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mammap

Just Back - Harmony 6/2-6/9 - The GOOD, Bad and Lessons learned

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My family just returned from Harmony out of Port Canaveral.   It was an amazing trip with memories for a lifetime.  Oldest daughter even got engaged on this trip!   Here is a quick summary of some of the highlights and insights of what I learned.   The ship is HUGE and lovely.   Never felt super crowded unless a show let out or during the dance parties in the Promanade.   I hope to give back to this board since I asked many questions and learned from so many other cruisers.

 

THE GOOD

  • Arrival was smooth - rented an AVIS car at airport on Saturday and stayed the night in Cocoa Beach.  Returned the car Sunday morning to the AVIS lot in Cocoa and caught their free shuttle to the port - super easy and hastle free.  IT was nice having a car the night before to tour the area, go to dinner and shop!
  • Almost NO wait at the port - handed over luggage and swiftly went through boarding process. Boarded at 12:00 and was in the room before 1:00 p.m.  Lunched at WindJammer.  It was crowded but not oppressive.
  • We had 3 cabins (9718, 9720 and 9724) near rear of ship.  Loved location as it was near the end of hall and very quiet.  Lot of walking but hey that is not a bad thing.  More than adequate storage space for my way over-packed bag!!!    2 large suitcases easily fit under the beds.....we used them for dirty clothes throughout the week.
  • Bathroom shower was very roomy and I especially loved the little ledge to put my foot on for shaving legs!  DH is a big guy and felt comfortable in the shower.    Water was always HOT and plenty of storage shelves over sink and below.
  • Beds were comfortable but a bit firm.....(I like).  If you don't like firm beds, ask for a topper.  Plenty of plugs at desk and 1 next to bed.  I brought an expander for bedside which added 3 USB ports and ran a 6 foot cable behind bed so we could both charge phones bedside.   I asked for extra pillows an were provided them immediately.    Both closets had lots of hangers so no issues there.
  • Our attendant was wonderful and opened up the dividers between 2 of our cabins.  That was really nice.
  • SHOWS - LOVED Fine Line Dive show - a must see.   We did not get reservations, but sat above it at the rock wall and had a great view.   Adult Comedy - We all really enjoyed this show - it was under an hour but crowded so reservations are a must.   Headliner show - juggler/comedy was amazing - great venue and family friendly.   Had reservations for Grease but did not go because we were tired and having a wonderful time at Bollaro's.   
  • Meals - we were assigned MY TIME DINING.  Food was very good.......staff was amazing.  Only downside was the crowds trying to get in at the same time.  Reservations are a must but even with reservations, we were usually waiting in line at least 10-15 min.  It got better as the week went on but first night was a zoo.   My advice - make all your dining reservations prior to cruise even if you don't know your plans.  They are tough to get once on board.   Book main dining room each night then decide if you need to cancel for alternate plans.    MINI-bites was great for lunch and breakfast and Park Cafe was so relaxing for breakfast.    We loved going to Sorento's Pizza around 4:00 before dinner and bringing back anti-paste plate to the room/balcony and having it with some wine we brought aboard.   WE asked for extra glasses and room attendant provided.  This was our favorite family time.   Just sitting on the decks, drinking wine and picking at olives/cheese/meats!
  • CHOPS - quality was so good - warm goat cheese salad was amazing!!!!   Service was top notch.   We got a voucher from our TA so we got one specialty dinner and this was our choice. 
  • BARS - we loved Bollaro's latin bar.  Hung out there almost every night.  Tried lots of unique shots/drinks.....music was so fun!  Also liked the Boot and Bonnet Irish Pub.   Live music was really good.  Bionic BAR was a very fun novelty.....did it multiple times.  Remember if mix your own drink you have to ask for ice.  Our first time we forgot to add ice and got a glass full of liquor that was warm!
  • POOLS - water slides were so fun and not horribly crowded.    Max 10 min wait time.    Belly-flop competition was super fun as was sexiest man contest.
  • Sports stuff - did rock wall - BRING socks!!!!  They provide climbing shoes.   Very fun and wait times about 15 min.     Daughter did flow rider during open times.   First you MUST do the boogie-board side before you are given a wrist-band to do the stand-up surfing side.  Wait time both times was 40 min.    Very fun and nice bleachers to wait on and a little bar between both venus to get drinks.   
  • Face painting and balloon animals were a highlight for my grand-daughter......free on the boardwalk with about a 20 min wait.
  • Promanade - each night featured a band and some type of dancing.  We tried to stroll through each night and the kids loved it.   Lots of glow stuff given away and fun bar demonstrations.
  • Excursions - LOVED the StingRay City strip on Cocoa Cay.....quick 1 hour trip across the channel to hold/feed Stingrays......super fun would recommend.    We stayed all day on Chill island and there were plenty of umbrellas and chairs to be had early in the day.  Approaching noon, almost none available so stake your place early.  Only about 1/2 the bungalows were used....just so expensive.  Food was BBQ and typical but plentiful.  Lots of bars around so drinking was easy.    On St Maarten - we went off on our own via TAXI/VAN to Orient Beach and the Kon Tiki beach club.   Ride for 7 was $8 dollars per person each way.   Kon Tiki was fantastic.....clean beaches......$20 to rent an umbrella/table/2 loungers with cushions.  Full beach service.....food was pricy but VERY high quality - Pad Thai, Tuna Poke bowl, egg rolls, Mahi Burger, etc......well worth the price.   We prearranged our ride back to the boat at 3:00 and drives was there waiting for us.  Best day of the trip.......Snorkel gear was available at another club down the beach but they made us purchase the masks for $10 and they were cheap crap.  Bring your own if you can.   Also, clothing was optional and we say plenty of ladies going topless.  THere is a far section that is nude-only and we snorkeled over there and there were plenty of nude men there too!   Not offended just led to some explaining to our 9 year old about customs and bodies!
  • We found the Deluxe Drink Package - well worth the monies.  We paid $52 per person.   Typical day for me a not-heavy drinker:   2-4 bottles of water,  2 tropical drinks by the pool,  soda at lunch,  1 wine with dinner and 1-2 drinks in the evening.  I tried drinks I never would have otherwise.  Did a number of really fun shots.  It was nice not worrying about cost of if I liked it or not.  Once I ordered a drink I hate and set it aside and ordered something new.   We looked at the drink list prior to the cruise and made a list on my iphone of drinks I wanted to try.   Favorite was Frozen Petrone Peach Margaritta!!!!  

