park

Wow. Central Park is a common area on the 8th floor that blew my mind.

man standing inside Central Park aboard the Symphony of the Seas cruise ship
There’s a map of the park area when you enter Central Park on the 8th deck.

It is a half-ship length oasis of plants and sunshine.

This was one of our favorite spots to read, use our laptops, or play board games.

Pro tip: There’s a free cafe in this area (called Park Cafe) which has tasty roast beef sandwiches, salads, and more.

man holding a sandwich sitting in Symphony of the Seas area of Central Park
My friend Tynan with one of these beef steak sandwiches, sitting in Central Park on the ship.

Our Room

Room 6226 was where we called home. It was fine!

door opens into a balcony room on a cruise ship showing bed and carpets
View of a handicapped balcony room on the Symphony of the Seas cruise ship

If you cruise correctly, you don’t spend a lot of time in your room.

bedroom on a cruise ship
View of our room after dinner one night. We split the beds.

Having a balcony was nice to listen to the ocean at night and to be able to get fresh air in a private space.

Monkeys and Macaws in Roatan

Man holding several large parrot-like birds which are red and green in color.
Tynan and several colorful birds, which I assume are all macaws.

We went to Gumbalimba Park in Roatan, Honduras based on all the positive reviews online.

I highly recommend this. We paid $35 per person for admission, plus an optional $40 tip to our tour guide.

Pro tip: Go later in the afternoon for more private time with the animals! We skipped the crowds and were the only visitors when we arrived at 1:30 PM.

Pro tip: We did not need a reservation and had no problems buying tickets and getting a guide at the entrance. We walked off the ship and hailed a taxi on the street outside the port. The taxi fee after negotiation was USD $30 round-trip, including waiting time.

At first, I was scared to hold the macaws. They are big birds!

Me looking scared.

Then, once they started to sit on me, I was…curious.

man with many macaw parrot birds on his arms and shoulders
Me looking curious.

Finally, once I got used to them, I was happy!

Me looking very happy.

Flowrider Surf Machine

This is my favorite amenity on any cruise ship!

finger pointing at a Flowrider surf machine on a cruise ship
There are two Flowrider machines on the Symphony of the Seas.

Almost anyone, including young children, can quickly learn how to boogie board on this ride.

My friend Nylo learned how to “surf,” including getting up on her knees and having full directional control.

Pro tip: Go early or right at the opening time for zero lines. Often times the ship agenda did not list it open until 3:00 PM, but on our cruise, the Flowrider was open almost every morning at 9:00 AM with no wait.

man standing on a Flowrider surf board on the back of a cruise ship
On this trip I learned how to do the standup surfing! A major accomplishment for me.

Standing up is a lot more difficult. You must pass an evaluation test in order to do standup, or “Advanced surfing.”

I improved my skills every day. I also took some hard falls and wipeouts.

I was lucky enough to figure it out and maintain my balance. And I learned some new tricks.

CocoCay, Bahamas

finger pointing to ocean and private island
Pointing to Chill Beach at CocoCay

We all wanted to hate this.

It is a fully-developed private island which is only for Royal Caribbean cruise passengers.

I thought it would be tacky and a huge profit-center for the cruise line, with them trying to sell us things at every chance possible.

But you know what?

We actually loved it.

woman wearing hat and sunglasses in a beach chair
Nylo reading on the beach at CocoCay

It was just so easy! Free beach chairs, food, fruit, hammocks, and more.

With half-decent snorkeling, too.

topless man holding a phone and a plate of fruit with watermelon and pineapple and mango
Me taking a selfie with a plate of tasty (free) fruit in the foreground.

Pro tip: You can snorkel at Chill Beach which is located to the left after you exit the pier. Start at Bay 1 or 2. The best and most fish were found at the sunken cannons near the far floating dock.

woman wearing a sweater and bathing suit walking on the white sand beach with nice blue water and rocks behind her
Nylo walking along Chill Beach in the afternoon on CocoCay, Bahamas.

Life Aboard the Ship

Here are a few other things to note aboard the Symphony of the Seas that we appreciated during our trip.

The Shows: Ice and Water

Photo from Hiro, a show at the back of the ship that impressed us all.

We were pleasantly surprised by two of the shows aboard this: Ice, and Hiro. Definitely check them out.

COVID-19 Restrictions

We always had to wear our masks inside. But they were not required to be worn in outside areas.

After 2020, you probably know that buffets on cruise ships are no longer self-serve.

Attendants at the taco stand.

Even the taco bar (what a perk!) requires you to get condiments served from a waiter.

Gym on the Symphony of the Seas

The gym was great. I went every single day.

inside the gym, man sitting on leg press weights machine on Symphony of the Seas

There are a ton of free weights, weight machines, and cardio equipment.

There was a 37-person capacity limit. But I only saw it closed due to capacity limitations on the first sea day, in the morning around 9:00 AM. Every other time I was able to enter with no problem.

Pro tip: there are spin-type bikes inside this room! I downloaded rides on my Peloton app on my iPhone and used them with these.

My Favorite Wall Art

The art aboard the ship was interesting!

I really liked these pieces which were featured in the stairwell landing areas.

My Daily Routine

Each day settled into a little routine for me:

  • 7:00 AM Wake up
  • 7:20 AM Breakfast buffet or coffee at Windjammer
Typical cruise breakfast for me: Eggs, hash browns, bacon, beans.
  • 8:00 AM Gym: cardio
  • 9:00 AM Flowrider surf machine
  • 11:30 AM Lunch at Windjammer
  • 12:15 PM Tea with friends
  • 1:15 PM Work, read, Flowrider, or go ashore
  • 4:00 PM Snack
  • 6:00 PM Gym: weights
  • 7:30 PM Dinner at main dining room
  • 9:30 PM Show or games with friends
  • 11:00 PM Goodnight!

Conclusion

This was an awesome trip. My friends and I love cruising, and this ship didn’t let us down. I think we were spoiled with the half-capacity.

The Symphony of the Seas has a maximum capacity of 6,680 passengers, but our cruise only had around 2,900 customers.

Helen brought her standup paddle board on the ship. She took it out a few times, including here at CocoCay.

I don’t know if I would want to be on it at maximum capacity! Maybe it would feel crowded.

We were one of the first groups aboard after the Omicron COVID-19 cancellations. Our sail dates were Jan 30, 2022 to Feb 5, 2022.

four people sitting on a sofa aboard the Symphony of the Seas cruise ship
Sitting in Central Park on the ship: Tynan, Helen, Nick (me), and Nylo

I booked my cruise on CruiseSheet.com, a cruise search engine that my friend Tynan created.

I would definitely cruise on this ship again. I’d love to visit Roatan, Honduras again, too. I went once before with my friends Ben and Jessie on a SCUBA trip.

Bonus Photos

More information

Here are some other cruises that I’ve been on:

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