Today was our first port of call, in Royal Caribbean’s private island of Labadee, Haiti. I woke up at 7:15am to a band playing on the pier, marching back and forth. They always do something fun to welcome the ships in Labadee, it’s like a morning wake-up call. We took things kind of slow on board for an hour or so, I was enjoying my coffee at Park Café. At 9am we headed over to Labadee, my plans today were laying in my cabana on Nellie’s beach. I’ve never stayed in a cabana before, so this was a first for me.
I walked over to Nellie’s beach, which is only 5 minutes. If you are in barefoot beach (grand suites and above) they will drive you over on carts. It wasn’t a long walk at all and it was nice seeing everything along the way. Once we arrived there was check-in tiki hut and he took us right over to our cabana, (NB1). Our location was behind a wall, so it was a little separated from the main beach. It came with five 1-liter bottles of Evian, beach towels, and two floating mats. We also had our private bartender (they called him the butler, but I’m going to stick with bartender). He only had 4 cabanas to work with, so he was always around to get anything you needed.
I really enjoyed the cabana; it was so enjoyable to be sitting in the shade with a fan above you blowing. I will stay in one again, but likely wouldn’t do it every cruise due to the cost. I’ll also note there are plugs in the cabana if you need to charge a phone or small music speaker, etc.
At 11am we had our labadoozie meet-up with the blog group at schooner bar. But this isn’t the schooner bar on board, the very large bar on Adrenaline beach. It was fun seeing everyone together, we always run into people across the ship but not always all together. There is no upgraded lunch for cabanas on Nellie’s beach, so my friends just brought me a plate over. For the rest of the afternoon we relaxed in the cabana and stayed until the very end of the day.
Tonight we had dinner at 150 Central Park at 7pm. This has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants on board with their new set-menu now. They went over the six salts with our bread right when we arrived. The main highlight is the cucumber martini. I don’t usually drink martinis but this is their signature drink ($15 or $2 with drink package) and it’s so smooth and refreshing. The main course we ordered the filet tenderloin, cut tableside. This meat is so tender and likely one of the best meats on board. For desert we had them bring the cheesecake from Jamie’s Italian, oh this desert is amazing!
After dinner I went down to the pub with the group for a few hours. They had a 50’s & 60’s street party, brand new show and it was a blast. I will say, most of the songs I’ve never heard of before. There is also a 90’s street parade later in the week, which I’m really looking forward to.
That recaps my day three in Labadee, tomorrow we are in Falmouth, Jamaica.
Our first port stop brings us to Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee. I always look forward to stops here, and today was no different.
We ended up arriving a bit earlier than scheduled, and the gangway opened up in the eight o'clock hour. For us, we got the kids fed and walked off the ship a little after 9am.
Weather wise, there was not a cloud in the sky and the kind of day you dream about for any beach day. However, September in the Caribbean is anything but cold.
It may not have been as hot as this sign indicated, but rest assured it was quite warm today.
We rented a cabana on Barefoot Beach, which is something our family does on every trip. We rented a standard cabana, which offers us a perfect spot for our family to enjoy beach time.
Speaking of Barefoot Beach, the over the water cabanas suffered some damage from Hurricane Irma. Some were completely missing (presumably pulled down to make way for a new one) and others were still damaged.
Luckily, there was not other visible damage to Labadee and I was glad to see things still functioning well overall.
Elsewhere on Labadee, there is some visible construction of the upgrades taking place.
I even took a walk to the new floating bar off of Adrenaline Beach.
We had a great day in Labadee. In fact, it was the longest we have spent in Labadee ever with the kids. They had a blast and it was a lot of fun all around.
Back onboard Harmony of the Seas, the kids and I took a much needed shower and nap. Sometimes a solid hour nap does wonders for the soul.
We had another early dinner this evening, back at Izumi for hibachi. It was another great meal and I can see why so many people really enjoy it.
We spent our evening on the Royal Promenade. There was Broadway trivia, piano singalongs and a 50's/60's party. I loved it!
Tomorrow we are visiting Falmouth, Jamaica.
