Meet Royal Caribbean’s biggest and boldest adventure.
By Danielle Fear
Royal Caribbean International’s newest, biggest, and fastest fleet member arrived in Southampton in May to huge crowds of adorning locals who weren’t out first thing in the morning to catch a glimpse of just any ship. They were standing by to welcome the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas.
The third Oasis-class ship to join the fleet, Harmony of the Seas, at 226,963 grt and with 5,479 guests (double occupancy), is nearly 1,700 tons larger and able to accommodate 100 more passengers than her sister Allure of the Seas, which previously held the record as the world’s largest cruise ship. And although all sisters are similar in design and features, Harmony of the Seas boasts her own new additions.
Royal Caribbean touts the ship as its “biggest and boldest adventure to ever set sail,” and I certainly agree. She is geared toward families, couples, and anyone young at heart looking to inject a little adrenaline into their onboard experience as well as delve deep into activities ashore. So, let’s have a look at what’s in store for those who take to the high seas aboard the world’s largest and arguably most impressive, technology-rich cruise ship.
First impressions of Harmony of the Seas (aside from the fact that she is huge) are fun, bold, and colorful. She is a true masterpiece in every sense and a feeling of excitement sweeps over you from the instant you step aboard and realize that adventure lies around every corner.
Each of her seven neighborhoods has a distinct feel and vibe, and each are adorned with some of the most incredible pieces of art at sea. Central Park was one of my favorites — to be in the middle of a beautiful park, at sea! — and that was closely followed by the Coney Island–inspired Boardwalk, with its seaside, summertime fun atmosphere, casual eateries, retail stores, a custom-made carousel, and more.
Onboard amenities are similar to those found aboard the other Oasis-class ships as well as the line’s Quantum-class ships: spacious, tastefully decorated, and some of the most innovative must-dos at sea.
When on the world’s biggest cruise ship, you expect a selection of gastronomically astounding menus, and Harmony of the Seas certainly delivers on her dining options. With no less than 18 venues on board, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The offerings in the Main Dining Room are varied and delicious, and this stunning space is set across three decks — each restaurant offering its own unique menu and design, and each filtering into the other seamlessly. The service was swift and the food flavorsome.
Jamie’s Italian, from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, is certainly worth trying; I recommend the calamari and steak. The restaurant also benefits from a great location: right in the middle of Central Park, where you’ll also find Chops Grille, 150 Central Park, and Vintages Wine Bar. After dinner, grab a drink at the Rising Tide Bar for a unique perspective of the Royal Promenade, as the bar slowly ascends and descends between three decks.
Daytime snacks might include burgers from Johnny Rockets or hot dogs from the Boardwalk Dog House, paninis and coffee from the Park Café in Central Park, or the substantial offerings from the Windjammer Marketplace on Deck 16 if you’re looking to grab something and get back to the activities and pool on Deck 15.
As with all of the ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, some dining venues aboard Harmony of the Seas incur a fee, so to keep it simple, here’s a breakdown of what’s included and what’s not:
Included – Main Dining Room, Coastal Kitchen (suite guests only), Sorrento’s Pizzeria, Boardwalk Dog House, Windjammer Marketplace, Park Café, Solarium Bistro, and Vitality Café
Additional charges – Starbucks, Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, Chops Grille, Jamie’s Italian, 150 Central Park, Wonderland, Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar, and Johnny Rockets
There’s no shortage of entertainment options aboard Harmony of the Seas. In fact, you might struggle to fit in everything you want to do. If there is one thing you must see during your cruise, however, it is Grease! The Musical. The production, which makes its debut at sea, is arguably one of the best aboard any ship and you’d be a beauty school dropout to miss it. Let your hair down and sing along to classics such as “Greased Lightnin’,” “Summer Nights,” and “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee.”
Another show that shares the 1,380-guest Royal Theater is Columbus, The Musical! , which tells the hilarious, imaginary tale of Christopher’s luckless cousin Marvin, as he embarks on a wacky voyage to the Caribbean. This fun performance features a revolutionary set design and is also not to be missed.
