As you may know, I recently returned from a seven-day Western Caribbean Itinerary on board the Harmony of the Seas. While I was not able to take part in many of it’s activities because of CoNexion (my annual conference at sea), I certainly did take advantage of as much as I could. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with you.
Let’s start with – she’s a VERY big ship!
Standing 18 decks high, 16 of which are passenger decks, she can carry a maximum of 6,780 guests in her 2,747 staterooms! On my September 22, 2018 sailing she was sold out! Her staterooms range from luxury Star, Sky and Sea Suites, to Ocean Facing Balcony, Inside Facing Balcony, Ocean View and Inside cabins, all of which have their minuses and pluses.
For me, I like Category BA – usually 9th or 10th deck – ocean facing balcony. I prefer midship or front of the ship when choosing my cabin. Part of the reason is I do suffer from terrible motion sickness (and yes, cruising is still one of my favourite ways to vacation). These mega ships are so sturdy that I’m more likely to experience motion sickness sitting in the passenger seat of my own vehicle.
The Harmony of the Seas is most certainly a Multi-Generational Ship. There truly is something for everyone on board. What’s wonderful about group travel on a ship such as the Harmony is while the Grandparents are enjoying their activities, the grandchildren are busy with theirs and everything in between. Then, whenever you wish, the whole family can gather together to experience the ship’s activities or excursions together!
Celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary? Romance abounds! The adults only Solarium is a haven of solitude with it’s own hot tubs, restaurant, relaxing cabanas and mister. Love the night life – well, you can’t go wrong here either – clubs on board offer dancing until early (or late – depending on how you look at it), drinks and snacks!
Taking the kids on an adventure – oh boy – this ship shines!!
Looking for a quiet place to enjoy some piano music – Central Park is for you!
Looking to get caught up in the inside action – Check out the Boardwalk!
Looking to soak up the sun, either the pool deck or the sports deck are calling you!
I would like to start with the cruising experience. What IS it like to cruise?
Your experience starts with contacting me. I will help you discover the perfect itinerary that matches your Wishbook dreams. The ship plays a huge part in the cruising experience, but you cannot overlook the importance of the Itinerary. Let’s say you contact me saying you would love to cruise and Aruba has been in your Wishbook for a long time, and I put you on a cruise that does not include that port of call. Yes, you will have an amazing vacation, but you will feel unfulfilled. Now, let’s say you contact me and say, I want to cruise the Caribbean on a ship that I’ll never be bored on! Well, the opens the door for me to offer you personal suggestions on a myriad of cruise lines and itineraries. No on line search will help you with that request.
Embarkation Day (Boarding) – well, cruise lines have become extremely efficient at moving people – getting them from the land to on board your cruise ship has become quite seamless. But, it does take time to board up to 6,780 passengers. Many cruise lines have started a procedure where you cruise ticket will have a boarding period of time printed on it. It’s important to respect that boarding time. If you are asked to board between 10 am and 11 am – try to make the a commitment on your part. I guess, it’s really important to realize that while 6,780 maximum passengers are boarding the ship, so are 6,780 maximum passengers disembarking (or leaving) from the ship.
Just before you arrive at the cruise port, remember to ensure that your luggage tags have been affixed to your bags. I advise not attaching them too soon as they could get destroyed en route to the cruise port. When you arrive, your luggage will be given to baggage porters who will ensure your bags arrive safely to your door. Please tip the porters $1.00 – $2.00 per bag. They work really hard! You will then be ushered into queues where you will present your passport, credit card and boarding pass. Your picture will be taken (for security reasons) and you will receive your room key. (NOTE: new to me – was that I did not receive my room key until later where it was waiting for me) Just go with the flow! The room attendants work very diligently to prepare the rooms for your arrival, so please note that your cabin may not be available until 1:00 pm or later. You can, though, enjoy all the the cruise ship has to offer once you board. Also, be aware that your baggage may not show up at your door until at late as 6:00 pm. Remember, again, they are delivering A LOT of baggage!
Cruise ship are cashless. All costs are charged to your “room key” or stateroom card. It also serves as your ID when you embark (load) or disembark (leave) the ship. It allows security to know whether you are on board or not, so, hopefully, (lol) you don’t get left behind!
I have a treasure trove of insider hints to share with you when you are ready to book your cruise! Cruise ships offer beverage packages, internet packages and dining packages as well. I can help discover if these are for you.
I love the WOW wristbands with Royal Caribbean. They serve as your room key while on board and if you are dining or drinking where there are RIF readers, you don’t need your room key at all. They are waterproof and can be used on any Oasis Class Royal Caribbean ship. Please note, that you will need your room key if leaving the ship or taking advantage of pool side beverage service. It would be a great enhancement if they worked so well while on the pool deck.
