Can you really notice that you’re on a ship with over 6,000 other people? Here’s what cruising on the Harmony of the Seas is really like.
The Harmony of the Seas is the newest addition to the Royal Caribbean fleet, launching just this May, following the Ovation of the Seas launch in April. The record breaking ship is now the biggest cruise ship in the world and it’s jaw-dropping size has earned Royal Caribbean worldwide publicity. Working closely with Royal Caribbean, we were lucky enough to be invited onboard to find out what it’s really like to cruise on the Harmony of the Seas. Read on to discover our thoughts about everything onboard or check out our Facebook album to see all of our pictures from the ship.
Standing in front of the Harmony about to board, the size of the ship is jaw-dropping. It dwarfs the surrounding buildings and to capture the size of the ship in a single picture, I’d need to stand pretty far back. Something you’ll notice straight away is the vibrant purple slides which twist and turn their way 10-storeys from the top to the bottom of the ship. These slides are the Ultimate Abyss and it’s the highest slide on a cruise ship. By now our excitement was palpable and we were eager to board, luckily the check in process was incredibly swift and efficient and we were on in less than 10 minutes – something in itself which is impressive considering the volume of people boarding.
When it comes to the choice of accommodation onboard, Royal Caribbean really do lead the way for mainstream cruise lines. The sheer choice of options is nothing short of impressive. Family staterooms, Loft Suites, Sea facing Balconies, Boardwalk facing Balconies; the list goes on and on. We stayed in a Boardwalk facing Balcony which overlooked the Boardwalk below and from our vantage point we could also see the Aqua Theatre and the Ultimate Abyss slides. This grade of cabin is particularly great in the evening as the Boardwalk and carousel are lit up with pretty lights, however some people may not like that fact that other guests can be seen directly across from you. If you’re planning on cruising on the Harmony of the Seas and you enjoy your privacy then a Ocean facing stateroom is for you, but if you love people watching and don’t want to miss out on any of the action whilst in your cabin then the Boardwalk facing cabin will suit you perfectly. Each and every grade of stateroom is tastefully furnished with contemporary art and soft furnishings in shades of blue and grey. You’ll notice little touches like the Royal Caribbean logo stitched onto the bed sheets and also a USB socket (so handy for charging your phone!). Each stateroom is equipped with all the modern comforts you might need including a safe, mini bar, hairdryer, 24 hour room service menu, ice bucket service, interactive TV with movies on demand, great lighting , plenty of storage and soft, comfy beds.
You won’t find yourself short of things to do whilst cruising on the Harmony of the Seas, from the adrenaline-inducing Ultimate Abyss and challenging FlowRider to more relaxed pursuits like a sentimental ride on the Boardwalk carousel or a visit to the Coney Island inspired games arcade. Up on the top deck there’s also a sports court for football and basketball, ping pong tables and mini golf. Those with a head for heights might want to test their bravery by taking on the rock climbing wall or flinging themselves over the heart of the ship on the zip line which soars over Central park some 8 storeys above. Guests who want to take a break from the Caribbean sunshine can head to Studio B where ice skating is on offer or the Seven of Hearts card room for a quiet place to read a great book or play cards or games with friends and family. You’re probably wondering what the demand is like for each of the activities? Well, when we scouted around the ship there were no queques for the activities, there is simply so much choice onboard that guests are equally dispersed around the ship. The only queues we saw in fact were for the Royal Promenade coffee shop and the Central Park Cafe (and we feel that may be due to some guests nursing some sore heads after the party Royal Caribbean put on for us!).
On a seven day cruise, you could easily find yourself dining somewhere new every day. There are so many dining venues onboard that we thought it would be easier to put them in list format so it’s easier for you to digest – pun intended 😉
Wonderland – This speciality dining venue has been inspired by the famous story of Alice in Wonderland. Unique decor and an imaginative menu make this dining venue an extra special culinary experience. (Not included)
Silk – A vibrant tapestry of pan-Asian flavours as diverse as the Far East itself await you in this speciality restaurant. (Not included)
Johnny Rockets – Known for serving the ‘original hamburger’, Johnny Rockets has been serving authentic American food since 1986. You’ll discover fresh made to order hamburgers, sides, shakes and desserts in a traditional style American diner. (Included)
American Icon Grill – This is one of the main dining rooms where you can a la carte find breakfast, lunch or dinner. (Included)
Grande – This is the second main dining room where you can find a la carte breakfast, lunch or dinner. (Included)
Sorrentos – Royal Caribbean describe Sorrento’s as a ‘Caribbean twist on New York style pizza’. It’s a casual dining experience with freshly made pizzas. It’s located right across from the Boot and Bonnet too, so if you find yourself peckish whilst having a pint you can grab yourself a couple slices of pizza. (Included)
Starbucks – Located on the Boardwalk, Starbucks is a convenient place to grab your favourite speciality coffee before taking a seat in the Aqua Theatre to enjoy the view from the aft of the ship as you cruise along. (Not included)
Sabor – The aptly named Sabor restaurant (it’s Spanish for flavour) offers up a fiesta of flavours that proves to be quite the feast. Tacos, burrittos and quesadillas are just some of the delicious options available along with many more Mexican dishes.
