STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Symphony of the Seas: World's largest cruise ship sets sail

After three years of construction, the world's largest cruise ship just set sail from Barcelona, Spain, on its inaugu...

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 10:40 AM
Updated: Apr 11, 2018 10:40 AM

After three years of construction, the world's largest cruise ship just set sail from Barcelona, Spain, on its inaugural voyage around the Mediterranean.

But the ship's record-breaking size isn't its only claim to fame.

The Symphony of the Seas is home to the tallest waterslide at sea, the ocean's fastest Internet and more works of art than the Louvre has paintings.

"The most surprising and memorable thing for me was that first sight of the ship -- seeing how big and immense it is," Balwin Yeung, Royal Caribbean's director of sales and marketing in Hong Kong, tells CNN Travel.

"You can actually see it the moment you almost step out of the airport in Barcelona, since the port is just 10 to 15 minutes away. It makes a huge first impression."

By the numbers

As the world's largest cruiseliner by volume, Symphony of the Seas stretches 1,188 feet long and is filled with 22 restaurants, 24 pools and 2,759 cabins.

At capacity, the ship can host about 6,680 guests -- plus 2,200-some crew members for a total of nearly 9,000 people.

"Eight out of 10 of the largest ships in the world were built by Royal Caribbean, but this one really pushes the envelope," says Yeung.

"At the same time, you don't really feel crowded because there are 18 decks on the ship. It's like a building, right? There are 24 elevators and seven neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its own personality, so it tends to naturally segregate the crowds."

"Neighborhoods" such as the adults-only Solarium lounge or leafy Central Park aim to provide a refuge, whereas a dedicated Splashaway Bay water park is packed with families.

"Central Park is really peaceful, with more than 20,000 tropical plants and an alfresco wine bar," says Yeung.

"Others will like the Boardwalk, which is much more outdoorsy and fun for families with a carousel."

Slip 'n' slide

For daily dopamine hits, the new cruise ship provides an ambitious lineup of performances and thrills.

Peppered around the vast deck, there's a glow-in-the-dark laser tag, an "Escape the Rubicon" puzzle in a custom-built escape room, rock climbing wall, surf simulators and a nine-deck-high zip line.

But the jewel in the crown is the spiraling "Ultimate Abyss" slide -- the tallest on any cruise ship to date, at 150 feet above sea level.

Featuring a 10-story drop, the serpentine slide winds toward the deck below at a steep 27-degree incline, which takes about 13.14 seconds from top to bottom to descend.

Also on board, dance and musical enthusiasts can settle in to watch boundary-pushing acrobatics and high dives at the AquaTheatre or head to the Royal Theatre to experience an upbeat rendition of "Hairspray."

"Actually my favorite part of the experience was the shows," says Yeung. "It's beautiful to see the outdoor dives at the back of the ship, with all the lighting and the music and professional acrobatics."

A family affair

When it comes to accommodations, the most over-the-top is the "Ultimate Family Suite."

Decked out in bold colors, these two-level suites include a host of unusual amenities -- think an in-room slide, private cinema, ping pong table and floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall.

Meanwhile, the adults in the eight-person duplex will gravitate toward the private balcony and whirlpool.

Should travelers need an extra hand, a butler -- dubbed a Royal Genie -- will look after the entire family, while an "Instagrammer-in-Chief" is on hand to ensure guests snap shareable pictures.

A new route

This year, the ship will be traversing the Mediterranean with voyages to Palma de Mallorca, Spain and an Italian sojourn to Florence, Pisa, Rome and Naples.

Come autumn, Symphony of the Seas will move its home base to Miami, Florida, and launch a series of Caribbean cruises.

On the itinerary? Stops in Bora Bora or perhaps a "Perfect Day at CocoCay" -- a private island owned by Royal Caribbean that's home to the tallest waterslide in North America, hot air balloon rides and the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean.

Of course, massive cruise ships often draw ire from conservationists due to their impact on small communities and less developed destinations.

Yeung says the mega ship will stick to well-oiled tourist destinations, where there's an existing infrastructure to handle an influx of travelers.

"This summer, the Symphony is sailing one of the most popular and common Mediterranean itineraries, stopping in established tourist destinations such as Rome and Naples," says Yeung.

"These places are very experienced with tourism and hosting guests from ships. We're not cruising to any small villages."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 42436

Reported Deaths: 655
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah9228160
Marion5858108
Washington579076
Umatilla335444
Clackamas313965
Lane239227
Malheur191738
Jackson16846
Deschutes113213
Yamhill99415
Linn81015
Polk65415
Jefferson6049
Morrow5456
Lincoln51713
Union4672
Benton4426
Klamath4113
Douglas3506
Wasco34715
Hood River2771
Josephine2673
Columbia2661
Coos2460
Clatsop2430
Baker1203
Crook1092
Tillamook700
Curry571
Wallowa442
Lake370
Harney230
Sherman190
Gilliam110
Grant110
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 910438

Reported Deaths: 17386
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles3006147000
Riverside667321295
San Bernardino627741072
Orange587251447
San Diego54941870
Kern33881416
Fresno30858436
Sacramento25445484
Santa Clara24313388
Alameda23391461
San Joaquin21630489
Contra Costa18694242
Stanislaus17686397
Tulare17495286
Ventura14300164
Imperial12882336
San Francisco12152140
Monterey1139991
San Mateo11149159
Santa Barbara9814120
Merced9465155
Sonoma9402136
Kings824683
Solano738476
Marin7089128
Madera502074
Placer417857
San Luis Obispo414132
Yolo320759
Butte308752
Santa Cruz280225
Napa196215
Shasta188930
Sutter183712
San Benito144215
El Dorado13284
Yuba129310
Mendocino112921
Tehama8808
Lassen7661
Lake69515
Glenn6573
Nevada6168
Humboldt56710
Colusa5506
Calaveras34218
Amador33016
Tuolumne2714
Inyo22715
Siskiyou1930
Mono1802
Del Norte1781
Mariposa782
Plumas680
Modoc290
Trinity260
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 64°
Brookings
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 78°
Crater Lake
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 46°
Grants Pass
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 59°
Klamath Falls
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 46°
Cold morning, warm afternoon
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events