Harmony of the Seas Cruise Review by MarcPoelmans
- Sail Date: July 2017
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Aquatheater Suite with Balcony
Arrival: coming from Europe, we always travel one day early. Picked a hotel close to the terminal.
Embarkation: after reading tips on this site, we decided to head out early. We arrived around 10AM, and were whisked through security (nobody there), registration, and another security check, and boarded by 11. The ship is still empty at that time, so plenty of time to discover. We had lunch in Central Park Café (nice choice of salads, sandwiches, pannini, ...), but other restaurants were also open. Rooms were ready by 1PM, suitcases arrived not too long after that.
Ship: it's the largest cruise ship in the world (at this moment) and it shows! So many places to discover, that we only tried out some places on the fifth day! The ship is clean, well maintained and offers endless entertainment. Sometimes it's hard to imagine you're on a ship, especially in Central Park. I would however not choose the balcony rooms that have access to the inside open spaces (Central Park, Boardwalk) since they seem noisy.
Restaurants: too many to try out ! We took the dinner package, so quite a few evenings were spent in the specialty restaurants.
- Jamie's: since we were 12 we got the Royal treatment: a table full of appetizers, extra tasting plates for main course, and again too many desserts to eat. We love this place.
- Wonderland: a must-do! Again, with 12 guests, we got so much food presented we could not finish it all. It's a show, and the food is excellent.
- Sabor: a decent Mexican, nice for variety.
- Izumi sushi: another favorite, with plenty of selection.
- Izumi hibachi: book this very early because it sells out quickly!! Fun meal with show quality, and decent food. It's not Michelin star, but the entertainment factor wins, especially with kids. The desserts are ... a miss (like in most Japanese places).
- Solarium Bistro: our favorite for breakfasts and lunches. Buffet style food, with lots of choice. Inside or outside tables.
- Johnny Rockets: classic burgers, floats and shakes fifties style. Lovely outside terrace.
- Main restaurant (Silk, Grande, American Icon): Breakfast is only served in American Icon: decent choice with pancakes made on the spot. Lunch: I would just go there for the dessert table!! What a choice, at least 4 huge cakes, chocolate fountain, fruits, ... Dinner: can't go very wrong here. There is a limited a la carte choice (one part stays the same during the cruise, the other changes daily). It's the same choice you get when you eat in your room/balcony.
- Coastal kitchen: this is located in the Suites lounge (so not accessible for all passengers). I love the smaller size of this place, although I was surprised it was in the same room as the lounge (on our first cruise, it was a separate room). Good selection of a la carte food, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Windjammer: never went there...
Packages: we took the deluxe package that also included Wifi access. Since we were 12 using Whatsapp as communication tool proved very useful. And the Deluxe deal doesn't require you to dink alcohol non-stop... we just enjoyed all drinks, not having to think about cost. We also took the dining package, it offers good value I believe. Kids until 6 eat for free!
Chef's table (optional): we had this on our first cruise, and loved it. Here, the experience was not good, and only because of the location: a sectioned off corner in the Solarium restaurant. Very noisy from other diners around us, up to the point where we did not understand the explanations of the Chef and Sommelier! We complained about this situation. However, food and service were excellent. 7 course meal, excellent wine pairing.
All Access Tour (optional): another one we tried before. Too bad the quality has gone down: less venues visited (no theater, no crew rec room, ...), no Hi from the Captain, and much shorter in time. We were really looking forward to visiting the Aquatheater, since this is unique on this class of ships, but we didn't go there at all. We did visit the classics: galley, engine control room, laundry rooms, bridge. Still worth the money, but I doubt we'll do it again if it stays like this.
Musicals: awesome!! Grease is a must, and has you singing along the whole time. Columbus was a discovery (it's a musical written for RC) with excellent humour, singing and the biggest stage prop I've ever seen (a life size replica of the ship used by Columbus... on a stage ... on a moving ship!!!).
Ice skating: you can go either skate yourself, or watch shows. Real professionals on the ice, loved the experience.
Aqua theater: since we had a room with a balcony facing this venue we watched all shows from there. Incredible what is possible there: aerial shows, high jump from 17m (55ft), high rope at the same height, and this all on a moving ship!!
Outside: too much to mention: water slides (long waiting times, but so much fun), mini golf, slide that goes down 7 floors, surf simulators, ... The pool area is always crowded, so we didn't go there that often. Having 25 people inside the small pools is just not comfortable. Some of us tried the zipline over central park, and liked it, although it's a very short ride.
Spa: we tried the couples massage, deep-tissue, and loved it. Downside: obvious sales pitch during and after for extra products.
Ports: we mostly organized our own trips, outside of the excursion desk...
- Sint Maarten: we headed to Maho beach straight away and found a spot at the Driftwood Boat bar, left of the runway (when facing the runway). Beach chairs (paying) and quiet spot, with drinks the best pizza on the island right behind you. I am not a fence hanger, but love the airplanes arrivals and take-offs.
- Puerto Rico: walked around the city of San Juan, discovering beautiful streets, houses, squares.
- Labadee: I managed to get a beach cabana for our group. For kids there is a fantastic water park, the beach is great, zip lines, ... Loved our stay there, but try to be early if you want a good spot on the beach.
- Bahamas: walked around the city, found it not as endearing as San Juan. Souvenirs everywhere.
- St Thomas: another walking day (people declared us nuts to walk to town, but it's no problem if you like to walk). Found a great lunch place (Green House, on the board walk) and walked up to the fortress and Blackbeard's tower (steep incline!!).
- St Kitts: we took the train ride around the island and loved it: two hours of easy ride on the old plantation tracks, excellent guide on board.
Escape room: what a great way to spend an hour with friends! You always have 15 people in there, and you have to gather clues to find the way out. So much fun (even if we didn't find the final answers).
Kids fun: since we had a few kids in the group (3, 6, 11, 13) some parents used the facilities offered for each age group. By the sound of it, they loved it. One odd thing though: they offer services until 2AM, but will not allow the kids to sleep. What ???
Back to Back: since we did two cruises, we thought we could stay on the ship during transit. But no: we did have to get off the ship, for passport controls. This was however handled by the Membership coordinator, and we were off and back on the ship in about 30 minutes. Effortless!
Final arrival: we had the chance to stay in the Suites lounge until 10AM, after which we were guided off the ship by the concierges. This makes it effortless again: find your luggage, shortcuts to security. We were outside in 20 minutes. We stayed one extra night in Miami before flying back to Europe.
Special mention to our excellent room attendant, Mr Ryan Arthur (who helped us out where he could, and always had a big smile ready), our Suite lounge concierges Raj and Checker (who made the impossible possible!) and our membership coordinator Louise Japundzic, who was the most friendly host!
We booked two cruises on the ship, make use of the special offer on board!
Would we do it again? Of course!
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- Read Cruise Critic's Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas Review
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