BREAKING NEWS Newest vaccine has arrived in Minnesota: 'Everyone who has the opportunity to get this shot should take it' Full Story

This is the world's biggest cruise ship

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas has 18 decks, 2,759 cabins, a terrifyingly tall slide and plenty to do with or without the kids.

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 10:36 AM
Updated: Apr 13, 2018 10:36 AM

After three years of construction, the world's largest cruise ship just set sail from Barcelona, Spain, on its inaugural voyage around the Mediterranean.

But the ship's record-breaking size isn't its only claim to fame.

The Symphony of the Seas is home to the tallest waterslide at sea, the ocean's fastest Internet and more works of art than the Louvre has paintings.

"The most surprising and memorable thing for me was that first sight of the ship -- seeing how big and immense it is," Balwin Yeung, Royal Caribbean's director of sales and marketing in Hong Kong, tells CNN Travel.

"You can actually see it the moment you almost step out of the airport in Barcelona, since the port is just 10 to 15 minutes away. It makes a huge first impression."

By the numbers

As the world's largest cruiseliner by volume, Symphony of the Seas stretches 1,188 feet long and is filled with 22 restaurants, 24 pools and 2,759 cabins.

At capacity, the ship can host about 6,680 guests -- plus 2,200-some crew members for a total of nearly 9,000 people.

"Eight out of 10 of the largest ships in the world were built by Royal Caribbean, but this one really pushes the envelope," says Yeung.

"At the same time, you don't really feel crowded because there are 18 decks on the ship. It's like a building, right? There are 24 elevators and seven neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its own personality, so it tends to naturally segregate the crowds."

"Neighborhoods" such as the adults-only Solarium lounge or leafy Central Park aim to provide a refuge, whereas a dedicated Splashaway Bay water park is packed with families.

"Central Park is really peaceful, with more than 20,000 tropical plants and an alfresco wine bar," says Yeung.

"Others will like the Boardwalk, which is much more outdoorsy and fun for families with a carousel."

Slip 'n' slide

For daily dopamine hits, the new cruise ship provides an ambitious lineup of performances and thrills.

Peppered around the vast deck, there's a glow-in-the-dark laser tag, an "Escape the Rubicon" puzzle in a custom-built escape room, rock climbing wall, surf simulators and a nine-deck-high zip line.

But the jewel in the crown is the spiraling "Ultimate Abyss" slide -- the tallest on any cruise ship to date, at 150 feet above sea level.

Featuring a 10-story drop, the serpentine slide winds toward the deck below at a steep 27-degree incline, which takes about 13.14 seconds from top to bottom to descend.

Also on board, dance and musical enthusiasts can settle in to watch boundary-pushing acrobatics and high dives at the AquaTheatre or head to the Royal Theatre to experience an upbeat rendition of "Hairspray."

"Actually my favorite part of the experience was the shows," says Yeung. "It's beautiful to see the outdoor dives at the back of the ship, with all the lighting and the music and professional acrobatics."

A family affair

When it comes to accommodations, the most over-the-top is the "Ultimate Family Suite."

Decked out in bold colors, these two-level suites include a host of unusual amenities -- think an in-room slide, private cinema, ping pong table and floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall.

Meanwhile, the adults in the eight-person duplex will gravitate toward the private balcony and whirlpool.

Should travelers need an extra hand, a butler -- dubbed a Royal Genie -- will look after the entire family, while an "Instagrammer-in-Chief" is on hand to ensure guests snap shareable pictures.

A new route

This year, the ship will be traversing the Mediterranean with voyages to Palma de Mallorca, Spain and an Italian sojourn to Florence, Pisa, Rome and Naples.

Come autumn, Symphony of the Seas will move its home base to Miami, Florida, and launch a series of Caribbean cruises.

On the itinerary? Stops in Bora Bora or perhaps a "Perfect Day at CocoCay" -- a private island owned by Royal Caribbean that's home to the tallest waterslide in North America, hot air balloon rides and the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean.