Today was our first sea day of the cruise and for the most part I think most of the ship slept in. I woke up at 7am to go grab some coffee and the ship was so quite. I went down to use my deluxe drink package at café promenade; I just love being able to swipe my wow band for everything.
For most of the morning I just explore the top deck and relaxing under the sun. I went into the Solarium pool around 10:30am and it was totally empty. Usually on sea days you have to rush to the pool deck to grab a chair, but that wasn’t the case today. For those wondering, there is no pool in the solarium on Harmony of the Seas, just a hot tub.
I attempted to make reservations for Coastal Kitchen up in the suite lounge. However, they didn’t have anyone working, so I haven’t been able to reserve a dinner there yet. They did suggest I go up there during dinner hours, as all the staff is working.
I’ve been looking forward to having lunch at Sabor for a while now. We started with just a table for three and our group just kept growing. That’s one of the things I really enjoy about traveling within a group, friends just walk by and join you. We ordered a few bowls of guacamole to share and the bacon wrapped chicken for starters. For my lunch, I had the shrimp tacos and they were served with a soft flour shell. Just a few months ago I ordered them on Oasis and they had a hard shell. I also ordered the perfect margarita, which is included in the drink package. Overall a really fun lunch and I love how casual it is on these ships, with the open-air to the boardwalk.
Today was our second official group meet-up, the one we all look forward to, the pub-crawl. We met at the bionic bar on deck 5, Royal Promenade and the fun just kept going. I think we managed to hit half the bars on board and we showed up in big numbers walking across the ship. Sometimes I felt bad if only one bartender was working and forty of us showed up. My favorite part was going down the ultimate abyss to get to the Sabor bar. This was our last stop of the crawl, so it was a really fun ending to the meet up.
Shortly after the pub-crawl, well actually about twenty minutes later I had reserved the ice show. I really wanted to see this show, because I know Royal Caribbean has really stepped up their game with the entertainment on board Harmony. The first 10 minutes of the show, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it or not, but they were just setting the story line. As the show progressed it turned into a love story that was absolutely incredible. I’m very happy I didn’t skip this show and highly recommend seeing it if you are on board.
Tonight we have reservations at Wonderland at 8:30pm. This was my first time every dining here and I was really looking forward to the experience. We had a table of six, so they seated us in a really nice large table right beside the kitchen. We arrived and our waitress suggested since we are a large table she would bring out every item on the menu. She brought out around eight to ten different starters over the course of an hour. The main course, she brought out four to five options for us all to share. We all talked after the meal and thought it was one of the best experiences we had ever had. Our service was so fantastic, which also creates the positive experience. I would absolutely come back to Wonderland again in the future.
After dinner we just explored the ship for live music, which isn’t an issue on this ship. I actually feel like I’m missing out on something if I spend more than an hour in one place, because there are so many options. I did attend a silent disco event in the nightclub venue. I really enjoyed it, my favorite part is when you remove the headphones and everyone is signing to what they are hearing.
That wraps up my day two on board, tomorrow we are in Labadee, Haiti.
Our first full day on Harmony of the Seas is a sea day, and we tried to take advantage of our time onboard.
We woke up at around 8am and went up to the Windjammer for breakfast. Even at 9am, it was not too crowded.
We signed my oldest daughter for swim lessons, which are a relatively new offering. My daughter took lessons and can swim effectively, but she needs some refinement.
The lesson was $25 and lasted about 45 minutes. I believe it is supposed to be a group lesson, but she was the only one who signed up for a lesson. They offer lessons twice per day (10am and 5pm) on sea days.
She loved the time spent, although she was exhausted after it was all done.
For lunch we went up to Coastal Kitchen. We had no problem walking in and getting a table. Unfortunately, my kids were not too keen on the menu so we took them after to the Windjammer for their usual fill of hot dogs, pizza and the like.
By this point my kids were in desperate need of post pool/lunch naps, so they took those.
Our Royal Caribbean Blog event for the day was a bar crawl around the ship. We started at Bionic Bar and made our way to a half dozen bars onboard.