 

THE BAD

  • Cocoa Beach Suites - we stayed there Saturday night after we flew in.  The outside of the building was very nice, but inside rapidly showed it had not been updated for at least 25 years.   Carpets were stained badly in the rooms,  the couch in the living room area was thread-bear and just awful.  There were stains on the walls and the TVs were at least 15 or more years old.  Last bonus - I will swear one room had bed bugs.  Our daughters friend woke up with multiple bites on her legs that were not there the night before.   They blistered with little white heads and when googled bed bug bites they were dead ringers.  It was not expensive, $110 per night but just not worth it.  No WIFI, no breakfast and just plain gross.   The front desk folks were VERY friendly, but I would next time pay more and get a better hotel. 
  • Sea Pass card - we purchased Alcohol unlimited package for all 3 cabins.  All the sea passes had printed UNLIMITED BEVERAGE on them.  However, one of the cabins was constantly charged for drinks.  I went to guest services and they agreed we purchased and credited back.  She made a few calls and said they re-activated the cards.  No luck.....charges from all venues kept showing up.  On the third trip to gust services, they placed stickers on the cards proving they had the package.   They kept having to get a supervisor because THEIR system said no package.  THis was NEVER resolved and on the last night, guest services credited it all back but it was a hassle and I just cannot see why this was so hard.  
  • issues with the RC App on our phones.  It was REGULARLY WRONG.   It incorrectly showed schedules that were not accurate.  We showed up for movie night in the aqua theater and the wrong movie was playing.  It was correct on the Compass but the app was wrong.  This happened at least 5-6 times and we just never used the app again.
  • BINGO - Super expensive - to play the 3 games was $40.  You got 6 paper cards, but it was really expensive.   The prizes were large, ranging from 250 to 600 dollars, but you filled out cards with pens in your lap which was tough.  The had ipads you could use, but our game kept getting stopped because of ipad issues.
  • POOLS - very crowded and murky - too much sun screen.   Still had fun be be aware crowds are big on sea days.  We sat on deck 16 above the pools and it was much less crowded.  We found a shady spot just above the kids pool area and was able to get this spot each day by 9:30 am.   By 11:00 all pool deck loungers were taken.
  • Shore Excursion at St. Thomas - Snorkeling on a FAST-CAT - Boat was PACKED to the gills.....sitting shoulder to shoulder and very crammed.  Fun but would do an outside excursion again .....one that is less crowded. 
  • Main dining Room - cluster when trying to seat everyone at once.  It got better but the system is not good.
  • WindJammer for dinner - People we WAY to aggressive during Mexican night.   No one wanted to give you a break and we saw people take way too much food then waste it.  Really not a good experience.  They servers up there were great and so friendly......its the other passengers that made our 1 dinner experience not fun.  Did not experience the same level of aggression during breakfast or lunch.   IMG_3356.thumb.jpg.136a4993d24e9b329f485379eb0dbcbd.jpg

