Oh where to start... The cruise started as a bit of a disaster. First, when I went to check in, they did not have me on the manifest ANYWHERE. Apparently their archaic AS400 system did not bring me over onto the manifest. So they had to manually check me in at the customer service desk and print my card there. That would have been all good and well, except that we had paid for the drink package, which was NOT listed on my card and thus my card did not work for drinks. Yay. I ended up having to purchase the bracelet so I didn't have to go through the spiel at each bar and have them try to figure out what was going on, but that is for later. They use a mishmash of computer systems which caused non-stop problems the first couple of days.This included random surcharges showing up on our room. Poor customer service must have groaned whenever they saw me coming because they knew there were more charges to remove. The random surcharges happened to everyone in our party and judging from the constant line at customer service, I am guessing we weren't the only ones. My suggestion for checking in is to make sure that you have a paper copy of your reservations. The systems don't always talk to each other and if that's the case, the barcode on your phone won't work.
Absolutely make reservations for the shows. This ensures that you get a good seat and since we had my grandparents with us, we never had to wait in the standby lines which can get quite long. Although, again, there were some glitches with their computers randomly cancelling and reassigning us to different shows. We had to take care of that once we got on board. The shows themselves though were amazing. My grandfather is a hard man to please and he loved them all. Making the reservations ensures that you will get to see them all, and I highly recommend seeing all the shows.
For those of you going on the Harmony, the ship rocks a surprising amount for the size. I get sea sick easily and as a preventative put a sea sick patch on prior to boarding. However the first night I encountered quite a few women in the restrooms rather sea sick. Just something to keep in mind as Royal has no control over the wave size. If you know you're prone to sea sickness, take measures to prevent it.
Our cabin was an interior cabin, but it was lovely. I learned a lesson and will get a window or balcony next time. Sea sickness and interior do not go well together. Not Royal's fault, all mine on this one. Our cabin steward though was amazing. He always had a smile on his face and asked us how our day was. Loved him and loved the cute towel animals he left us!
For those of you that are early risers like myself, you will be disappointed. Very few amenities are available for early risers. There is only one coffee shop that opens somewhat early. I enjoyed going up to the solarium before anyone else was up and just relaxing. Caution though, it gets HOT up there. It is covered in glass with very little ventilation. Also, for an adults only area, kids order at the bar there a surprising amount. There also is no pool in the adult only section, just a bunch of hot tubs. It would be nice to see even a small pool in the adult only section.
For those of us that look forward to the soft serve machines, prepare to be severely disappointed. They are only open for a few hours a day, you cannot serve yourself, there are no toppings and the only flavor options are vanilla/strawberry swirl or chocolate/strawberry swirl. The desert options in the buffet weren't that great either.
The Windjammer had excellent food, but much like the Solarium, it was uncomfortably hot in there, no matter the time of day. The food choices varied day by day which was nice, but it was not really a pleasant experience to eat up there. The only saving grace was our attendant Cipran. Nicest guy and always had a fresh mimosa for me. The man is a saint.
It's best if you can just explain the drink you want to bar tenders. Even though there is a standard drink book at each of the bars, many of the bartenders don't really know the drinks in them and you often have to point them out. Just tell them how to make it and you'll be fine. I did have one bad experience with a bartender when I ordered a drink and he looked me in the eye and said "You know that drink is literally my nightmare, right?" Seriously dude, I just wanted to try the drink.
The Central Park area is fantastic first thing in the morning and in the evening they often have musicians up there. My fiance and I really enjoyed that area a lot. It was a great spot to relax and decompress from the day's activities. The plants were beautiful and with the open air above, at night it was simply gorgeous. 10/10 would spend more time there.
The band is a good idea in concept, they seem to have some glitches to work out still. It did not work in Coco Cay because their computer systems were down... again. Let me tell you, first port of call and I was already tired of the computer glitches. And yet, they continued. On St. Marten, people were having trouble getting on and off the ship because the systems went down again. So many complaining people about missing their dinner times and shows. I get it, the main dining room food was spectacular.
The main dining room was nothing but exceptional. The only thing I didn't enjoy was having all the waiters do a dance. I worked at a Johnny Rockets back in the day. There was nothing I hated more than having to stop working to do a dance in the middle of a rush. I can relate to these servers. They are busy, please just let them do their job. I don't need to be entertained during dinner. Our server Erik was amazing. He regularly made my grandfather laugh and made the entire dining experience amazing. The food was beyond fantastic. We didn't try any of the specialty dining options because we honestly never really felt the need to. The menu changes nightly and we were never once disappointed with the food.
Okay, I think that about sums it up. Royal, get on the ball and fix your computer systems. That initial day was so incredibly frustrating and having to buy the band just to stop going through the hassle was annoying. The band is a great idea though... when it works. I only encountered the one rude bartender the entire time, so that says something for your staff. Honestly, most of the staff was simply amazing. I loved talking to them and hearing where they were all from. The activities offered onboard were okay, but the only way to learn about any of them was through the app. The ship is massive and beautiful. Once onboard, you don't even realize there are almost 7000 people on the ship with you.
We booked all of our shore excursions ourselves. The ones offered by Royal were a little too touristy. We booked tours of the islands privately and had a great time.
We had an interior cabin. I'm honestly not sure what category it was. I just know it was midship and interior. I learned that is a very bad choice for me as I get sea sick quite easily and spent then first night curled up in a deck chair in the Solarium so I wouldn't get sick. Not Royal's fault, just a poor choice on my part. Next cruise I go on will have a window or a balcony. The room was surprisingly spacious for being so small. There were closet options on both sides of the bed, plenty of dresser space and a nice, comfy couch to fall onto after a day of running around islands.
The bathroom was large and comfortable as well. Honestly, the shower was probably the size of my shower at home! Excellent water pressure. There was plenty of storage space in the bathroom for all my makeup, facial cleansers, lotion, etc... My fiance even had a shelf for his things. When in the bathroom, I never felt cramped or claustrophobic as you sometimes can.
The bed was perfect. Just the right firmness and comfortable. Soft, plush pillows and blankets that had just the right weight to them. Suitcases fit nicely under the bed so they were never in the way and the couch served perfectly as a staging area for formal night outfits.
Boarding the ship was quite a bit of an ordeal. My grandmother needed a wheel chair and only one of us could go through that line with her. The rest of the group had to go through the regular security lines and wait for her. That took about an extra 20 minutes. Then they didn't have me on the manifest and had to go into an archaic computer system to find my reservation. This process messed up pretty much anything having to do with the computers for me for the rest of the trip.
The island is beautiful, though there really isn't much to do here if you are disabled. I had just recently had hip replacement surgery so I could not do the water park, and beyond that, there was not much else. The water park was not very large either. My fiance and I grabbed some poolside chairs and relaxed in the pool and at the poolside bar most of the day. The only thing was that the band did not work so we had to constantly give them our room number. When the band does work, you have to take it off so they can scan it.
My fiance booked this, so I'm not sure of the name of the tour company. We loved it though. We got to see the entire island, hear some of it's history and see some really amazing historical sights. The rainforest is impressive. He took us to this delightful local eatery where we got to sample a variety of the local dishes for lunch. Absolutely delicious!View All 262 City Tour Reviews
St. Maarten was shocking. The island has absolutely not recovered from Hurricane Maria. Anything more than two blocks from the port was absolutely devastated. Many of the resorts were just abandoned rather than rebuilt. There are piles of debris everywhere with literal cars in them. Beached boats and ships are strewn all over the coast. The power of the storm is absolutely visible. Most homes do not have roofs, they are just covered with tarps. The people of this island desperately need assistance.View All 437 Island Tour Reviews