We sailed with our family group of 12 on Harmony 4/14/19 - 4/21/19. I don't normally write reviews, but I've benefitted so much from info in other reviews posted here that I thought I would share a few observations from our trip. 7 of us had been on Allure before, 2 had never cruised with Royal Caribbean, and 3 had never cruised before at all. Overall, everyone had a GREAT time, and we hated to leave!
Arrival: We flew into FLL on Saturday and stayed at Hampton Inn/Plantation (UberXL was about $38), which had a shopping mall with restaurants within 5-10 min walking distance for dinner. When I initially booked this hotel, I did so because it said they had a free shuttle to the cruise ship. But when we got there late (our flight had been delayed), most of the slots had been taken and we decided Uber would be easier anyway. An UberXL Sunday morning was about $32. Once we got to port and turned our bags in (and waited for the rest of our group to arrive - 4 were in another Uber and 4 had their own car), we only stood in line for 5-10 minutes to get through security, took our boarding photos, and then walked right on the ship! It was around 11:15-11:30am.
St. Maarten (Day 4): We took a taxi to Divi Little Bay resort, which was $5 each. My dad, son (age 11), sister and brother in law, and I rented snorkel gear and swam out along the left side all the way to where the sunken helicopter is. It was a long way (there were several excursion boats already floating there), but was fun. My husband and daughter (age 9) rented a jet ski while we were snorkeling, and ended up flipping over! Luckily the guy who worked at the resort saw them after a few minutes and rode out to explain how to flip it back over. I think for the two chairs, umbrella, snorkel gear, and jet ski rental, we paid about $100 at the resort. We also had drinks (best frozen margarita I've had!), took pics of the kids with the parrot at the bar, and ate a light lunch at the resort before taking a taxi back to Front Street to walk around for an hour or so, after which we took the water taxi back to the boat.
San Juan (Day 5): We walked to the El Morro fort, which was pretty cool. Along the way we found the road with the umbrellas overhead. Entrance fee to El Morro was $7 each but kids were free. On the way back we stopped at a frappe shop that had games on the table (Jenga, Connect 4), so we all sat and relaxed for a few minutes. Most of the group went back to the ship for lunch, but my parents and I went to a tiny breakfast/lunch place called Spiga, which was really delicious! Their paninis and cookies were amazing. Two of the folks in our group took a food tour excursion and they said that was great too. It was nice that our phones worked here so we could navigate easily on our walk (we have AT&T), but the people with Verizon in our group seemed to be on an "extended" network so not sure if that will end up with extra fees.
Labadee (Day 6): We walked to Columbus Cove and found some chairs in the shade. Lunch was really good (better than Windjammer IMO)...especially the Oreo cupcakes. My dad tried to do the zip line and was all harnessed up when they said they had to cancel due to wind. My husband and kids went on the aqua park for about 30 minutes, which they enjoyed. It was a fun, relaxing day.
Departure: Our flight out of FLL was at 12:15, and our luggage tag departure time was scheduled to be 8:45. We finished up breakfast and went to deck 5 to wait around 8:00, but seeing that there was no one around, we decided to try to go ahead and get off a little early. I'm so glad we did, because it was less than 10 minutes by the time we were out on the curb with our bags calling an UberXL (which was about $20 total for 4 of us, less than half the cost of what my parents paid an hour before to take a taxi to the airport...I think they said it was $11 each). My in-laws did self-debarkation and got in line around 6:15am; they said the lines were crazy and it was the only frustrating time for them during the whole trip. When my parents did self-debarkation around 7am, I think the crowds had dissipated significantly.
A few other random notes:
Motion sickness - Didn't happen to me, but it affected my in-laws...they had these gray bracelets (maybe called sea bands?) that seemed to help them tremendously.
Photo Package - we paid for this a week before the trip, and it was $250. Onboard it was $300. We didn't have a problem with including everyone in our group in the photos...they just gave them my room number. On our last Allure cruise which was 3 years ago, they were still printing all of the photos so we got hard copies and a soft copy of them, but this time they don't print unless you request it. I should be getting a link to download all 180 of our photos any day now. One regret I have is not checking the photos each evening. I waited until the last day, and realized several were missing, so I had to search for them, and I'm hoping I didn't miss any.
