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Harmony of the Seas 8/4-8/11 Reflections

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My wife Cheryl and I live in Fort Myers FL, and my granddaughter LaKi was on her annual visit with us from Delaware. We surprised her for her 10th birthday 8/10 with the cruise. She thought we were going to the beach for a few days when Harmony came into view as we approached the port. She loves cruising; this is the 5th we’ve done with her in the last 4 years—most recently Christmas on Anthem.

 

Embarkation, Cabin & Day 1

Absolute breeze. I don’t recall embarking at another port where your luggage is taken in the parking garage. We were through the document check process in 15 minutes or so. Granddaughter took 3 rides on the Boardwalk Carousel—she was the only rider. Since we were right there, we went up to our Boardwalk Balcony room and luggage was already there, perhaps 30 minutes after embarkation.

 

We were very happy with our room. Our view included the Boardwalk, Aquatheater—obscured by the Ultimate Abyss slide but a great vantage point nevertheless, and a view of the ocean. First impressions were that we would definitely book the Boardwalk Balcony again. And that impression didn’t change during the week. It was nice to allow my granddaughter to go down to the carousel by herself and we could watch her from the balcony. In my opinion the comments about people seeing into your room are overblown—close the curtains! Also have read a lot of comments about noise; again a non-issue for us. Very little sound with the balcony door closed, and we don’t go to bed early (yet!) 

 

We were pleasantly surprised that in addition to the two soda packages that came with the BB room, my wife’s Seapass Card included notation for the Refreshment Package. She doesn’t drink much and loves virgin frozen drinks and coffee. I assumed it was a customer service gesture because of a protracted Crown & Anchor I had issue that was resolved shortly before the cruise. We put it to good use—for the first couple days...

 

Went to the Adventure Ocean open house in the afternoon to register my granddaughter. She was climbing the walls until 8 pm when it opened. She is very social and addicted to cruise ship kids clubs. There was a counselor there who remembered her from Anthem in December (and reminded her he was the guy who couldn’t pronounce her name right; and still can’t!)

 

My wife and I went to Chops for the first of our 3-night dining package. I think Royal can do a better job of explaining how the package works on the cruise planner, but there was a specialty dining station on the promenade and I got what I wanted on the nights I wanted it. I was a little nervous with Chops because I read a really bad review on this forum shortly before the cruise (it was the only bad review I recall ever reading about Chops). Chops was excellent, comparable to any high-end steakhouse I have been to. 

 

We then went to the promenade; while wife and granddaughter walked around I stayed by the liquor tasting set-up and got seriously tipsy. (The old me would get the drink package but these days it doesn’t take much.) I purchased my cruise standards, Hennessy White & Patron Tequila, and thought I would try something new as they were running a special on flavored varieties of Ciroc vodka. I did a quick search online and the price was far better than on land.

 

Perfect Day at Coco Cay

The highlight of day 2 was going to be Coco Cay. We started with complimentary breakfast at Johnny Rockets which was right below our BB room. JR was great; nice selection, waitperson service, and avoided the madhouse of the Windjammer. This was a real advantage over Anthem which has JR but doesn’t offer breakfast there. Unfortunately while we were eating a downpour started and it did not appear Coco Cay was going to happen. The Cruise Director announced several additional on-ship activities and it brought to mind my dreaded experience on Anthem. (On Christmas morning right before we were due to stop at pre-dock Coco Cay, the Captain said it was too windy to tender and we had to skip the stop.) This time there was a happy ending; the weather cleared, sun came out, and it truly turned out to be a perfect day. Granddaughter loved the water park and the Up, Up & Away balloon ride with me; it offered great views and a wonderful vantage point for photos. My wife and I enjoyed a shady spot and sampled the wave pool.

 

Shows 

We attended both aqua shows and both ice skating shows (and saw several more aqua shows/rehearsals from our balcony). I found the storylines of both aqua shows and the 1887 skating show largely incomprehensible, but was amazed by the talents of the performers. Hard to believe this level of athleticism and skill exists across all the Oasis-class ships. I kind of wish there was a short bio of each performer in the Compass; curious as to whether there were any former Olympians or other high level athletes. I thought the I-Skate show (the one you don’t reserve) was the best; just good music, acrobatic skating, and dance. Because of poor writing alluded to above (in my opinion) we canceled Columbus. Did really want to see Grease but our reservation was night 7 and there was just too much we tried to cram in.

