It'll be a big day for the cruise world as Royal Caribbean's record-breaking Symphony of the Seas sails with paying passengers for the first time.
The 228,081-ton vessel — the largest cruise ship ever — is departing Barcelona Saturday evening on a five-night voyage to Italy that features stops in Naples and Civitavecchia, the port for Rome.
Designed for vacationers who love big, bustling mega-resorts, Symphony is built on the same platform as Royal Caribbean's 22-month-old Harmony of the Seas, the previous size leader in cruising. But it eclipses its sibling by more than 1,000 tons and offers several new features.
Among the additions are a first-of-its-kind, two-deck-high family suite with a slide between floors, a revamped Boardwalk amusement area, a new laser tag attraction and a new-for-Royal Caribbean seafood restaurant. Symphony also has more cabins than Harmony.
Symphony can hold up to 6,680 passengers and sails with a crew of 2,200, meaning that on busy weeks it could be home to nearly 9,000 people.
Symphony has been under construction since early 2015 at the giant STX France shipyard in St. Nazaire, France — the same shipyard that built Harmony. Built at a cost of more than $1 billion, it was delivered to Royal Caribbean in St. Nazaire on March 23 and has spent the past week re-positioning to Barcelona.
Symphony will spend its first few months sailing in the Mediterranean out of Barcelona before moving to Miami to operate cruises to the Caribbean.
Symphony and Harmony are the latest, biggest vessels in Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class series. Two other Oasis Class ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, debuted in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class vessels have made waves in the cruise industry since they began debuting in 2009. All of the Oasis Class ships are in excess of 225,000 tons — more than 30% larger than the next largest cruise vessels.
With the addition of Symphony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has 25 ships.
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