Harmony of the Seas Cruise Review by jesmith4
- Sail Date: July 2018
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Ocean View Balcony
This ship itself is well maintained and clean. The staff at the flow riders were also amazing. They helped my son get the hang of the boogie board and by the end of the cruise he was up on his knees.
My biggest complaint has to come with the extra and hidden costs we found once on board. If you want room service, be careful, even though the bill shows "No Charge" when you're ordering, you might see an $8 service fee still depending on what you ordered. There was no way to tell from the menu which would incur a fee and which wouldn't. This to me was a blatant hidden charge and unacceptable.
There were also a lot of extra expenses that made it feel like they were trying to nickel and dime us to death. For example, on the way to a show in the Royal Theater we smelled popcorn. When it comes to popcorn my daughter can sniff it out like a blood hound. She quickly found where the smell was coming from. We asked for a couple of buckets (smaller than the small buckets at most movie theaters) but was appaled to find they would cost $3 each. Really Royal Caribbean? You gotta charge for the tiny box of popcorn?
I also felt that all of the restaurants on the board walk should have been inlcluded, not just the hot dog stand. I mean if Carnival can offer a burger joint and burrito stand at no additional cost to its guests, why can't Royal Caribbean do the same?
In the end, I felt like I paid a premium to go on this ship but was being offered budget fare style amenities some times.
Those were our only cons, the rest of the experience was fantastic save our Labadee experience which I'll get to.
Getting on and off the boat was the easiest of all the cruises I've been on. There was never too large a crowd at the gangways and they always had multiple entrances. It was fast and simple. The same was true for disembarkation. It took us no time at all to get off the ship once we arrived home. We chose the self-carry option and we just grabbed our bags and walked off the ship.
Our cabin was good. About what we expected for what we purchased. It had a king bed plus a sofa bed with trundle. I would have preferred a Pullman bed above the sofa bed however as with the trundle pulled out it basically cut off access to the balcony.
Dining on board was also about what we expected. We ate all of our dinners in the main dining room. The food was great with the exception of a couple of dishes but that's ok. Lunches we had in the Windjammer, Mini Bites, The Park Cafe and Jonny Rockets.
I would avoid Mini Bites unless you have small kids. The burgers there are soggy grey mush. They also offer hot dogs, chips and fries with various toppings such as melted cheese and chili to top them with. The biggest problem is that kids often go there unaccompanied and are simply nasty. The burgers are cooked with a bit of onion and I witnessed one boy picking off an onion and throwing it back in the serving tray. No thanks. Just avoid it.
The windjammer was good. We had a breakfast and a lunch there. They make everyone wash their hands before entering and it's a more supervised buffet than the Mini Bites. The choices were also greater. Both our breakfast and lunch experiences were enjoyable.
One of our favorite places to eat for lunch however was the Park Cafe which was included. Soups, deserts, sandwiches, salads and paninis, all made to order. Best lunch venue on the boat.
For breakfast however, head over to Johnny Rockets, it's the only meal there that is included and it's all made to order. The best breakfast on the ship.
The solarium bistro is also a good option and typically less crowded. Kids aren't allowed there but they don't enforce it. We saw a few families there with their kids.
As for dress codes, they don't really enforce those either in any of the included dining venues. In the main dining room we saw people in t-shirts and cut off jean shorts a couple of nights. Most people did tend to put on their Sunday best however.
If you are planning shore excursions for any of your ports, please read independent reviews of those where you can find them. I'll give short descriptions of what we did.
For Phillipsburg, St. Marteen we took the troll tour. The kids found it boring and it mostly was. The good thing is it dropped you off near Great Bay Beach and if you wanted, you didn't need to get back on the trolly to go back to the boat. Just stay there and take a ferry back to the port for $3 which is what we did.
Great Bay Beach was really nice with a lot of wonderful restaurants along the boardwalk. There are a lot of street vendors there but I found them to be less pushy than most I've visited so it wasn't too bad. Some of the best food I had on my vacation was at this beach. Try something local, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
For San Juan, we didn't book any excursions as we weren't on the island for long. We just walked over to the fort and toured that before finding something to eat and getting back on the boat. If you haven't been to San Juan before I do recommend the fort. It was very interesting.
We were most excited to go to Labadee and it was the most dissapointing. Some of this I will admit was our fault. My advice, don't book too many things to do. You'll spend your whole day walking all over the island and standing in lines. We booked the snorkel safari which was only just ok. There wasn't a lot to see there. Then we booked the Arawak Aqua park. The kids did have fun playing on all the bounce toys in the water but be aware they don't seperate by age so if you have small ones, know that there will also be teens in there with you.
The biggest disapointment though was the coaster, our third booked activity. We purchased the all-day pass because it was cheaper since we only needed tickets for myself and my wife. Our two kids got to ride with us for free. Our all-day pass got us a single ride. Royal sells too many single ride arm bands and the line got too large and moved extremely slow. Only one cart can go at a time, and they have to wait for that one to get 120 feet away before they launch the next one. We waited in line for an hour, with no shade.
The ride itself was awesome. Once on we had an absolute blast. We neither had the time or the desire to stand in that hot line again however. If you're going to do it, buy a single ride ticket and hit it first thing otherwise forget about it.
Overall, we'd definately do this ship again, it was a great vacation despite some of the disapointments. We've learned what to do better next time and now know what to expect with the hidden and extra charges.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
LabadeeThe ride itself was fantastic. The line was an hour wait in the sun. Royal sells too many single ride passes. Our all-day pass got us only one ride. The wait was just too long.View All 12,802 Labadee Cruise Port Reviews
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Arawak Aqua ParkKids loved this. Just beware of older kids on the apparatuses. I would have preferred if they had split this up by age group a bit better.View All 61 Arawak Aqua Park Reviews
SnorkelingNot much to see here. A bunch of interesting coral but not a lot of fish.View All 36 Snorkeling Reviews
San JuanWe walked to the fort up the hill. It was a very interesting experience then found some food. Honestly wish we had a little more time here. The island looked like it would have been great to explore.View All 3,767 San Juan Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's San Juan Cruise Port Review
St. MaartenThis tour takes you around St. Maarten and gives you the history. It will drop you off by the old court house which is right in front of Great Bay Beach. You can chose to take the trolly back to the ship or stay at Great Bay Beach. That is what we did and just took a ferry back to the ship ($3 per person).View All 12,802 St. Maarten Cruise Port Reviews
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