Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International

Ship information

Symphony of the Seas

About Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean might have built Symphony of the Seas as the world's largest cruise ship – until Wonder of the Seas debuted in March 2022 – but its size is only a byproduct of its intention: to build the world's best cruise ship for families.

The objective is a bold one, but Symphony hits the mark in every category, which is due to a winning combination of variety and quality. The choice of which room to book, the restaurants to eat in, the activities to take part in or the shows to attend come out to a whopping amount of options for the average, weeklong cruise. Yet even if your family sticks to the basic cabins and included options, the cruising experience is still kept at a high standard, and attentive and friendly service is never the exception.

The newer Wonder of the Seas is a comparable option to the Symphony of the Seas. While it has an additional neighborhood, 100 extra cabins, a redesigned pool deck, and a stunning waterpark called the Wonder Playscape, Wonder of the Seas is almost exactly the same size as Symphony of the Seas and has a similar entertainment and dining offerings. Passengers familiar with the Symphony will be pleasantly surprised by the handful of new features on the Wonder, but it will probably be down to price and itinerary for all others trying to decide between one and the other.

The Symphony of the Seas Deck Plan Allows for An Excellent Passenger Flow

Symphony of the Seas may be a huge ship, but its carefully designed deck plan is easier to navigate than that of many other smaller cruise ships. The reason Symphony of the Seas is because Royal Caribbean listened to feedback and kept the passenger experience top of mind when designing it. Complaints that ranged from the omission of a pool in the Solarium on Harmony of the Seas, to difficult-to-reach cabinetry in staterooms or no way to get omelets in the Windjammer Marketplace, have all been resolved on Symphony. Royal Caribbean has even brought back "Hairspray" by popular demand, giving the production a total refresh for a new (or returning) audience.

Symphony comes with all of the perks of big a mega-ship but nearly none of the pitfalls. Like other Oasis-class ships, Symphony of the Seas features the easily navigable neighborhood concept, which includes Central Park, Entertainment Place and the Boardwalk.

A brilliant passenger flow, plenty of signage and an intuitive sense of orientation means that despite being massive, it's hard to get lost for long onboard. Other byproducts of size, like pollution or waste, are offset by the line's Save the Waves program and by constant improvements to ship engineering. Symphony, like many of the line's ships, is "zero to landfill" meaning no waste is left behind. A new program has banned plastic straws and Symphony is actually 25 percent more energy-efficient than its fleetmate Allure of the Seas.

Symphony of the Seas Offers Activities, Rooms and Restaurants for All Types of Passengers

Despite having many of the same features as other ships in its class, Royal Caribbean was not afraid to go bigger with Symphony of the Seas, adding new concepts like "Battle for Planet Z" laser tag; Hooked, a seafood restaurant; Playmakers, a sports bar and arcade; Sugar Beach, an expanded ice cream and sweets shop; and El Loco Fresh, a new Mexican eatery.

The strong execution of these fresh ventures, along with their mass appeal, almost guarantees that Royal Caribbean has ensured a new generation of fleetwide favorites. Even better, half of the new venues (laser tag and El Loco Fresh) are included in the cruise fare.

One downside to all the investment and improvement is that the returns have to come from somewhere. In the case of Symphony, the price of nearly every specialty restaurant cover has been raised. Though just a few dollars more per person than on previous ships, it could impact budgeting for families who can't spend hundreds more on dining in addition to what they paid to board the ship.

As if to say, "we got this," Royal Caribbean has traded in a number of partnerships to rely on their own in-house talent on Symphony of the Seas. This includes no more affiliation with Michael Schwartz in 150 Central Park, and also no DreamWorks characters. (The line still offers its DreamWorks partnership on other ships.) Those familiar with Royal Caribbean cruises may also miss the renowned Chef’s Table, which the Symphony of the Seas lacks.

Instead, the line has developed its own original parade production for the Royal Promenade, and poured heart and soul into an all-new stage production called "Flight: Dare to Dream." In venues like Studio B and the AquaTheater, Royal Caribbean turned to the performers for help, and as a result, each space has a new show developed and inspired by the talent.

Other efforts to attract fun-loving family cruisers include the one-of-a-kind Ultimate Family Suite. While calling it a "gimmick" is too harsh, the over-the-top stateroom is an extremely limited and very high-priced option for families or groups. (Still, that doesn't mean it's not cool.) The word is the line is looking at developing a family-focused cabin category inspired by the Ultimate Family Suite, but priced lower.

While it's been said time and again that Symphony of the Seas is bigger than its fleetmates (by just about 1 percent), it's the focus on improvements rather than size that seems to have driven Royal Caribbean to innovate on its already-winning formula for a family vacation experience.

And in case you were wondering how the Symphony of the Seas compares to the Titanic – as many prospective passengers do – the Symphony’s passenger capacity is about 2.5 times the Titanic’s. In terms of size, the Symphony is almost 400 feet longer, 65 feet taller, and has nine decks more than the 1909 cruise ship.

Health & Safety on Symphony of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas requires all cruisers at least 12 years old to be fully vaccinated, in accordance with CDC guidelines. Children 2 to 11 don’t need to be vaccinated; however, they will need to take a PCR test upon check-in and another (antigen) test if the itinerary is longer than five days.
Royal Caribbean tests are given at no additional charge.

