Harmony of the Seas Cruise Review by vilmer80
- Sail Date: December 2017
- Destination: Western Caribbean
We did all our pre-cruise documentation well in advance, and thus embarkation was a snap. RCCL now allows passengers to upload a photo for your account, making that process even faster. Once we made it past security and got to the person checking us in, getting that done took all of five minutes. Just show proof of ID and your credit card and you’re on your way. Your ship cards are waiting for you at your cabin after a few hours, and you use your embarkation documentation you are supposed to bring with you to purchase drinks or anything else onboard until your cards arrive.
As for activities, we found Harmony to have a lot to offer. We did the usual stuff, such as trivia, a mystery game requiring you to partner with other passengers, Bingo, as well as the parades and some shopping. We found the entertainment staff to be upbeat and friendly, making the activities a lot of fun. We also did the escape room. Requiring a nominal fee, this was our first experience and we had a great time. If you haven’t participated in this before or enjoyed others, we recommend it. The Belly Flop competition was fun to watch, as well as the Love and Marriage show had us laughing well into the night. We also found the live music band in Dazzles to be a great time. They had folks young and old dancing into the late evening. We also tried the Abyss. It’s the giant slide at the stern of the ship. A 10 deck slide down complete with audio and visual effects inside the tube is not to be missed. We also opted for a couples massage in the spa. Despite the apparently mandatory post-treatment product harassment, the experience was wonderful. The staff did a great job, leading us to debate massages vs. shore excursions on future sailings
Regarding service, we found that overall the crew did a great job. Our cabin steward, Dwayne, was wonderful. Not only was he personable and always asking if he could do anything for us, but he kept our cabin sparkling clean. One night I called for a bucket of ice, and we had a fresh bucket every day the rest of the trip without asking. The MDR staff was probably the best we had on any cruise. We did anytime dining, so we had different folks each time. On several occasions we ordered a glass of wine at the beginning of dinner, and our glasses were refilled without asking. This really helped enhance the drink package we purchased, and was a great touch. All of them were very attentive, and each dining experience was a pleasure. Bartenders, security, and housekeeping staff all offered smiles and greetings. On the contrary, the folks running the Abyss, the casino, and the Flowrider activities ranged from bored to irritated to be there. Not a single greeting, thank you, or any other interaction beyond the bare minimum to operate their activity. Felt like these areas were staffed by Walmart employees. Our ship’s master, Captain Gus, was wonderful however. He was personable, funny during the Captain’s Corner activity, and is one of the few captains we could actually understand. He even was zipping around the ship on his own scooter! I also found the Guest Services desk staff to be great. The line moved pretty quickly, and the staff took care of our few issues quickly and happily (we were given two different muster stations for embarkation day, and I was charged for a drink despite having purchased the drink package).
Our cruise took us to Labadee, Haiti, Falmouth, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico, just as our prior Oasis cruise had, so we were no strangers to these places. Labadee is RCCL’s private island, and was beautiful. There were multiple buffet locations for passengers to have lunch off the ship, several bars to order drinks from, and lots of places to swim or lounge in the sun. We did the Wave Jet excursion and had a blast. If you don’t own a jet ski, this is something you might enjoy. The only drawback to our experience came to the point when we went to the markets to purchase a souvenir after our excursion. The harassment from the vendors was terrible. They would yell at you from the street as you walked by, and were very pushy. We experienced this in just about every other port and were expecting it. However, this was the worst ever and I didn’t think it would be this bad on a private cruise line owned area. While I understand that these are very poor folks that depend on tourism for their income, the behavior is likely turning people away, as it did us. We would have shopped more and longer had my fiancée not been so uncomfortable. In Jamaica we did the Blue Hole with river tubing and lunch. Unfortunately some weather had made the water brown, but we still enjoyed ourselves. Our excursion leaders, Momma T. and Warren were a delight. The jerk chicken for lunch was delicious. In Cozumel we chose the Jeep to Punta Sur Eco Park. Unfortunately, this was somewhat of a disappointment. The Jeep drive was about 20 minutes of roadway and then completely level gravel driving. It was nice to drive along the beach, but this was nothing unique or exciting. Once at the park, we found the snorkeling to be a let down. We never were in deep water, and the majority of the time you could simply stand up. Very little coral and fish to see. There was food to eat, but it made me ill and put me out of commission for the rest of the night. If you have never done these things then it might be more enjoyable, but anyone more experienced might find it wasn’t worth the price tag. Also, for those interested they have very few automatic Jeeps. If you can’t drive stick, expect to be a passenger.
I’ll leave the detailed cabin information in the separate part of my review. But to summarize, our interior virtual balcony we found to be perfect sized for two people and well accommodated.
