This weekend, I was invited to be one of the first to experience the largest cruise ship in the world, Harmony of the Seas, on an exclusive pre-inaugural sail, to experience onboard features including the spa and restaurants, firsthand.
The $1bn cruise ship, long as the Eiffel tower is tall, has 23 swimming pools, 20 dining options, and hosts a range of activities such as zip lining, surfing simulation and rock climbing.
Here’s the lowdown of what we squeezed in during a short Channel cruise on the Harmony of the Seas, and what you should consider when booking a cruise with Royal Caribbean:
Staterooms and suites
With a pair of cocktail-making robots and a thrill-inducing 10-storey tall slide, I expected the rooms to be jaw-dropping; and oh my, was I right. All stateroom attendants are on hand to take care of your every need 24 hours a day. They’ll turn your bed down at night, refresh your ice bucket and even fold special towel animals, which is pretty damn adorable!
Our superior ocean view stateroom with a balcony (182 square feet, with balconies ranging from 47 to 53 square feet), had a comfy king size bed, complete with private bathroom with shower, a sofa and a vanity area.
There was also a TV, telephone, and refrigerator in the room. On our private balcony overlooking the sea, we had a couple of loungers and a table – absolute bliss!
If you aren’t lucky enough to get a room with a view or a balcony, you can still enjoy stunning ocean and port vistas from the comfort of your interior stateroom, thanks to their virtual balconies – LCD screens that stream real-time footage of the view from deck directly to your room. Pretty cool, huh?
Personally, I was really chuffed we had a balcony because it opened up the room and felt more spacious. It was also so relaxing to hear the waves crashing against the ship in the evening – these are what dreams are made of.
If you’re looking for something really mind-blowing, check out the Star, Sky and Sea class royal suites with a mezzanine level bedroom – they’re absolutely INCREDIBLE!
We went up and had a nosey at a few that were currently unoccupied. Also, if you book into one of these suites you enjoy upgraded facilities and special privileges (like priority check-in and a complimentary valet service)!
Things to do
Royal Caribbean has seven distinct themed neighbourhoods on Harmony of the Seas, including the revitalising Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Centre, the Royal Promenade shopping district and the Kid’s Avenue.
This wasn’t relevant to us – but there is a kids club, for adults who want a couple of hours to explore the ship without the little ones. There is also a ton of activities and kids clubs that are great for kids, through to teens.
#relaxation #HarmonyoftheSeas I’m in heaven today 😘 A photo posted by Strawberry Squeeze (@samcharleseuk) on
We dropped our bags in our and went to explore the spa and fitness centre, located right next to our room on deck 6. From heated loungers to private hot tubs, the spa is perfect for unwinding after a long day exploring, or to hibernate on a rainy day.
They also offer treatments, such as hot stone massages – which I highly recommend you book.
There is a full-service salon, too! I didn’t take advantage of any of these services, but there was a hair salon, nail bar, teeth whitening, acupuncture and facial treatments all available.
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Connected to the salon is the fitness centre, complete with exercise machines with sea views and a mirror dance studio.
There is also a large running track through some automatic doors, that goes around the ship. I didn’t pack my trainers, but it’s pretty awesome because it acts like a wind tunnel, keeping you cool whilst you train and out of the way of any crowds.
There are also complimentary yoga classes available, both in the morning and the evening.
You’ve probably noticed on all the pictures of Harmony of the Seas, the two giant purple slides – this is the Ultimate Abyss! The dry slide is a 100ft drop through the decks of the largest cruise ship in the world!
Frustratingly, it was closed due to bad weather on day 2, as was the rock climbing wall and zip line. However, I’ve heard from others on the ship, it comes highly recommended, but isn’t for the faint-hearted!
On the first night, we partied away in the Promenade, listening to live music all night and explored what the Harmony of the Seas had to offer.
Our second evening, we relaxed in the hot tub on the 15th deck, and headed to the Comedy Live Show starring Ed Gamble and Joel Dommett at The Attic, opposite the Jazz bar.
Chilling in the hot tub before dinner 😘 #HarmonyoftheSeas A photo posted by Strawberry Squeeze (@samcharleseuk) on
The entertainment was really impressive, and everyone had a great laugh. I’d 100% recommend that you make sure you grab a seat! Other shows on the ship are Royal Caribbean’s brand new musical, Grease, the Ice Show and performances at the Aqua Theatre.