All passengers, except those under two, must take a pre-cruise COVID-19 test in order to show a negative result. For adults 12 and over, this test should be administered no more than three days before departure. Kids 2 to 11 need to be tested no more than three days prior, as long as their test is not on embarkation day.

Children 2 and younger do not require any testing.

Before Boarding
• Proof of full vaccination, with FDA- and World Health Organization-approved vaccines (i.e. Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson)
• Negative COVID-19 test result
• Arrival time for check-in must be chosen 30 days in advance, on the Royal App
• Check-in to be completed on the Royal App
• Health questionnaire (available on the Royal App)

Onboard
• Masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests. Unvaccinated children should wear masks indoors and in crowded settings. Masks are required for all children 2 and older at the Adventure Ocean youth program. Children under 2 do not have to wear a mask.  
• Symphony of the Seas sailing at limited capacity
• Physical distancing enforced throughout ship, with signage
• Spaced out seating in dining, entertainment and activity venues
• Designated areas of main dining room for families with children

Off the Ship
• Fully vaccinated passengers may book a shore tour through the cruise line or independently, or choose to explore off ship freely.
• Families cruising with unvaccinated kids must book a Royal Caribbean excursion to go ashore, except at the line’s private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Cabins

Symphony of the Seas has 44 cabin types available

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

14 Suite types to choose from

Deck Plans

15 deck images available

Activities and Entertainment

Theaters and Shows on Symphony of the Seas

The two-deck Royal Theater (Decks 4 and 5) is multipurpose, but most passengers will head here for Symphony's evening performances. The first is a reimagined stage production of "Hairspray." Royal Caribbean has already featured the show on previous ships, but it's back due to popular demand, and with all new costumes, sets and style.

The second theater show is an original production, inspired by humanity's relationship with air travel. "Flight: Dare to Dream" begins by transporting the audience to Mars in the future, and then travels back in time, documenting each major milestone of space and sky. The Royal Caribbean entertainment team hired a former astronaut who lived on the International Space Station for five months as a consultant so that the set, along with interpretations of zero gravity, are as accurate as possible. The show was also developed to maintain a high degree of historical accuracy. The performance ends with a recreation of the Wright Brothers' first flight -- and you just might witness a 22-foot plane land on stage before your eyes.

All theater performances are included in your cruise fare.

Passengers won't want to miss the state-of-the-art ice show in Studio B called "1977." Royal Caribbean has a bit of fun with the storyline, bringing back Tempus, a time-traveling hero, from Harmony's "1886" ice show. This time, Tempus and his assistant travel to London in 1977 during the Queen's Jubilee to catch a jewel thief who's stolen the crown jewels. The pair follow the thief on a trail that leads to places -- and incredible numbers -- around the world. While the characters are familiar, there's nothing recycled about the staging, which is a jaw-dropping combination of the latest visual projection technology and -- get this -- drones! The costumes, the sets and above all, the talent of the ice skaters, combine to make this one of the best shows we've seen at sea.

A second ice show called iSkate 2.0 is inspired by the actual performers, the music they listen to, and some of the choreography they've developed.

The AquaTheater, an impressive venue at the back of the ship behind the Boardwalk on Deck 6, has two new shows for Symphony of the Seas passengers to "ooh" and "aah" over. "HiRo" takes the passion of the performers for extreme sports and translates it into a high-diving, high-energy acrobatics show with a storyline.  "Aqua Nation" is the second new show in the AquaTheater and was developed by drawing inspiration from the performers' favorite stunts. According to the line's senior vice president of entertainment, "It's cool people doing cool things for 45 minutes."

Daily Things to Do on Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has taken everything -- rock-climbing walls, FlowRiders, zipline, dry slide, waterslides, ice skating -- from its other Oasis-class mega-ships and turned the volume up to 11.

When Studio B, the ice rink, isn't being used for its new ice shows or free skating, it becomes a glow-in-the-dark laser tag arena on most days. "The Battle for Planet Z" pitches robots against aliens for control of the planet. The arena is basically an inflatable maze with "command station" tents, but it's good fun -- especially for the low, low cost of free (don't forget: tennis shoes are required). Passengers should make a reservation to ensure they get the time slot they want. Children of all ages are welcome to play laser tag, but they must be accompanied by an adult and avoid the very tempting compulsion to run.

We're told that there will still be open sessions for ice skating throughout the cruise in Studio B.

Puzzle Break is back, and this time players will have to escape Rubicon, a submarine. Modeled after the escape rooms on land, the latest Royal Caribbean version takes players to the very bottom of the ocean (and in reality, just to Adventure Ocean on Deck 14) to correctly -- and quickly -- solve a number of puzzles and riddles in order to emerge victorious. There is a fee for the escapee room.

Beyond the aforementioned fun, Symphony of the Seas also offers hosted trivia, bingo, games in the card room and the Challengers' Video Arcade (Deck 15) and competitions in the casino.

Passengers looking to move around a bit can join a game on the Sports Court, a dance class (usually held in Boleros) or train to receive a PADI diving certification on the Pool Deck (handy if you're looking to dive in one of your ports of call).

Table tennis is set up near the Sports Court on Deck 15 as well as in an alcove off the running track on Deck 5.

Games hosted by the cruise director or entertainment staff around the pool area might include silly competitions like a belly flop contest.

