This was a unique and beautiful ship with many activities for all age groups. We booked 3 staterooms... my wife & I in our mid 60's in a balcony room, our daughter and granddaughter sharing an inside cabin, and our son in a ... Read More
This was a unique and beautiful ship with many activities for all age groups. We booked 3 staterooms... my wife & I in our mid 60's in a balcony room, our daughter and granddaughter sharing an inside cabin, and our son in a singles cabin. We booked this cruise specifically to try the newest and at the time the largest Oasis class ship and we wanted to avoid the eastern / southern Caribbean ports due to the past hurricane damage. We did not book based on the ports... My wife & I cruise just about every year, and we have been on many Royal Caribbean ships... with Royal Caribbean being our go to most favorite cruise line.
As for ports... Labadee was wonderful. Our most enjoyable port. We simply did the beach, ate, drank, etc. The only additional expense for us was renting a flotation mat. Our favorite beach was Columbus Cove...very sandy, no rocks, great for family and children. Also very close to the lunch area.
Falmouth, Jamaica... we never left the ship... while everyone else went ashore, we enjoyed the less crowed ship.
Cozumel... a fun port with lots of options. We did a private boat excursion (not through the cruise lines) where they took us to many nice areas, snorkeling, relaxing, and they provided a great lunch and drinks...
When we cruise, we often do our own thing by booking excursions ourselves and not through the cruise lines... If we simply want a good beach, we research beaches, get off the ship, grab a cab and head for the beach. No need to have the cruise lines charge you a ton of money to do the same thing. Just do a lot of research on every port with google, tripadvisor, cruisecritic, etc.
Regarding the drink package... probably not worth it, but we always buy the drink package. You really need to drink a lot to justify the package, but it does free you up to totally enjoy yourself on the ship without adding up all the costs. It also allows you the fresh squeezed orange juice, specialty coffees, bottled water, etc.
The Internet / wifi packages... We always sign up for this... On this cruise we purchased the 3 pack, giving us internet / wifi on 3 devices. This not only allows you to access the internet, but allows you to communicate with your other family members... We use Whatsapp, and can text, call, or even video chat to our other on board family members. This really helps to stay in touch and communicate where we are all gathering, etc.
Pro's... The ship was very clean and the staff were great... very courteous, helpful, and polite. The entertainment was outstanding...we booked everything that was offered and enjoyed them all. The aquatics show by far the most entertaining. Big tip...always book all the entertainment well in advance of the cruise... perhaps 85 to 90 days prior to cruise departure date... The food, food choices & desserts were better than average.
Dining... Everyone is different on this subject. Because of our granddaughter and kids, we tended to lean towards the buffet meals offered at the Windjammer (despite the crowds)... better choices for food offerings. We found the food to be very good, actually better than expected. Many choices and good tasting. The desserts were outstanding...too good, we ate way too much. On the first night we did the my time dining at the main restaurant... we found it to be very good with excellent service.
Con's... We rated the entire cruise a 4 out of 5... very good. We did enjoy the cruise, but had several items that we did not like ....
Very crowded...not as crowded as we initially thought, but still a lot of people, especially on Sea days.
The Windjammer restaurant always a crowded mess...mass humanity. On past RC cruise ships, the Windjammer was always open...we could go up in the mid afternoon to grab a cookie and coffee or a dessert, or even a glass of wine. On the Harmony, they had specific hours...as an example it would open only at 5:30 pm for dinner, the line would be very long just to get in. We always tried to eat early as we almost always had shows or other activities scheduled in the evenings.
We did not like the Solarium at all. A ton of floor space designated for this area (3 levels). Very hot and noisy when the ship was at sea. RC made no attempt to keep kids out of this area. It also did not have a swimming pool...just whirlpools, a major disappointment. On past RC cruises, we often spent a lot of Sea day times in the Solarium, but not on the Harmony
Very few quiet relaxing / reading areas... unless you sat in a bar. On Sea days, my wife and I would like to find a nice quiet area to read in comfortable chairs and look out at the sea. Perhaps if you were in one of the upper suite classes, they had such a room, but with just a standard balcony room we could not find such a place. The Harmony was geared for internal neighborhoods, very few places to look out at the sea.
Computer room... not everyone brings a computer on a cruise. If you want to check email or forward pics, etc. you would generally go to the ship computer room (whatever they called it). Even on the last day you want to confirm air and print boarding passes, etc. On the Harmony, they combined the game room, library and computer room all into one small very noisy room. Kids would be playing board games, screaming, yelling, having fun, etc... not the best atmosphere for spending a quiet time on the computer.
Very limited outside deck/rail area to walk around ship and view the surroundings... As mentioned before, the ship was geared for internal neighborhoods, all located inside the ship. Perhaps on the running track on 5 or the swim area which was always packed, no
place to really grab a chair and watch the ocean. I believe the ship was laid out to maximize balcony staterooms, with very few areas to walk around the outside decks...
Specialty dining... We have never had positive experiences on any cruise ship specialty dining. On this trip, against my wife's better judgement, I booked the Jamie's Italian specialty restaurant. It was terrible, even terrible does not describe just how horrible the experience was... Just stick with the main dining room options or the Windjammer, don't waste your money on the specialty dining...
Promenade Cafe... very small area considering size of ship. Speciality coffee was terrible. Snack options not the best. On other RC cruises we always enjoyed this cafe, but not on the Harmony...
Overall... We had an enjoyable vacation, but would not book an Oasis class or bigger ship again in the future. We prefer a size down. Our next cruise with RC already booked on the Freedom of the Seas in 2019 to the Southern Caribbean sailing out of San Juan. We booked the Freedom of Seas cruise mainly for the southern Caribbean itinerary, with the ship being the secondary concern. We generally book a year ahead for our cruises. Read Less