Booked 16 months in advance to celebrate relocating to Florida and have a vacation on the books that also celebrates what would be the first year of our empty nest. I had sailed the inaugural eastbound TA on Allure of the Seas without my husband, and since then had been just waiting for the right time and opportunity to take him on an Oasis class cruise ship.
With our efforts to have a more active lifestyle (more kayaking, more walking/hiking, beach time, swimming, etc), I wanted a ship that would be the most supportive of such a lifestyle and not necessarily be a vacation that we would have to recover from. Like needing a vacation post-vacation to catch up on sleep, etc.
I love Oasis class for the sheer number of active activities on board. The gym is one of the most extensive in my experience. The walking/running track may be the BEST on a ship. The variety of dining options, both complementary and specialty is all that you could ask for to be able to eat well, as defined by tasty but also more nutritious than typical restaurant food. I debated the Ultimate Dining Package (UDP) and how necessary that would be with so many complementary options, but with all the specialty options, it seemed like taking advantage of the Ultimate (or Unlimited?) would be the most special thing on Harmony.
Dining was great fun. Over the course of the week, we ate breakfast at Mini-Bites (2X...outside dining, make your own omelets), Johnny Rockets (service dining outside on the Boardwalk), Solarium Bistro (mini-buffet selection where you can eat in the sheltered outside area of the Solarium), Park Cafe (in or outdoor dining from a variety of breakfast sandwiches), and of course, the main buffet (made to order eggs and Eggs Benedict available in the back). Lunch we ate at Solarium Bistro, took Park Cafe to go to our balcony, Sabor (2x...great outside Boardwalk atmosphere with great guacamole (ask for the spicy version if you prefer) and good tacos), and buffet (2X...build you own wok in the back was excellent). Even with the UDP, we didn't feel the need to always eat in specialty dining.
Dinner was always in specialty dining. Our favorite combination of atmosphere and food was 150 Central (3X), Chops (2X), Jamies (1) and Wonderland (1). The specialty restaurants are so appealing because of the atmosphere in the smaller dining venues. I don't know that the food is better necessarily, but the overall experience is more to our liking than the MDR.
You could be busy every night on Harmony, but we only went to shows 4 nights. Having done the comparison between a Broadway production on Broadway and the same show I saw on Allure, I can attest to the fact that the cruise ship production IS a true Broadway production. Grease was great fun. We watched the movie about one week before the cruise and that made it that much more fun to be able to compare the movie to the production that inspired the movie. The aqua theater is so unique, but try to see earlier in the cruise because it is subject to cancelation due to weather. Our Day 2 reservation was automatically rescheduled to Day 5 when it was canceled. We saw one ice show and also went to one comedy show. It was nice to have the other evenings free to just be able to relax.
The thermal suite isn't as grand as photos I've seen on other ships, but we purchased the couples pass and went everyday with one exception. The pass made it possible to enjoy just going to for the relatively short recommended times in the sauna and steam rooms...use the showers to cool off...enjoy the heated loungers for a bit...and then we would go straight to the hot tubs in the Solarium afterward. While the suite was never empty, it was never crowded and we never were unable to get two loungers.
I pictured our particular sailing because one of the specific cabins I was looking for was available. Central Park balconies ending in 229/629 are "double wide" balconies and have a table with 2 chairs as well as two loungers. During the day, you can here the music from the pool, generally a DJ in the morning and a live steel drum band in the afternoon. I enjoy people watching during the day and in the evening. Also, there is usually evening music along the lines of pianists and classic guitars...usually instrument classical or jazz...and that was so enjoyable to hear as we were getting ready for dinner or enjoying a pre dinner drink on our balcony...or post dinner drink with from one of our brought on board bottles of wine. At night, the low lighting is also quite lovely. I enjoy the sheltered outside, more natural feeling area on the ship with all the plants. Even though it too is an artificial environment, it's soothing in the midst of the environment that is a mega-ship.
Every crew member we encountered seemed to be enjoying their work. I attribute that to the popularity of the current Master of the Ship, Captain Johnny. Some crew went out of their way to ensure that we had a special vacation. Valentine's Day was during our sailing...and so it was a very special couples cruise for hubby and I.
The major flaw in the Oasis design is the lack of ocean views from an interior space on the ship. You can find them, but you will generally be outside. Similarly, it is difficult to find a nice space to just sit and enjoy watching the wake, one of my favorite things on a ship. But our aim on this vacation was to take time to do things that we don't normally make time to do...including sleep, relaxing, naps, eating leisurely meals, pampering ourselves, reading on our balcony, etc. There were many places on board to separate ourselves or socialize ourselves as we saw fit. Harmony has a wealth of nooks and crannies to find.
I am excited to have Harmony booked for her inaugural Eastbound TA cruise. After that, I would book her again, but it will always be with the knowledge of what she is and what type of cruise vacation it will be.
An excellent cabin located right next to the living wall, it has a double wide balcony with a table with two chair and ALSO two lounge chairs. Lovely if you like to enjoy a larger personal outdoor space. We used our balcony a lot and were generally one of the only balconies in use. Love the evenings especially with the lowlight ambience and the live instrumentalists.
Use the app to check in. Embarkation is very easy when you have scanned your passport, taken your photo, and given your credit card for check in on the app.
We did a DIY walk into Philipsburg. The walk is generally easy, but I had pictured a nice pedestrian walkway the entire way and it isn't. At times, it is undefined and you can just follow next to the road...beware of the puddles and the cars driving through them if it has rained.
We went to the Yoga Guy Movie Exhibit. I highly recommend for fans of Star Wars and/or those interested in film production. Nick Maley also works at his store and you can find him there and talk to him if he is in town. Admission to the exhibit is written up as a donation to his foundation, Follow Your Star which supports and encourages young artists.
It is easy to walk all around San Juan. If you have a US cell phone, it can be very helpful for mapping out things that you may have figured out that you want to see. We meandered through Old Town toward El Morro, seeing several historical sites along the way.
We went to CocoCay in December on Mariner. South Beach is now open and that's where we decided to park ourselves. The funnel cake was fresh made this time with a choice of sauce. It was EXCELLENT. We also decided to not walk over to the main buffet area (though we knew the tacos there were excellent from our last visit) and decided to give the burgers a try at the nearby Snack Shack. They were ok. Not awesome. Would definitely go for the tacos again. The water was cool for entry but if you got in, it was lovely. We brought our own goggles and swam around to see what we could see. We saw quite a few different fish, including barracuda and so many conch...and an absolutely enormous ray.
The music playing from the facilities was fun and I was really disappointed that there were two different parties that had brought their own bluetooth speakers...so we three different had competing types of music playing...very annoying. Others complained later that the Captain has understated the weather conditions...thus, I think South Beach is somehow sheltered from the flow...because we didn't deal with strong winds.