Nightlife on Symphony of the Seas

While Symphony of the Seas is a vibrant and thrilling ship all day long, it lets its proverbial hair down at night. Live music, nightly comedy shows in The Attic, stage productions, performances on ice, casino play and more than a dozen bars and lounges keep the good vibes going late into the night.

Adding to the festive atmosphere onboard are the parades held along the Royal Promenade, which is essentially the Main Street of the ship. Symphony of the Seas features a spectacle called "Anchors Aweigh," with more performers and bigger floats than any other parade in the fleet. In an homage to all forms of boats and ships, the Royal Navy makes an appearance, but you'll also find pirates, and even a dragon -- what else?

Riffing on Royal's renowned '70s-themed deck parties, Symphony also hosts "The Greatest '80s Party Ever!" The celebration, centered on one of the best decades for party music, is sure to bring out neon, big hair and spandex -- we're told even "Don Johnson" shows up on a makeshift Ferrari.

Even without a parade or party marching down the promenade, Deck 5 is a fun place to be at night. The house band jams from a Deck 6 bandstand right above you, light projections illuminate the floors and walls, and passengers spill out from the bars and late-night eateries to shop, drink, eat, see and be seen.

Symphony of the Seas Bars and Lounges

Onboard Symphony of the Seas you'll find a well-balanced mashup of traditional bars, some innovative drinking concepts and a lounge for just about every taste. Journey to Latin America with the energetic atmosphere of Boleros, or to the United Kingdom for a round at the Copper & Kettle Pub. Live music can be found in every neighborhood, from the solo performances in Central Park to dedicated spaces within Entertainment place for jazz and club music, or even serenade your friends with your best impression of Cyndi Lauper at On Air on the Royal Promenade. On the Boardwalk, we anticipate that Playmakers, a barcade with tasty plates, will be a game-changer.

**The Attic (Deck 4): **Imagine if you turned an eclectic living room into a night club, and you more or less have an idea of the ambiance you'll find in The Attic. This is Symphony's comedy club, as well as its late-night space. Comedians typically bring an adult brand of humor, so this is not a place for the entire family. Even later into the night (say, around midnight) The Attic hosts a DJ spinning dance music for all to hear, or a silent disco -- a dance party where everyone wears headphones and grooves to their own tunes.

**Jazz on 4 (Deck 4): **If The Attic seems too loud and trendy for passing the time at night, then Jazz on 4, right across the hall, is the perfect antidote. A nod to classic jazz clubs, this space is pretty subdued, except when the house jazz band is performing…and then it starts to heat up.

Boleros (Deck 5): Dressed in fiery reds and oranges, Boleros -- Royal Caribbean's signature Latin club -- is hard to miss. A lively band can be found here most nights playing Latin music, and drink specials include a tempting list of specialty mojitos.

**On Air (Deck 5): **Cruise karaoke is a staple, and the On Air karaoke bar provides a proper stage for families and revelers to perform their favorite songs. Family-friendly karaoke sessions are held, as well as late-night, anything-goes singalongs. Music trivia is held here on some days.

Copper & Kettle (Deck 5): Continuing the Royal tradition of "this & that" British pub-style names, Copper & Kettle serves as Symphony's "local" -- a place to meet friends, grab a beer and maybe listen to some live guitar.

**Bionic Bar (Deck 5): **Spectacle is the key ingredient at Bionic Bar, where your bartenders are Rock 'em and Sock 'em, two robotic arms that can be programmed to make cocktails using tablets. Patrons must verify their age using their Seapass cards or Wow bands, and can then choose from a selection of neon Bionic creations, classic cocktails or the ultimate attraction, which is creating your own concoction. Drinks you've ordered or created throughout your cruise are saved to the program, so it's easier to find or recreate them later in the sailing.

Rising Tide Bar (Deck 5): For those who need to be on the move -- even while enjoying a drink -- Rising Tide is an open-air bar within the ship that traverses the decks between the Royal Promenade and Central Park via a vertically rising platform. A few cushioned seats and tables are scattered around the oval space. Times of departure are posted on digital screens at each entrance

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade (Deck 6): Playmakers, a "barcade" running the length of the Boardwalk, makes its debut on Symphony of the Seas, and we can already tell how popular its going to be. It's not hard to imagine why; it's one part sports bar, one part arcade, with a little bit of a gastropub thrown in. Big-screen TVs located throughout the space show a robust list of sporting matches, from professional tennis and NBA basketball to soccer and more. Even outside of the arcade portion of the bar and restaurant, games line the tables (Connect 4, Jenga) and well as the back walls with bean bag tosses and shuffleboard tables. An adjacent arcade features classic games like Ms. Pacman, SuperMario Racing and Skeeball.

Schooner Bar (Deck 6): Nautical decor that's tasteful and not over the top defines Schooner Bar, which is perched above the Royal Promenade, in a prime location close to the entrance of the Boardwalk. One of Royal's signature bars, Schooner's offers piano entertainment and trivia during the evening. We've heard the scent of oiled rope is intentionally used to help create a sense of authenticity -- see if you can detect it.

Vintages (Deck 8): If you fancy a glass of vino, Vintages is Royal Caribbean's dedicated wine bar. Come here for a varietal by the glass or bottle and enjoy moody indoor seating or a table al fresco in Central Park. A la carte tapas are available here, from $3 to $5, brought in from Jamie's Italian next door. Order bites like olives, garlic bread, crispy squid or a charcuterie board.