The nice thing about a pub crawl is you get a chance nto check out a lot of the bars around the ship, plus meet a lot of the folks in the group.
We finished the pub crawl with a ride down the Ultimate Abyss down to the Boardwalk and enjoyed tequila shots at Sabor.
We had early dinner this evening at Izumi. We got a chance to try for the first time the hibachi option.
Believe it or not, I had never tried the hibachi option before, so a number of folks from our group went together to hibachi to try it out.
The experience was terrific, and I can understand why getting a spot for hibachi is so difficult at times due to popularity.
After dinner we walked around the ship a bit to enjoy the evening. We covered all aspects of the cultural gamut, from live music in Central Park to meeting the Penguins on the Royal Promenade.
We have another full day tomorrow with our first port stop in Labadee.
The long awaited cruise morning finally arrived and of course I woke up at 5am to watch the ship sail into port. I don’t know what it is, but I can never sleep much the morning of my cruise. I stayed at the Hyatt on 17th street and from my window I could see Harmony of the Seas. The hotel is a great location, because it was only a few blocks away from Port Everglades.
We arrived at the terminal at 9:45am and did self-parking, which I love because it’s only a few feet away. Since I was staying in a suite they we a separate check in area for us. Once inside they separate you from which suite class you are in, very similar to what they do on the other side, but by which floor you are on. Once you check in at the desk, it’s very quick because they don’t hand you a seapass card.
Those are in the cabin waiting for you to pick up when the cabins are ready. We waited in the suite area, and it was around 10:40am and they started boarding us. Very easy process, and I was very surprised they boarded us so early. Once I was on board I went straight to guest services to exchange an old wow band I had, to be active on this sailing. They simply take the old band, and get you another one that works, great way to save $5 on a new one.
After I received my new wow band I went to Chops Grill to schedule my dinners for the week. Since I have the Ultimate dining package, I wanted to schedule everything. They also have a table setup in the dining room you can do this as well. The only thing they can’t reserve is Coastal Kitchen, so we must call or go visit them.
Lunch was in Park Café, with the famous Royal Kummelwech sandwich and my first adult beverage Stella. This has become my go-to spot for lunch on day one anytime I’m on an Oasis class ship. Many don’t know that Park Café is free on board, so they simply just skip it for Windjammer. After lunch they informed us that our cabins were already ready and it was only 11am. At first I thought this was an error, but the last sailing was half empty, so most cabins went unused.
My cabin is Junior Suite 6644 on the hump. When I arrived there was one seapass card outside and the other one was supposed to be lying on the bed. However, it wasn’t so we just made quick trip down to guest services for a new one. The seapass card it’s used that much since we have the wow bands. The cabin itself is very large; I love our deep the balcony is, with a full lounger. I also love how wide the cabin is with so much space to move around, I hope this cabin is not spoiling me or I’ll be in big trouble on future cruises!
At 2pm we had our first official meet-up, as part of the Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise. I was sitting at the bar thinking what to order and thought it’s time I try my first lava flow. The drink was very good, but a little too sweet for my liking. We also had another meet up for sailaway on the top deck. They had little carts going around, so it was very easy to get drink if you wanted one.
Evening on Board
On deck 12 the entrance to Wonderland they have a nice bar with special cocktails. This of this bar, as like an R Bar on other Royal ships. The bar was totally empty; I think most people don’t know you can come up here just for drinks without eating here. We tried some of their cocktails, and I’ll say they were very different.
For dinner we had Jamie’s Italian, this was my first time dining here. For our starters they had a large meat plate in the center of the table. This was a pretty setup and very different than something I’ve tried before. The main course, I ordered the steak and my waiter recommend the lamb, so I went with that. I lamb was very tender and I’m happy with that selection. I think the desert was my very part of the meal, the cheesecake. Overall, the meal was very enjoyable and I’m happy I tried Jamie’s. However, I don’t think it’s my favorite option going forward.
After dinner we enjoyed some live music down at the schooner bar. I usually don’t spend a lot of time at the schooner bar during my Oasis sailings, but I’m happy I went it was a blast! I think being in a large group with friends also helps. I did walk into Dazzels at 11pm and it was empty other than the band, so I went back to Schooner bar.
