An Inside Look at Youth Programs on a Cruise Ship

Courtney Samry, a Royal Caribbean Youth Manager, walks us through what makes Symphony of the Seas a kid’s dream come true.
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Guests have plenty of reasons to be excited about the launch of Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship. Symphony is packed with tons of activities for the whole family, including live stage, aqua, aerial and ice-skating performances; Splashaway Bay kids aqua park, laser tag, the FlowRider surf simulators, delicious dining at restaurants like Jamie’s Italian and the new Hooked Seafood, and a crowd favorite, the 10-story Ultimate Abyss slide – the tallest at sea. This all means that kids won’t claim boredom, parents can enjoy some alone time, and it’s never been easier to find activities for the whole family.

Of course, an important part of providing entertainment for everyone is having activities dedicated to tots, kids and teens—something our award-winning Adventure Ocean program covers on board every ship.

We were thrilled to sit down with Crew Ambassador Courtney Samry, who heads up the youth program on board Symphony. Here’s her inside scoop on the ship’s kid-friendly activities and amenities (most of which are included in your cruise) and how our trained professionals make every young cruiser feel at home.

What are some of your favorite ways to keep kids entertained on board?

In addition to Adventure Ocean, the Pool and Sports Zone is amazing! We’re talking waterslides, surf simulators, mini-golf and even a zip line. Also, many of our shows are kid-friendly and really high tech, including Hairspray, 1977—our new ice-skating show about a jewel heist (and time travel—really!), and so much more. One thing all Youth Staff members pride themselves on is making a child feel at home when they come into Adventure Ocean, especially if they are unsure or shy at first. You really need experience to understand what they need in that moment, and create a comfortable environment.

Have there been any programs that surprised you in their popularity?

Our program caters to kids of all ages and their families. However, it does surprise me how most, if not all, kids enjoy our science lab program. The variety of exciting hands-on experiments and other activities get a lot of participation!

What do you enjoy most about working with kids?

I get to know so many kids from many different backgrounds. I love learning about their cultures and seeing how they interact with others their age who are from a completely different place in the world. Kids just want someone to play with and to make new friends. It makes my day to see those relationships created, especially when they make plans to continue those friendships once they go back home.

What inspired you to join Royal Caribbean?

I met two women who worked for Royal Caribbean when I was in high school, and they loved their jobs. When I graduated from college, I didn’t want a typical nine-to-five career, and wasn’t in love with the internships I had completed. So, I remembered those two ladies and how passionate they were about their lives at sea, decided to apply, and I’ve been working on cruise ships ever since—that was more than three years ago.

What is it like to work on Symphony of the Seas?

You have all you really need in a home away from home on Symphony of the Seas. It’s an incredible place to work and travel the world—every space, activity and person on board, even the design of the ship itself, are what makes the ship unique. I also love the European ports we visit, like the Amalfi Coast of Italy, because there is so much to do. We’ll soon start to sail out of Miami for some amazing weather all year round in the Caribbean.

What are some of your favorite things to do on the ship?

Two words: Laser tag. I’ve played several times, and I just love it! It’s not only about the game itself but the whole experience.

I also can’t get enough of our shows—whether they’re on stage, in the air, on ice or in the water. One of my other favorites is the plunge down the Ultimate Abyss slide, and everyone loves Skee-Ball and the room full of arcade games at our new Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade.

What is it like living where you work?

It’s great! One of the biggest perks for me is that you spend absolutely no money on gas. It’s also nice if you feel like sleeping in some days. I can get out of my bed, get dressed and go to work in ten minutes, if I want.

Any dream onboard activities?

A ROLLER COASTER. That would be insane. Royal Caribbean already pushes the boundaries across the board, so I can’t wait to see what’s next. With everything from laser tag to full-scale productions, your kids will experience excitement at every turn aboard Symphony of the Seas. Discover the whole range of activities available on board here, and look out for the seven-night Caribbean itineraries available once Symphony makes her debut sailing from Miami, November 2018.