 

TIPS

  • Stop worrying and stressing about clothes and what is acceptable.  There was a total mix of clothes in the main dining room.  Yes we saw shorts, yes we saw dressed, yes we saw jeans.  It just is not worrying about.   Wear what you are comfortable with.  I wore capri pants and tops most nights.  My son-in-law wore golf shorts and under-armour golf shorts with boat shoes and he fit in fine.   We did one of the two Formal nights (Tuesday and Friday).  About 40 percent dressed up and the rest did not and it was fine!  Lots of opportunities to have ship pictures with fun back-drops. Just bring what you like and stop worrying!
  • We used lanyards I purchased from Amazon that had removable card holders.  That way we never had to take off head, just remove via clip and give to waiter.   They came with the plastic luggage tags which worked GREAT!!   Here is what we purchased.  

                                         https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07C642BTK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 

  • Microfibre towels - BEST PURCHASE and most used and helpful.   We purchased these XXL microfibre beach towels from Amazon.   I got 7 different colors.  They came in a compact bag along with a small hand towel.   We used them on out loungers along with towel CLIPS (a must).   It made it so easy to find our chairs.  On ship days, I used ship pool towels to dry off with but laid on the microfibre towels.  On excursion days, these towels were the BEST.  They dried so fast in 10 min.  THey were light to carry and not bulky.  Cruise towels get wet and stay wet.  These dried so quickly, they were the best onshore.  Highly recommend:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DVM59XD/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
  • Magnetic hooks - came in really handy.   Always hung our lanyards on one by the door and use others for drying towels and hanging suits on.    Here is what I purchased and was happy I did:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077PWX2ZS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
  • GoPortCanaveral Shuttle - We pre-purchased 4 passes to go to airport after cruise for a total of $59.00.  Big luxury bus.    Very efficient and only about a 10 min wait in garage for bus to fill up.  https://www.goport.com/services/fly-snooze-cruise.php?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-PGKxrPf4gIVgrfsCh1_PASoEAAYASAAEgKks_D_BwE
  • Go to Solarium and go out onto the WINGS of the ship.  They have a GLASS bottom portion you can stand on over the water.  Kind of creepy but so neat.  Warning - very windy.   We walked our 9 year old through Solarium and out on the wing even though it is adult only.  We did not stay long but she loved the experience, especially the glass bottom over the water.

 

I hope these tips and reviews help out.  ENJOY your future trips!

 

Lisa

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Thank you for sharing Lisa! We will be back on her in Sept. Love the microfiber towel idea! I'm ordering today! You are right The ship towels hold sooooo much water & are still soaked by the time you make it back to ship.

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don't forget the towel clips....the ship is windy and the clips are great - got mine from dollar store!

 

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What a great review!!!!!!!  Organized and to the point.

 

I just added it to my favorites so next year I can refresh my memory with your experience.

 

Thanks for sharing.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Thank you so much!  I leave on Harmony in 83 days (but who is counting?) on this same itinerary.  Do you happen to remember which nights were formal nights by chance?   We are trying to figure it out in our group but havent seen any cruise compasses for this itinerary yet.   Thanks again! Great review!  

Edited by ryano

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11 minutes ago, ryano said:

Thank you so much!  I leave on Harmony in 83 days (but who is counting?) on this same itinerary.  Do you happen to remember which nights were formal nights by chance?   We are trying to figure it out in our group but havent seen any cruise compasses for this itinerary yet.   Thanks again! Great review!  