That wraps up my first day on board Harmony of the Seas. It was an action packed day, but so much fun. Tomorrow is our first sea day, so I’m looking forward to some waterslide and relaxing poolside.
Our Harmony of the Seas cruise is finally here! As with so many Royal Caribbean cruises, I struggled to get a good night of sleep in. I was just too excited to sleep!
We spent the night about an hour away from Port Everglades at my inlaws house. Cannot beat the price of staying with family!
At about 8:30am, we piled into the car to jump on the Florida Turnpike towards the destination we have been dreaming about for months, Port Everglades.
Arrival at Port Everglades was smooth and easy. We parked at the terminal around 9:45am and the security lines were opened up just at right around 10am. Being a suite guest, we were seated in the Suites area of the Terminal 18 building and were among the first to board the ship just after 11am.
Surprisingly, all staterooms were ready as we boarded the ship. Usually the staterooms are not ready until 1pm, so this was a pleasant surprise. We dropped off our luggage in our stateroom, which is a Crown Loft Suite on Deck 17.
The suite was something we decided to splurge on a few months ago and it is truly impressive! Lots of space, and having two floors is really neat!
We had lunch in the Windjammer, a family tradition to start off any cruise.
There was a specialty dining package reservation spot set up in the main dining room to make it easy to plan our dining package choices. We were able to get every restaurant and time we had wanted.
We also registered the kids for Adventure Ocean and the Nursery. The Adventure Ocean staff mentioned there are about 600 kids onboard, which is less than normal. They would be combining Voyagers (9-11) and Explorers (6-8).
As is typical for us, we spent the afternoon taking it easy. Cruising with kids means even on embarkation day having to adjust to their level. Naps are a great idea, but never seem to happen on embarkation day. Alas, we managed to sneak in some Harmony must-dos, including a roast beef sandwich and lava flow drink.
Following muster drill, we headed up to the pool deck to enjoy sail away on a beautiful day in Port Everglades.
Adventure Ocean does not open until 8pm on the first day, so we brought the kids back to the room to relax, play and eat dinner.
After dropping the kids off at Adventure Ocean, it was time for dinner. We purchased the 5-night dining package, and opted to start off our cruise with dinner at Sabor. There are so many good choices for dinner on Harmony of the Seas, so we went with a favorite.
Our meal at Sabor was another great success. I went with the tortilla soup and grilled cobia fish tacos, along with the always amazing guacamole.
Being that we slept poorly and encountered the usual first day over exhaustion, we decided to call it early. Plenty lined up to do tomorrow!
- The Concierge indicated the over the water cabanas suffered damage at Barefoot Beach. As a result, the Star Class guests get first access to the standard beach cabanas. It would probably be a couple of weeks before the cabanas can all be repaired. Before you ask, I am not sure of the extent of damage or which other cabanas/bungalows are damaged. We will be in Labadee on Monday, so will report on it then,
- Kelsey Grammar and Kristin Bell are onboard the ship filming a Netflix film.
- We had a magical moment today when my kids met a DreamWorks character. My kid struck a chord with the character handler, and after a bit of talking, the handler surprised my kids with a Trolls art book and crayon collection. They were beyond ecstatic.
Royal Caribbean is working on adding a pier to its private destionation of CocoCay, and we have a new photo report to share of the progress being made.
Reader Brian White took these photos on August 30, while visiting the island on a Grandeur of the Seas cruise.
The pier will connect to Cococay on the western side of the tender harbor and extend down island from there, presumably to keep the tender harbor free for future use.
The barge on the right was re-positioning at the time this photo was taken, eventually moving to the far right out of view where the end of the pier will be.
Happy Friday and welcome to another round of Friday Photos, where we share our readers favorite Royal Caribbean photos on the blog! If you want to share your photos, just use this form to send them in!
We start off our photos this week with a shot of Anthem of the Seas, taken by Ron Britt while on a tender in the Bahamas.
Next up is a photo taken by Suzanne Donnelly of Independence of the Seas from her Mediterranean cruise earlier this summer.
