It saddens me to write this review as I was hoping that people on a cruise would be nicer and civilised. It could well be a European cruise issue. Just to be clear, the staff are fine, but some of the guests are quite rude and maybe even ... Read More
It saddens me to write this review as I was hoping that people on a cruise would be nicer and civilised. It could well be a European cruise issue. Just to be clear, the staff are fine, but some of the guests are quite rude and maybe even racist.
I'll start off with the positive points about the cruise. Harmony of the Seas is a modern cruise ship about 5 months old, so it makes a good impression and you initially don't feel you have been ripped-off. At the same time it felt clean, so I wasn't worried about catching something from other passengers.
Multiple destinations: Civitavecchia, Naples, Barcelona, Palma De Mallorca, Marseille and La Spezia (didn't go here because of a death on-board). And it was nice how easy it was to disembark and reembark on the ship at these destinations. If you timed your breakfast well, you could miss the crowds trying to disembark.
There was a schedule of excursions for each port, but the sad thing with my experience was that they were only average at best, yet expensive. I did the catamaran experience with my friends in Palma De Mallorca which took about 70 of us to an island about an hour away and then let us swim or go snorkelling. This is probably only good if you are a good swimmer and want to sunbathe on the deck of the catamaran, too, which I'm neither, and was there only because my friends were. Where the catamaran anchored was 4 meters deep and I'm not a strong swimmer and almost drowned swimming under the catamaran! It would have been nice if one of the onlookers just asked to see if I was fine, but that didn't happen. I probably should have stayed onboard, in the shade! As I was splashing around and clinging on where ever I could to catch my breath, I overheard a few other frustrated people that couldn't really enjoy the swimming because of the effort required. Like me, they probably thought we would have anchored a bit closer to the secluded beach, so that we could have walked to the shore and have a few more options to enjoy the good afternoon weather. Light refreshments and snacks were provided, but overall it felt expensive at around EUR 70 per person to sit on a catamaran to sunbathe and go swimming, when you could have done the same things on the cruise ship at no extra cost!
I also did the scenic tour of Marseille, on a bus. This was a boring experience and I dozed off early into the tour. It started getting interesting when some passengers demanded that the bus stop at a toilet because there were none onboard and the driver took us to a museum where there were public toilets nearby. Everybody livened up and got excited to get off the bus and admire the exterior of the museum and take some pictures. It made me realise that I didn't want to be stuck on the bus for a few more hours and would have preferred to explore the city on my own. At the scheduled stop, me and my missus told the tour guide we would be making our own way back to the ship, which was the best decision we made that day. We got to walk around and eat at our own leisure and enjoy Marseille at our own pace.
In Naples and Barcelona, me and my missus did our own thing and had a pleasant time.
I think overall the excursions are not that good and you are better off planning your own day at each port. Framed another way, how can your experience be special when there are so many others experiencing the same thing?
I'm not sure if an all-you-can-eat free buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner at certain restaurants, along with various buffet fast food restaurants is a positive, but you're unlikely to go hungry.
There were numerous activities onboard from rock climbing, to gambling in the casino, going to the theatre and watching ice skating shows. I liked the rock climbing and going to the gym the most out of all the activities and they also had the fewest people participating.
I'm not really a theatre person, but I did like the Columbus show as it was a bit more creative and quirky, though it plugged (advertised) too much of the facilities of the cruise! It was a bonus that hardly anyone was there, so no really tall (proportionally challenged) people potentially blocking your view. Grease was mediocre, which was apparent early on so I wasn't too annoyed that the family in front had loud verbal diarrhoea throughout the show. Ironically the theatre was packed out. My patience disappeared when it was a snail's pace to exit the theatre, so I stepped over all of the chairs to get out. One couple made a negative comment about my bad manners thinking I wouldn't say anything in shame, but I surprised them by responding back. I'm shameless! Nothing like a bit of tit-for-tat drama. There was an outdoor water show, but unfortunately I was not able to watch it as I suffered abuse from 3 people around me.
The Canadian ice skater was easily the best performer in the ice skating shows, but it might have something to do with him being a former Olympian medalist. I think there was at least another couple that were Olympians that did the 'swing the lady by her boots and see how close you can get her head to the ice' routine, which was exciting and scary at the same time, but the other routines were not really that impressive or complicated or well synced in either shows.
You have to put into context that the entertainment above was free (in that it's included in the price you paid for the cruise), so the performances were not going to be as good as a West End theatre in London. Put another way, if you had paid West End prices to watch the above performances, or if you were expecting Westend-standard performances, you'd be extremely disappointed, and that would be a modest way of putting it. The standard is probably only just above a high school or secondary school performance.
