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Review of Harmony of the Seas The ship is big, that's both a good thing, and a bad thing. This is a review of the Western Mediterranean Cruise, round trip from/to Barcelona. We did not run into any of the teething problems that had been reported earlier. The Good Because we had done all of our homework; checkin was a breeze. I can't comment on transfers from the airport; we arrived early to tour Barcelona. The cabin area was closed off until they were ready, at 1pm. A ship this big has a lot of options; there were many restaurant options, in addition to the main dining room. There are lots of bars and choices for drinks. The Boot & Bonnet pub had a great selection of beer, one could occasionally find something unique at the pool bars too. My wife really liked Wonderland, with its unique presentation and selection of dishes. There's a sizable cover charge, but we thought it was worth it. I liked Sabor; it had yummy salsa and chips, and guacamole made table-side. It's a la carte, so not as pricy as the other premium restaurants. We did not eat lunch or dinner at Johnny Rockets; we had breakfast there. The food was better (freshly made!) than the Windjammer buffet, and they could make omelettes (egg whites, please!). The casino is on one of the bottom decks; this means you don't have to go through it to reach other public parts of the ship. The entertainment was very good. Grease had some unusual cuts to make it fit into 90 minutes. The original Columbus musical was funny and entertaining. While parts were ripped off from Something Rotten, it had awesome sets and very interesting technical effects. The musical cast came out and sung Broadway tunes one night in the Jazz bar. The main theater also showed two movies; Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 3D and Inside Out. The 1887 ice show was, "interesting", and the iSkate performance was fun. The shows in the AquaTheater were just plain weird. Our cabin was an inside balcony overlooking the rear of the ship (Boardwalk), not over the Central Park. We could see the Auqua Theater from our cabin. They have some fairly late shows (11:30) so there may be noise late. The Puzzle Room is one of those interesting things you do once, and that's it. We did complete it, but our extended group did not work together. We were a group of 5 paired up with 5 others. I don't know if we could've done it on our own (which is what we were hoping). The Spa area is nice, and it has it's own cafe. My wife is lactose intolerant, and could get something with soy there. The Mediocre The ship being so large, it really needed more stairs and elevators. There are only two stacks of elevators and stairs; diving the ship roughly into thirds; but the stacks are a bit more aft and forward. It is a workout to get around this ship. A central stack of stairs/elevators would have been useful. For some reason, in each cluster of elevators (there are 4 clusters of 6 elevators; 2 fore and 2 aft), there seemed to be an elevator out of service. I was not impressed with the main dining room. While there was certainly a selection of entrées, the same cannot be said of starters. There are a total of 4 appetizers; 2 new ones each day, and 2 constant ("Classic") choices: grilled shrimp and escargot. Usually the rotating appetizers were seafood (I'm not a big fan of seafood). There are 4 choices for soup/salad. As above, 2 rotate in, and 2 "Classic" ones: French onion soup, and Ceasar salad (with the most watered-down, creamy dressing I've ever had). The entrées had "Classic" choices too; I don't recall all of them, but there were two lobster options for an extra charge. The allergen labeling of the menu seemed inconsistent. Things that had dairy were not necessarily labeled as such. Ask questions if you have allergies! The restaurants in port had much better allergen information on their menus. We were not impressed with the Solarium Bistro; it a was nice, but not different enough. There's no surcharge for it, so it's not as though we regret eating there. We did not consider the cover charge at 150 Central Park worth it either. It has an interesting butter/bread/salt combination, including a salt that tastes like boiled egg. However we liked the olive oil/bread/salt combination on our Mallorca wine tasting shore excursion better. The food in the Windjammer buffet was not very warm. I understand it's a lot of effort to feed X thousands of people, but I think they could've done a better job. There was a lot of variety. We did not eat dinner there, so I can't comment on that. There is no omelette station there (it's in the sun deck "Mini-Bites"), but they have a fried egg station, instead? The Hot Dog stand suffered the same issues as the main buffet, and the cole slaw had raisins in it? Most restaurants had a wine list; the servers were usually guessing at the beer list. I think each restaurant should have a beer list available. The bars generally (but not always) had the bottles available displayed, or a list. Note that Budweiser, But Light, Michelob Ultra, etc., are considered "American Premium" beers and are more expensive ($6.50 for 16oz) than others (e.g. Sam Adams at $5.95 for 12oz). The bath towels are small! Getting off the ship was fairly well organized. The luggage was easy to find. I erroneously discarded our transfer vouchers, but they took our cabin numbers. There was a bit of confusion as to what bus to take, but their checks sorted it all out. At the airport, they have their own check-in queues for those that booked via Air2Sea. The Ultimate Abyss slide would be much better as a water slide, rather than as a carpet side. The Bad One abbreviation: VAT. If you buy something at he ship stores, 21% VAT is added. If you buy a drink or food, 10% VAT (in addition to the 18% service charge: an $11 drink becomes $14.08). This makes it almost a necessity to get one of the drink packages. If you purchase the package outside of the EU, you can avoid the VAT charge to your drink package (which, by the way, has the 18% service charge added to it upon purchase). The drink packages were certainly convenient to use; just show your card. No need to sign a slip or anything else. Starbucks is not part of the Ultimate/Refreshment package. With VAT and service, a $5.55 Chai becomes $7.11, and an $11 mixed drink becomes $14.08. The FreeStyle Coke machines were poorly stocked, and almost never had Coke Zero (or my backup Fanta Zero). I was told this was an issue with inventory, and a technical glitch they had with their cartridges. They really need to fix this situation, but also better monitoring and/or training on the machines. It would have been nice if they had posted a note about their difficulties. It would also have been nice if they had a list of FreeStyle locations on the ship. The TVs in the room allow you to sign waivers for your children, view your shipboard account, etc. However, we requested an email copy of our statements, and did not receive it after a week. I had to email Royal Caribbean to request it. The Rest We did not try Jamie's; we could justify the $30 cover charge for an Italian restaurant while we were cruising Italy! The menu does look good, though. There’s been a lot of reviews that say the robotic bar is bad. Well, it really depends on the drink. Some drinks can be awful; other drinks can be quite good. We took the wine tour in Palma De Mallora, there was good wine, and you also got to try some local olive oil and salt. Our 17-year-old had difficulty getting off the ship with his older siblings, and almost missed his cave exploration shore excursion. After some intense discussion, we were able to get him off the ship, and he rejoined his siblings. While I appreciate the security, this was our first port, and they allowed us to book him online on the excursion and didn't tell us that he had to be with parents (we thought his adult siblings would be able to watch him). Not much to say about Marseille, you really have to take a bus to get into the old port, walking is possible, not not really viable. Cinque Terre (from La Spezia) has some great spots (food and shopping), but can be very busy. We bought our own pass to use the trails and railroad - they only take cash at the port! The train station is a hike from the port, so buying the ticket pass also gets you access to the buses in La Spezia. Rome is a good 90 minutes from the port. I would not recommend using your own transportation, but it should be possible if you want to take the risk. Naples' shopping and restaurants are walking distance from the pier, which was really nice. Overall Overall it was a good cruise. Our previous cruise was a small river cruise, so this was certainly different.