Jamie’s Italian – Mouthwatering antipasti planks, tasty bruschetta and fresh pastas are just some of the dishes which make up the beautiful and rustic menu offered at Jamie’s Italian.
150 Central Park – This dining spot has been created in collaboration with celebrated chef Michael Schwartz. There’s a big focus on locally sourced ingredients and championing the most distinctive and unique flavours. Guests can enjoy a seasonal tasting menu at 150 Central Park which has an upmarket, intimate ambience which is perfect for celebrating special occasions whilst onboard.
Chops Grille – A firm favourite with Royal Caribbean cruisers, Chops Grille offers up some of the most perfectly cooked Fillet Mignon offered at sea. In this new-age American steakhouse, they offer the first dry-aged steaks on a cruise ship and combine them with contemporary seasoning so that each steak has excellent flavour, aroma and tenderness.
Park Cafe – Stop for tea and cake whilst wondering Central Park in this bright and fresh dining spot. Help yourself to complimentary tea and coffee and if you’re feeling peckish there’s salads, baguettes, wraps and muffins and pastries to sate your appetite.
Solarium Bistro – Serving up guilt-free dishes, the Solarium Bistro is located just inside the Vitality Spa entrance. The peaceful and soothing atmosphere compliments the healthy menu which offers a selection of fresh, balanced meals packed with nutrients.
Windjammer Marketplace – Your go-to place for a bite to eat come morning, noon or night as this buffet is open 20 hours a day. Serving up a selection of dishes from around the world, you can easily find something to satisfy your tastebuds whilst taking in the panoramic sea views.
Coastal Kitchen – Exclusive to suite and penthouse guests, the Coastal Kitchen is the highest positioned restaurant on the ship and it offers incredible views through it’s floor to ceiling glass windows. A modern and welcoming interior design, the Coastal Kitchen offers a unique blend of Californian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Mini Bites – If all the action of being up in the sports area has worked up your appetite, you won’t have to venture far for a bite to eat. Mini Bites provides a selection of snacks to restore your energy ready for more adventure and activities.
Bars and Lounges
You’ll quickly find that there’s more choice onboard for bars and lounges than there is in some town centres, and what’s even more special is that each of them are unique with their own atmosphere and theme so you are sure to find a favourite haunt during your cruise on the Harmony. Here’s a list of the bars and lounges you’ll find onboard:
Rising Tide Bar – This inventive bar actually moves up from deck to deck and back down again. Catch it for the full journey on deck 5 next to Guest Services. You’ll see the next departure time on the screen outside the bar.
Boot and Bonnet – Brits will feel right at home in the Boot and Bonnet which is reminiscent of a typical British local. Sports memorabilia adorns the walls and the brass fittings and low lighting creates the perfect ambience for an evening pint.
Boleros – This vibrant and colourful bar feels a little like you’re sitting inside a lava lamp. The warming and vivid shades of orange and red, it’s a perfect place for pre or post dinner drinks with friends.
Sabor – Sabor is a modern, Mexican bar situated outdoors on the Boardwalk, making it a great choice for a midday drink whilst enjoying the afternoon sun.
Bionic Bar – Perhaps the most unique bar on the Royal Caribbean fleet is the Bionic Bar. Two robotic arms powered by ‘Makr Shakr’ operate beneath a ceiling of optics holiding premimum label spirits. Guests can order their drink of choice from the tablets located on the tables around the bar and you’ll know when your drink is being made next as it appears on one of the screens either side of the bar. It’s certainly quite a novelty to see the robot at work!
Diamond Club – Those who are a member of the Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor society will have access to this exclusive lounge.
Jazz on 4 – This glamorous evening location is the perfect place for after dinner drinks. The low-key lights and sumptuous, dark purple furnishing perfectly compliment the velvety voices of the amazing jazz and blues singers who perform here.
