“You’re the one that I want” signalled the end of a stunning production of Grease in Harmony’s comfortable Royal Theatre, and the end of our pre-inaugural cruise on the world’s newest and largest cruise ship. I couldn’t help thinking how appropriate that was.
Earlier we had seen the Ice Show, yes Harmony has an ice skating rink too. Again spectacularly produced, it had the audience applauding great skating throughout the show. With venues for jazz, disco and comedy amongst other options, you certainly don’t lack for entertainment on this enormous ship.
Embarkation was quick and easy and didn’t involve queuing for check-in desks. We were greeted on arrival in the terminal by staff with tablet computers who checked our details and sent us on our way. The cards giving access to our cabin were waiting for us outside the cabin door. Our cabin itself was spacious with two wardrobes and a number of drawers providing adequate storage for clothes with good hanging space, and there was a sofa that could serve as an additional bed. The bathroom was well equipped and well lit, the shower was in a glass enclosure and the removable head was also adjustable for height. The comfortable balcony was large enough to accommodate two recliners, foot-stools and a table.
Harmony, and her sister ships Oasis and Allure, are markedly different from other cruise ships. Instead of a single set of cabins sitting on the keel, these ships have two blocks of cabins either side of an open central area. Thus the ships offer balcony cabins facing inwards as well as out to sea. On Harmony, some of the inward-facing balcony cabins overlook Central Park with its 52 trees and thousands of plants, whilst others overlook the open-air boardwalk. Sitting in peaceful Central Park, surrounded by trees and plants and bordered by shops and restaurants, it’s easy to forget you are on a ship.
Speaking of restaurants, there are 18 places to eat so guests have a huge choice. It includes Japanese, Mexican and Jamie Oliver’s Italian. If you fancy Mexican cuisine then you can try Sabor, and there are great choices to be had at 150 Central Park and Coastal Kitchen, the latter perched aft on deck 17 with great views of the ship. There’s a hot dog stand, Johnny Rocket’s Diner, and for something entirely different, Wonderland provides a unique and slightly quirky dining experience.
So what of Harmony herself? The statistics are staggering. The ship is 215ft wide and 1188ft long. At standard occupancy she holds 5479 guests but the maximum is 6780. In addition there are 2100 crew members on board. It has seven neighbourhoods with activities ranging from a peaceful carousel to the adrenaline-pumping 100ft drop of the Ultimate Abyss, for those courageous enough to try it.
“Is it too big?” was an obvious question.
Well, you certainly end up doing more walking than on other ships as there is so much more of it to get round. Given the number of restaurants on board, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. However, everything seems to be in proportion. For example on ships such as Anthem of the Seas, the Wonderland restaurant is on one deck, whereas on Harmony it covers two decks and has its own bar.
Much of the ship is in the open so you can enjoy sunshine and fresh air without having to stretch out on the sun loungers which may, as on other ships, become a little crowded on sea days. There’s no doubt that the additional space on Harmony has been well utilised in order to give guests a greater choice of things to do and places to visit.
With its range of facilities for younger people, from Royal Babies (6-36 months) to Older Teens with their own night club, it’s certainly an ideal ship for the increasingly popular multi-generational holidays. Perhaps it’s a somewhat over-used phrase but there really is something for everyone; kids, their parents and grand-parents can all have their own holidays and meet up as and when they wish.
Certainly Harmony of the Seas is a comprehensive holiday destination in its own right. However, we mustn’t forget that this is a cruise ship that also transports you to fascinating ports of call. It’s a combination that makes for a great holiday experience.
Find more information about pricing and schedules, and book online at www.royalcaribbean.co.uk or call 0844 493 2061.
Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas: The Ship’s Features