The Fine Line and Hideaway Heist are shows that are performed at the AquaTheater, the distinct high-diving, acrobatic performance venue that was first introduced aboard Oasis of the Seas. The Fine Line features mind-blowing stunts, incredible acrobatic performances, and enough adrenaline to keep you gripped from start to finish. Hideaway Heist is fun for the whole family with its comical, 1950s holiday resort vibe.
Other entertainment options include The Attic, Harmony of the Seas’ nightclub, as well as the dance parties on the Royal Promenade that take guests back in time with ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s music. For something different, check out the ice shows in Studio B or try your hand at Puzzle Break: Escape the Rubicon, an interactive, problem-solving group activity where guests are challenged to use clues to solve a collection of puzzles.
The kids are also entertained around the clock with superb dedicated kids’ clubs, Splashaway Bay interactive water park, various slides and water slides, sports courts, two FlowRider surfing simulators, interactions with their DreamWorks characters, arcade games, and much more.
P.S. Be sure to look out for the pop-up piano player. You never know where you’ll spot him, but he can usually be found in one of the elevators.
Harmony of the Seas offers a wide range of accommodation options including Inside Balcony, Virtual Balcony, Family Ocean-View, Presidential Family Suite, AquaTheater Suites, Sky Loft Suite, Royal Loft Suite, Central Park View with Balcony, Boardwalk View with Balcony, and more.
My balcony cabin on Deck 9 featured the exact same design and décor as balcony cabins on Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas. Even the bathrooms are identical. So if you’ve experienced any of the Oasis- or Quantum-class ships, then you know what to expect: Stateroom accommodations are generous in size with a Queen-size round-ended bed that takes center stage alongside a comfortable sofa (which often doubles up as a pullout bed). You’ll also find a large vanity area with mirror and stool, and a selection of drawer and closet space.
I haven’t mentioned every single thing that you can find or do aboard Harmony of the Seas. I’d probably need my very own issue of Porthole Cruise Magazine to do that. But I can’t finish this piece without mentioning just a few more spaces that caught my attention.
If you want peace and quiet while relaxing in beautiful surroundings then find yourself a lounger in The Solarium. This is a stunning space and, unlike the Solariums aboard other ships, has sectioned breaks in the glass to allow fresh air to flow through. It also has its own bar, so there’s no need to venture far for refreshments. The views are stunning and it’s one of those places that lifts the everyday stresses from your mind the instant you step through the door.
Spa lovers will be bowled over as they enter the Vitality Spa and Fitness center, one of the largest, most impressive spas at sea. And the onboard shopping possibilities are what I call dangerous: Bulgari, Cartier, Kate Spade, Omega, Michael Kors, and more are featured, so shoppers should be prepared!
Top 10 Highlights
- Ultimate Abyss: At 10 stories tall, it’s the tallest duo of slides at sea. Towering above the ocean waves by more than 100 feet, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
- The Carousel: A full-size, handcrafted carousel can be found on the Boardwalk.
- The Perfect Storm: This trio of waterslides spirals five decks above Central Park. Typhoon and Cyclone are racing slides and Supercell features a champagne bowl that swirls guests around until they come to the final splash.
- Grease! The Musical: This is an absolute must-see in the Royal Theater.
- Wonderland: A dining experience with a huge difference. Have you ever used a paintbrush to reveal your evening menu? You will at Wonderland.
- Bionic Bar: Although it can take a while to get your drink when it’s busy, it is certainly worth trying at least once, just so you can say that you ordered a drink from a robot bartender aboard the world’s biggest cruise ship.
- Signature Favorites: Set a time to try out Chops Grille, Jamie’s Italian, The Dog House, and the Schooner Bar.
- Zip-Line: Fly high above the decks as you zip from one side of the ship to other. At 10 decks up and 120 feet above the Boardwalk, it’s not for those afraid of heights!
- AquaTheater: Watch an impressive water acrobatics show at sea.
- Studio B: A multipurpose studio complex that offers incredible ice shows featuring professional skaters from around the world.
Photo: Royal Caribbean International