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Last month my amazing mother-in-law treated our family to a cruise on Royal Caribbean’s newest and largest ship – Harmony of the Seas. We had a total of 12 family members on this cruise. Let me tell you, I’ve been on a few large ships including Disney Fantasy (2012), Norwegian Getaway (2014), and Carnival’s Vista (2016) – but this one dwarfed them all – it’s HUUUUUUUUUGE! Here are a few quick facts:
Like other ‘Oasis’ class ships, Harmony of the Seas is broken up into different neighborhoods which are basically large open areas of the ship. So large in fact that the ship is sort of split into two halves meaning you can get an ‘inside’ balcony room that overlooks these areas and not the ocean. Let me show you:
Our itinerary included stops in St. Maarten, San Juan, and Royal Caribbean’s private beach in Haiti.
Lil and I had a standard ocean view balcony room on the 14th floor. As all cruise ship rooms are, it was ‘cozy’.
While the kids shared a ‘Large Interior Stateroom with virtual balcony’ with their cousins:
Check-In / Lobby
Check-in was surprisingly quick and easy considering over 5000 passengers were checking in. I haven’t been to the cruise terminals in Fort Lauderdale in years, but it seemed like it was just renovated.
Things To Do
You won’t get bored on this ship – there is so much to do. From mini golf to the pools to surfing on flo rider to rock climbing to the 10 story slide to the carousel.
Don’t forget to ride the carousel on the Boardwalk.
I going to take back my statement on my review of Moulin Rouge being a step above a cruise ship show. The shows on Harmony of the Seas were amazing – so much better than Moulin Rouge in Paris. From Grease to an ice-skating show (yes, there is an ice-skating rink on the ship), my favorite was Columbus! The Musical about Christopher Columbus’s cousin Marvin. It was funny and well done with lots of sing-a-long songs.
Let’s talk food – I’ve been on enough cruises to know the main dining room food is generally ‘ok’. But our family loves to dine at all of the specialty restaurants – the food and service is just so much better for a nominal extra cost.
We booked a 4-night dining package (3 & 5 day packages were also available) for $100/person but dined at five of the six speciality restaurants. The per restaurant surcharge ranged from $19 (Sabor) to $89
- Sabor – mexican restaurant on the boardwalk – great guacamole & margaritas. This was the only restaurant where the surcharge was less than $25 so we charge the cost of this to our onboard account instead of using one credit of the 4-night package.
- Chops Grille – the ‘steak house’ restaurant and honestly the most disappointing for us – they couldn’t get the temperature right on my wife’s steak.
- Central Park 150 – one of our favorites! James Beard award winning chef Michael Schwartz created a simple yet elegant American dining experience.
- Jamie’s Italian – Chef Jamie Oliver’s Italian cooking – very good also. This kitchen on the ship does not share any ingredients with any other restaurants on board and the pasta is made fresh daily.
- Izumi – the traditional Japanese restaurant – we did NOT visit this one as our family doesn’t care for sushi.
- Wonderland – my favorite! The restaurant is themed after Alice in Wonderland and is done really well with a tasting menu where the “chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes to invent an elaborate dreamscape of never-before-seen fare”. The meal begins with magically uncovering the menu:
‘Uncover’ the hidden menu with a paint brush and ‘make potion’.
Our server suggested a tasting menu and asked if there was anything we didn’t care for. Buffalo chicken eggs arrived with a fun presentation:
Our second appetizer was a crispy crunchy shrimp – very good.
Next were crispy crab cones with an avocado mousse. Probably something I would have never ordered in a restaurant, but these were also very good – the bottom of the cone had a dap of wasabi which was unexpected.
The fourth appetizer was the reconstructed caprese with liquid olive, ricotta powder, and basil.
The fifth appetizer was the liquid lobster with caviar.
Finally after five appetizers, the entrees began to roll out.
After five appetizers and five different entrees, yes we saved room for desert. The chefs ended the meal with a ‘magical’ dessert.
Our final stop on the cruise included a visit to Royal Caribbean’s private beach oasis on the northern coast of Haiti. It’s mostly a beach stop but there are a few extra cost activities. This is where Royal Caribbean really nickels and dimes you – EVERYTHING was extra and it was not cheap. While I get the zip lining and mountain coaster should extra – a floating mat was extra. Waterslide was extra cost, waterpark was extra unlike Disney’s private island Castaway Cay.
The zip lining was ~$120/person. There were 5 lines and people would go down every 5 minutes all day long. Let’s do some math – $120 x 5 = $600 every five minutes from roughly 10am to 4pm = $72,000!
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships (the HUGE ones) have become my new favorite. There is an endless amount of things to do but the shows were top notch and amazing. While their private beach at Labadee Haiti was nice, they could have included a few complimentary items – maybe the floating mats or in water park. The included dining room and morning buffet left a lot to be desired, but the speciality restaurants were well worth the extra cost especially if you buy a 3, 4, or 5 night package for some incredible savings.
Have you been on an Oasis class ship yet? What’s your favorite?
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