Freddy and I were lucky to recently spend a few days on the pre-inaugural voyage of the largest cruise ship in the world. Our trip on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas was an absolutely amazing experience.
I still remember to this moment, my first view of the Harmony of the Seas as we drove up to the port in Southampton. It really was awe-inspiringly huuuuuuuuuuuuuge. My excitement only grew as we walked up the red carpet to board the ship.
Let me give you a bit more insight into this awesome cruise ship. At 1,188 feet (362 metres, longer than the height of Paris’ Eiffel Tower and the length of 4 football pitches) long, it has 16 guest decks with a capacity for 6,410 passengers along with a 22 knots cruising speed. It has approximately 2,700 staterooms, 20 places to eat, 2,100 staff, 23 swimming pools, and a stunning park with over 10,000 plants and trees. You can see why it cost over $1bn (£700million) and took almost 3 years to build right?
I loved that as we headed 0ff to our accommodation, one of the first things we saw, apart from the amazing Central Park, was THE cocktail stall. Oh those cocktails. The staff were extremely nice and could whip up anything guests desire. We might have tried out quite a few pina coladas, bloody Mary’s, Tom Collins and about 50 million other cocktails. All in the name of research you see.
The size of the ship was brought home to us more and more as we walked through long corridors towards our stateroom ocean view cabin. The cabin was extremely spacious and came equipped with very comfy beds, good storage, a large flat screen TV, a lovely chill out sofa, a bathroom with a shower than we could easily get in and out of and the ‘great to sit on whilst sipping cocktails to the sound of the waves’ balcony.
I managed to get a sneak peak at some of the even more luxurious cabins on board. If you are lucky enough to be able to upgrade, then boy of boy do check out the stunning 2 story Royal Loft Suite. This comes with over 2000 square feet of space, along with luxurious toiletries and linen, in-suite handcrafted cocktail service, fitness classes and spa access, high speed internet, access to specialty dining restaurants, VIP Theatre seating and reservations and your own personal concierge and personal assistant. You will never want to leave.
We were not short of places to eat on board the Harmony of the Seas. Whatever your taste, there is a good choice of food and drink to discover onboard. Everything is covered, from special dinners to casual snacks.
Your cruise price included two restaurants with a huuuuuuuuge range of options. I really liked the buffet set up of the Windjammer Market Place. This is one of the venues we frequented as it was open all day, with a large selection of global eats, a fresh bakery and lush made-to-order omelettes.
We also dinned at the main dining room which served multi-course meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is worth booking ahead for one of the two evening seating, as I image it can get quite crowded, plus you will need to be organized if you wanted to take in an evening show or two.
Guests might also like the option of specialty dining on board the Harmony of the seas, which comes at an extra cost.
There are two restaurants that really stood out to me. There was the stunningly decorated Wonderland Restaurant with its very imaginative cuisine. Guests enter the restaurant via ‘Alice in Wonderland themed rabbit hole’ to good sea views and a beautifully curved staircase.
The delicious menu is designed around six exciting themes: Sun, Sea, Ice, Earth, Fire and Dreams. Guest have to paint their menus with water to reveal their eats. I did not manage to eat a full meal at Wonderland, but the buffalo chicken eggs, with smoke, blue cheese and hot sauce that I sampled were out of this world.
I was lucky to be able to try out the menu at Izumi Hibachi and Sushi restaurant. I loved the décor of the restaurant and the light open kitchen through which you can see your food being prepared. These guys serve fresh and flavorful sushi such as the extra tantalizing truffle creamy lobster tempura roll and the snow crab California. But I have got to say that one my favorite things was the hot crispy coated tempura. I might have had 3 plates of them by myself.
Other specialty restaurants included the perfectly located 150 Central Park café which served sustainable, seasonal food and Jaime’s Italian with its range of authentic, delicious Italian eats.
I really loved the neighbourhood concept on board the Harmony of the Seas. The ship is divided into 7 unique neighbourhoods. You have got the Pool and Sports Zone, home to the Ultimate Abyss and the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, the Royal Promenade neighborhood with the Bionic Bar, the Entertainment Place with the theaters, comedy and jazz clubs, the Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center and the Youth Zone.