Rooms - we had 5 balcony rooms on deck 12 beside each other (and ours had a connecting door to our kids' room). Our room attendant was able to open the balcony dividers between all the rooms so we could all hang out and chat on the balcony during the week, which was really nice. For the kids' room, we had originally booked one adult and one kid in each room, and when I went to Guest Services to switch the kids to their own room, they said they couldn't do it in the computer but just gave us extra keys, which was fine. One thing I didn't like about the rooms was having to have a key card in the slot by the door...one time I was taking a shower and my husband left the room after grabbing his key card, not realizing the lights would go out on me a few minutes later in the bathroom! We ended up putting a different card in the slot after that.
No-Shows - Two of the rooms in our group had a no-show, so they each had their room to themselves. We have known for a while they would be no-shows, and followed guidance from this forum to just not say anything, and there weren't any issues. One time at dinner our waiter asked about the 2 no-shows and just marked them off his list. I'm assuming they'll see the refund for port taxes/fees for these no-shows soon.
Ice cream - Out of the 4 ice cream machines on deck 15, not one of them had a vanilla/chocolate swirl option, which I would have liked. All 4 were either vanilla/strawberry or chocolate/strawberry. Not a big deal, but an observation nonetheless :). I did like the different location of these (so you're in the shade when standing in line)....on Allure they were right by the pool in the sun.
Elevators - I really wish they could make these more efficient. Maybe one side for odd floors and one side for even...I don't know, but almost every time we were in the elevators they stopped on every floor. We took the stairs when it was only 3-4 floors, but not a lot of people did that as many times they would be taking the elevator for 1-2 floors.
Kids club - On previous cruises, our kids loved Adventure Ocean, but this time they just didn't want to go. However, on the 2nd to last day we found out we could sign a waiver for our 11 yr old to go into the teen "Living Room" and play video games. He loved this and I wish we had known earlier in the trip.
Ports - The ports were all great, but I think I prefer having a day at sea in between ports instead of all 3 in a row.
App/Messages - iMessage worked for us for about a day with our phones in airplane mode and wifi connected to royal (for those of us that didn't pay for Voom), but after that stopped working. The Messaging feature in the Royal app ended up working great, though.
Wow band - I got this for one of my kids for $5 at guest services. It worked well. I think someone on this forum had mentioned they could be re-programmed for use on a future cruise, but the muster station is pre-printed on it so I'm not sure if that would always work or not.
Abyss - Several of us went on this and it was fun, although a few people skinned their knee on the side.
Water slides - Several in our group enjoyed them. They got stuck if wearing a swim shirt, so they enjoyed it much more without.
Charges - Good idea to keep an eye on these throughout the week, and the app made it easy to do so. I got double-charged one night for a drink in the theater where they were manually writing room info for charges.
Dinner - we had main dining at 5:30. Having all 12 of us at a table was great - it was a booth on one side and chairs on the other. Our waiters were awesome - one of them would tell jokes or give us a puzzle to solve after dinner each night.
Shows - they were great - saw both ice shows, both water shows, and headliner show. Comedy show was ok...opener was horrible but the main guy was funny. Some ppl in our group went to Columbus musical and said it was just ok. My sister was the only one who went to Grease, and she had to leave early bc someone spilled or poured a drink from the balcony onto her.
Crowds - Everything was pretty crowded - I guess because it was spring break. I don’t recall our Allure cruises being so crowded, but they were in May.
Pool chairs - The chair saving was frustrating as it was impossible to find a chair on pool level if you didn’t get there early - had to go up a deck to find a chair. Not sure if there is a good solution to improve it though.
Activities - we went to several of the puzzle/trivia sessions in Schooner bar in the mornings, but my favorite was Royal mystery puzzle game on day 7 in On Air at 2pm (you have to solve puzzles to find clues and figure out who to arrest). They said it was created by the same people who did the escape room, which we wanted to do also, but minimum age was 12 or 14 so we didn't do it since our kids were too young. Other activities we enjoyed were zip line, putt putt, and ping pong. Two we didn't manage to fit in were ice skating and flow rider, unfortunately.
Casino - several in our group enjoyed the free learn to play lessons in the mornings on sea days, and the low minimums early in the day as well.
That's all I can think of for now. Happy to answer questions if anyone has them.