The February 10 Harmony of the Seas sailing was our 18th cruise, and 4th with Royal Caribbean. For reference: previous lines are Princess (10 cruises) and Holland America (4 cruises). Also, we did a back to back, getting off the ... Read More
The February 10 Harmony of the Seas sailing was our 18th cruise, and 4th with Royal Caribbean. For reference: previous lines are Princess (10 cruises) and Holland America (4 cruises). Also, we did a back to back, getting off the Independence of the Seas the same day as boarding the Harmony.
As we had just left the Independence, we were at the Harmony at 10:30AM. The boarding process was quick, and we were immediately impressed with the design and quality of the ship. As it was early, very few passengers were on yet, which allowed us to enjoy our only enjoyable meal in Windjammer, their buffet restaurant.
Our ocean facing balcony cabin was on deck 11 aft, where the room steward opened the adjoining balcony with our friends, who were in the cabin next door. The cabin is the nicest and most modern of any cruise ship we have been on: the colors are modern greys, whites, medium browns with some green added in. The furnishings included a nice couch, backlit mirror, and decent linens on the bed. The mattress was comfortable, medium firm, but something about the pillows made a good nights sleep difficult. The balcony is medium sized: larger than Princess, but not as deep as Holland America but with 2 reclining chairs and a side table. The cabin makes even the newer Princess ships cabins feel dated, a real plus for Royal Caribbean.
Despite being so large, the ship is very easy to navigate as there are only forward and aft elevators, but in traditional RCCL design, each had two separated banks of elevators. This avoids people pressing all the buttons, which slows elevators down on other lines as they stop at each floor to pick up passengers who are no longer there. That said, elevators are busy: consider it a miracle if one arrives empty. From there, the ship is well laid out into the separate neighbourhoods.
The general vibe of the ship is an upscale mall on Black Friday. Its busy, there are lots of people walking in every direction, its loud, and there are line ups. There were lots of children running free, including interrupting the evening show, running, tripping on the stairs, and dropping their ice cream cones. After while, they kind of blurred into the constant hustle and bustle of the ship. If you like the energy of bring surrounded by crowds at all times, you will like this ship. If not, you may still like the ship, but be sure to get an ocean view balcony so that you can escape the noise and crowds now and then.
This service on the ship is hit and miss. As you see your room steward each day, they were very much what you would expect from other cruise lines: attentive, personable, friendly. However, the rest will do their minimum but don’t expect anything extra: the staff are very simply overrun with passengers, and they most likely wont see you again. Where on other cruise ships, easy special requests would be graciously accommodated, on the Harmony the answer is simply ‘No’. Example: a bartender in Rising Tides (not busy at the time) refusing to contact another bar for me (I explained I was saving seats, so the four of us could take the Rising Tides up to Jamies Italian for a Birthday dinner).
The Windjammer is also negative for the ship. Although large, its clearly not large enough as there were never tables available for breakfast or lunch. If we spotted someone leaving, we would go to get the table and stand beside it waiting for it to be cleaned. Three times, I went and asked a crew member for a cloth so I could clean the table and twice, they came to clean it for us but unbelievably once I was provided with a cloth. One of the crew members told us that there were lots of Brazilians on board, and they prefer a later breakfast, so we could get tables easier if we came between 8:00 and 9:00. Lastly, the Windjammer played announcements over and over in three different languages (English, Spanish, and Portuguese) asking passenger to leave. Of course, they worded it nicer: “If you are finished enjoying your meal, please allow other passengers the same courtesy by vacating your table and enjoy other neighbourhoods onboard on the ship” In other words, get out. However, this announcement was clearly not effective as it was still difficult to find a table, and when you were trying to enjoy your breakfast, had to list to the announcement. We never had difficulty finding tables on the newer, larger Princess ships and certainly never had to endure “please leave” announcements.
We had Anytime Dining, and the service ranged from excellent to very poor. I think that there were simply too many passengers at the same time, or they weren’t prepared, or were short staffed. They tried, but things like salt and pepper missing; long waits between courses; no drink refills were the norm. The food quality and service was not as good as on the Independence, which we on the week before, so is a very recent comparison.
Jamie's Italian was a strong point. The appetizers, cured meat platter, and desserts were spectacular. The main course was the weakest point, but still delicious however I attribute this to the quality of the beef (free range, grass fed simply has a difference taste). We really enjoyed our dinner there, and considered going a second time.
My spouse used the FlowRider daily, and took part in the competition on the last day. The range of activities is really impressive, and we had a lot of fun watching him on the FlowRider, and seeing the other riders improve as the week progressed.
Entertainment was a strong point. I think we caught every show, with my favourite being the cheesy, slightly campy, but fun Columbus. Grease was a strong show, as was 1881. The Fine Line was cancelled three times, twice due to wind and once due to technical issues, but we did catch it on the final night and while it was good, I really hate to say that the space could be better utilized as a large outdoor movie screen.
The bottom line is: despite all the above, I would go on the Harmony (or a sister ship) again, however only if I followed it up with a week on Princess, so that I could relax after and return home rejuvenated. Read Less