Harmony after the growing pains...

Harmony of the Seas Cruise Review by tshort

21 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Review of Harmony of the Seas

The ship is big, that's both a good thing, and a bad thing. This is a review of the Western Mediterranean Cruise, round trip from/to Barcelona. We did not run into any of the teething problems that had been reported earlier.

The Good

Because we had done all of our homework; checkin was a breeze. I can't comment on transfers from the airport; we arrived early to tour Barcelona. The cabin area was closed off until they were ready, at 1pm.

A ship this big has a lot of options; there were many restaurant options, in addition to the main dining room. There are lots of bars and choices for drinks. The Boot & Bonnet pub had a great selection of beer, one could occasionally find something unique at the pool bars too.

My wife really liked Wonderland, with its unique presentation and selection of dishes. There's a sizable cover charge, but we thought it was worth it. I liked Sabor; it had yummy salsa and chips, and guacamole made table-side. It's a la carte, so not as pricy as the other premium restaurants.

We did not eat lunch or dinner at Johnny Rockets; we had breakfast there. The food was better (freshly made!) than the Windjammer buffet, and they could make omelettes (egg whites, please!).

The casino is on one of the bottom decks; this means you don't have to go through it to reach other public parts of the ship.

The entertainment was very good. Grease had some unusual cuts to make it fit into 90 minutes. The original Columbus musical was funny and entertaining. While parts were ripped off from Something Rotten, it had awesome sets and very interesting technical effects. The musical cast came out and sung Broadway tunes one night in the Jazz bar.

The main theater also showed two movies; Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 3D and Inside Out. The 1887 ice show was, "interesting", and the iSkate performance was fun. The shows in the AquaTheater were just plain weird.

Our cabin was an inside balcony overlooking the rear of the ship (Boardwalk), not over the Central Park. We could see the Auqua Theater from our cabin. They have some fairly late shows (11:30) so there may be noise late.

The Puzzle Room is one of those interesting things you do once, and that's it. We did complete it, but our extended group did not work together. We were a group of 5 paired up with 5 others. I don't know if we could've done it on our own (which is what we were hoping).

The Spa area is nice, and it has it's own cafe. My wife is lactose intolerant, and could get something with soy there.

The Mediocre

The ship being so large, it really needed more stairs and elevators. There are only two stacks of elevators and stairs; diving the ship roughly into thirds; but the stacks are a bit more aft and forward. It is a workout to get around this ship. A central stack of stairs/elevators would have been useful. For some reason, in each cluster of elevators (there are 4 clusters of 6 elevators; 2 fore and 2 aft), there seemed to be an elevator out of service.

I was not impressed with the main dining room. While there was certainly a selection of entrées, the same cannot be said of starters. There are a total of 4 appetizers; 2 new ones each day, and 2 constant ("Classic") choices: grilled shrimp and escargot. Usually the rotating appetizers were seafood (I'm not a big fan of seafood). There are 4 choices for soup/salad. As above, 2 rotate in, and 2 "Classic" ones: French onion soup, and Ceasar salad (with the most watered-down, creamy dressing I've ever had).

