Harmony of the Seas Cruise Review by The Bedfloyds
- Sail Date: August 2016
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
We had about a 20 minute wait at the airport for our travel documents to be checked by Royal Caribbean staff. This would have been so much quicker if people had read the website and had completed their information online before travelling. Having said that if you had booked through Thomson as we did and thought they had done the paperwork, you could have been left high and dry at the airport. Luckily we had uploaded our own photos and had printed out all our documents because we knew we had done this before.The worst part of this wait was that there was little to no air conditioning in the holding area. After this the coach swiftly took us to the port . It took about 10 mins from the coach parking to standing on the ship.
Harmony is truly an incredible feat of engineering. We entered on to the boardwalk which was busy but did not feel crowded. It was spotlessly clean, and we found that all areas of the ship to be so as well. Alcohol gel dispensers were in abundance shame not everyone uses them ! There were also hand basins at the Windjammer which staff directed you to.
About 12.30 on our first day,we headed up to the windjammer for a bite to eat. I was dreading this as other reviews had inferred it was a cattle market and the food was of poor quality. In fact I found the choices and quality of food to be good. Lets face it we are looking at a buffet restaurant catering for the masses, not a michelin starred one. We even managed to get a table to seat all 9 of us. We ate there most lunchtimes. The first morning we couldn't find a table for 9 in the Windjammer, so instead of bleating about it we did the obvious thing and went to another restaurant. We went to the park cafe where we all had breakfast bagels. Not our usual type of breakfast but enjoyable. There were also fruit pots and yoghurt available too. In the evening we had traditional dining so were seated in the American Icon Grill. During the course of the week I think we all ate something new each night. For those first time cruisers there is a daily menu The food on the right side of the menu is the same each night and the daily options are on the left. The food was hot, well presented and of good - excellent quality. Our waitress and drinks waiter could not do enough for us. I think that how you treat someone reflects on how they treat you. I always treat people in the manner I would like to be treated. In Sorrento's pizzeria the children made their own pizzas which were superb. The grab and go slices were also good. The self serve ice cream areas on the deck never seemed to run out. The chocolate / vanilla swirl was my favourite. The staff looking after this area had a full time job keeping it tidy and stocked up which they never failed to do. We did splash out one night and went to Wonderland. It was amazing. Go if you can.
We were lucky and had drinks packages included in our holiday. I have read some reviews were individuals whinge that drinks are costly. If they researched their holiday better they would have been aware that there is a tax on drinks because you leave port and that gratuities are added to each drink. The first time we cruised we paid for the drinks package and I still feel it is worth the money.. Incase anyone is wondering I am not an alcoholic but I did enjoy 2 - 3 cocktails per day. The only annoyance was the soda machine which seemed to keep running out, We tend to drink cola as our main soda which was available at the bars, so we did that rather than use the machines. There was always plenty of squashes in the restaurants. There were also deck butlers who would fetch you drinks if you wished but we tended to fetch our own from the bars. It does seem lazy to get someone else fetch you a drink from a bar which is literally only a few steps away. I appreciate some guest expect this type of service though.
We had a superior ocean view stateroom with balcony on deck 12. The balcony was larger than that of Liberty. and the room was a good size. The beds were comfy and the whole room kept clean. Towels were replaced as we needed them. The shower gel dispenser serves a purpose and small tablets of soap are provided. They are adequate but if you are expecting Molten Brown or Acqua di Parma then you will be disappointed. I thought we may be squashed having 4 of us in the room (2 adults and 2 teenagers) but we are tidy people so this wasn't an issue. Storage space having said that was less than on Liberty, but we got 2 suitcases in one wardrobe and the other 2 went under the bed. Hanging space was sufficient and there were enough shelves / drawers for all of us. Our room attendant was discreet which is what I prefer.
We had booked all the shows we wanted to see a few weeks before our holiday. We went to see Grease, The Fine Line, Columbus and the ice show. All were enjoyable. I wish however if people wish to converse with each other they lower their voices rather than yapping away as though they are at home watching TV. Luckily for us the offenders sitting behind moved seats. We popped in to the On Air club a couple of times as the children found the karaoke highly amusing, especially the male host. The Schooner bar was a pleasant place to chill out, and the trellis bar was nice as it was in central park. We did have a drink on the rising tide bar so we could tick that box too.
The 4 teenagers with us did not wish to go to the clubs as they had enough to do without venturing to these. They enjoyed the water slides especially which were well governed. A group of Spanish children ran as fast as they could to beat us to the steps but they were stopped and quite rightly told not to run as it could be slippy underfoot. I did find the spanish children to be the rudest at pushing in and a couple tried to push past us on the steps up to the slide. We politely asked them not to do so and they muttered a rude reply which was unfortunate as they hadn't expected my sister to be fluent in Spanish who then answered then in their native tongue.
We did not use the gym though it looked impressive and neither did we indulge in the casino (which must have also served as a smoking lounge which would have deterred us anyway)
I did go on the Ultimate abyss. I dislike heights, but knew I would regret not going on it. In fact I almost enjoyed it !
All the staff we met were helpful Those supervising the slide / zip wire / flow rider etc made sure you were happy with everything before you started. As i mentioned earlier we did not see much of our room attendant but I was happy with this as he clearly did his job and I didn't feel like I was falling over him each time we left our room. The staff at the bars were friendly and you didn't have to wait long to be served. There was no hard selling of gifts / trips / drink packages etc. They were there if you wanted to ask more. The only area which was substandard in service was guest services. Lots of terminals for staff to work from and only 2 open with several staff milling around.
Yes we know royal caribbean are more expensive for the trips than a DIY job but it is your choice if you go on them. We did Scenic Marseilles as we only wanted a short trip. It was a lot prettier than I expected and Longchamps palace was beautiful. We also did the motorlaunch trip to Portovenere and a morning here was ample. The views from the motor launch of the coast were incredible.
Generally the ports are not so picturesque - more industrial, but when you are on a ship the size of Harmony it will never get anywhere near the smaller ports as she is just too big. If you want to see pretty ports aim for a smaller ship. It didn't bother us as we knew this to be the case and in fact my dad rather likes sitting with his binoculars watching life on the docks
My dad and husband did the All Access Tour. Following a reception of champagne and canapés they were escorted in a small group around the ship. Apparently it was incredible They raved on about it for the rest of the day - and are still doing so !. Again it was expensive but they felt it had been worth it. My mum had a manicure and hand massage and she said the staff were lovely and the gel polish she had lasted for a couple of weeks post trip.
For a lovely view of the wake head towards the aft on the jogging track. Also the 'king of the world' spot was an excellent place for photos - you need to go through the solarium to get there.
In conclusion Harmony is an awesome ship. She won't be for everybody but then if you do your research you shouldn't go wrong. i If you want a quiet, romantic holiday then it would probably be the wrong ship to chose as she is geared up for families. We had an excellent time and would travel on her / or with royal caribbean again.
Note. I have written this review the day after the tragic loss of life on board her. Would I still travel with RCI / Harmony ? Yes I would
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