Trellis Bar (Deck 8): If you're looking to grab a pre-dinner drink in Central Park before heading into one of the neighborhood's many restaurants, Trellis Bar is a wonderful option. Live music such as classical piano or Spanish guitar is often being performed in Central Park in the evenings, and a cocktail or glass of chilled Champagne is a perfect accompaniment.

**Dazzles (Decks 8 and 9): **One of your nightclub options on Symphony, Dazzles offers live music, a dance floor and great views to the back of the ship through its two-story window. However, the setup of the tables and chairs makes it slightly awkward for catching a show here.

Mast Bar (Deck 16): This outfit near the very top of the ship is one of the only bars where you can light up. Plus, there's really nothing else around it, so it's a good place to hide from the kids while still maintaining a view to the Pool Deck below.

**Wipe Out Bar (Deck 16): ** This bar -- as it is playfully named -- is intended to let passengers grab a drink while they root others on at the FlowRider surf simulators…or wait for them to wipe out. However, with its aft location, patrons can also take their drinks across to chairs set up facing the wake. You'll have to negotiate your views from either side of the gaping, fish-mouth entrance to the Ultimate Abyss slide, but apart from that it's your best shot at wake views.

Symphony of the Seas Outside Recreation

Pools on Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean listened when passengers complained about the lack of a pool in the Solarium onboard Harmony of the Seas (the previous Oasis-class vessel). The addition of this adults-only pool brings the Symphony of the Seas total to four pools -- all on Deck 15. All have a lift chair for accessibility; and the three main pools have lifeguards during open hours.

Outside the Solarium on the Pool Deck, families will find a pool with a beach theme (brightly colored chairs and umbrellas with a rock wall), and two other pools known as the Main Pool and Sports Pool but they're both relatively interchangeable. Maximum depth is less than 5 feet, but only toilet-trained children can enter the pools. There is no kiddie pool, but a splash area for little kids and babies is right nearby at Splashaway Bay. Hot tubs flank each pool and a leaf-like tarp overhead provides shade from the harsh sun.

Activities and Attractions on Symphony of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas is head of its class when it comes to top-deck activities, and everything out here is included in the cruise fare.

The back of the ship is flanked by two massive rock-climbing walls with an entrance on Deck 7. Cruisers as young as 6 years old can accept the challenge of the rock wall -- it's worth it for the incredible views of the AquaTheater and the wake. A much tamer "Luckey Climber" can be found on the Boardwalk next to Johnny Rockets -- with wide platforms and a safety netting -- for little ones itching to scale the walls.

There is also the line's signature FlowRider surf simulator -- one on each side of Deck 16 -- where passengers can try their best to surf (port side) or Boogie board (starboard side). (The minimum height for Boogie boarding is 52 inches; stand-up surfers must be at least 58 inches) Lessons are available, for a hefty fee.

Between the FlowRiders is the Ultimate Abyss slide, a 10-story drop through light- and sound-effects, ending on the Boardwalk. The entrance on Deck 16 is a through the open jaws of a massive and unmistakable anglerfish -- probably the most terrifying part of the whole ordeal, as the ride is over in a matter of seconds. Mats are used to make it a smoother ride, and all loose bags and jewelry must be removed and tucked away. (Must be at least 43 inches tall to slide.)

Zipping right across from one end of Deck 16 diagonally down to Deck 15 is the zipline Doing it once is a thrill, as you have a great view of the Boardwalk below, but the ride is super short and easily hampered by unfavorable weather conditions.

Up on the pool deck on Deck 15 are the Perfect Storm waterslides. The blue and yellow slides, named Typhoon and Cyclone, can be used to race, while the green-and-yellow slide on the other end -- also known as SuperCell -- features see-through sections for riders to look out or spectators to gawk at those flying (and screaming) through the tube. (Must be 48 inches to partake in waterslide action.)

Little cruisers can enjoy the pool deck attraction Splashaway Bay, an aquatic activities area for kids with a section that's just for babies still in swim diapers. The maximum depth for each area is less than 2 feet. Brightly colored elements like a giant bucket that dumps water or a flower that mists combine to create an enticing atmosphere for kiddos to play in and cool off.

Elsewhere on Deck 15 is Symphony Dunes, the mini-golf course. It's a festive set-up with cartoonish surfboards, turtles, seashells, palm trees and a light house.

The sports court is a large netted area with a clay floor, basketball hoops and plenty of room for a soccer competition or a pickup game of basketball.

Table tennis is offered just outside of the Fuel teen club and El Loco Fresh on Deck 15.

Sun Decks on Symphony of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas utilizes all of its free open-deck space surrounding Decks 15, 16 and 17 with various loungers and chairs.

Mesh blue sun loungers and chairs surround the Main Pool and Sports Pool on Deck 15, while striped loungers surround the Beach Pool. Some umbrellas are peppered around the Beach Pool area, otherwise most of the pool seating is directly in the sun. Some loungers line either side of the ship, protected by a roof overhead. We loved the tiny upright chairs found near kid-favorite Splashaway Bay.

Sun worshippers looking to avoid the smell of smoke should be wary that the port side of Deck 15 and Mast Bar on Deck 16 are two of the only places available to light up on the entire ship. Be vigilant of which way the wind is blowing those fumes.