 

Great live review with tons of info, including compasses, here...

 

 

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We were on the ship with you! We hated have to get off yesterday and go back home. :-( It was a wonderful week. Our only issue was with service in the main dining room, at the 5 pm seating. The waiter was awful, constantly making negative comments on what and how much we ordered, or how we ordered it, a couple of times they made passive aggressive comments about my attire (long shorts and a nice top), many requests for drink refills that never came, and cold food was served to us. It was a shocking change from our experience on other cruises. After 3 nights we ended up going to Windjammer the rest of the nights and had a wonderful time in there. Service and food was fantastic with WJ. Possibly the MDR servers were just overworked and had too many tables.

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21 minutes ago, mickey16 said:

Service and food was fantastic with WJ.

 

Any specifics to share about the WJ?  Did you eat dinner there at all?  Happy to hear about other meals too.

 

We stopped going to the MDR a while ago unless forced to on family cruises.  Service was usually good but DW is very picky and I like to eat so buffets are fine with me.  We had some great dinners there on Oasis two summers ago.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the balanced review and all the tips and I love your photos.. 

Sorry about your stay at Cocoa Beach sites.  We've stayed in at least 10 hotels in Cocoa Beach, I would not go back there,  even for free! 

 We are fans of Kon Tiki Beach Club and went there often prior to the hurricane.  Glad to hear it is open  as we are headed back to St. Marten (on Harmony) in the fall.

 

And I agree - do NOT rely on the app, check the compass.  We sailed Harmony this past May and the app was constantly wrong. 

Thx

M

 

 

Edited by cruisegirl1

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1 hour ago, mickey16 said:

We were on the ship with you! We hated have to get off yesterday and go back home. 😞 It was a wonderful week. Our only issue was with service in the main dining room, at the 5 pm seating. The waiter was awful, constantly making negative comments on what and how much we ordered, or how we ordered it, a couple of times they made passive aggressive comments about my attire (long shorts and a nice top), many requests for drink refills that never came, and cold food was served to us. It was a shocking change from our experience on other cruises. After 3 nights we ended up going to Windjammer the rest of the nights and had a wonderful time in there. Service and food was fantastic with WJ. Possibly the MDR servers were just overworked and had too many tables.

Wow - our experience was at MY TIME Dining and could not have been any different.  Our waiter,  Dwight, was so helpful....suggested we order multiple dishes when would could not decide.  Knew and always addressed us by name.   I would have complained about attire comments.    Our food came quickly and was always hot and fresh.  We typically dined at 7:00 and had a standing reservation prior to the cruise.  I have never done the fixed seating.  MY TIME was frustrating because it some nights took time to actually get seated even with reservations, but once in, our experience was wonderful.  Sorry you got such crappy service.  Honestly, I did not meet or encounter even a single not super helpful person.  

 

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1 hour ago, OCSC Mike said:

 

Any specifics to share about the WJ?  Did you eat dinner there at all?  Happy to hear about other meals too.

 

We stopped going to the MDR a while ago unless forced to on family cruises.  Service was usually good but DW is very picky and I like to eat so buffets are fine with me.  We had some great dinners there on Oasis two summers ago.

Here is my experience.....your mileage may vary.  I found dinner at WJ to be very aggressive.  We went there for Mexican night and it was so pushy with people not wanting to let you in the flow around the hot food bar.   Folks took way too much food and wasted so much.    The service staff were great.....anytime I needed anything, they were there.   It was just the atmosphere at dinner was not what I was looking for.  We did Main dining room 4 nights, WJ once, Chops once and pizza/hotdogs by the pool once.     It was the perfect mix.

 

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3 hours ago, mammap said:

don't forget the towel clips....the ship is windy and the clips are great - got mine from dollar store!

 

I have clips & love them. I agree they are a must! Definitely helps you find your chair in the sea of blue.

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2 hours ago, ryano said:

Thank you so much!  I leave on Harmony in 83 days (but who is counting?) on this same itinerary.  Do you happen to remember which nights were formal nights by chance?   We are trying to figure it out in our group but havent seen any cruise compasses for this itinerary yet.   Thanks again! Great review!  

