Beware Holiday Cruises with Children

Symphony of the Seas Cruise Review

Cruises: 4-6 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 2

Overall rating:

4.3 out of 5
Symphony of the Seas

7 Night Western Caribbean & Perfect Day (Miami Roundtrip)

Sail date: November 20, 2021

Ship: Symphony of the Seas

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 9602

Traveled as: Family (young children)

Reviewed: 1 month ago

Review summary

My biggest gripe about the cruise was in regards to traveling with an unvaccinated child, during a holiday cruise.  If you are booked for Christmas or NYE I highly recommend you read this and mentally prepare yourselves for things to be VERY different. Our family was fully aware of the "consequences" of cruising during a pandemic.  This is not a complaint about the protocols, that we more than happily followed.  3 Covid Tests for our son and public mask wearing (just like the other passengers) was never an issue or complaint for us.  This is about the disorganization and lack of consistency from RC. As mentioned in my Embarkation feedback, all of the fully vaccinated groups were able to breeze right onto the ship, while we waited in line for testing.   People literally pushed their way thru the front of the lines to walk past us, because that's the way the system was put in place. Royal should of had a separate line all together, for families traveling with kids under 12.  However, the problem is all of those groups who got right on the ship were able to snag ALL the prime show hours, while we were still sitting in the terminal lines.  You cannot sign up for shows until you're approved for boarding and on shipboard internet.  How is this fair?  Why would you remove the ability to sign up for shows in advance of your cruise and penalize those with kids who have to stand in line?  Precruise show sign ups would fix that problem! This sailing had 900 kids on board all of the childcare slots were taken as of Day 1 since they only have 15 spots per class.  Families who were lucky enough to get on the boat first, were able to reserve 3 sessions per child, do the math Royal Caribbean was never going to meet the needs of their guests with those restrictions.  By the time I got to the Adventure Club, which was immediately after boarding the ship and even before seeing my room, there were only two slots left for my son.  The teachers instructed us to call back to book more, but they never answered the phone.  I went down in person the next day and nothing was left to reserve. Since our reservation for HIRO at the Aquatheater interfered with one of our two Adventure Club sessions, we wrongfully assumed that we could stand at the back of the theater and watch. We were extremely kind in asking staff if we could simply stand in the back or possibly on the rock wall platform,  we made it clear we did not need to sit in the audience because I did have respect for it being a vaccinated only show.  We were told no, and the employee said I should of come earlier (which we couldnt).  The whole thing just boggled my mind because I can literally stand on the Boardwalk deck without a mask per the rules, so why is it that when a show going on my son is treated differently?   Royal Caribbean should have been up front and honest if they were not going to be able to meet the needs of the kids, who paid just the same as the vaccinated people, then we deserved an email or notification that our needs wouldn't be met.  We deserved a notification that we would only get to sit in the upper sections, we deserved to know that daycare likely wouldn't exist.  We deserved better. Regardless it was a fun trip, but I had to change my expectations and it took a couple days to do so.  So, if you come on board with these expectations I think you'll have a fantastic trip...but please know it will be different!   If you're vaccinated and traveling without kids, then in my opinion the trip is pretty seamless and "normal", you just mask up indoors.  

Embarkation

1 out of 5
The lines for entering the terminal were disorganized chaos. We were in the 2PM time slot and entered the ship before many of the poor guests whom were patiently standing in the 12PM time slot. The reason for the chaos was the extremely high number of children on board requiring covid testing, due to the holiday. There is no question that this was the cause to the chaos. As the majority of the people on board needed to have a child tested, the RC line attendants were screaming for people without kids to theoretically cut the line and move to the front, past hundreds of people in front of them. Those people were able to go straight inside. While this did not make me upset, the irony was RC allowing this to occur but then hours later saying well if you're not vaccinated you can't sit, stand or be near anyone else who IS vaccinated...is just silly. RC knew the numbers and should have added additional staff to the testing and non vaccinated side. Also, RC should of kept people with children in a completely separate line and not mixed in with fully vaccinated for an easier embarkment.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
We loved Eddie our Server!

Onboard Activities

2 out of 5
See main comment about problems with booking reservations and traveling with unvaccinated kids.

Entertainment

4 out of 5

Children's Programs

1 out of 5
Lack of availability for sessions. No issues directly with the teachers though, just frustrated with service.

Service and Staff

4 out of 5

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
Lots of ongoing maintenance happening all the time, very well kept.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
We loved our cabin, all of the storage space and the oversized balcony! If you like being organized I highly recommend buying a clothes line for your balcony too :)

Ship tip

If you have any children, you need to immediately run to Adventure Club and book your time slots when you get on board.

Ports of call

Perfect Day At Coco Cay, Bahamas

5 out of 5
We always love Coco Cay! Note: you can get towels on the island.

Coxen Hole, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

5 out of 5
We unfortunately had rain during our time in Roatan, but we did excursion to Maya Key and during the sunny parts it was a very cool spot to visit. The staff onsite were SO friendly, loved the snorkel guides. Many sweet animals to see around the island as well, we loved the monkeys! Also, just an FYI there is a water taxi that runs every 30 minutes back to the boat so you can leave anytime. It's like a 5 minute boat ride.

Disembarkation

5 out of 5

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