Ashley Harris took this photo of Explorer of the Seas from her airplane flight home.
Next is a photo of Jewel of the Seas docked in Roseau, Dominica by Seth Goldhamer.
Kyle Ritch took this photo of sunset while on Liberty of the Seas.
Denise Orth shared this photo of Allure of the Seas, as seen from Columbus Cove in Labadee.
We will wrap up this week's edition of Friday Photos with a shot of Harmony of the Seas pulling out of Nassau, Bahamas, taken by Justin.
Thank you to everyone that submitted their Royal Caribbean photos! If you want to include your photos in a future Friday Photos post, be sure to send them to us!
If you have started to plan your first Royal Caribbean cruise, you may have run into a few words or phrases that sounds like something out of a CSI episode, rather than a family vacation. This post will help explain what all these nautical terms mean, so you can learn to "talk the talk" once onboard.
Adventure Ocean: Royal Caribbean's children's programming that is open to children between the ages of 3-17.
Aft: The back of the ship, which refers to a direction.
Bow: The front part of the ship, which refers to the physical part of the ship.
Closed-loop sailing: A roundtrip cruise, where the sailing begins and ends at the same port.
Cruise Compass: The daily newspaper distributed to guests each day that lists all the activities, events and specials happening onboard the ship.
Cruise Director: This officer onboard the ship is in charge of the entertainment during your cruise, from bingo to the shows to trivia and more.
Dining package: An optional purchase, where guests can pre-pay the cost of specialty restaurants and receive a discount compared to dining at the same specialty restaurants individually.
Disembarkation: Usually refers to the last day of a cruise when you depart the ship at the conclusion of a cruise.
Double occupancy: Most cruise fares are based on double occupancy. That means two people sharing one cabin.
Dock: A pier at a port that your ship can pull up to, where guests can walk off the ship and directly onto land.
Embarkation: Usually refers to the first day of your cruise when you board the ship.
Forward: The front of the ship, which refers to a direction.
Friends of Bill W: A code name for Alcoholics Anonymous.
Friends of Dorothy: A code name for GLBT activities.
Galley: The ship's kitchen.
Gangway: Ramp guests use to embark or disembark their ship.
Guarantee room: To help fill in empty staterooms, Royal Caribbean will offer a guarantee room rate. This means you pick a category of stateroom that you are promised you will receive nothing less than that. In fact, you might even be upgraded to something higher. On top of it, you will pay less than someone who picks their stateroom. The "catch" to a guarantee room is that Royal Caribbean will assign your room number at some point between when you book the stateroom and your sail date. You are essentially trading the ability to pick your stateroom location for a lower cruise fare.
Itinerary: The day by day list of where your cruise ship is going, with notations for which ports of call you will visit and what times you will be there.
MDR: Abbreviation for Main Dining Room.
Muster Drill: A mandatory safety event, where all guests report to their evacuation station to learn what to do in case of an emergency. Every guest must attend this event.
Muster Station: The designated spot where guests must go in the event of an emergency for evacuation.
My Time Dinner: Royal Caribbean's concept for dinner, where guests have flexibility in making reservations ahead of time or simply showing up at any point while dinner is being served. This is an alternative to Traditional Dinner.
OBC: Acronym for Onboard credit. Onboard credit is the money in your onboard account that you can use to spend towards purchases made onboard.
Open-jaw sailing: A one-way cruise, where the sailing begins and ends in different ports.
Porthole: A round window, often smaller than the standard picture window found in most outside cabins.
Port/Portside: The left of the ship, which refers to a direction.
Repositioning cruise: A one-way itinerary that effectively moves a cruise ship from one part of the world to another.
Royal iQ: The smartphone application to manage your cruise while onboard the ship. Only available on select ships.
Royal Suite Class: Royal Caribbean's suite offerings available on Oasis and Quantum Class ships only.
Sea Day: A day in which your cruise ship does not visit a port of call, and spends the entire day at sea.
SeaPass: The card every guest uses to make purchases onboard, identify themselves, and get access to their stateroom.