Often, your first full day on board is a day at sea, allowing the ship to cruise to your first island! This is the time to really relax, find your perfect part of the ship and enjoy! Don’t worry if you feel like you are lost for the first few days – you are not alone! I actually found that the Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas was very easy to figure it out. Part of that comes from it’s amazing design with Central Park “opening” the ship and splitting in two. What’s also very nice is that elevators have rugs that they change every day. Believe me – you will welcome it as the cruise continues. Losing the track of time is a very common occurrence when cruising or on any vacation! The also have placards in the elevators and placed strategically in the halls so you know if you are aft or forward, starboard (right) or port (left). All of this is very important when trying to locate your cabin!
So what is there to do on the Harmony of the Seas while you are at sea? For the adults how about:
- visiting the Vitality Spa and Fitness Center?
- Whoosing down the Perfect Storm water side complex – there are three of them!
- Falling 10 stories on the Ultimate Abyss dry slide
- Relaxing or taking in activities around one of the pools and hot tubs
- Hanging (or trying to stay upright) on one of the two Flowrider surf simulators
- Checking out and playing with Lady Luck at the Casino
- Escaping from Puzzle Break: Escape the Rubicon
- Eating your way through 20 dining venues
- Admiring the 11,000+ pieces of art
- Going for a skate at Studio B Ice Rink (yes, skating at sea!)
- Catching a show at the Aqua Theatre and the Royal Theatre
- Quenching your thirst at the Bionic Bar where drinks are made solely by two robotic arms or at one of the many bars throughout the ship
- Rock climbing on one of two climbing walls
- Letting off some energy on the full sized basketball court, miniature golf course or ping pong table
- Ziplining over Central Park
- Shopping through the Promenade shopping mall featuring jewelry, fashion and accessories
- Catching up on things with VOOM, the fastest internet at sea!
- Taking some down time on the Boardwalk or Central Park listening to the live piano or guitar
- Catch an adult oriented comedian
- Cook up a storm in sushi making classes
- Party in the 90’s, 80’s and with the Latin Fiesta
- Receive your Scuba certification
- Take in the Broadway musical, Grease
- Wow at the aquatic show, the Fine Line
- Giggle through Columbus and so much more
For the Kids
- Keeping cool at Splashaway Bay water park
- Perfect Storm water slide complex
- Ultimate Abyss dry slide
- Flowriders, and swimming pools
- Skating at the ice rink
- enjoying the shows in the theatres
- Visit with DreamWorks* characters from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, etc
- Enjoy the parade
- Spend time away from the adults int he Adventure Ocean programs designed just children and youth. There’s even a Royal Babies and Tots program
- Ride the Carousel in the Boardwalk
- Take part in classes making jewelry, cupcakes and so much more
- Hideaway Heist water park
…and you thought you would be bored!
So what about when you arrive at those amazing ports of call?
You can choose to stay on board if you like, but the destinations beckon you! When you disembark from the cruise ship, you will be required to swipe your card and when you return, you will be required to show picture ID (bring your Driver’s License with you) and your card will be swiped again to show that you are back on board. Please remember that no cruise line is REQUIRED to wait for you to return after the “All Aboard” time. If you are not on an excursion that was organized by Royal Caribbean, the Captain could leave without you. Please be aware of the All Aboard time and make every effort to adhere to it.
We began my cruise in Fort Lauderdale and we stopped at Labadee Haiti, Falmouth Jamaica, and Cozumel Mexico. So let’s take a brief look at those three ports of call.
Labadee, Haiti – well, as a Nexion Travel Professional, I was blessed and humbled to be a part of the most amazing experience. There were over 700 travel agents on board and each of us were asked to donate a backpack filled with school supplies to donate to the children of Haiti. So many supplies were donated that we were able to help 9 schools!
Royal Caribbean has a private resort area on the island and all guests are welcome to enjoy the many and varied activities while there – everything from ziplining across the Caribbean sea to lounging on the beach with a beverage in hand! You can even take out your own wave jet and skim the surface! There’s escapes to go snorkeling or visit a sandbar. What surprised me was how hilly the island was. The beach is beautiful, however, I did find that the water was not as clear as I expected. The food was really good though, BBQ’d fresh with a lot to choose from. There was vegetarian options available on shore as well. Alcoholic beverages are not included and typically range from $8.00 to $12.00.