One of my favourite neighbourhoods was Central Park, which boasted 12,000 green trees and plants along with cafes, bars and restaurants. The idea of being in a piazza in the middle of the sea, when you can’t even see the sea was creative and awesome. Throughout, you don’t feel hemmed in, or crowded, everywhere there is just the right level of people. Really clever and worked really well.
One of the first things the kid in me fell in love with was the colorful, handcrafted carousel, in the center of the Boardwalk neighborhood. I really really wanted to sneak out at night when no one was watching to ride on one of the beautifully decorated animals. That thought had me grinning for a long time after seeing it.
Before heading off on the cruise I asked a few of my friends about what they would like on a cruise ship. Not only did the answer ‘ tons of entertainment’ come up regularly, but also a huge variety of entertainment. Those going as a family wanted entertainment for both the kids and the adults including some cultural stuff.
So I had a mission to check out and report back all the entertainment on offer on the Harmony of the Seas and report back. And boy was I very impressed.
It really was a case of so much to do and so little time. Especially as you have absolutely everything in one place – I am talking theatre, comedy clubs, an art gallery, climbing walls, 23 swimming pools, shops, mini golf, night clubs. You name it, they had it.
Two of my absolute favourite things to do on holiday are visiting art galleries and going to the theatre. And I was pleased to see that The Harmony of the Seas had approx. 11,252 works of art showcased throughout the ship. It was pretty much like a giant art gallery and I found a new treat everywhere corridor or corner I turned. To me this was heaven.
And my second treat was being able to see the debut of Broadway’s hit musical Grease in the Royal Theatre. I watched the film about 50 time in Sierra Leone, so much so that I completely knackered the video my then boyfriend loaned me. So you can just about image my excitement at seeing it live on stage. We turned up 30 mins early with a cocktail in each hand determined to bag the best seats. Peeps, you should have seen me dancing in my seat and singing along to all the songs.
Oh yes, The Harmony of the Seas had pretty much everything covered – there was something suitable for everyone.
People dancing on ice in the AquaTheatre? Tick. A 100-foot drop with Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea. Tick. Fancied having a go on a surf simulator? Tick. Fancy typing in your drink order via a tablet and looking on as the robotic bartenders (via the Bionic Bar) whip up your drink. Heck yeah. It really was a case of so much to do sooooooooo little time.
The only time I had a few moments of guilt for leaving the kids with granny and grandpa was whilst checking out the kids friendly entertainment.
Kids could get to meet some of their favourite DreamWorks Character (guess who hugged a whole 10 mins of Kung Fu Panda’s characters’ time) along with other DreamWorks events and 3D movies.
Teens, kids and babies, too, have their very own dedicated neighborhood laid out by age and supervised by trained staff. Royal Caribbean have put on a very well thought Adventure Ocean® programme with tons of things to do. First off with a nursery where parents wanting to kick back and relax can drop off their young ones to will be looked after by trained childcare pros. Then there is the KAquanauts for 3-5 year old filled with dinosaurs and bubbling potions, Explorers (6-8 years old) with hands on science and art adventures, Voyagers (9-11) with science experiments, backstage tours and gagaball. Seriously, my two would have loved it.
Teens have their programs too and could choose to just hang out in the own teen lounge or nightclub or take part in activities such as karaoke, basket ball, rock-climbing, bbqs, themed or movie nights. Younger guests will not run out of things to do.
Guys, I could go on and on and on about how much I enjoyed my time on Board the Harmony of the Seas and how much I think you would like it too. Thing is – it is best if you go an experience it yourself.
I can see how much more amazing the experience would be when the ship eventually goes to it longer term home in the Caribbean. All those outdoor areas would just be soooo perfect. And the cocktails …………….
Pop over to The Petite Cook to read about her version of the trip.
Some pictures courtesy of Royal Caribbean and Sushi pics courtesy of Helen Best-Shaw.
We were very lucky to be guests of the Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas. All opinions are my own.