Wining and dining
During our stay, all our food and beverages were included, which was great because we didn’t have to think about anything, we just cracked on! However, there were a few restaurants on the ship that we were invitation only, and it’s to our understanding that usually you would need to pay an extra charge for these restaurants, regardless!
I’ve given a quick overview of some of the places we ate, both complimentary restaurants and cuisine that you’d usually pay an additional cover charge to book a reservation.
Windjammer is a complimentary buffet restaurant, and is incredible for breakfast! Whatever you want, it’s at the Windjammer, no joke! Granola, pancakes, waffles, fruit, bread, full-English fry up, yoghurt, cereal, and doughnuts.
I’m sure there was more, but to be honest, after scoffing blueberry and bacon waffles, topped with strawberries dipped in chocolate, I was pretty full.
The first evening we went to the media cocktail reception in Solarium on the top of the ship, overlooking hot tubs.
Both nights, we dined in the elegant setting of the Grande restaurant, next to a window as the sun went down over the ocean. Sipping champagne and eating garlic butter and cheese escargots, succulent sirloin steak and Royal Caribbean signature hot fudge chocolate cake – what more could a girl want? I recommend you hit up this restaurant at least once during your stay, for a little bit of luxury! Best of all, it’s complimentary, too.
For lunch we headed to Wonderland imaginative cuisine, an avant-garde venue double-deck space overlooking the aft of the ship, food becomes a multi-sensory experience. The glow in the dark menu is designed around the elements to give you a dining experience unlike any other.
The presentation of the food in this place is extraordinary, and one of the tastiest places we ate on the Harmony of the Seas. We had buffalo chicken eggs, smoke, blue cheese and hot sauce, followed by crispy tempura kim chee leaves and prawns – it was to die for!
We also popped into Izumi for a tasting session where you can sample handmade sushi, fresh sashimi, and steamed dim sum are made-to-order. Certainly one to look out for and get an early reservation, if you are boarding the Harmony of the Seas and you’re a sushi fan.
It’s worth noting, Sorrento (as well as the coffee shops on the Promenade) are ALWAYS open. This is ideal for people like me, that just want to continuously eat – no judging, I was on holiday. They’re pretty snappy, you can pick up a slice straight away or wait for a ‘make your own’ pizza to be cooked in the wood-stone fire – again, all complimentary!
The world’s only fully robotic bar made its debut onboard Quantum Class ships, and now you can find the Bionic Bar on Harmony of the Seas. Frankly, a novelty, but nevertheless it has to be done!
Beware of the queues – although you can just order on the tablet, walk off and come back to collect your cocktail when it’s ready, which is actually really ace – just don’t forget it!
Want to have your drink served by a human? Definitely visit the Boardwalk, a zone of American cafes (including Starbucks) and shops. Another neighbourhood worth exploring for food and drinks is Central Park, which has a floating bar that slowly levitates from the Promenade, below – this was one of our favourites!
The Harmony of the Seas is big, I mean – really big! It’s worth bearing in mind that getting from one end of the ship to the other for dinner, can take you a good 10 – 15 minutes.
I recommend you download their handy app before you sail. You can book shore excursions, spa appointments, and restaurants, check your schedule and make changes on the go.
A photo posted by Strawberry Squeeze (@samcharleseuk) on
You’ll just need to connect to their onboard wifi, ideal for tweeting and Instagramming on the go (sorry if you got spammed by my this-is-incredible-ooo-champagne posts).
VOOM, the fastest internet at sea, is now available on every Royal Caribbean ship, including Harmony of the Seas. With six times faster speeds than you’ll find on any other cruise ships in the world.
Overall, the food on the Harmony of the Seas was outstanding, and champagne at the click of your fingers was a nice addition, too.
The service was quick, and the crew were attentive. There was plenty to do onboard, whether you’ve got little ones, or you’re away with your partner, or a big group of friends.
Harmony of the Seas was likely constructed for warmer climates, so a rainy weekend in England sailing around the Channel made it difficult for the ship to boast all it had, given that some of the facilities had to close due to poor weather.
Luckily the combination of technologies, a redesigned hull and a unique “bubble system” allows the ship to glide through the waves, so despite the choppy seas, it was a smooth ride.
Royal Caribbean kindly provided complimentary production equipment and assistance to facilitate our reporting and vlogging activity onboard the ship. So stay tuned and don’t miss our short Harmony of the Seas vlog coming up in the next couple of weeks.
As for Harmony of the Seas, she departed Southampton yesterday, passing the Isle of Wight setting off on her maiden voyage.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]