Review: Harmony of the Seas
Cruise - Ocean Cruise
Tour of decks 17 to 7
48 people found this review helpful
I originally was going to write this in one review but as it was almost 3000 words, I decided to split it by deck. This covers decks 17 to 7. Decks 6 to 3 are reviewed separately.
After the tranquillity of our Yacht Club experience on MSC last year, the Harmony of the Seas was a change from the sublime to the ridiculous! We had booked the transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to her home port of Fort Lauderdale as for us, in this case with its 9 sea days, the ship is the destination.
When you approach her in Barcelona harbour you realise just how big she is. She was berthed next to NCL’s Epic, which is no minnow and dwarfed her! When checking in at Barcelona the ship used two terminals, one was boarding at the front of the ship the other at the rear. The queue was out of the door but moved quite quickly and having cleared security and headed towards the check in desks. We were stopped by a lady with a hand held computer who asked to see our documents. As we had checked in on line, we had printed our set sail passes, she scanned these and said were clear for boarding. Our proper cards would be in our Central Park Balcony cabin, which would be available at 1:00pm. All in all we were on board in less than 30 minutes!
We arrived on board on Deck 5, the Royal Promenade, which never fails to impress although on the Harmony you are struck by how much bigger it feels than on the Explorer or Freedom class ships.
As we had been on board for all of five minutes we either had to have a drink or something to eat or elected for the latter, after all what else were we going to do during all these sea days? Rather than go to the Windjammer, we had heard that the Roast Beef sandwiches in the Park cafe were wonderful, so we made our way to Central Park and discovered how many fellow cruisers had the same idea. To be fair, this was the only time during the cruise that the queue was a problem. Generally for such a large ship, sailing at full capacity, the passenger flows were great and we never really felt the ship was too busy, although when we did go to one of the theatre shows we did go early to try (even though we had reservations) to get a good seat! By the time we had eaten our Royal Kummelweck, our stateroom was ready of which I have written a separate review.
There are only two banks of lifts and stairs on the ship, with the mid-ship cabins between and the forward and aft either side. It took longer to walk from the front lifts to the rear ones along the corridors than to walk the entire length of P&O’s Aurora, with half as much again front and aft! One of the places we didn’t visit on the entire cruise was the gym. There was no need; we had so much exercise just getting about!
The ship was is so large and there were so many activities on board, that retiring to bed exhausted was to become a regular feature of the cruise!
As the ship is so large, I’ll cover deck by deck.
Normally I would start at the top but deck 17 is reserved for Suite Passengers so is unavailable to me.
Deck16. At the rear is the Windjammer restaurant which, for those familiar with Royal Caribbean, is pretty much like any other ship in their fleet. The central food stations, to me, seem to interrupt the flow and they don’t seem to match foods which are complimentary to each other on the various stations e.g. eggs at a different station to bacon and sausages at breakfast. At the rear they have daily changing themes such as Mexican, Chinese, and Grill etc. A selection of ‘no added sugar’ rather than sugar free desserts are available and very much appreciated by myself as I could control my sugars whilst enjoying an occasional treat! There is also a selection of Gluten free foods always available too. You could request soya milk although, certainly when I asked, was not supplied in small individual cartons like the dairy equivalent and had to be poured on my cereal by the staff member.
Deck 15. At the rear is the sports deck, featuring the ‘Ultimate Abyss’, a double 10 deck dry slide. Although you enter the Abyss on deck 15, by the time you have climbed the stairs to the glass floor, you are level with deck 16. You enter the pipe slide, sat on a mat with your feet tucked in at the bottom (a bit like the old helter-skelter for those of us old enough to remember!) and a few seconds later you emerge on deck 6 at Boardwalk. Either side of the Abyss are two ‘Flowriders’ for those wanting to try surfing. In between the riders and facing the Abyss entrance is the Wipeout bar which is a necessary facility for dispensing Dutch courage for those contemplating the Abyss as well as the spectators. Behind the bar is another adrenaline ride, the Zip line which traverses the Boardwalk. Royal Caribbean requires you to sign disclaimers before attempting any of these activities which shows that they take the safety of the passengers seriously. The Sip Liners have a safety harness attached to you via two anchorages on the handle bar. For those of us less adventurous, there is crazy golf on the port side and on the starboard side is a sports area for basketball and football. If you’re not drinking on a cruise then you must be eating and Mini bites provide sustenance in the shape of burgers, hotdogs and nachos. Free frozen yoghurt machines can also be found here.
