Thanks to Hurricane Dorian, what was suppose to be a seven night trip to St Maarten, St Thomas, and Coco Cay turned into a three night journey to Nassau. We were very grateful to be able to board the Harmony at all, since the date of ... Read More
Thanks to Hurricane Dorian, what was suppose to be a seven night trip to St Maarten, St Thomas, and Coco Cay turned into a three night journey to Nassau. We were very grateful to be able to board the Harmony at all, since the date of embarkation had to be moved forward twice due to the storm and the closure of the port. The loss of life and destruction endured by the islands that were hit by Dorian weighed heavily on our minds throughout the trip.
Day One Orlando
The port reopened on Wednesday, the day we flew into Orlando (after rescheduling our flight twice). We stayed at the nearby Courtyard and took the shuttle back to the airport on Thursday. We were transferred to the port by Go Port, which had a wonderful staff updating their website with information regarding the port closure, reopening, and information on their shuttles. Unfortunately, I had booked the airport to port in advance, and gave updates to customer service regarding our new projected dates of embarkation. When we arrived to board the bus to the port, our reservation wasn’t showing up. The customer service reps at the airport counter told us to call customer service for help. Ok. We did, and that rep said that she had thought we had been taken to the port already the previous day. Really? The port was not even open in the morning, and no ships were coming in because the port staff needed time on Wednesday to inspect the port thoroughly before reopening. Finally we had the customer service person on the phone fix our reservation so that the customer service people at the counter who were waiting for her to do something for us, at last gave us tickets for the bus. My advice: just buy your ticket at the counter when you arrive- much simpler.
We were checked in at the port by a gentleman using a handheld device who was helping out people before they made their way to the Royal customer service reps behind the counters. DH and I then went to the last check point before we were to move on to take the requisite boarding photo. I was stopped and taken aside when the lady checking her handheld device noticed that my name had been written as gibberish. She took me over to the area where they were helping passengers with problems. After ten to fifteen minutes of waiting, she handed me a card for my cabin door and told me to throw away the card that I would find on the cabin door since my name on the card she said would have that gibberish written on it. When we got to the cabin, the cards there had our names printed correctly. The guy with the handheld device had obviously written nonsense instead of my name- he should have been questioned instead of having the extra card printed. Oh, well. Other than that, embarkation was smooth.
Day Two Nassau
Nassau was spared from the hurricane. We walked around the shops and stopped at Señor Frog's. DH and I had visited Nassau on our honeymoon when instead of high end shops, I remember lots of tables and people hocking their wares in a flea market atmosphere. Much has changed since then- there was even a Diamonds International shop.
Day Three At Sea
This was our only sea day. A last chance to see the rest of the shows and try different venues for meals and snacks before time ran out. Sea days are usually the most relaxing, but with only three nights to enjoy the ship, there was no time to stop to rest.
Our take on Harmony
Harmony is a big, beautiful, overwhelming ship. We had a balcony cabin which had a double wide balcony due to not having a cabin immediately next door. Loved it! Very few of the cabins have this feature. We had dinner at Johnny Rockets the first night and tried breakfast there the next morning (underwhelming). The “sourdough” bread is probably Wonder bread. I don’t recommend the grilled cheese. On our sea day ,we failed to make a lunch reservation in advance, so we were turned away at Jaime’s and settled for Sabor which was very good. We went to the dining room one night on the only formal night. At the table next to us sat a guy in shorts, tank top, and flip flops. Oh, well. The Windjammer continues to improve in quality at the expense of the dining room. Loved the cakes and other wonderful delights served in Windjammer. All of the people in the Windjammer especially were friendly and bent over backwards to make sure that you enjoyed your meal. Sorrento’s Pizza was very good.
DH and I regret that we never got a chance to dine under the stars in the Solarium Bistro. All of our reservations were wiped clean at the start of our cruise due to the change in itinerary, sail date, and the addition of guests from a canceled cruise who joined us. We didn’t try to make a new reservation with such a limited amount of time onboard, but hope to dine there on another ship in the future.
I bought a day pass to the thermal spa and enjoyed it. Only a few stations: steam, showers, sauna, and tiled chairs, with no ocean view. It was relaxing, nevertheless.
All of this left us exhausted, made worse by the nightly noise we heard outside our cabin in Central Park. As opposed to the Broad Walk cabins, those in Central Park are suppose to be quieter, however, passengers walking through the park, or sitting around, literally yelled at each other instead of speaking in a normal tone, as late as one in the morning. Having security walk through the ship each night to make sure passengers are not disturbing the peace would no doubt be appreciated by those passengers who wanted a good night’s sleep.
Due to the hurricane, many people canceled. The ship carried only 3077 passengers despite having some from a canceled cruise join us. The sign at Guest Services at the time of embarkation stated that the cruise was sold out and that no cabins were available. Obviously they were overwhelmed with various problems and didn’t have the time to try to upgrade people. There was always a line at Guest Services, not surprising since this was not a typical cruise.
Our Cruise Critic get-together was under the required 25, and did not last long. Only a few people talked- mostly with complaints as to why we couldn’t go to Coco Cay, for example- (we could not go there because it was still closed pending an inspection in order to assess any damage). Many thanks to Royal for going through with the event despite the low turn-out.
We managed to see six shows while we were onboard- both aqua shows, both ice shows, and both stage productions: Grease and Columbus. As I had noted on previous cruises, passengers were less than polite when it came to showing their appreciation to the performers in the theater. Many just got up and left at the end, without taking a moment to applaud. Come on people; yes, you are on vacation, but does that give you the right to be rude? Everyone works really hard to make this cruise a great experience for you, show some love. Another observation I made was that many of my fellow passengers were down right slobs. DH and I decided to enjoy one game of mini golf- only to find the bin containing the balls empty. Did someone steal all the golf balls? No, I found them strewn about the entire course, along with discarded golf clubs, and even drink glasses. Again, you are on vacation, but do you have to be so crass?
Three nights is too short a time period to enjoy a ship this large. I never got a chance to just relax- a first for me on a cruise and hopefully something that won’t happen again. I also lost my connection to the sea on this ship. There were few places to stand and just enjoy being in the middle of the ocean. Too much emphasis is placed on entertainment and the “wow” factor. If you want lots of choices in everything, this is the ship for you; if however, you want to enjoy a nightly walk under the stars listening to the ocean as you sail along, you might not enjoy traveling on a ship this large. I’m glad I finally got to experience Harmony of the Seas. Next time around, I will be traveling on a slightly smaller ship, for a longer period of time. Hopefully I will be able to reconnect with the sea and finally have time to relax. Read Less