Symphony of the Seas: My Review & Best Tips for 2023

Last updated: October 2, 2023

I went on a cruise aboard the Symphony of the Seas with Royal Caribbean.

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

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

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


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.

We lounged on the beach in the Bahamas at RCL’s private island (which I liked a LOT more than I thought I would).

And we surfed our faces off on the two Flowrider machines located at the back of the ship.

Plus lots more!

This was our route, departing out of Miami:

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 second-biggest cruise ship in the world.

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

But to get an idea of the size comparison, see this photo from port one day:

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

Here are some of my favorite things from this ship.

Central Park

Wow. Central Park on the Symphony and similar-class ships is a common area on the 8th floor. It absolutely blew my mind. It really felt like we were outdoors!

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.

Here’s a picture of me at the entrance:

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.

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

Our Room

Room 6226 was where we called home aboard the ship. It was fine!

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

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

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!

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

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

Flowrider Surf Machine

This is my favorite amenity on any cruise ship!

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

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.

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

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

I’ll admit: we all wanted to hate this. We thought that it would not be a good day.

CocoCay 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.

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

With half-decent snorkeling, too.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

My Favorite Wall Art on the Symphony

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!


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.

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, 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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