For her 25th wedding anniversary celebration, Lauren Evans of Miami pictured herself sitting on the balcony of a ship stateroom, perhaps reading the newest Nora Roberts novel. She and her husband would enjoy leisurely restaurant meals, strolls on a beautiful island beach and Broadway-style shows in the evening.
Her husband, Larry Evans, on the other hand, was looking forward to rock climbing, swimming, ice skating, zip lining, surfing and maybe even boogie boarding. Then he would be ready for some specialty restaurant dining with his wife, capped by an evening show.
So what happened?
“We found the perfect solution,” Lauren says. “We decided to take a cruise on the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas. It’s the best of both worlds and we’re both very happy.”
Larry joined his wife in some quiet time and Lauren participated in some of the many ship activities. “It’s like a floating resort,” Larry says. “I can’t believe all the things there are to do here on this ship.”
The list of shipboard activities is long and varied. In addition to the sports activities on Larry’s dream list, Symphony of the Seas also offers yoga and Pilates classes, indoor cycling, basketball, fitness center, ping pong, putt-putt golf, shuffleboard, jogging deck and much more, including an actual ice skating rink.
The Ultimate Abyss
Symphony of the Seas even has a mind-boggling slide called “The Ultimate Abyss.” Towering 150 feet above sea level at the ship’s aft, the Ultimate Abyss offers a 100-foot drop on the tallest slide at sea.
At the top, cruisers can take one final look at the ship’s Boardwalk 10 decks below, then step into the Abyss tunnel. It’s dark in the slide with “spontaneous audio effects” as cruisers slide down, twisting and turning in serpentine-like movements at 9 miles per hour.
As if the Abyss isn’t scary enough, Royal Caribbean has added something extra – another Abyss. The gigantic slide is made up of two separate cylinders, a reflection of one another. Each has a diameter of about 2.6 feet and is constructed of stainless steel. The pair of side-by-side slides await, seeming to challenge those who look up.
The slogan for the Ultimate Abyss is “a place where only the bold venture and only the bravest return.” Won’t dispute that at all.
If more activities are desired, there are shore excursions featured during our day stops in St. Maarten, St. Thomas and CocoCay. A big packet of shore excursions includes snorkeling, scuba diving, horseback riding, train and trolley tours, sail boating, wave jets, kayaks and helium balloon rides.
All Ages Enjoy Ship Activities
For children of all ages, the ship has a carousel and an unusual staircase with black and white steps like a piano. Moving up and down the steps creates a lovely symphony. Reminds me of the piano scene in the 1988 Tom Hanks movie “Big.” I actually did see young kids and adults playing foot music on the ship’s piano staircase. And, yes, I tried it, too. After all, my parents paid for me to take accordion lessons for years as a child.
Less active events include trivia games, bingo, comedian shows, movies on the deck and in the theater, plus those terrific ship shows that I will write about later. The ship even has a Central Park where passengers can stroll and see the lovely flowers and plants.
All in all, Symphony of the Seas is an excellent choice for cruisers who would like to be very active as well as for those who are hoping for a chance to relax and take a break from regular life. When I last saw the anniversary couple, they were talking about booking another cruise – no special celebration, just a chance to enjoy time together. Smart move.
Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch
The twin tubes of the Ultimate Abyss tower over the ship’s Boardwalk. (cover photo)
Climbers try their skills on a climbing wall aboard the ship.
A youngster enjoys the musical staircase on the ship.
The ship’s carousel draws riders of all ages.
Swimming pools and hot tubs are popular attractions on the ship.