Deck 16 overlooks the pools, and as the middle of the ship is open to the decks beneath, it also overlooks Central Park below. For anyone who doesn't want to be right in the middle of the pool action (or close to the Windjammer), this deck offers plenty of sun loungers as well as a few upright chairs along the very back of the ship near the entrance to the Abyss slide, that overlook the wake.

Deck 17 is the Suite Deck, available to passengers in Sky-class suites and above. A private bar, sun beds with wicker clamshell covers, a hot tub and padded loungers make this exclusive spot extra-cushy. We'd book a suite just to gain access to the unparalleled views, especially from a platform at the very front of the deck providing incredible visibility over the bow.

The multi-deck Solarium starts on Deck 15 and provides its own semi-covered oasis to adults-only sunbathers (aged 16 and older). The calming space offers plush sun beds in wicker clamshells, tan sun loungers, lots of whirlpools in scenic locations and -- after an uproar over its omission on Harmony of the Seas -- a dedicated pool. Exclusive to Symphony's Solarium is a large ambient art installation called the Big Wonder.

Dining

If "spoiled for choice" is the main theme on Symphony of the Seas, dining is certainly no exception and the budget-conscious will be pleased to know that this extends to venues included in the cruise fare: six restaurants on Symphony of the Seas offer included food beyond the main dining room and buffet; seven if you are staying in a suite or have a high-standing loyalty status.

As for specialty dining on Symphony of the Seas, options include some of the best restaurants onboard, ranging from modern Italian helmed by a celebrity chef to a popular sushi and hibachi spot to a whimsical menu of molecular gastronomy, as well as one of the best-reviewed steakhouses at sea. Speaking of which, 150 Central Park makes a repeat appearance on Symphony of the Seas, as on all Oasis-class ships, but now without Chef Michael Schwartz behind it. Most of these are quite popular, so be sure to make reservations in advance. Capacity limits are adhered to closely in the paid-for restaurants to ensure that the experience is an intimate one.

Debuting on Symphony of the Seas are Hooked, a for-fee New England-style eatery with a seafood menu, and El Loco Fresh, a complimentary Mexican restaurant open for breakfast and lunch.

Even if you choose not to pay more to dine out, we were impressed by the quality of the food on the Symphony of the Seas’ main dining room menu. Our crab cake was fresh, the curried chicken was piping hot and spiced perfectly and the cheesecake was beautifully prepared and not at all dry. Serving thousands of people each day, for three square meals, this is not a feat to be taken lightly. And considering the capacity of the ship, dietary restrictions are still paid careful attention, with options like gluten-free or dairy-free offered in most of the dining venues.

Free Restaurants on Symphony of the Seas

With so many dining options – not all of them free – many passengers will want to know exactly what restaurants are included in the Symphony of the Seas fare. Of the almost two dozen restaurants available, the following offer free food:

**Main Dining Room (Decks 3, 4 and 5): **Once inside, this three-deck dining room becomes one massive yet elegant restaurant. Breakfast and dinner are served here each day, with lunch on sea days. Which deck you dine on depends on factors like which meal is being served and whether you've selected set seating (on Decks 3 and 5) or flex dining (on Deck 4).

Decor is luxurious with deep red carpeting, gold detailing along the walls, a light fixture in the entranceway that looks like oversized diamond rings and an impressively large chandelier that sits in the center of the main dining room complex and runs the length of the decks. Chairs and carpeting are cream with black detailing, some covered in velvet roses, and crisp white tablecloths adorn each table. There are tables for groups of every size.

Breakfast is open to everyone in the morning, with an a la carte menu featuring American standards like pancakes and eggs, as well as a buffet that offers sides like fresh fruit, yogurt and pastries. It's a quieter and more intimate alternative to breakfast in Windjammer, and with the supplemental buffet section it doesn't have to take all day -- unless you want to drag out your coffee and croissant.

Lunch is served in a similar format with soups, sandwiches, entrees and desserts available to order off the menu, supported by a sumptuous salad bar featuring various greens, toppings and proteins. Once you've made your selections, a server will chop and mix your custom salad in front of you. You can also find a nice variety of cheeses at the buffet section, along with a few hot items like boiled fish and curries.

The Symphony of the Seas’ dinner menu comes with a selection of starters, main courses and desserts. Waiters will make their recommendations for the evening, and we found these to be spot on. To begin, expect appetizers like crab cakes, kale salad, roasted garlic soup, escargots or a classic Caesar salad; mains include standards like a sirloin steak and roasted chicken as well as Thai chicken breast, Moroccan-spiced Ahi tuna steak and a pie of the day, like shepherd's pie. Premium selections are offered each night for a splurge, and include a whole Maine lobster; filet mignon from Chops Grille; and surf and turf. Dessert hits all the highlights from a cheesecake with strawberry topping or a baked Alaska, to ice cream, creme brulee and a slice of chocolate cake so large it could feed a family.

All meals have items that are designated vegetarian, gluten-free and no-sugar-added. Vegan options aboard the Symphony of the Seas are a little bit more limited. It's best to notify the line of any allergies or food preferences before boarding, but to ensure that these are known, speak with the maitre 'd on the first night of your cruise to be positive that the dining staff is aware of your restrictions.

