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Is Bigger Really Better?

How to describe my recent adventures on board the Harmony of The Seas? Do I write it from the perspective of a reasonably novice cruiser, or perhaps from a “marketing perspective” that is my job after all or should I tell you about how I viewed it being a mum of 2 young children?
Well I think I’m going to combine it all – after all it is the World’s Biggest Cruise Ship – it has plenty to say for itself!

Haromny Lorrain and i

As we drove into Southampton Dock there she was in all her glory, an excited squeal escaped Lorraine and I’s lips as we faced the reality of the sheer size of her! Harmony of the Sea was awaiting us. Boarding was very quick and simple – we had completed an online check in prior to, and we were met with ample staff with I pads ready to check us in on production of our “Set Sail Pass” we had also had to upload a picture too and this was used in the check in process, with a quick scan of your bags we were heading on board.
As we entered Harmony of the Seas, you instantly have only one word – WOW! I can’t tell you if my wow was because it all looked so amazing, or it all looked so vast, or it all looked so exciting, it was simply a culmination of everything.
As we headed down the vast but airy feeling corridors to our room (Ocean view stateroom) we were met with a room that felt spacious, with plenty of cupboard space and draw space a little sofa to sit on. The bathroom felt smart, clean and well thought out – with not a shower curtain in sight!

Our Room

In our room was a little booklet all about the key features of the ship, obviously a channel on the TV dedicated to the story of Harmony of the Seas and then we had our list of day’s events.
So after a quick spruce and comfy shoes put on to cover this vast ship we headed out.
Our first stop was the bars, purely because they were on our deck level (Really!) We had our first drink in a 18+ Karaoke Bar which hadn’t started as yet, so we sat at the bar and chatted to the staff, the excitement from them was clear to see also about being on a ship of this caliber. After a drink we decided to explore from the top down.

Royal Promendae calm

Before I boarded the Harmony of The Seas, I had obviously done a little “googling” and “You Tube”, alongside all the Royal Caribbean information to see what was on board. The main thing that kept being brought to my attention was “The Abyss” a dry slide over 10 stories tall with a 100ft drop, of course I wasn’t going on it – I’m not silly! Mmmm as we ventured to the top deck the mouth of the abyss appeared in the form of an Angler Fish (watch finding Nemo!) I grabbed a mat and shouted out I’m doing this, after handing over my handbag and jewellery to my friend (who stood at a safe distance) you are given a short training tutorial on how to sit and be safe – I could feel a little hot sweat beginning, but my mind was made up! Two of you go at the same time (two separate slides) as you wait you stand on a glass floor looking down over the sea just to add to the terror – I mean excitement! I position myself ready and wait the green light to go – my training has gone out of the window, I lay back (makes you go faster apparently – silly me!) and I’m screaming all the way down, supposedly there are lots of light designs as you go down – I had my eyes firmly shut! As you land on the deck with all the faces of people looking at you – I had the biggest grin and an urge to do it again (I didn’t!) a definite to do when you are on board!

Abyss Landing - CopyAbyss - CopyAbyss from belwo - Copy

Also in this area was a carousel and some American diners, Starbucks and the stunning Aqua Theatre, this was unfortunately not on for the duration we were on board, but we did manage to have a chat with one of the production team as they were doing an informal rehearsal which looked amazing, involving tightropes and seeing where and the heights the performers would dive from into a small jelly bean shaped pool gave me the shivers, but I confess to feeling envious of those who would sit there of an evening watching this live performance in the open air – with big screens either side to enhance the experience.

Aua THeatre - Copy

After visiting a few more bars along deck 6 aka Royal Promenade and wandering in and out of the shops (very nice jewellery) we decided that would grab a bite to eat, so we found a pizza place and sat along the Promenade. We then moved up to Deck 8 Central Park – I was particularly excited to see this and I was not disappointed, with an open air feel in the middle, trees and plants you really did feel like you could be in a park relaxing, with some stunning restaurants and bars either side, including Jamie’s Restaurant and also Central Park Café, the Rising Bar ( tell you about that a bit later) and the Vintage Wine Bar (that actually had help yourself wine stations!!) it felt calmer than the Royal Promenade. Cabins overlooked the inside of the ship and had balconies so you could have a beautiful view of Central Park, or the more hustle and bustle of Royal Promenade depending on what you prefer.

