Brief because we did not do a lot of activities (on or off ship) this cruise as it had been a LONG TWO YEARS in between cruises and we were soaking up the sun and relaxing.
We stayed a Miami W (Brickell) pre-cruise for one night. Great location, quirky but lovely hotel with a beautiful rooftop deck/pool area. Not cheap. Oddly, taxis the next day to get to cruise port were almost impossible to come by because of the Art Basel thing going on (hotel even said it's their BUSIEST weekend of the year). But we called a company and one was dispatched to us. Embarkation at the port was super fast and painless. Actually I forgot I checked in on line, so I was sent to the desk where the line was much, much shorter than the line for the others that checked in on line. I probably shouldn't give that secret away.
Since we were in stateroom 8202 (literally right "behind" Park Cafe), we went to Park Cafe for lunch. Not crowded at all like it was on other boarding days on other Oasis ships. Room was ready as promised at 1pm and luggage was delivered shortly thereafter. Fastest luggage delivery we ever had.
Symphony, as all Oasis-class ships, is an engineering marvel and absolutely beautiful. I wouldn't hesitate to sail her or her sisters again (and she was our third time on Oasis class). I like the big ships and the smaller ships, but I have to say in our opinion, nothing compares to the Oasis class! But I am looking forward to some different itineraries coming up on other ships for our future cruises.
Sunday was at sea and we spent they day in The Solarium. It still gets a bit warm in there, but nothing intolerable.
Monday we booked our own non-Royal excursion to Daniel Johnson's Sloth and Monkey Hangout. We met them right outside the security gate and we were assigned Navan as our driver/guide. He was fabulous. The Hangout itself was smaller than expected, but we had a WONDERFUL time. It seemed to me they ran a very clean, legitimate business and we weren't rushed or overcrowded (we came in late that day, so earlier ship was already there). We only did that (no snorkeling or other tour) and got back in time to enjoy the ship a bit before the majority of co-cruisers returned. The rest of the week, until Perfect Day at Coco Cay, we decided to stay on the ship and take advantage of less people at the pools and slides and what not.
As far as shows go, we didn't even go! We didn't miss it as we aren't big show people anyway.
The new features we hadn't been to before were nice. Playmakers was downright mobbed for Sunday football. But it was a fun atmosphere and they did show some games on the big screens in the Aqua Theatre as well. We did not order any food there, so I can't say what that is like. I thought El Loco Fresh was a huge hit. I didn't want to like it, but I love Tex Mex and also have an addiction to chips and salsa -- so you know I was there for snacking every day. Paired with a frozen margarita, I was a happy camper. The lines can get long, but I felt they moved along well.
We used the track almost everyday for our morning runs and I did use the gym treadmill in its place on a particularly humid day while in Costa Maya. As usual, the Vitality Bar (where you get juices/smoothies) was one of our favorites.
This was the first cruise where we did any of the alternate dining options. I bought the Chops Plus One package to test the waters. Chops was on Day 2 and extremely busy. Our waiter was trying his darndest to give us great service, but there was a very large group when we were seated and when they left, immediately followed by another large group in same section. For their part, they did acknowledge that we were being patient and had a long wait for our food and drinks. We did get a platter of chocolate covered strawberries, truffles, etc. delivered by the manager a couple days later which was unexpected. Not that it was the *best* they could do, but better than nothing? Our other dining reservation was at Jamie's. Now, I hear a lot of "meh" reviews, but our service and our food were superb. I would definitely go again.
Main Dining Room was predictable food wise. However, they had messed up my request for 2nd seating, so I complained. We have not enjoyed or had great experiences with My Time Dining in the past, so we have been doing 2nd seatings now. The manager had nothing in any of the real main dining rooms, so we were assigned a table in the (at least what used to be) private dining room for suite guests (a little room off to the side on 4th floor, port side). It wasn't as opulent as the main dining room, but I think we liked the experience a lot more. Less kitsch and more service. Our waiter, Randy, and assistant waiter, Dewa, were flawless in their service.
Voom service was iffy. One day it was out practically all day (daytime hours) and we were credited $2.89 each (ha). It would go on and off line sporadically, but never for that long except for the one day.
Perfect Day at Coco Cay -- although it felt a little "Walt Disney" to me, we really liked it despite we didn't have the best weather in the world. We'd be happy to return. We initially started out at the beach but moved quickly to the Harbor Bay area which was lovely for the kind of day we were having (weather wise).
DEBARKATION was a bit of a mess. We had a very early flight home (8:34 a.m.) and were very nervous about getting off the ship. We talked to Guest Services the day before about where to position ourselves to get off next morning and reconfirmed with them the next morning where we should stand so we weren't in the wrong place. They lined us up and we were first in line, much to the disappointment of some guests who had been waiting, but not in the right spot (made ZERO difference - we all got off at exactly the same time -- no reason to get all bent). Anyway, at the very last minute, a man and his wife show up DEMANDING that they had to be first to leave the ship. At this point, self-debarkation line wrapped all the way from the exit around to the side of (so the entire forward part of the ship). Instead of defusing the situation and explaining to the man there was a line, no one (staff) did anything. When they opened the ropes, the man barged through, pushing a woman out of his way. Much yelling and cursing ensued. Finally the staff came to him to try to get him to the back of the line, but by then it was too late. I nudged my husband forward (we were in front of all this) so we got off without incident, but we still wonder what ever happened to that man. We rushed outside to find NO CABS again. We did get in a passenger van that zipped us (and two other couples) right off to the airport and checked our bags, got through security and to our gate in plenty of time. Just to board the plane and sit for almost two hours on the tarmac. But we got there and home safely and that's what matters.