Heading further forward is the main pool area. There is a kid’s splash zone complete with mini version of the perfect storm (3 water slides). There is a shallow pool designed to be like a beach with the front row of loungers and chairs positioned in the water, ideal for those sunbathing as you can have your feet cooling in the water. There are two hot tubs on either side of the deck. On the port side is a proper pool with a hoist enabling disabled access. There is also a second hoist on one of the hot tubs. It is obviously thirsty work sunbathing as each side of the deck has its own pool bar.
Heading further forward are the cantilever hot tubs which protrude out over the ocean. There is also the exit of the 3 water slides, Typhoon, Cyclone and Supercell which combine to make the Perfect Storm (entrance is via stairs to deck 18). You then come to the Solarium, and adult only retreat, at the front of the ship which is over 3 decks (14,15 & 16). In addition to the sunbeds and comfy chairs, deck 15 has the Solarium Bistro, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Although complimentary to dine in the Bistro, reservations are required and advisable as on our cruise after the first day it was fully booked for the entire cruise. The Solarium bar is situated on deck 16 above together with another sun deck.
Deck 14 is directly above the bridge, so if you want the view the Captain has down the side of the ship from the bridge on the starboard side, you can effectively walk on the bridge roof and look to your rear down the full length of the ship. A set of binoculars is attached. You need a head for heights to go out onto this part of the deck. On the port side is a similar vantage point except this one has a glass floor enabling you to look down to the water below. Behind the Solarium on deck 14 there is the kids club and also “The Puzzle Room”. This was a great activity called Rubicon, where you (and up to an additional 13 people) are locked in a room with a time limit to solve a series of puzzles, which if you are successful enables you to unlock the door. The only other public room on deck 14 is the Card room at the rear which is very popular, not only with card players, as it has the library and internet computers.
No deck numbered 13 as considered unlucky.
Deck 12 is “Wonderland” an “Imaginative Dining Experience”. Paying for a meal where you have to “Imagine” what you are eating doesn’t exactly thrill us, but reports from those who tried it are very good. Onwards to the next main deck on our tour we pass “Dazzles”, a bar/music venue on decks 9 and 8. It is well decorated and lit with a stage area and dance floor. During the day it was used as a quiet reading area by those in the know. Very comfortable and, being tucked away, possibly a venue many passengers didn’t know existed.
Decks 10 & 11 are accommodation only
Deck 9. Onwards to the next main deck on our tour we pass “Dazzles”, a bar/music venue on decks 9 and 8. It is well decorated and lit with a stage area and dance floor. During the day it was used as a quiet reading area by those in the know. Very comfortable and, being tucked away, possibly a venue many passengers didn’t know existed.
Deck 8 is where Central park is located and although one of the ship’s main “neighbourhoods” it was always popular but never crowded. Amid the gardens are plenty of seating spots to relax and enjoy the ambience, and occasional classical/flamenco guitar recital. As Central Park in New York has some high end shopping, Central Park Harmony style is no different and there is a high end jeweller selling Hublot, Cartier, Omega and Bvlgari! Next door is the Park Cafe, home of the Royal Kummelweck (the roast beef sandwich) which I can recommend. If you want something stronger to drink than the teas and coffee at the Park Cafe then the Trellis Bar is the place, unless of course the Rising Tide bar has risen! There are several speciality restaurants here in Central Park, Chops Grille, 150 Central Park, Jamie’s Italian and Vintages where for an additional fee you can wine and dine.
Deck 7 with the exception of the rock climbing walls at the rear is dedicated to passenger accommodation. At the foot of these climbing walls, there is a little balcony area with a couple of loungers. One of those little secret spots that few passengers know about or find!
48 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.