We recently completed a seven-night Western Med cruise on Harmony, embarking in Rome on October 6. We are my 62 y.o. husband, and me, celebrating my big 6-OH on the cruise. I’d consider us well-traveled and energetic, but not committed cruisers. On this trip, we started with a cruise around Greece on a very small ship, which needless to say, was a completely different experience. We had cruised on RC’s Enchantment of the Seas (pre-enlargement) in the Caribbean about 12 years ago and liked it, so it seemed like a good choice to go with Harmony.
I would describe our priority with cruising is to find a good itinerary of ports more than just cruising on the ship itself. With six of the seven days of the cruise in different ports, Harmony provided a good selection for us. What I didn’t take into account was the huge number of passengers descending on the ports, not even considering the other megaships visiting at the same time. Places like Palma de Mallorca and Capri were mobbed and very uncomfortable. You really had to work on finding your way away from the throngs. As to be expected, these same crowds wanted to use elevators and the Windjammer and the Main Dining Room and get on and off the ship, often leading to long lines. That got tiresome, day after day.
I finally figured out how exactly to describe the experience of vacationing aboard a megaship: Las Vegas of the Seas. On a ship like this, you’re living in a mega resort for a week. Everything seems so fake aboard the ship; Central Park, Broadway, the “theme” bars, the entertainment. For many people, it’s their opportunity to eat and drink and gamble too much where such behavior is generally acceptable, sometimes the entire goal of people’s vacations. In so many ways, the cruise seemed very impersonal, no warmth and few connections.
I was thoroughly disappointed with the entertainment. I had no desire to see Grease or an ice show. The only shows I reserved were the Comedy and the Headliner Shows. Both shows were completely cancelled before the trip. You can listen to a Filipino band cover Lionel Ritchie for only so long!
My biggest peeve with RC was the “non”-cancellation of Chef’s Table which I wanted to attend on my birthday. Although RC was still offering it right up until our sail date, I was convinced by CC members that it wasn’t a happening thing, so I cancelled and reserved the wine pairing dinner at 150 Central Park instead. That was not a good meal. One could choose two appetizers and an entrée. Each appetizer was the size of regular meal, and I only ate half of my first app. I then had to spend the rest of the evening explaining why I wasn’t eating everything. The service was too hovering, with our waiter, maître d’, even a chef coming by the table constantly. I really didn’t like some of the wines they selected. The restaurant was mostly empty for our 8:30 seating and they sat a noisy party of eight at a table next to us. I’m glad that’s the only specialty restaurant we selected.
I’m relating these things as observations, but I don’t want to say that our entire trip was horrible. There were things that we liked. Our balcony stateroom was very nice; roomier than I expected, plenty of storage space, nicely decorated. We had a very personable cabin attendant, but he would forget little things like leaving a third towel or clean glasses. I know he was busy. The food was pretty good in the Main Dining Room. On most nights, we didn’t have a reservation in the MDR, but when we requested to share a table, that got us seated quickly. We met mostly very nice people and had a few laughs. We did one excursion with the ship. We wanted to do a quick tour of Florence when we docked at La Spezia, but given the long distance to and from the port, we decided to go with the ship's tour. We had a great guide and we enjoyed it. At all the other ports, we made our own arrangements.
It is also important to note that although I might complain about certain things, I understand these elements are exactly what other people want in a cruise. For families, sailing on Harmony would seem to be an ideal vacation venue with all the pools and amusements for the kids. There are plenty of things that didn’t appeal to us that are just tops with others, I know that. If nothing else, I know now to choose a much smaller vessel in the future.
Our cabin was great. Very spacious, lots of storage areas, nicely decorated. Even the bathroom was tolerable! The balcony was large enough to enjoy spending time on it.