Falmouth, Jamaica – Leave the ship for sure! How about climbing up Dunns River Falls, Inner Tubing down the river, riding horseback on the beach, relaxing in comfort and taking in the sun at a local resort, catching live reggae music, visiting historical Good Hope Estate and enjoying high tea, chowing down on jerk chicken and rum cake.
Cozumel, Mexico – crystal clear waters are so inviting here. I guarantee at some time, you’re going to want to jump right in! Here you can cross over to the mainland and immerse yourself in the culture at the ruins at Tulum. Maybe you’ll want to swim with the dolphins! Scuba diving and snorkeling are at their best here as well, and the beaches are very welcoming. Cruising through the mangroves and reefs allow you to experience the amazing wildlife. Cozumel is definitely for those seeking adventure as well – don’t miss out if this is for you!
Shall we talk food??
Everyone knows you can eat 24/7 on a cruise ship and the Harmony of the Seas allows so many opportunities to do just that. There’s everything from grabbing an ice cream cone, hot dog or a piece of pizza to finest of dining at 150 Central Park.
Included in your cruise are:
- The Main Dining Room – opening for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Mini Bites – open from lunch into the late afternoon – serving small bites – corn dogs, meatballs, cupcakes, quiche
- Sorrento’s on the Royal Promenade – fancy a pizza? Here’s the place to go!
- Boardwalk Dog House – open from lunch to early evening – love hot dogs like I do? Yumm! All sorts are served here
- Windjammer Marketplace – the buffet!!!! Open, breakfast, lunch and dinner – so much to choose from!
- Park Cafe at Central Park – serving bagels, paninis, soups and salads
Specialty Restaurants where you can eat all you want but you do pay a cover charge
- 150 Central Park – award winning Chef Michael Schwartz does create amazing meals!
- Izumi Hitachi and Sushi – so very fresh and prepared right in front of you – make sure you make your reservations well in advance!
- Coastal Kitchen – private dining venue for those who have reserved suites on board for the accommodations – serving Mediterranean and Californian inspired dished
- Solarium Bistro – serving fresh and healthy foods
- Sabor – serving the best of Mexican food and in a fun setting (where I enjoyed my first meal on board!)
- Jamie’s Italian – Chef Jamie Oliver has put is special flare here – the food is amazing
- Johnny Rockets – located on the Boardwalk – stop in for burgers, hot dogs, chili cheese fries and an amazing milkshake
- Wonderland – Fantasy filled dining served in 6 themes – Sun, Sea, Ice, Earth, Fire and Dreams – not your average dining experience!
- Chops Grill – Royal Caribbean’s signature Steakhouse – grilled to perfection!
So, here’s my take on the food…
- Although the food on the Royal Caribbean Harmony of Seas is delicious and bountiful, I found that the main dining room, included restaurants and buffet were not nearly as good as the specialty dining venues. I’m hoping this is not a trend in order to encourage patrons to pay the surcharge to get superior food quality….Please understand that in no way did I NOT enjoy my food outside of the specialty venues, but it just didn’t have that flair.
- Always say hi to those who work so hard in the main dining room and the buffet! My husband and I seldom get all dressed up for formal nights – usually we head to the buffet for a semi-casual dinner experience. On the first formal night we did just that. Just after arriving, I was checking out the Asian inspired food (yummmm) and said hi to the “chef” in the big white hat. He casually mentioned the hot grill around the corner where they will cook my food fresh for me, so I followed him (of course). I later noticed on his name tag that he was “THE CHEF”. And he cooked my dinner!!! What an honor! Always say hi – you just never know who will be cooking your dinner!
Let’s talk Service
There’s not too much to say here – the service on board the Harmony of the Seas was outstanding! Personal, attentive and sincere. It didn’t really matter where I was or what I was doing. Without being overbearing, each member of the staff on board went above and beyond!
What is Next Cruise?
Let’s say you are enjoy your cruise on board and would love to book another cruise. Well, Next Cruise is there for you. It offers amazing deals, discounts and extra perks. And the best part, all you have to do is tell them that you booked your current cruise with me and the file will automatically be given to me to look after for you! Go for it!
Special Needs at Sea
I am a Certified Special Needs at Sea Travel Professional. This is an amazing opportunity for those who love to cruise (or want to try it for the first time) but require wheelchairs, scooters, oxygen, etc. Your equipment is waiting for you when you arrive at your cabin and when you are ready to disembark, just leave it there!
I would like to extend my thanks to this amazing gentlemen who allowed me to take his picture to share with you.
I would absolutely recommend cruising on board the Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas – IF it’s right for you!
Please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll help you discover the ship, the itinerary, the ports and all it has to offer. If she’s not the right ship for you, I’ll help you find the right one!
ooo…we can’t forget about these guys!