The cabin was fine and spacious (I had an ocean view stateroom), but the shower was small. I had a cabin with a balcony facing out of the port side, which I didn't really use, but the cabin was chosen with this view with the hope it would be quieter, which it was. However, you can hear your neighbours on either side and above you. It might be a good idea to bring ear plugs as you might not get a good nights sleep otherwise, which my friends suffered but were too nice to complain about.
And now the negatives. 6,000 people on-board after 5,000 came on in Barcelona. I work in a building of 10,000 people and you have to be respectful to your colleagues. This may not be genuine, but you'd be foolish to not conform when your livelihood is at stake. You can't expect this kind of respect between strangers on a cruise ship, unfortunately, which is extremely frustrating during busy times at the lifts and at the Windjammer. I'll have to use profanity get closer to the true feeling of the frustration.
You have to pay for bottled water.
The buffet food is fine but gets boring after the first day; it's just not appealing. There are restaurants which you had to pay for, which were a bit hit and miss, but better than the buffet food. We had low expectations for the sushi place, but were pleasantly surprised. The only disappointment was when we asked for a recommendation for a popular roll as it wasn't that great compared to the rolls we had just eaten and expensive! The teppanyaki is expensive, too, and disappointing for, though it was a unique and entertaining experience. However, I've had better teppanyaki at a lower price and could have done without the entertainment.
We went to another restaurant with a name like 'Creation' or 'Imagination' which costed EUR 50 per person, which was a bit pretentious. I would have liked to have chosen what I wanted to eat, rather than only being allowed to choose a main whilst the rest they would choose for me. The group that sat next to us also wanted to order what they wanted from the menu rather than being 'surprised'. It sounded like they were frustrated and having a bad day. I think the restaurant should have made it more obvious up-front about the cost and how the menu worked, but I suspect it would have put-off people from eating there. I've had tastier meals at this price point.
There is a formal dinner night where you have to wear a tuxedo (you can hire this on board) if you're a guy and want to go. You also have to reserve a place at the free formal dinner at the main dining room, too. If you prefer your buffet food to be served to you in nice surroundings, this is the place to go, but if you have half a brain, you just go to the buffet and save time and being disappointed. I never went to the formal dinner but supposedly the surf and turf is free for that night when it was about $35 when it was a normal dining evening. I had a bite of the lobster ravioli one night at the beginning and it put me off from going again. I complained to the chefs that came round to be only told that they weren't actually chefs (stooges) and had to complain to an actual waiter! I doubt wearing a penguin suit at the formal night would make the food taste any better. If you already have a tuxedo, it might be worth trying.
As nice as dressing up maybe for a formal night, I think it makes some people think they are more important than they really are (rude). They say you can't buy class but I prefer the saying: you can’t polish a turd. Some of the events on board are free, so there is a free-for-all mentality, which means pushing and shoving, abuse (I'm talking about you two ladies at The Fine Line show on 12SEP2016 and the old man who prodded me, as next time I'll ruin your evening like you did mine). It saddens me that I had to assume everyone was an idiot onboard after this, though ironically nothing bad happened after this. Why do I have to walk around with a face that I'm expecting trouble before people start behaving respectfully around me? Idiots!
Everything not included and you have to buy onboard is expensive. It would have been nice to have a basic grocery store, but it would have probably been shockingly expensive. Just as an example, I had to buy paracetamol and it was about EUR 15 for 24 tablets, but when I buy a generic at my local grocery store, it's less than EUR 1. I mentioned bottled water has to be paid for as it's not included on the cheaper daily drinks package, so the dilemma of should you buy a drinks package or should you just buy a drink when you are thirsty arises.
I overheard a couple discussing about buying a drinks package and frustrated how expensive they were whilst I was waiting for my overpriced juice at the Vitality bar. It sounded like they were not having a good time because of how expensive everything was that had to be paid for and probably disappointed on the quality of all the free stuff.
For me, with hindsight, it would have been cheaper to buy as I needed rather than buying a package as I just don't drink that amount of soda or beer! Just to frustrate matters, you can only buy one drink at a time, even though your package is unlimited, so you have to finish your drink and re-queue for another drink, which actually is infuriating. There was unlimited brand name soda available, but you had to buy a special cup to use the machine.
The air in the casino was terrible.
My opinion is this is just an expensive packaged holiday and you’ll be fed up with the amount of idiots on board. Put another way, if you disliked what I have written, this cruise is for you. If you liked it, you won't. The stereotypes are true about the typical people that go on cruises, along with the stereotypes on those stereotypes.
My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the crew member who died. We will never know if one of the guests onboard sabotaged that lifeboat. Read Less