Of course, massive cruise ships often draw ire from conservationists due to their impact on small communities and less developed destinations.

Yeung says the mega ship will stick to well-oiled tourist destinations, where there's an existing infrastructure to handle an influx of travelers.

"This summer, the Symphony is sailing one of the most popular and common Mediterranean itineraries, stopping in established tourist destinations such as Rome and Naples," says Yeung.

"These places are very experienced with tourism and hosting guests from ships. We're not cruising to any small villages."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 485655

Reported Deaths: 6558
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1007641586
Ramsey43106801
Dakota36297390
Anoka33293385
Washington22078256
Stearns18734201
St. Louis14805262
Scott13290107
Wright12526115
Olmsted1178988
Sherburne872872
Carver772640
Clay691587
Rice670491
Blue Earth594735
Kandiyohi579574
Crow Wing520681
Chisago499045
Otter Tail482170
Benton446490
Winona418349
Mower404731
Douglas392668
Nobles387047
Goodhue385768
Polk343162
McLeod339349
Beltrami337951
Morrison324547
Itasca313046
Lyon313044
Becker311342
Isanti306154
Steele300411
Carlton300149
Pine282016
Freeborn280723
Nicollet258641
Todd248030
Brown245037
Le Sueur235320
Mille Lacs227447
Cass220024
Waseca208717
Meeker207434
Martin189528
Wabasha18653
Roseau180217
Hubbard160640
Houston157314
Dodge15224
Renville149640
Redwood147027
Fillmore13728
Chippewa136335
Cottonwood134820
Pennington134416
Wadena130920
Faribault123017
Aitkin118833
Sibley117310
Watonwan11738
Rock115714
Kanabec107519
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9448
Jackson93510
Swift87918
Pope8045
Marshall77815
Stevens7418
Lake74018
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68416
Wilkin67110
Koochiching61811
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5062
Grant4918
Norman4788
Unassigned46768
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40921
Red Lake3625
Traverse3055
Lake of the Woods2191
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 362827

Reported Deaths: 5440
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58260551
Linn20670313
Scott18318210
Black Hawk16258292
Woodbury14979211
Johnson1384874
Dubuque13562194
Dallas1138690
Pottawattamie10791143
Story1024945
Warren556674
Clinton543784
Cerro Gordo533782
Webster519587
Marshall497272
Sioux494869
Buena Vista474537
Des Moines458861
Muscatine452291
Wapello4345108
Jasper417766
Plymouth395378
Lee375452
Marion359169
Jones294154
Henry293337
Carroll286249
Bremer280854
Crawford275135
Boone259730
Washington254347
Benton253854
Mahaska224746
Jackson221638
Dickinson217840
Tama213765
Kossuth208555
Clay193625
Hamilton192142
Delaware189140
Winneshiek189127
Buchanan185729
Fayette185235
Page183319
Hardin181439
Wright179931
Harrison179469
Cedar178523
Clayton168154
Butler167231
Mills163020
Floyd162741
Cherokee154836
Madison154718
Poweshiek154330
Hancock147130
Allamakee146747
Lyon145941
Iowa145023
Appanoose139247
Grundy139230
Jefferson138734
Winnebago138631
Cass134751
Calhoun133811
Mitchell130940
Louisa128241
Union126631
Chickasaw125215
Sac124618
Emmet121740
Shelby121733
Franklin118319
Humboldt117925
Guthrie116628
Palo Alto105221
Montgomery104136
Howard102921
Clarke100420
Unassigned9900
Keokuk98229
Monroe93328
Adair92128
Ida91432
Pocahontas85419
Davis83123
Monona81627
Greene77510
Lucas74021
Osceola70615
Worth6997
Taylor66612
Fremont5909
Decatur5829
Van Buren56118
Ringgold52320
Wayne48921
Audubon4889
Adams3274
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 48°
Mason City
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 52°
Albert Lea
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 45°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 46°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 46°
Several days of mild weather expected
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events