As for dining, we found Harmony to offer quite a lot of good options, as expected on the world’s largest cruise ship. For breakfast we kept to the Solarium Bistro. It offers many of the options you’ll find in the main buffet, but without the noise and hassle. As for the Windjammer buffet, we found the experience to be better than past experiences. The crew shuffles passengers into a hand wash area before eating, which was great. While we found the food to be rather repetitive for a seven day cruise, overall the quality was good. The Mongolian grill was delicious, as well as the desserts. The burgers are rather bland and not very appetizing. We found that seating wasn’t too bad for a couple to find a place to sit, and certainly better than other ships. The staff was always around to help clear off tables and offer to get drinks and condiments. The MDR was great. As discussed, the service was exceptional, and we found the food to be above par if compared to other cruises. The lobster tail was worth putting on the necktie on our second formal night! Easy to miss is the Promenade Café, but don’t. The selection of sandwiches and small cakes are perfect for lunch, and you have all the shops and other points of interest nearby after you eat. We also stopped by the Doghouse for a hot dog. Very yummy. The only specialty dining we did was the hibachi experience in Izumi. We frequent hibachi restaurants at home, and were looking forward to this one. While we found the food on other ship hibachi restaurants to be just a little better (the garlic fried rice in Teppanyaki on the NCL Escape still makes my mouth water), we enjoyed ourselves here. Our chef was entertaining and the food was pretty darn good.
I must skip the children’s areas and activities, as we sailed as a couple only and clearly had no business in the kids areas.
The entertainment ranged from outstanding to, well, weird… First, Grease was simply the best show we have ever seen at sea, and top three of any live show on land. The performers were absolutely fantastic, and they had everyone around us having a ball. If you are even somewhat amused by the musical or film, you will really enjoy the show. Also wonderful was our headliner, Earl Turner, a former Vegas star. We either laughed or sang throughout his entire show. I wish we could have seen him a second time. iSkate at the ice rink was fun to tap your foot along to while watching some seriously talented skaters. As for the bad stuff, our two comedians were horrible. We sat through the entire adult oriented show one night, and regretted it. When both comedians are making comments that the audience is so quiet, it’s because you AREN’T FUNNY. I love stand up, but this was just embarrassing. As for the bad shows, I must bring up the 1887 show. The same staff from iSkate are put into 1800s era clothing to tell the story of…I have no idea. Something about time travel or whatever. The costumes and lighting effects were cool, and the skaters are wonderfully talented, but this might as well have been in a foreign language because we had no clue what was going on. Also bizarre was The Fine Line. I don’t think there was a message or story to this show, and that would actually make it better. Visually, it was stunning. The divers, acrobats, and other stunt cast were incredible. It was very cool to see, just don’t expect it to make any sense. Simply sit back and enjoy the stunt work and you’ll probably enjoy it. The other Aquatheater show was rather dull. If you find yourself debating between this show and some other onboard activity, then I would suggest skipping it. As for the last show, Columbus the Musical, my Mexican dining experienced prevented us from making it.
Disembarkation was fairly well organized. As always, we carry off our luggage so we can get out quickly and be on our way home. There were lots of staff around and ropes to keep the queue organized. I can’t speak to the other process, sorry.
As far as tips and suggestions, I will say these few things: 1) Book EVERYTHING early. You can make reservations for just about everything onboard from the Cruise Planner months in advance. One day I intentionally didn’t book dinner in the MDR to keep our options open. I went by the dining room in the late morning to make a reservation, and was told the earliest we could eat was 8:45 that night. We usually eat around 6, so that was a Windjammer night for sure. Also, even with reservations get to events and shows early. We found that 30 minutes early was sufficient to get good seats. RCCL has an app, Royal IQ, that you can use to book events onboard and use for the Cruise Compass. We found the app to be cumbersome, and at times inaccurate. You could either see all events for the day, or select what you had already reserved. It was frustrating to not be able to see what we already decided to do as compared to other options. For example, since I can’t see side by side our shore excursion times I couldn’t plan our day easily. Also, if you decided to cancel a reservation (even for events that don’t require one, such as trivia or karaoke), it still showed up as a reservation and never went away. Carnival’s app is so much easier and in our opinion, superior to this one. Also we chose to buy WOWbands. These are plastic RFID bands you can wear on your wrist that function like your ship card. We are season passholders at Walt Disney World, who also use similar bands, and expected more than we got. While the band is convenient to open your cabin door, it is basically useless everywhere else. For example, you can use it to buy drinks at a bar. But, unless you happen to be standing next to the register, you have to take the band off and hand it to the bartender. We found ourselves still carrying our ship cards despite the bands. Until RCCL provides portable scanners to servers and other staff, we will not be purchasing the bands again. This is such a missed opportunity-why not let me customize it before sailing with my name and design options, and make a souvenir out of it? At least then it would be worth the $5. Also, the Solarium is boasted as an 18 and over part of the ship for relaxing adults. Every single time we strolled through, there were kids. Little kids in the Bistro, and teens in the hot tubs at night. Doesn’t seem like the crew were particularly interested in keeping this as adults only, as crew passed by these folks and said nothing.
So in summary, overall we had a wonderful week. Good food, great staff, and lots of fun and interesting things to do. Central Park is absolutely beautiful at night, and was a real treat. RCCL continues to deliver on the Oasis class ships for those who enjoy larger cruise ships. We had such a good time that we booked Harmony’s newest sister, Symphony of the Seas, while onboard for 2019. And we are already excited about it.
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