Seatrade Cruise News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Symphony of the Seas: Inside $85,000 Ultimate Family Suite

(Photos: SBW-Photo)
The Ultimate Family Suite has a slide, cinema, air hockey and games inside, and ping pong, a climbing maze and whirlpool on the balcony
Up on the exclusive Deck 17 for suite guests aboard the world's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, look for number 1733. It's the only door fronted by a red carpet.

Inside, the first thing that catches the eye is a bright orange slide fed by a spiral staircase. The suite is done up in tangerine and yellow, with splashes of aqua, blue, pink and red. There are whimsical lamps, fluffy cushions, a swing chair and loads other fun details.

Royal Caribbean International president and CEO Michael Bayley calls it 'a crazy space. It's just fun.'

Welcome to Symphony of the Seas' Ultimate Family Suite.

Two Loft Suites were combined to make this 1,346-square-foot hideaway that's a sophisticated fun house with incredible views.

A cinema, LEGO wall, Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch, PS4 Pro

One corner has a playroom/lounge that can be closed off with the pull of a curtain to form—voila!—a cinema with 85-inch HD TV for streaming movies (included), a popcorn maker and a countertop Coke machine. An air hockey table converts for dining.

Younger children will love the board games, floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall and giant chalkboard. Twenty-seven games are available for Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch and PS4 Pro.

There are hidden nooks to chill and recharge, a 'magic door' crawl space between the kids' room and the master suite, and seven televisions. Each bunk in the kids' room has its own TV, and one is in a bathroom mirror.

The 212-square-foot balcony holds a ping-pong table that converts for dining, climbing maze (by Luckey Climbers), full-sized whirlpool and lounge chairs. The view is over the Boardwalk with its zip line and the snaking purple tubes of The Ultimate Abyss slide, as well as the mini-golf course of the Pool & Sports Zone.

The most coveted experience for different age groups

'Our main customer and our main focus is families. This is an iconic experience of the ultimate family vacation,' said Laura Hodges, VP guest experience, whose job at Royal Caribbean is to shape new things that surprise and delight, like the Ultimate Family Suite.

Until Symphony, family suites were like those on any other ship—more spacious, with two bedrooms and a second bathroom. The Ultimate Family Suite reflects Royal Caribbean's drive to find the best and go beyond to top that.

Every detail in the suite springs from consumer research into the most coveted experiences for different age groups, from kids and teens to parents. Hodges said Royal Caribbean was looking for over-the-top experiences within each age set and what things bring families together.

Once those were selected, groups of kids were brought together to validate the choices. (The No. 1 thing kids wanted was the slide.)

Family bonding

Getting it right for teens is the 'sweet spot,' according to Hodges, because they're the toughest group to please. They feel obligated to be with their parents but they really want to hang with their friends.

'This is a fantastic space for teens as well,' she said. Since they'll want to stick around, 'this creates family bonding in an unforced way.'

The suite comes with the services of a Royal Genie, who crafts personalized VIP experiences. The Genie meets the family on the pier at embarkation and escorts them on board. Having researched their preferences in advance, the suite is stocked with favorite treats and a personalized welcome like special music playing. Throughout the cruise, the Royal Genie can arrange activities like family laser tag, specialty dining in suite, personalized excursions and more.

The Ultimate Family Suite sleeps eight: two downstairs and, upstairs, four in the kids' room and two in the master suite.

$85,000 for the weeklong Christmas cruise

The price depends on demand/seasonality, and averages $45,000 to $80,000 a week, Hodges said. The Christmas holiday cruise went for $85,000.

One of a kind for now, the Ultimate Family Suite will be going on future ships including 2019's Spectrum of the Seas, first in the Quantum Ultra class.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.