 

I found the comedy to be very good. In the past I have said Carnival is clearly above RCCL; this cruise was an exception. First time I have experienced 2 comics on one show. The first guy was clean. His material was mostly cliche cruise-related humor but was very funny. The other comedian was raunchy and hilarious, and he did a lot of improvisation which when funny—which it was in his case shows real talent. The Headliner show featured a comedian/ventriloquist, Ronn Lucas, who came out to an impressive video montage of him performing for Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton among others. He clearly had a lot of talent, although I found him kind of dated. I know he is or was big in Vegas and was scheduled for an adult show later in the cruise—perhaps he was better then.

 

Food and Drink

Already mentioned Chops; I had filet mignon and wife had salmon. The key lime meringue pie was among the best I have ever had and that’s saying a lot for someone who has lived in South FL for the last 7 years. We were supposed to do Central Park 150 but I made reservations not realizing we would be back onboard late after our excursion in St. Thomas. Couldn’t get a later reservation so we chose Jamie’s instead. It did not disappoint. We both had the avocado crab bruschetta; l had the meat plank and lamb chops, and my wife had chicken cacciatore. We shared the brownie with ice cream that was to die for. (One nit: get some new chairs in there. Most of the room has uncomfortable wooden chairs; at first I wasn’t going to mention it in this review, but a couple that came in after us had them switch their chairs for padded ones so that told me it was not just me.) Our 3rd specialty was Wonderland. We reserved Wonderland on Anthem at Christmas but cancelled it because I had read so many mixed reviews—some love, some didn’t care for it, and many said it was a once-and-done experience. Count us in the loved category and we will do it again. There were no food items we didn’t care for, and I had a unique martini (think Pina Colada and martini mashup.)

 

Only did MDR twice. 1st night I made comment to our server Eve from Kenya that I was surprised escargot wasn’t one of the starters (I thought that was every night). So I ordered Caesar salad with added anchovies instead. She brought me both. We each had lobster tails—a first for my granddaughter who normally orders from the kids menu. “Are you sure it tastes like crabs?” She enjoyed it but likes crabs better. My lobster tale was kind of skimpy. We each ordered dessert and Eve also brought out the RCCL 50th birthday day cake. The 2nd MDR night was granddaughter’s birthday. She ordered from the kids menu, wife ordered blackened Salmon, and I ordered a Tuna dish which was forgettable (along with my Caesar salad and escargot.) Granddaughter tasted my wife’s salmon and asked for one for herself. Eve then brought out a special dessert she had made up for granddaughter’s birthday and she and her assistant led the nearby tables in singing Happy Birthday.

 

Solarium Bistro dinner (included but supposedly requires reservations) was a nice departure. Combination of table-service and buffet featuring mostly Mediterranean cuisine. I’ve eaten there on 2 ships and enjoyed it but don’t quite get it. Underutilized and you really don’t need to reserve, and the menu won’t be pleasing to some unless you really like Greek-inspired dishes. 

 

Park Cafe is great for cafeteria style breakfast and lunch. Similar menu to Anthem’s Cafe270 but looks out on Central Park instead of that exquisite ocean view of the 270 lounge.  We ate at the Windjammer quite a bit. For some reason I found the Anthem better layout-wise and seemingly selection-wise. Also, didn’t find the food as hot as I would like it—common problem on buffets but I didn’t notice that on Anthem. One thing we did catch in the Windjammer that we must have missed on Anthem was a chocolate buffet. It was great and one of the few events that could get my granddaughter out of Adventure Ocean (although she wanted to go back after the buffet.) One big complaint for the Windjammer on both Harmony and Anthem was that it closed too early. Cafe Promenade was a nice option for getting food around the clock but the selection is fairly small and I do not recall any hot food. Of course one place for late night food is Sorrentos pizza which has good enough slices for this New Yorker. I also enjoyed taking a plate of their olive medley up to the cabin to enjoy with my wine I had brought onboard.

 

We did our Johnny Rockets lunch that came with a Boardwalk Balcony stateroom. Nice perk with a lot of food included (but not milkshakes). Burgers are nowhere near as good as Guy’s on Carnival in my opinion. In fact, we did Mini Bites up on the pool deck several times and I thought their build your own burgers compared favorably to JR. Mini Bites tip: they serve tortilla chips and makings for loaded nachos, but you have to ask for guacamole—they keep it in the back.