The entrées had "Classic" choices too; I don't recall all of them, but there were two lobster options for an extra charge.

The allergen labeling of the menu seemed inconsistent. Things that had dairy were not necessarily labeled as such. Ask questions if you have allergies! The restaurants in port had much better allergen information on their menus.

We were not impressed with the Solarium Bistro; it a was nice, but not different enough. There's no surcharge for it, so it's not as though we regret eating there.

We did not consider the cover charge at 150 Central Park worth it either. It has an interesting butter/bread/salt combination, including a salt that tastes like boiled egg. However we liked the olive oil/bread/salt combination on our Mallorca wine tasting shore excursion better.

The food in the Windjammer buffet was not very warm. I understand it's a lot of effort to feed X thousands of people, but I think they could've done a better job. There was a lot of variety. We did not eat dinner there, so I can't comment on that. There is no omelette station there (it's in the sun deck "Mini-Bites"), but they have a fried egg station, instead?

The Hot Dog stand suffered the same issues as the main buffet, and the cole slaw had raisins in it?

Most restaurants had a wine list; the servers were usually guessing at the beer list. I think each restaurant should have a beer list available. The bars generally (but not always) had the bottles available displayed, or a list. Note that Budweiser, But Light, Michelob Ultra, etc., are considered "American Premium" beers and are more expensive ($6.50 for 16oz) than others (e.g. Sam Adams at $5.95 for 12oz).

The bath towels are small!

Getting off the ship was fairly well organized. The luggage was easy to find. I erroneously discarded our transfer vouchers, but they took our cabin numbers. There was a bit of confusion as to what bus to take, but their checks sorted it all out. At the airport, they have their own check-in queues for those that booked via Air2Sea.

The Ultimate Abyss slide would be much better as a water slide, rather than as a carpet side.

The Bad

One abbreviation: VAT.

If you buy something at he ship stores, 21% VAT is added. If you buy a drink or food, 10% VAT (in addition to the 18% service charge: an $11 drink becomes $14.08). This makes it almost a necessity to get one of the drink packages. If you purchase the package outside of the EU, you can avoid the VAT charge to your drink package (which, by the way, has the 18% service charge added to it upon purchase). The drink packages were certainly convenient to use; just show your card. No need to sign a slip or anything else.

Starbucks is not part of the Ultimate/Refreshment package. With VAT and service, a $5.55 Chai becomes $7.11, and an $11 mixed drink becomes $14.08.

The FreeStyle Coke machines were poorly stocked, and almost never had Coke Zero (or my backup Fanta Zero). I was told this was an issue with inventory, and a technical glitch they had with their cartridges. They really need to fix this situation, but also better monitoring and/or training on the machines. It would have been nice if they had posted a note about their difficulties. It would also have been nice if they had a list of FreeStyle locations on the ship.

The TVs in the room allow you to sign waivers for your children, view your shipboard account, etc. However, we requested an email copy of our statements, and did not receive it after a week. I had to email Royal Caribbean to request it.

The Rest

We did not try Jamie's; we could justify the $30 cover charge for an Italian restaurant while we were cruising Italy! The menu does look good, though.

There’s been a lot of reviews that say the robotic bar is bad. Well, it really depends on the drink. Some drinks can be awful; other drinks can be quite good.

We took the wine tour in Palma De Mallora, there was good wine, and you also got to try some local olive oil and salt. Our 17-year-old had difficulty getting off the ship with his older siblings, and almost missed his cave exploration shore excursion. After some intense discussion, we were able to get him off the ship, and he rejoined his siblings. While I appreciate the security, this was our first port, and they allowed us to book him online on the excursion and didn't tell us that he had to be with parents (we thought his adult siblings would be able to watch him).

Not much to say about Marseille, you really have to take a bus to get into the old port, walking is possible, not not really viable.

Cinque Terre (from La Spezia) has some great spots (food and shopping), but can be very busy. We bought our own pass to use the trails and railroad - they only take cash at the port! The train station is a hike from the port, so buying the ticket pass also gets you access to the buses in La Spezia.

Rome is a good 90 minutes from the port. I would not recommend using your own transportation, but it should be possible if you want to take the risk.

Naples' shopping and restaurants are walking distance from the pier, which was really nice.

Overall

Overall it was a good cruise. Our previous cruise was a small river cruise, so this was certainly different.
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Cabin Review

Cabin
Good size, decent amount of space. There were two wardrobes, space in the desk/dresser, and under the bed. There is no space under the couch. We had an adjoining cabin, and both the interior door and the balcony separator can be unlocked, but you have to ask your cabin attendant to get it done. The adjoining cabin's couch could be used as a 3rd bed, but it did not pull out. Water pressure and temperature were good, but you could definitely hear your own water draining. There was a mini bar, which has some space to store refrigerated items. There are both European and American outlets; but the two USB charge ports did not work for us.
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