Symphony of the Seas and the Barefoot Blonde: The Ultimate Family Vacation

From carousels and cupcake classes to entertainment for the whole crew, here’s why the world’s largest ship is the perfect choice when you’re traveling with kids.
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We’ve told you all about the incredible accommodations and offerings for everyone aboard Symphony of the Seas, but with countless features and experiences to be had, what is it like to actually sail on it with your family? To get the inside scoop on how you and your crew can make the most of your time on board Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, we turned to Amber Fillerup Clark—mother, traveler and founder of the wildly popular lifestyle blog Barefoot Blonde. Over the summer, Amber and her family took a seven-night European cruise aboard Symphony, taking in all the one-of-a-kind thrills, cuisine and entertainment the largest ship in the world has to offer. The Western Mediterranean itinerary started in Barcelona and sailed to Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Marseille, France; and Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy. Here, Amber shares what the whole family couldn’t get enough of, and the moments of their trip they will never forget.

Q: Tell us about your overall impression of Symphony of the Seas.

Amber: Symphony of the Seas felt more elevated than other cruises I’ve been on. My husband and I went on a cruise for our honeymoon, but it wasn’t our speed in terms of entertainment or nightlife. Fast-forward to Symphony this summer; and there was a great mix of activities and night life—the kids literally begged to get back on the ship every day. They had so much fun. It was a cut above any other cruise we’ve experienced, from the restaurants to the incredible Boardwalk neighborhood. My only regret was that I didn’t make it to the spa!

Q: With so much to see and do on board, how did you navigate the ship?

Amber: We really appreciated how the ship was divided up into seven neighborhoods. So much thought was put into each and every one; it made for super easy exploring. My husband, kids and I felt like we were going to a new small town every day. Symphony’s top decks, with the pools and sports court, were buzzing with great music, and the kids loved the pool area. Central Park—with its live plants in the middle of the ocean—and the Boardwalk, a modern take on your staple, Coney Island-style boardwalk, both had the perfect combination of things to do and eat for our family. It was such a pleasant surprise to feel like we had a place relatively to ourselves on a ship of that size.


Cockles and Scallops Linguine at Jamie’s Italian.


Q: What did you think of the food?

Amber: We were blown away by how good the food was on board. Honestly, everything was so delicious! My favorite restaurant was Jamie’s Italian for the daily homemade pasta, and we also loved the buffet for breakfast at the Windjammer. It was just super easy, relaxed (and yummy!)—which is key when you’re traveling with kids.

Q: Any favorite shore excursions?

Amber: One of our highlight shore excursions was a pizza-making class in Naples. The kids had a blast, my husband and I had a blast, and the pizza was the best I’d ever had. That was definitely one of our favorite parts of the whole trip. I highly recommend this experience for families with young children.

Q: Was there a standout country that you visited?

Amber: All of the countries on our itinerary were beautiful, but Spain, specifically Palma de Mallorca, stood out because we had never been there before. From the crystal-clear water at Es Calo des Moro beach to small (and safe) cliff-jumping with kids, it was a dream.

Q: What did your kids love most on board?

Amber: Atticus (4) and Rosie (3) were obsessed with the carousel in the Boardwalk—they couldn’t believe they could ride it again and again! Normally, when we’re at a carnival or amusement park, I only let them go on once, since you have to pay per ride. With unlimited, complimentary access, though, we had to pry them off. Of course, the kids also couldn’t get enough of the children’s waterslides, water bucket and geysers, as well as cupcake decorating classes, the AquaTheater show with high divers, and daily face painting. They actually asked me if they could live on the ship!

Ready to book your next family vacation aboard Symphony of the Seas? Head here.


The Clark family sailed with Royal Caribbean as part of a paid partnership.