Harmony of the Seas Live Blog

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Michael's Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
18Sep2017

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.

Lunch

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.



 

Pub Crawl

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.




 

Ice Show

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.



 

Dinner

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.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Matt's Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
17Sep2017

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.

Stray Observations

  • The seas are super calm.  As in, no waves at all.
  • In a first for me, there was evidently a lot of mosquitos around starting this morning.  I have never seen or heard of this before, but I heard the crew were spraying for them during the day.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Michael's Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
17Sep2017

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.


 

Boarding

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.

On Board

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.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Matt's Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
16Sep2017

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!

Stray Observations

  • 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.  

Harmony of the Seas 2017 Live Blog - Michael's Cruise Preview

In:
13Sep2017

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. 

Itinerary

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. 

Cabin

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. 

Packages

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.

Harmony of the Seas 2017 Live Blog - Matt's Cruise Preview

In:
12Sep2017

It is time once again to pack our bags, stock up on sunscreen, and get ready for our next Royal Caribbean adventure.  This time, we are going on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas for a 7-night Western Caribbean sailing.  Each day, I will be LIVE blogging to share with you what it is like to cruise on the world's largest cruise ship.  In fact, my friend Michael Poole, will also be live blogging from the ship, so it should be a fun week to follow along.

This particular sailing happens to be a RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com Group Cruise, which means we have nearly 100 readers joining us on this sailing.  We have been doing group cruises for a few years now, and it remains a favorite way to enjoy a cruise because we get to share the cruise experience with friends who understand the excitement and pleasure of a Royal Caribbean cruise.

The Cruise

We picked this sailing a number of years ago so that many of us could try out Harmony of the Seas, and cruising in September means lower cruise fares.  In retrospect, we are lucky to have avoided Hurricane Harvey and Irma, but it did give us a bit of anxiety over the last week or so.  Nonetheless, we are ready to set sail and it looks like we are a go all around.

Our seven night Western Caribbean sailing will depart on Saturday, September 16th and take us to 3 different ports. We will visit the ports of Labadee; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico.

This will be my fourth sailing on Harmony of the Seas, and believe it or not, there are still some things I have not done yet.  Royal Caribbean designs their cruise ships to be a floating hub of activities, entertainment, and relaxation.  As a result, there is more to do onboard than anyone can do in one sailing, let alone four.  Not only will I have the opportunity to try out more activities onboard, but re-visit some favorites with many of my friends.

Stateroom

For this sailing, we are sailing in a stateroom category I have never had before, a Crown Loft Balcony Suite.  

Originally, we had booked two connecting ocean balcony rooms.  The price worked for us, and having separation from our children is always a good idea when it comes to cruising.  Right around final payment date, a number of suites opened up, and we managed to snag a Crown Loft suite for a great price.  

I admit that having two rooms makes for an ideal cruising scenario, because that means the kids can sleep in one room while my wife and I can watch television, or read without having to worry about making noise.  The price of the Crown Loft suite was just too good to pass up, so we jumped at the opportunity.  Plus, having Sky Class benefits means we can enjoy some nice perks that works well for us.  Namely, priority embarkation/disembarkation, suite sun deck, concierge lounge access.

Of course, the Crown Loft Suite is an exciting room to try out for the incredible views and creative floor plan.  Plus, there are two bathrooms in the suite and that will work well for getting everyone showered and ready each day.

Itinerary

Day Port Arrival Departure
1 Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida - 16:00
2 At Sea - -
3 Labadee 8:00 16:30
4 Falmouth, Jamaica 10:00 19:00
5 At Sea - -
6 Cozumel, Mexico 8:00 19:00
7 At Sea - -
8 Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida 6:15 -

For this sailing, we are going on to the Western Caribbean, and this is the first time we have sailed the Western Caribbean on Harmony of the Seas.

Living in Florida, we will drive down the night before the cruise and stay at the Cambria Inn and Suites in Dania Beach.  The hotel is a 10 minute drive to Port Everglades, and we stayed there previously for a different sailing.  It is clean, well-run and offers room for the kids.

Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private destination, is always a highlight for me and we are hoping to snag a cabana at Barefoot Beach through the concierge.  We love Labadee, and cabanas are the icing on the cake for our family.  They are relaxing, provide a good "home base" for the children, and a nap spot.