Windjammer Marketplace (Deck 16): The Symphony of the Seas’ wraparound buffet serves as a casual catchall for every meal and every taste. Additionally, it's always without a dress code so it's a safe alternative for anyone not observing formal night. The 

Windjammer Marketplace

 opens early in the morning (around 6) for a Continental breakfast and then fully opens for a hot breakfast, complete with an egg station that does omelets, something missing from previous ships in the Oasis Class. Breakfast items include tons of bacon and sausage but also Indian and Chinese dishes. Stations in the middle of the buffet typically offer a variety of meats, cheeses, fruit, side salads all day long, with an extensive salad bar in the afternoon and evening.

Some stations do repeat as you wind your way around the large space, but it's sometimes worth a loop around. At lunch, plan to find burgers, fries and pizza at an Americana counter, a Mongolian wok, and pasta and crepe stations, just to name a few. You'll also find dessert and bread counters. The buffet stays open with limited items in the late afternoon and again after dinner, for snacks.

Dinner might feature a specialty, like German brats, at one of the hot entree stations. Otherwise, with the exception of offerings being a little more hearty (plenty of fish and meat dishes) you'll find many of the same stations as at lunch. Beverage stations with water, juice, coffee and tea are all around the buffet and a few Coke machines are available as well for anyone with a soda package.

The Windjammer offers plenty of seating, much of it near windows. There are also nooks by the walls with cute white-and-red chairs on one side, a booth on the other and a wall behind that looks like the tiny painted bows of boats are popping through. Look up for another interesting design element.

Soft-serve ice cream stations are located on the pool deck (Deck 15) along each side.

Sorrento's Pizzeria (Deck 5): This pizzeria serves up complimentary slices, calzones and fresh pies -- including gluten-free upon request -- from early in the afternoon until late at night (after the bars wind down). Standard flavors include pepperoni, margherita and daily specials like chicken tandoori or Japanese (trust us, they work). You can also customize your own personal pie from a counter with tons of toppings (this place is a hazard to the waistline). If you have a soda package, two Coke machines are located here to pair with your pizza, and if not, a drink station with dispensers of ice water is on hand. The red-green-and-white motif of the Italian flag can be seen everywhere from the bricks in its columns to seat cushions and the tiled floor, but it's tastefully paired with black-and-white photographs of the Motherland. Symphony of the Seas’

Sorrento's

 Pizza is located along the Royal Promenade so it's central to the action and always bustling.

Cafe Promenade (Deck 5): A haven for anyone who requires a quick cup of coffee or tea along with a light bite, any time of day, 

Cafe Promenade

 never closes. As its name suggests, it's a primo people-watching spot, with a handful of tables located on the Royal Promenade. Pastries like fresh doughnuts are available in the morning, and paninis, sandwiches, cookies, cupcakes and other snacks (we even found scones with clotted cream and berries one afternoon) filter in and out throughout the day. Gluten-free options like Udis-brand cookies, and turkey and tomato on gluten-free rye bread are available as well. Self-serve coffee and tea are complimentary, as is the food, but specialty espresso drinks incur an additional cost. Seating here is comfortable and an attractive table in the middle of the cafe looks like one large piece of natural wood; despite seating 10 people it somehow doesn't obstruct the space.

Boardwalk Dog House (Deck 6): Reminiscent of the hot dog stands on the boardwalks along the East Coast of the United States, Symphony's Dog House will sate any hot dog-lover's cravings with a variety of sausages and toppings.

Vitality Cafe (Deck 6): Vitality is a juice bar and coffee counter just to the right of the spa complex. It serves as a relatively calm spot to grab a light snack (fresh fruit, veggie sandwiches, "healthy" muffins or granola bar) as well as a waiting area for customers who have booked salon appointments. Open hours vary, but more or less match up with those of the spa. We noticed many patrons of the gym swinging by for a fresh-squeezed juice (say: beet, ginger, celery and apple) after a strenuous workout. The food is free, though the juices, smoothies and specialty coffee come at an extra fee.

Park Cafe (Deck 8): This Central Park staple is a great place to grab breakfast or lunch on Symphony of the Seas, especially at its outdoor seating. The Park Café menu offers a range of snacks, from sweets to sandwiches and drinks. While the bagels are nothing like you'd find in Brooklyn, creative cream cheese options (roasted garlic or apricot and raisin) and a variety of toppings make up for it with a morning build-your-own bagel sandwich. Fruit cups and parfaits are also available to grab-and-go or dine in, which can be a lifesaver for families who need to stash some snacks for hungry kids. A drink station provides juice, tea and coffee. At lunch or for a snack, come for the cafe's famed kummelweck -- a roast beef sandwich -- along with other hot items, side salads and sandwiches and salads packed to go. There is also a case of trifles and other sweet treats. If you look carefully, there are cushioned rocking chairs outside the cafe to the side.

Solarium Bistro (Deck 15): Probably the Symphony of the Seas’ best-kept secret when it comes to included dining onboard, the peaceful Solarium's restaurant is open for a buffet breakfast and lunch, along with a sit-down dinner. While the food is simple, influenced by the Mediterranean, the ambiance is stunning and gives the glass-enclosed venue the air that it's worth an upcharge (but we're just fine with it staying free).

Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, and include an omelet station with a mix of other hot and cold items in the morning, and crepes, salads and sandwiches in the afternoon. We liked the variety of meats, cheeses and grilled vegetables.