Cnetral park at night - CopyView from board walk balcony

After exploring a few more of the decks we needed to get ready for dinner – we were eating in the Solarium restaurant (adults only) on deck 15. What a lovely setting with a smart yet relaxed feel about it, the food was buffet style although you could order a main course from a set menu also. With a range of fish being abundant on the menu I went to for the Grilled Salmon – delicious, everything in this restaurant was aimed at being slightly healthier selections. The staff again were so polite and attentive, never was my glass empty nor a dirty plate left for too long in front of me.
After dinner it would have been so easy to retreat back to the comfortable cabin feeling full and relaxed, but as the Cruise Director reminded us over the “tannoy” there was so much more to do, the evening was just beginning!
As you make your way around the ship there are virtual boards that you can use to find what you are looking for or to find out what is going on – it will map out the route for you too.
After a visit to the Ice rink where we caught the finale of the 1887 Ice Show, which even for the few minutes we were there looked amazing a full on set production piece with some high lifts and beautiful storytelling to keep you captivated. We then moved across to the Royal Theatre to watch The Tenor of Rock Singers perform from beautiful ballads, west end musicals, to belting out few more powerful rock anthems.

Ice ShowTenors of Rock

After leaving there (it was now late) and an 80s band was in full swing on the Promenade, we ventured down to the lower decks to view the casino, Wow it was like a mini Las Vegas with slot machines and black jack tables in abundance, making our way back up from there we happened upon The Grande Restaurant which looked stunning very opulent in its furnishings and also had a peek in at the Japanese restaurant which again was truly authentic.
After finding a Jazz Club and then a lovely little bar called The Attic, which held comedy evenings whilst we were on board, we thought we ought to call it a night knowing we had still half the ship to explore the next day.

Casino - CopyTHe Attic

The Saturday we awoke to the grey seas as our morning view – no Caribbean views for us on this voyage – but hey we couldn’t have it all.
Taking the stairs up to central Park we had a coffee and a bagel for breakfast – the choice of breakfast types was fabulous – if you fancied something a little more filling yet still offering a great selection, Windjammers on Deck 15 did just that, with en-mass buffet hot and cold and everything in between, all topped off with a view of the ocean whilst you eat. You are encouraged in this restaurant to use the hand-washing facilities before you eat.
Today was going to be action packed as we knew we had a lot to pack in, so we started at the top again – checking out the mini golf, the Zip wire that you can go on hovering over the middle of the ship on (thankfully this was not open for us!) Nor was the flow rider – but they all looked amazing, plenty of sundecks for sunnier destinations, even little sun loungers for children, and great little play area on this deck for the children to enjoy some pool time. A full size basketball court and table tennis all to keep you entertained. Then as you moved around the deck to the front of the ships it seemed a little more relaxed, with big “snuggle” wicker chairs with big cushions to curl up in and just watch the ocean go by, to hot tubs to enjoy dotted around the deck, all topped off with a “mini bites” café, pool bar and help yourself ice cream station.

Mini GolfBare deck areas - Copy

As we made our way through the decks you always seem to gravitate back to the royal Promenade, the hustle and bustle just draws you back and there was always something going on from meeting and greeting DreamWorks characters, to world champion football freestylers putting on a show.

Puss in boots

You never felt lost even though the ship was vast, directions were readily available through the Cruise Compass and staff seemed to always be on hand.
Venturing through the corridors we were lucky enough to be able to look at some additional room types, including a stateroom with accessibility which was nice and spacious, to the Presidential suite which slept 14 people! Perfect for a group of you to go away, perhaps a party or special occasion or just a large family holiday. With your own hot tub on the balcony, dining area and relaxing living room this certainly was sumptuous to say the least. We looked at also a room with a balcony overlooking the central park and it gave a very different perspective to how you see the ship. Personally I think I would opt for an ocean view especially with a family purely on the basis of being a little quieter at night.
Virtual balconies are offered to those inside rooms giving you that feeling of having the view of the ocean without paying for balcony prices.
All the rooms attention had been paid to detail, with lovely artworks on the walls and the feel of the furnishings all of a high quality, it was indeed nice to spend time in the cabin.

SofaPresidential Suite dingingBathroom - CopyPresindetial Suite outideView from board walk balconyState Room

So after viewing the rooms we happened upon the gym (darn I forgot my trainers) which had a huge array of equipment, ranging from TRX to running machines and bikes with free weight,s also all very spacious and light making the thought of a workout not so bad! Around the upper decks was a running track also with motivational signs as you went around – three desserts tonight if you keep going!

The Vitality spa and café was a dream, serenity at its best – from sitting having a freshly squeezed orange juice or a freshly made ground coffee with a tasty granola bar, to having a huge range of treatments on offer to pamper away any stresses or strains you may have, as soon as you stepped into the rooms you instantly felt calm, again a very light and fresh feel to it all with a very professional team on board who definitely knew not only what they were doing but what they were talking about.
There were mini tasting sessions on board the ship that day, so as we explored the decks we nibbled our way around the restaurants including a delicious meat platter at Jamie’s restaurant to the mystery and wonder of the whole dining experience in the Wonderland restaurant, even though we didn’t experience a whole evening here to walk through the “magic” door into the immaculate and well thought out Wonderland was stunning, the décor beautiful, the staff all dressed in velvet coats added to the themed attire, paint brushes to reveal your menus and smoke slowly giving way on your plate revealing the beautiful delicacies to taste.