In Falmouth, we have invited those who booked into our room block for the Group Cruise to join us for a private excursion through Royal Caribbean to the Bamboo Beach Club.  It promises to be a fun day at the beach, and the perfect opportunity for our friends on the cruise to do something together while in port.  Lunch and drinks are included, and there is even nanny service provided!

While visiting Cozumel, we may play things by ear, but the general plan is to have my wife get a massage, enjoy an early lunch downtown and then head to the beach.  A lot of our plans depend on the weather, the kids, and even what we feel like that day.  We are purposefully keeping things vague so that we have the option of changing things up.

Three things I am excited to try

3. Izumi Hibachi

I have been a loyal disciple of Izumi since it debuted on Oasis of the Seas.  Royal Caribbean's Japanese specialty restaurant has been somewhere I have visited multiple times per sailing.  In recent years, they added an hibachi option and I have never tried it.

To be honest, I was saving this experience for the group cruise because I think the hibachi is more fun with friends, and we have a number of Royal Caribbean Blog Insiders who will be joining me for dinner.

2. Falmouth

We have struggled to find a family activity in Falmouth that we really loved.  My hope is the Bamboo Beach Club will be that answer, and the photos and description seem to look promising.

Any parent knows how your kids do in any activity has many factors, some of which are pure luck (did they sleep enough, are they in a bad mood because of something petty earlier in the day, etc).  My hope is the kids will be able to enjoy our time there just as much as us.  Fingers are crossed!

1. Crown Loft Suite

Since we booked the suite, I have been really excited to try out the Crown Loft Suite for myself.  The idea of a two-story stateroom is pretty awesome, and combined with the Sky Class perks we have experienced on Anthem of the Seas, I am really looking forward to it.

What's next

Our Harmony of the Seas cruise begins on Saturday, September 16th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on FacebookInstagram and Periscope for live updates throughout the day.

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have.  I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

In:
07Jul2017

Our last day on Harmony of the Seas is here, and it is another sea day.

I started off my morning with my usual coffee and breakfast from Park Cafe.  I will definitely miss this morning routine!  I even had it out on my balcony today since the sun was not hitting my balcony directly yet.

After a morning of work, I met my wife for a quick lunch at Sabor.  I just had to sneak in one more bowl of guacamole into my cruise before I left.

Note, not my margarita.

I tried the beef tacos today, but I still think the fish tacos are better.

This afternoon, Crown and Anchor Society invited its members to an ice cream social in the main dining room.  I had never seen this sort of event, so I gave it a try.  

It was an informal event, with various officers serving up every flavor of ice cream available onboard the ship.  I guess you could say I had a coffee ice cream break instead of just a coffee break.

After work, my wife and I strolled the ship to take in as much as we could.  We bar hopped around for a bit to get "one last hurrah."

We had definitely slowed down and with very calm ocean around us, it almost felt like we were standing still.  The breeze was even quite calm.

Our last dinner brought us to Izumi. 

My wife and I tried two of their special cocktails.

I attempted to recoup the value in our dining package by ordering two sushi combos and a special roll.  While I took solace in the fact I conquered this food challenge, I took some time to recouperate after dinner.

Looking back

With this being the end of the cruise, I wanted to share some favorites and highlights of the sailing.

  • Favorite specialty restaurant: 150 Central Park
  • Favorite drink: Kraken with Diet Coke on the rocks
  • Favorite show: Columbus, the Musical

Working from onboard

Overall, I was able to remain productive with my work onboard during the cruise.  The Voom internet worked quite well and aside from the occasional drop out here an there, remained steady and quite fast.  

If you have to give presentations or conduct mission critical meetings, I would probably not advise to do it onboard.  However, if the majority of your work can be done with just VPN, email and localized development, working from on the ship is quite easy.

The biggest drawback to working onboard is the knowledge everyone else is having fun and you are stuck doing work.  It is akin to being in summer school while everyone else is out playing.

Central Park stateroom

I loved our Central Park stateroom for the great ambiance.  Having the extra large balcony is nice, although I would have liked to have had a lounge chair to really take advantage of the space.  The room was quiet at night and we never lost any sleep due to noise.