We sailed Sunday to Sunday.  Formal night was Tuesday and Friday.   We only participated on Tuesday.  We were pretty casual Friday with simple but appropriate outfits.  Did not feel out of place at all.  Folks make way too much over dress codes.  I only saw a handful of people in Main Dining room in jeans/tee-shirt.   Shorts were common - but folks looked fine with collared shirts and boat shoes.  Just don't stress your outfits......we saw all ends of the spectrum and no one cared!

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We were on symphony last month and had the same issues with the app, it was wrong more than it was right.  A few days before the end of the cruise we were talking with someone else who said they uninstalled and reinstalled the app while on board and it fixed the issue.  We tried it and it fixed it for us too.  It was correct the rest of the cruise every time we checked it. It even started showing meal and show reservations which it hadn't done before.  It's a little late but try uninstalling and reinstalling in the future. 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, mammap said:

It was just the atmosphere at dinner was not what I was looking for.

 

I hear ya.  I've seen it overly busy and I've seen it pretty quiet and relaxing.  Atmosphere isn't a big deal to us but I get why it would bother others.  That's why they have so many options!  Glad you found what worked for you.

 

Hoping to hear what mickey16 specifically liked about the WJ.  We'll be there regardless, just hard to find detailed info.  There are menus and pictures of the MDR and specialty restaurants everywhere but the poor WJ gets neglected in reviews.  🙂

Edited by OCSC Mike

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3 hours ago, mammap said:

 

About the My Time Dining. What time did you usually go that found it so crowded?  What time did it open? It seems you can't reserve before 6:30 but Compass says it opens much earlier. We like to go at opening on other cruise lines and have never had trouble getting seated. If the earliest is 6:30 we will just go to other alternatives. 

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3 hours ago, mickey16 said:

We were on the ship with you! We hated have to get off yesterday and go back home. 😞 It was a wonderful week. Our only issue was with service in the main dining room, at the 5 pm seating. The waiter was awful, constantly making negative comments on what and how much we ordered, or how we ordered it, a couple of times they made passive aggressive comments about my attire (long shorts and a nice top), many requests for drink refills that never came, and cold food was served to us. It was a shocking change from our experience on other cruises. After 3 nights we ended up going to Windjammer the rest of the nights and had a wonderful time in there. Service and food was fantastic with WJ. Possibly the MDR servers were just overworked and had too many tables.

That is awful! I hope you complained about it. Our wait staff on symphony in April was amazing, no issues with us ordering multiple items, drinks were always refilled, super friendly.  I am going on harmony in October, fingers crossed I don’t get that waiter.

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2 hours ago, Maplemoose said:

About the My Time Dining. What time did you usually go that found it so crowded?  What time did it open? It seems you can't reserve before 6:30 but Compass says it opens much earlier. We like to go at opening on other cruise lines and have never had trouble getting seated. If the earliest is 6:30 we will just go to other alternatives. 

Our reservations ranged from 6:45 to 7:00.    The line stretched from the opening of the dining room out into the elevator hall.  The "just show up" without reservations was the super long one.  The folks with reservations was much shorter, but they seemed to alternate between reservations and non-reservations.....so many parties that did NOT have reservations sat before us.  .   Our dining room opened at 6:30 p.m.

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Thank you. So the earliest you can eat with MTD is 630, reservation or not.. No wonder there is such a crowd! Wonder why they changed it from an hour earlier. 

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4 minutes ago, Maplemoose said:

Thank you. So the earliest you can eat with MTD is 630, reservation or not.. No wonder there is such a crowd! Wonder why they changed it from an hour earlier. 

That was the only time that popped up months in advance of my cruise.  If I wanted to eat earlier, I couldn't.   The MTD room I was assigned opened at 6:30.

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Yes, I just found the Compass with those times. 6:30 is too late for us. With 2 of us I am sure they would throw us at a table of strangers if we booked an early traditional seating. Seems they are trying to say "Hey we have flex dining too but only if you go after 630 and wait in line with a large mob". I guess I should have stayed loyal to NCL! 

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4 minutes ago, Maplemoose said:

Yes, I just found the Compass with those times. 6:30 is too late for us. With 2 of us I am sure they would throw us at a table of strangers if we booked an early traditional seating. Seems they are trying to say "Hey we have flex dining too but only if you go after 630 and wait in line with a large mob". I guess I should have stayed loyal to NCL! 

 

You may find the situation onboard allows you to get an earlier MTD reservation.  Check with the MTD desk when you board.

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