Single supplement: Since cruise fares are based on double occupancy, solo cruisers are charged a single supplement. The single supplement fee is usually 150-200% of the cruise fare. Some Royal Caribbean ships have solo cabins, where the single supplement fee is waived.
Specialty restaurant: A dining venue where there is an additional charge to dine there. Usually a cover charge, although sometimes food is charge a la carte.
Starboard: The right of the ship, which refers to a direction.
Stateroom: A room for a guest on the cruise ship. Every guest books a stateroom (sometimes referred to as a cabin).
Stern: The back part of the ship, which refers to a part of the ship.
Tender: A ferry, where your ship will anchor in the harbor near the port and a small vessel will shuttle you between the cruise ship and port.
Traditional Dinner: Dinner in the main dining room where you have a choice of either first or second seating (you choose this before your cruise), and are seated at the same table each evening with the same wait staff and table mates.
Wake: The trail of waves behind a cruise ship that is created by the ship's engines as the ship moves forward.
WOWBand: RFID bracelet that works just like a SeaPass card.
The long awaited Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise is finally here. As many of you know, I’ve actually never sailed on a blog group cruise. Usually, I have my schedule made two years out and can never fit it in. However, this time I cancelled my fall cruise, and thought - you know what? It’s time I sail with the group!
The main reason I booked this cruise was to sail with many friends I’ve made over the years through the blog. But, I also felt like I haven’t really experienced Harmony of the Seas. When she arrived to Port Everglades last year, I was lucky enough to sail on the two-day sailing. Many say seven days is not enough time to take all the Oasis class has to offer; imagine doing it in just 48-hours! Most all of the entertainment will be new to me, as I only saw The Fine Line before. I also did not get to dine in any restaurants. So I’m really looking forward to that.
On September 15th, I’ll fly down to Port Everglades, Florida. I fly in late, so will likely just grab some dinner and then attempt to get some sleep.
We will be visiting Labadee, Haiti; Cozumel, Mexico; and Falmouth, Jamaica. In Labadee, I’ll get to experience my very first beach cabana on Nellie’s beach. In Cozumel, I plan to spend the day at my favorite beach, Nachi-Cocom. As of now, I actually don’t have any plans in Falmouth; it might be a waterslide day on board.
For this cruise, I’ll be sharing a room with my good friend, Ron Hiller. We booked in March and found a great deal on a D8 - Ocean Balcony. I love staying on deck 6 on Oasis class ships. With the live-blogging, camera, phones, etc., it’s much easier having access to my cabin that is close to majority of the ship.
Around a month ago, they had a great deal on the Junior Suite’s; it was so good I just couldn’t pass it up. So for my first time, I’ll be staying in a Sea Class suite on aboard an Oasis Class ship. The perks that come with these cabins are: dinner access to Coastal Kitchen, luxury pillow top mattress, and upgraded L’Occitane bathroom amenities.
My cabin number is #6644 aft on the hump, which means our balcony will be a little deeper.
Over the years, Royal Caribbean has created so many on board packages to enhance the cruise vacation. Personally, I cannot imagine cruising without all these packages now.
First, I’ll talk about the ultimate dining package. In May, I tried this package on Oasis of the Seas and absolutely loved it. I think my favorite part is being able to dine at any restaurant for lunches, too, on sea days. So for this cruise, I purchased the ultimate dining again. I will be trying two restaurants with this package that I’ve never dined at before: Jamie’s Italian and Wonderland.
The second package I purchased was the deluxe beverage & VOOM one device package. This package used to show up on weekend sales, but now has become constantly found in the cruise planner. On Oasis class ships, I tend to always purchased the beverage package, these ships are full of bars and the ships usually stop at their private island Labadee (where it works too). I also enjoy the bottled water throughout the day and specialty coffee in the morning, or that afternoon pick-me-up. Also, the high speed Internet is a must to bring you these live blogs.
Well, I’m really excited to get back on board Harmony of the Seas. It is going to be an amazing week with a lot of friends. It will also be fun to follow two different live blogs - two different experiences onboard the same ship. If you have any questions, be sure to mention them below and I’ll answer while on aboard.