The world’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas can carry more than 6,000 passengers.
Add in 2,000 crew members, and no doubt, it’s a floating city. But it is also fairly spacious, with plenty of spots that offer a bit of intimacy. I thought that there was no way I would enjoy cruising with such a large number of passengers all on one ship, but I was surprised to find a number of ways that even the world’s largest cruise ship can feel more intimate.
Shift Your Schedule
You need to get on a schedule that zigs while everyone else is zagging. Plan for dinner at 8 p.m. or later. The Windjammer buffet and specialty restaurants were quiet and crowd-free when we ate a little later in the evening.
We also shifted our workouts to the afternoon, about 4 to 5 p.m., when we went one morning and noticed how crammed the big fitness center gets as passengers start their days with a workout.
One other note: The entertainment onboard was popular, especially the Aqua Theater show “Hiro”, Studio B ice show “1977” and “Hairspray” in the Royal Theater. Reservations are required, and it’s best to arrive early to the theater to pick out the best seats. Download the app before you cruise, and you can use it to make reservations for shows so you don’t have to stand in lines at the box office.
Stay Onboard While in Port
If you have visited a port a few times already and have no big plans to do something new, you might consider staying on the ship while everyone else gets off. We ventured off in San Juan and St. Maarten for a quick walk to stretch our legs and visit Old Town in San Juan and hop in the water at Great Bay Beach in St. Maarten. But we got back on the ship and had the waterslides to ourselves right after lunch and also found no crowds in the pools or hot tubs and no lines for the zipline or Ultimate Abyss.
The buffet area and main dining room welcome large crowds of people as cruisers awake and head to these popular spots to get their breakfasts. I found a couple eateries that also serve a good breakfast but never were that busy or crowded.
El Loco Fresh features pre-made breakfast quesadillas, breakfast burritos, exotic fresh-cut fruits and a fantastic salsa bar with guacamole and other sauces and toppings. It also offers an omelet station so you can get eggs made to order.
The Solarium Bistro also is a good spot. This eatery offers a buffet for breakfast (and lunch; reservations needed for dinner) with a nice range of breakfast foods and pastries.
Johnny Rockets on the Boardwalk also has breakfast (and it’s the only meal there that is included in your cruise fare), but the lines and waits were long when we went.
Avoid the Main Pools
There are numerous large hot tubs and extra pool areas around Symphony of the Seas. If the main pools look too crowded for your tastes (and they do fill up as people snag loungers early in the morning on sea days), head to the Solarium or big hot tubs on the wings of the ship on Deck 15. The ship lists well over a dozen pools and hot tubs, so you’ll find a way to get in the water crowd-free in one of several spots.
It’s a Big Ship
Did we mention that Symphony of the Seas is a monster of a ship? So, what you really should be comforted by, especially if you really loathe crowds, is that most of the ship, most of the time, does not feel crowded. Except in certain areas during particular times (buffet at breakfast and lunch, poolside during sea days), you really wouldn’t think you were on the biggest ship in the world.
There is enough space for everyone to spread out and find their groove.
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