Schooner Bar – The Schooner Bar on the Harmony of the Seas is quite different to that which is on the Harmony. The Schooner Bar on the Harmony features a light, beach-fresh style decor with pastel turquoise and blue soft furnishings which are just perfect for such a location at sea.
The Attic – The Attic is the ship nightclub and guests can dance away until the early hours as the club is the last venue to shut on the ship at around 2am.
Sky Bar – The highest bar on the ship (other than the Suite lounge which is exclusive to Suite guests), the Sky Bar offers unbelievable views out over the ship and it’s surroundings. Whether you’re at sea or in port, you’re sure to be impressed by vistas.
Vintages – This rustic wine bar offers a secluded spot to enjoy a great glass of wine. Wine tasting classes are on offer or if you know exactly what you’re looking for, you can use the automated pouring machines to fill your glass.
Where do we begin on this one! The Harmony of the Seas was built to entertain guests, from the 1,400 seat theatre which showcases the musical production of Grease (the first ever cruise line to do so), to the Comedy Club and the Aqua Theatre where aquatic acrobats perform heart-stopping dives into the pool below. One of the resounding highlights of our visit on the Harmony was the Grease show. The talent of the performers, the costumes and the props were nothing short of amazing and when you consider that the performance is free to watch – well, you’ll certainly be impressed by the quality. In Studio B, guests have the opportunity to go ice skating, or for those who prefer to leave it to the pros there’s dazzling ice skating shows performed in the evening. The On Air bar is the place for karaoke kings and queens whilst the vast Casino Royale gives guests a chance to win big. There’s also the video arcades, sports facilities, spa and fitness centre to ensure you have a fulfilled experience during your cruise.
The Harmony of the Seas provides activities for guests of all ages, however it’s particularly great for catering for kids. In fact, one of the neighbourhoods onboard is called Kid’s Avenue and it’s a whole section of the ship dedicated to the youngest cruisers. Parents can leave their little ones in the hands of childcare professionals, safe in the knowledge that they are enjoying play sessions, arts and crafts, interactive science classes and pirate party parades. Royal Caribbean split the children into age groups; Royal Babies (6-18 months), Royal Tots (18 to 36 months), Aquanauts (3 to 5 years), Explorers (6 to 8 years) Voyagers (9 to 11 years). Teens have the Fuel Teen Disco and The Living Room, their own hang out area with a juke box, pool and football tables. Royal Caribbean even offer a service for the very youngest of cruisers called Babies to Go. This service enables parents to order a welcome kit of nappies, nappy bags and organic baby food to be in the stateroom on arrival as well as delivered as needed throughout the cruise. The whole family will appreciate the Royal Caribbean collaboration with Disney Dream Works which means that guests might just find themselves strolling past the likes of Shrek or Po from Kung Fu Panda whilst onboard.
Ambience and Neighbourhoods
The unique selling point of cruising on the Harmony of the Seas and the other Oasis-class ships is their distinctive neighbourhoods, of which there are seven altogether including; Entertainment Place, Central Park, the Boardwalk, Kid’s Avenue, H20 Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Centre, and whilst this isn’t official we also like to think of the sports area with the basketball court, mini golf and table tennis as another neighbourhood. The neighbourhood you’re most likely to be impressed by is Central Park. Altogether there are 12,000 different species of plant on the ship, but you’re find most of them here. The lush, green space is skirted by speciality dining spots like Chops Grille and Jamie’s Italian, it’s also the highest stopping point for the Rising Tide Bar. Neighbourhoods like the Boardwalk and the Royal Promenade also offer an open entertainment space and you’ll often find performances and parades here which feel like a big street party – an unusual yet amazing experience considering you’re on a ship at sea! We were lucky enough to enjoy a performance from the Wild Boys tribute band who had the whole crowd dancing along the Royal Promenade and the buzz and atmosphere is unlike anything else we’ve witnessed on a ship. There are also 11,000 pieces of art dotted around the Harmony including the magnificent rotating head located on the Royal Promenade and the Medusa – inspired cluster of golden legs and shoes on deck 4 outside of the Comedy Club.
The Harmony of the Seas will be cruising seven day Mediterranean itineraries until late October where it will cross the Atlantic to reposition in Fort Lauderdale to offer Western and Eastern Caribbean cruises. Check out our latest offers for Royal Caribbean including the Harmony of the Seas on our Royal Caribbean cruise deals page.
Since the launch of the Harmony, there’s been great debate on it’s size. Some say the ship is too big for them whilst others love that the larger size means more space and things to do onboard. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below or over on Twitter or Facebook.
Check out our other articles on the Harmony using the links below: