Towering 16 storeys above the water, Harmony of the Seas was certainly a sight to behold as she sat waiting in the Royal Caribbean dock in Southampton.
With the paint still fresh and the beds unslept in, the ‘shake down’ cruise – her first real voyage – was geared towards showcasing the ship in its entirety to the travel agent world.
Day one was part of the CLIA conference (the Cruise Line’s International Association) which had been running all week, with all delegates excited to be among the first to step on board. Presentations, guided tours and a delicious lunch were laid on but as the day drew to a close, many of them had to wave farewell. Luckier ones got to spend the whole weekend enjoying the kind of features you would only expect from Royal Caribbean.
The guided tour saw us journey through different ‘neighbourhoods’ – seven in fact – all with a personality of their own. Central Park in the middle of the ship is an open air park space bursting with flora and fauna – 12,000 plants in fact! With cafes and restaurants lining its sides, it would be the perfect place to enjoy a drink on a balmy evening whilst cruising round the Med.
The Boardwalk is like a haven for children (of all ages!) with Johnny Rocket’s, climbing frames, a carousel (which will take playful adults), a pool for the impressive high diving show and huge screens so you never need miss an important sporting event. The Zoltar machine from the film ‘Big’ was a wonderful piece of nostalgia for those who loved the film as a child.
While we cruised the rainy English Channel, it wasn’t hard to see how much children would love the Pool and Sports Zone. Five waterslides and The Ultimate Abyss which plunges a scary 10 storeys, a rock climbing wall, surf machines (‘FlowRiders’), zip lines and a splash park to dance in and out of to cool off in the sunshine. Hours will be whiled away and if you don’t fancy getting in the midst with them, there are plenty of loungers from which to survey their fun.
Spending money on board isn’t easy when it comes to food and drinks – Royal Caribbean keep offering all-inclusive packages on board – but it becomes much easier when you head to the Royal Promenade. Designer shops abound and are so tempting for that holiday treat you’ll take home and use time and again with fond memories.
Relaxing in your cabin in easy – ours was extremely spacious and was very stylish in its decor. Comfy beds, a lounge area and large TV all made for a perfect haven of our own. If you want something more luxurious, take a look at the suites. Some have butlers and some even have ‘Genies’ who will craft your cruise into a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
But with the amount of entertainment on board, you surely won’t want to miss out. We were treated to a show of ‘Grease’, and the standard of the dancing and singing was as good as any West End or Broadway show. But what was perhaps most impressive was the set design, props and costumes; they were truly world-class. But Grease isn’t the only spectacle on board. Live stand up with well-known comedians, the largest casino at sea (more excuse to spend those holiday funds!) and an ice show featuring state-of-the-art holographic technology and a young chap blowing bubbles can all be enjoyed in ‘Entertainment Place’. It wouldn’t do it justice to explain but suffice it to say, your jaw will be agape.
Harmony of the Seas has plenty of adult-only attractions with the Bionic Bar robots making cocktails to order, the Schooner Bar a haven for pre- and post-dinner drinks, a dedicated karaoke bar and not to mention the casino and comedy club. But what was truly remarkable about the ship was the Youth Zone. Divided into areas for each age group, the facilities are unparalleled. Video games, a mini-theatre, studios for art, cribs for babies – the list is practically endless. Everything is supervised by fully trained staff too who know how to ensure the children have the most fun which means they will probably have a better holiday than you! They will even take the kids to dinner, giving you the chance to have some quieter time in less child-friendly restaurants.
And if all the indulgence, the fun and the excitement gets too much, you can escape to Vitality Spa and Fitness which manages to be both enormous, yet serene. Again, the facilities are incredible – the range of treatments on offer rivals even the most exclusive of sanctuaries and the gym has top-of-the-range machines not to mention instructors who will even go so far as to analyse how you walk and how it affects your health! Trained acupuncturists, beauticians, teeth whiteners, masseurs; you will be spoilt for choice.
Whilst Harmony might be the biggest cruise ship in the world with neighbourhoods to suit everyone, it really doesn’t feel overwhelmingly large. It’s very easy to navigate but what the size does offer is plenty of places for hidden charms. Quiet corners, jazz bars can be found and you can even enter your own Wonderland with novelty cuisine categorised into the elements of Sun, Ice, Fire, Earth and Dreams.
It really is a most impressive ship and with so much to see and do, you will create incredible holiday memories to last a lifetime.
Contact your Travel Counsellor today to enquire about your voyage on board Harmony of the Seas.