 

Miscellaneous 

-that unexpected Refreshment Package came to an abrupt end a couple of nights in when we went to a bar and the bartender made a call on his cell phone (we felt like criminals!) No worries, it was good while it lasted; except the charges for the drinks we had consumed showed up on my folio. I had to go to Guest Services about an unrelated matter a couple days later and I mentioned it and the charges were removed.

-Harmony was absolutely gorgeous. I thought my Anthem Cruise was a 9.5; would have been a 10 except for the mediocre itinerary. Well Harmony just blew Anthem away.

-I have some very nice photos; hopefully I will add them as soon as I figure out how.

 

i would be glad to respond to any questions/comments.

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Thanks for the review. What room number did you have on the boardwalk out of curiousity? I have room 8711 in October on the boardwalk. 

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Posted (edited)

I think I figured out photos 

Edited by vidsmart

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5 minutes ago, mickeygirl78 said:

Thanks for the review. What room number did you have on the boardwalk out of curiousity? I have room 8711 in October on the boardwalk. 

12717; Here are photos from the balcony (I hope!)

F264D6FA-BAE3-448A-9EF6-742722881173.jpeg

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23043454-FE87-4670-92CB-97FCE8D20CCB.jpeg

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Did you took your grandaughter to any of the specialty restaurants? Did she paid 10?

 

Thanks for sharing!

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3 minutes ago, Deseo1578 said:

Did you took your grandaughter to any of the specialty restaurants? Did she paid 10?

 

Thanks for sharing!

No; she did not want to miss Adventure Ocean so except for the MDR she always wanted to do the dinner where they take the kids to the Windjammer.

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Do you remember which night was the chocolate buffet? Which nights were formal nights?

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1 hour ago, pmfan said:

Do you remember which night was the chocolate buffet? Which nights were formal nights?

Formal nights were 3 and 6 (one with lobster). The chocolate buffet was night 5–it also was Mexican night in the Windjammer. Chocolate buffet:

 

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On 8/25/2019 at 6:38 PM, vidsmart said:

Absolute breeze. I don’t recall embarking at another port where your luggage is taken in the parking garage. We were through the document check process in 15 minutes or so. Granddaughter took 3 rides on the Boardwalk Carousel—she was the only rider. Since we were right there, we went up to our Boardwalk Balcony room and luggage was already there, perhaps 30 minutes after embarkation.

 

Thanks for your review!  Do you know about what time you arrived to the port?

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1 minute ago, COFlyers2 said:

 

Thanks for your review!  Do you know about what time you arrived to the port?

I'm guessing it was around noon

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Thank you for sharing! We board in 31 days!! I'm glad you love her as much as we do. The Harmony is one of my favorites for sure. Glad to hear the chocolate buffet is night 5. People ask here often. We will have to go check it out ourselves. Your granddaughter is precious. It must be fun to get to spend such special time with her. Talk about making memories!

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16 minutes ago, RazorbackIslandGirl said:

Thank you for sharing! We board in 31 days!! I'm glad you love her as much as we do. The Harmony is one of my favorites for sure. Glad to hear the chocolate buffet is night 5. People ask here often. We will have to go check it out ourselves. Your granddaughter is precious. It must be fun to get to spend such special time with her. Talk about making memories!

Thx so much for your kind words about my granddaughter. That give me an excuse to post a couple of photos. 1st is her birthday celebration in the MDR and 2nd is in the Up, Up, and Away Balloon at Perfect Day

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Enjoyed your review.  Thanks for sharing.  We will be on Harmony in a few weeks.

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1 minute ago, Ladymom30 said:

Were the beds hard?

Not that I noticed. By the time we crashed each night we were really spent—if it was hard it certainly wasn’t enough to keep us from falling asleep.

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Thank you for your review.  Well written, easy to follow and full of good information.  We will be traveling with a family group that includes an adorable 18 month old for Christmas.  Any advise for us with respect to the little one?

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17 minutes ago, OC PAT said:

Thank you for your review.  Well written, easy to follow and full of good information.  We will be traveling with a family group that includes an adorable 18 month old for Christmas.  Any advise for us with respect to the little one?

 

You might also want to peruse the Family Cruise forum:

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/28-family-cruises/

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We were on the same sailing.  Our first on Harmony (did 2 on Oasis before). I showed the picture of your granddaughter to my daughters, and one of them recognized her. She did't remember her name, but remembered talking with her few times.

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