Written by Chillie Falls, September 12, 2022
It is very difficult for me to be critical of anything on Symphony of the Seas. I really love this ship. However, to be brutally honest, there are a few items that need fine tuning to make this ship truly accessible.
Let’s start with Embarkation: It is high time that Royal Caribbean changes their draconian policy of forcing Scootaround to deliver scooters only to the staterooms. Norwegian and Carnival both allow scooter delivery in the terminal. On a recent Norwegian Cruise, Scootaround even delivered the scooter to me curbside almost as soon as I got out of my Uber. From a mobility challenged guest, my embarkation was so much simpler and quicker when I can start the process on a scooter.
To be fair, Royal Caribbean, ie Symphony of the Seas, did as good a job as possible so I can not fault them for the effort. I only had to wait about 2 minutes for a wheelchair to pick me up curbside. And, I was given priority treatment through check-in and security. Then I was handed off to a ship crew member who pushed me up the ramps and onto the ship. He then parked me in the Bionic Bar, went to my stateroom, and returned about 10 minutes later with my scooter so I did not have to wait until the rooms were ready to access “my wheels”.
One of the strong points for Symphony of the Seas accessibility is the public restrooms. Every one that I have seen, and I have looked at most public areas, have automatic doors inside and out. And, so far, there was only one instance of a non-handicapped individual using the handicapped stall with its automatic door. Needless to say, he got an ear-full from me. Come on folks, the handicapped accessible stall is there for a reason. So someone like me, on a scooter, or more advanced in a wheelchair, has the room to maneuver to use the facilities. Some regular stalls, I can’t even walk into much less get close on my scooter.
The swimming pools and hot tubs are all inaccessible. You must be able to walk up and down several stairs, or step across and bench step and walk some distance to get in the water. There is no way to get a scooter or chair even close. Some of you might call using a lift chair accessible. I don’t. One, I hate the things and often they say no because of my weight, that is assuming there is a key and someone who know how to use it. The other thing, I refuse to be put on such a public display. “Hey all 200 sunbathers. Let’s watch the big fat guy get picked up and swung over and dunked in the water. Just like picking up a piano.” No, thanks.
All of the entry and exit areas have automatic doors, and they ball work. So I do not have to deal with any doors in the public area. And I have seen no crazy unmarked steps or anything like that that could cause problems.
Most of the other outside activities are reasonably accessible. Even the miniature golf is accessible. There are ramps up to both Flow Riders, although I can’t imagine anyone with any disability would even think about trying it. The zipline is also accessible although I am not sure how one would handle the time difference of going down the zipline with the time it would take some to bring a scooter or wheelchair from the start to the finish. The two rock climbing walls are inaccessible as both require walking up and down a flight of stairs.
The restaurants and bars I have visited so far have all been accessible and crew has been more than willing to assist with moving chairs so I can pull up to the table, swivel my seat around so that I am sitting almost exactly where I would be seated in a chair only without the display on me getting from the scooter into a chair. They don’t even question it anymore. Several other mobility challenged guests have thanked me and commented they didn’t even know the seat would swivel.
Unfortunately, I do not have an accessible room. For this cruise I am in a junior suite. So, Symphony does not lose any points over the heavy door I have to open, nor the bathtub, rather than a roll in shower, or at least a shower with a seat. (I even tried to put a shower stool in the tub, but alas, it doesn’t fit.
I still have four more days on Symphony of the Seas. Should I find anymore deficiencies, or problems with disembarkation, I will amend this post.
In conclusion, I will sail Symphony of the Seas again and recommend her to any handicapped or mobility challenged guests.