Beware Holiday Cruises with Children
Symphony of the Seas Cruise Review
Review summaryMy 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.
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If you have any children, you need to immediately run to Adventure Club and book your time slots when you get on board.