At dinner many of the appetizers, entrees and desserts available are Greek. Expect hummus and baba ganoush, watermelon salad, Greek roasted potatoes and even ceviche. Kebabs, fish, lamb meatballs and steak are included. A few premium items, like lobster tail, can be purchased (the lobster tail is $15). Dessert is a smorgasbord of Greek and Italian sweets like baklava, loukomades and chocolate nocciole.

El Loco Fresh (Deck 15): This (covered) outdoor Mexican eatery, with bright and cheery decor meant to invoke a sense of "fiesta," is a new complimentary venue, located aft of the Pool Deck. It replaces Mini-Bites on other Oasis-class ships, and also serves as a substitute for Sabor, a Mexican dining venue found on many other Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

El Loco Fresh menu on Symphony of the Seas includes Tex-Mex favorites, such as chicken or beef burritos, cheese or chicken quesadillas, nachos, corn on the cob, and beef, chicken or pork tacos with fresh, soft corn tortillas. Packaged salads are also available with a variety of dressings. What makes the meal is the salsa station, where you can take your pick from homemade guacamole, fire-roasted tomatoes, pico de gallo and many more toppings. For dessert, try one of the parfait cups in flavors like tres leches, chocolate dulce de leche or flan. For something lighter, there are watermelon chunks and other fresh fruit. A self-serve drink station is located in the space, but servers will typically walk around offering refills and clearing platters. El Loco Fresh is open for lunch and late-afternoon snacks

Coastal Kitchen (Deck 17): Immediately adjacent to the Suite Lounge at the top of the ship is the dedicated restaurant for suite passengers as well as Pinnacle-level members of Royal Caribbean's loyalty program. Coastal Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a light-filled space, although only Sky-class suite passengers and above can come here all day for drinks and snacks, while other (Sea Class) suite passengers can only partake in dinner. Coastal Kitchen's cuisine is California-meets-Mediterranean as showcased by simple preparation and fresh vegetables used in grilled salmon and other entrees at night. Breakfast is a sit-down meal supplemented by a luxe buffet on the suite lounge side. We felt the breakfast menu was pretty standard -- eggs, cereals, pastries and fruit -- with the exception of one California-inspired dish (Baja eggs) and one from the Med, aptly called a Mediterranean plate and including toasted points with a tomato spread, hummus, prosciutto and Manchego cheese.

Specialty Dining on Symphony of the Seas

There are over 10 specialty restaurants on Symphony of the Seas, including classics such as the Chef’s Table and Starbucks. Some are priced a la carte, while others have prix fixe menus. But be aware that the cover charge listed for each specialty restaurant is not the price you'll actually pay -- you have to factor in an additional 18 percent gratuity for each person.

Izumi Hibachi and Sushi (Deck 4); a la carte, prix fixe for the Hibachi Experience: Book your reservation early, because the Samurai-themed 

Izumi

 is not a large space on Symphony of the Seas, and it fills quickly -- especially around the hibachi tables. The sushi restaurant is priced a la carte, and open for lunch or dinner. Expect starters like five pieces of pork gyoza (dumplings); seaweed salad; carpaccios and nigiri or sashimi; octopus yuzu chimicurri; a long list of signature sushi rolls; a satisfying menu of soups and noodles, including two varieties of ramen; and trendy poke bowls with vegetables and raw seafood. Dessert includes mochi ice cream.

Hibachi is only available for dinner and two options are offered: "Teppan Classics," a choice of yaki udon (chicken, beef or tofu), tori (chicken breast), gyu (beef tenderloin) or ebi (tiger shrimp) or a premium combination for an additional fee per person, which affords the diner selections like beef tenderloin, shrimp, sea scallops and lobster. If you're not familiar with hibachi restaurants on land, the chef puts on a show, flipping fried rice and knives, while cooking your meal before your eyes; you might sit with other people not in your party in order to fill a table.

Starbucks (Deck 5); a la carte: Can't do without your daily Starbucks macchiato fix? You don't have to on Symphony of the Seas, as Starbucks has a stand in the middle of the Royal Promenade. Keep in mind you'll pay standard Starbucks prices for that reliable grande extra-hot soy latte. A few extra-fee snacks like muffins and other pastries are also offered. Seating along the back of the Starbucks stand faces giant TV screens showing sporting matches and other events on the wall of the On Air Bar.

Johnny Rockets (Deck 6), prix fixe: Much like the diner-style hamburger chain on land, 

Johnny Rockets

 at sea offers chili cheese fries, hot dogs and patty melts at its fitting location on the Boardwalk. The difference is that for lunch and dinner on the ship you'll pay a cover, rather than per item. The exception is milkshakes and malts, which will cost you extra. The real insider tip here is the included breakfast, which serves up diner breakfast items like eggs, pancakes and bacon made to order. Most passengers don't catch on to this offering, so it's usually an uncrowded place to come for your first meal of the day.

Sugar Beach (Deck 6); a la carte: This new venue on the Boardwalk is a sweet treat, offering a dizzying rainbow variety of loose candy to bag, novelty items like pink poodle plushies, as well as ice cream, sundaes and even classes on cupcake decorating. Precious pastel tables are outside on the boardwalk so you can sit and lick your ice cream while watching the carousel. Ice cream options include individual scoops , cones and three signature sundaes, including a Cookie Crunch Split.