Wonderland dingingWonderland Bar

Having eaten more than we should and forgetting my trainers to use the gym we found ourselves with time to just wander and this time we stumbled upon the kids area – wow! I wanted to be a child for the day, so many brightly coloured Muriel’s on the walls obviously with an nautical theme, then different rooms for different ages, starting with babies and parents, an calm area where you could feed your little ones, perhaps even put them down in one of the cots for a nap, or rock them to sleep on a rocking chair, We then entered what felt like a galactic space station control centre, with the staff in there white lab coats all to add to the theatre of it all, any kid would be enjoying this – it was some kind of puzzle element to it also you needed to solve – think crystal made for children!
An room dedicated to art, with paints and desks freely available, slides instead of stairs in between floors because we all know as a kid who wants to take the stairs right! I.T area all brightly coloured, and a theatre just for children – I mean totally awesome right! I know as a mum of two, my children would have been very happy to spend time here, security was good too, with dual low and high door handles to keep children where they were supposed to be and plenty of staff who looked like they were already having so much fun just playing – what a great job right!

Kid 3Kids area 1< Kid 4Kid 2Kid 5kIDS 6Murieal KID

After a very late lunch (being still full from huge breakfast) we made our way back to the cabin to have a bit of a relax before the evening started, with a refresh under our belts and a bit more evening attire on, we headed towards the Promenade where a 90’s street party was in full swing, the energy and enthusiasm was intoxicating and soon we found ourselves bopping along. We however needed to make our way to the Theatre as we were excited to be seeing a preview of Grease, the on board theatre production for Harmony of the Seas. It was only a 90 min adaption, so we grabbed a drink and headed in, within moments the theatre which approx. holds 1600 people was packed out and there was standing room only. We certainly were not disappointed a West End caliber performance followed with every conceivable prop, including of course the famous Grease Lighting Car. We were soon singing along to the hits and a standing ovation of course at the end for a truly wonderful cast! Definitely a must see when you are on board.

Grease 2Grease 1

Our dinner reservation was at the American restaurant and although it seemed like we were going to have to wait ages in the queue when we arrived we were quickly escorted through to a table by a waiter and our order promptly taken. A 4 course delight was on offer tonight the food was delicious and the service was great – if a little too quick on this occasion, whether that was just our section or perhaps a waiter a bit too keen to impress, but it was soon forgotten. After a dinner consisting of a setting with a massive “drop down light” in the middle of the restaurant and the atmosphere easy going and although it was huge we felt private enough over dinner. The seafood linguine was very tasty and baked Alaska for pudding was oh so naughty but oh so nice! Again the glasses were never empty.

Bar on board - CopyGrande Restuarant - Copy

With our trousers fit to burst a walk was in order – so we stepped outside to the carousel area and once again looked on in awe at where the Aqua theatre would be performing. Moving back into the Promenade area, we ventured back to our favourite bar the Attic for a little comedy, before seeing a little salsa in another bar and again we found ourselves dancing the night away to the band on the promenade – one big party!
As the late night started to turn into early hours we decided to retreat back to our cabin knowing and early departure awaited us, as always our rooms had been turned over and it felt lovely coming back to a fresh room every time.

We awoke early and went up to Windjammers for a full buffet breakfast, we were tired and jaded but couldn’t believe how much this ship had offered us in a little under 48 hours, we had clocked up over 10+ miles on my “fit bit” and felt that we had sampled a little snippet of most things. I am sure i have forgotten to tell you about somethings like the rising bar (a bar lift that takes you to the next bar!) , the robotic bar (so much fun and technology at its best!) and so many little bits, but that’s almost the joy of this ship there is so much to do and see, that its almost never ending!

DOnt look downCarasol - CopyRising BarRobotic Bar

Departure was easy enough and the staff all smiles and helpful throughout, directing us until we were back in the car park looking back at the grandeur that is Harmony of the Seas.
So I started this blog with a question – is bigger better? Yes is my answer, innovation and firsts were evident all over the ship, yet you never really felt overwhelmed or impersonal. I wondered how to write this – and I feel I need to say this ship is for all, yes perhaps families are foremost in my mind, but I certainly would have no problem going as a couple or a party of adults. Harmony of the seas showed herself off in the very best light, Fun and excitement never waned.
For me all that was missing was a little sunshine, but even under the grey skies Harmony of the Seas stood out like the shining light of excellence she is… Definitely should be on your to do list!
For more information please contact us on 01954 232802 don’t forget to visit our Facebook page for a full array of pictures too… We can’t wait to hear from you!

 

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