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade (Deck 6); a la carte: The gastropub-style food offered at the Boardwalk's new bar and arcade includes all the crowd favorites like burgers, sliders, wings, nachos, loaded potato skins, popcorn shrimp, and even a warm chocolate chip cookie served with Nutella, melted marshmallow and a side of milk shooters. The Playmakers Challenge presents any one person who can eat 100 wings in 45 minutes a T-shirt. Seating is available indoors and out.

Chops Grille (Deck 8); prix fixe: While some other restaurants were tweaked onboard Symphony of the Seas, Royal's signature steakhouse remains the same. Come to 

Chops Grille

, with its romantic location in Central Park, to splurge on premium steaks, seafood and other contemporary American entrees like roasted chicken. Expect colossal shrimp, two different sizes of filet mignon, branzino and gruyere tater tots. For a splurge, pay about $20 more for a selection of dry-aged steaks.

150 Central Park (Deck 8); prix fixe: As its partnership with celebrity chef Michael Schwartz is at an end, Royal Caribbean took the opportunity to revitalize the menu at its upscale restaurant 150 Central Park. Eight new and slightly eclectic entrees and seven appetizers offer a mix of veal, venison, lamb, duck, lobster, salad, scallops, ribs and a cauliflower steak. A beef tenderloin for two can be prepared tableside and doesn't cost anything additional. 150 Central Park comes with a decent wine selection and a house cocktail, if you imbibe, though alcohol is additional. Don't miss the hazelnut passion fruit bar on the dessert menu.

Jamie's Italian (Deck 8); prix fixe: The food at 

Jamie's Italian

 is inventive, but no-nonsense, and was one of our favorite dining experiences we've ever had at sea (and we only had lunch!) Chef Jamie Oliver, known for his simple, fresh ingredient philosophy, takes a well-known item like bruschetta, and both serves it in a creative way (topped with white crab, crunchy apple, smashed avocado, yogurt and chili) as well as the traditional version. But the original is made with such high-quality ingredients that the world seemed to stop when we took a bite of the cold whipped ricotta, warm slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, basil and olive oil on a piece of garlic-rubbed toasted ciabatta. The dinner menu is slightly more expansive than lunch, but both serve modern Italian mains and homemade pasta, sides and antipasti, which includes the house specialty planks (meat or veg) meant for sharing. A kids menu is available, but try to convince them to order something like the penne pomodoro (so you can steal a few bites). Dessert takes standards like brownies or cheesecake to another level. The small addition of orange zest to our tiramisu launched it into the stratosphere (and paired with an espresso, fuhgeddaboudit). Shaded tables on Central Park make it a wonderful place to dine alfresco.

Wonderland (Decks 11 and 12); prix fixe: According to an executive chef with Royal Caribbean, some of the Symphony of the Seas’ best chefs can be found at 

Wonderland

. This is because the intricate preparation of each dish takes immense focus and attention to detail. If you are someone who appreciates the details, and especially if you are a fan of "Alice in Wonderland," you will love the thought put into the decor and the presentation at Symphony's Wonderland space. (Your unofficial maitre 'd is the Mad Hatter, and look for the hidden Alice.) Items are divided into natural elements (sun, earth, ice) and sharing is encouraged so the table can experience the nuances of more dishes. The menus have been revamped for this Wonderland, and a new kids menu promises the same level of discovery and experimentation, but one that would be more palatable to fussy eaters: mac 'n' cheese fries or edible paper, anyone? Our advice: If you're not sure about shelling out for a dinner here, come to the bar (on Deck 12) for a drink. The experience is just as whimsical, you can enjoy the spectacular views afforded by the two-story windows and you can head back out of the rabbit hole after one cocktail. Editor's Note: if you're not an adventurous eater, don't force it -- you're probably better suited to spending on a specialty dinner you know you'll enjoy.

Hooked Seafood (Deck 16); prix fixe: Royal Caribbean brought in a Connecticut native with a restaurant background to help develop Hooked, a New England-inspired seafood restaurant whose focus is delivering the fresh catch. Upon walking into the country-chic space, you'll face the raw bar, lined with their best offerings -- like Florida stone crab, Alaskan king crab legs or Maine lobster -- on ice. A few premium items, including the shellfish listed above, do come with an upcharge, but plenty of incredible seafood is included in the cover.  A raw oyster sampler for two comes with a half-dozen daily fresh market options. Don't miss the New England clam chowder, lobster mac 'n' cheese or if you want a giant pot of mussels, the drunken mussels. However, the unanimous vote for favorite entree the night we dined was the "messy fish sandwich," an accurate name but one that doesn't entirely describe the satisfaction of battered cod with slaw and pickles on a toasted roll with kettle chips. We really appreciated that dessert and drinks follow the New England theme. Indulge in an IPA, a rosé or the house cocktail (a spritzer that was the best thing we drank onboard) and follow with blueberry cobbler, Boston cream pie or a whoopie pie. If you're really looking to kick things off, order some oyster shooters.

Room Service, prix fixe: Symphony of the Seas offers two different room service menus for breakfast –  a complimentary Continental menu, with items like toast, pastries, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice, and a hot breakfast for a flat rate. In addition, regular room service items (sandwiches, salads, desserts and dishes like chicken fettucine alfredo, grilled salmon, chicken wings or a personal pizza) can be ordered throughout the day and into the night and incur a fee per order (not per item).