St. John

I was nervous about trying to get to St. John but I am so glad that we tried it out.  The beach was beautiful and the trip was much simpler than I had thought.

We definitely left far too early, but the Carnival celebrations on the island forced our hand.  We could have easily stayed another 2-3 hours and made it back to the ship with plenty of time to spare.

Ultimate Dining Package

I will write up a full review of this soon, but I think the ultimate dining package makes a lot of financial sense, even if it is a lot of food.  On sea days where you get lunch and dinner at specialty restuarants, my wife and I found ourselves overwhelmed with the amount of food.  

For our next cruise on Harmony, I think we will go with a 4 or 5 night dining package just to provide a break in the day-to-day eating.  However, when you break down the costs and what you get, the best bang for the buck is with the Ultimate Dining Package.

Deluxe Drink Package

My wife and I definitely got our moneys worth from the drink package.  Even on days where I did not start drinking until 5pm, hitting 5-6 drinks is easier than it sounds.  Plus, having two premium coffees per day makes hitting that break-even point even simpler.

I am a fan of the drink package for a few basic reasons and it is why I will likely continue to buy it

  1. I pre-paid it before the cruise, thus breaking up the cost of the cruise.
  2. I never had to think, "Do I really want to order a drink? Or should I save my money?".  After a day or two, that mind game infuriates me and having the drink package makes it so much simpler.
  3. Having a drink package means when waiting for a show or event to start, you always have something to do.

Of interest, most of the time waiters would ask us for our room number and look up our drink package that way.  Rather than take our SeaPass cards and individually run the charges and give us a receipt, they would return to the kiosk to mark down the purchase, but never give us a receipt.  It was certainly more convenient for us, but I was surprised to see this almost the norm on the ship.

Stray Observations

  • I walked into Starbucks to look around and noticed this sign posted.  I guess there is a bit of confusion among guests as to what their drink benefits gets them.
  • Check out this stateroom, where a guest set up a hammock. 
  • If you connect a device to the Voom (like a phone) and then log off but keep the phone connected to the wifi, notifications will continue to work.  In fact, my iPhone could still send and recieve iMessages.  I would not advocate relying on this method, but all week my devices would show notifications despite not being actively logged in to Voom.
  • I stumbled on Bingo, so here are the bingo prices

Our next cruise is in September 2017 on Harmony of the Seas for the Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise, and I will take this opportunity to invite you to join us for that sailing. I cannot wait to start that journey with friends who read this blog.

Thank you to everyone who followed this live blog. I never had so much fun staying up late to write blog posts!

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Sea Day

In:
06Jul2017

Day six is here and it only our second sea day, which is kind of hard to believe because I am used to having more sea days earlier in the cruise.

Today was another work from the ship day, and I grabbed a latte from Cafe Promenade before going up to Park Cafe for my vegetable breakfast sandwich.  I definitely enjoy mornings where I can walk in Central Park to grab my coffee, rather than just walking to my kitchen at home.

My wife spent her morning reading in the Solarium while I spent the morning doing work.

For lunch, I decided to try a different quick option: the main dining room.  Usually the main dining room may not jump out as a quick choice, but for lunch they have two options: the usual a la carte table service, or a special buffet in the middle of the room.

I opted for the buffet and had a choice of many great hot and fresh foods.

In addition, the buffet has a custom chopped salad station, where you tell the crew member what ingredients you want in the salad and they chop it all up on the spot.

My favorite dish of the buffet was the vegetable Indian curry.  It was a potato based curry, so I grabbed some steamed cauliflower from another buffet station and created my own aloo gobi curry.  Glorious!

Before heading back to "the office," I took a stroll through Central Park.  With the breeze running through Central Park, it was a great time to be onboard and enjoy some fresh air.

I had a quiet afternoon in my stateroom doing my work, while my wife headed up to the spa to have her hair done at the salon.  

I happened to find the stowaway piano player again.  He is a really fun act, where he literally wheels his piano anywhere on the ship and performs.  His piano has some hidden tricks too, which adds to the show.

It was formal night, so we took some photos around the ship at the various photo stops.  Being Diamond members, we each get one free 8x10 print, so no need to let that go to waste!

We decided to grab drinks on the Rising Tide bar because taking a ride is always enjoyable.  In fact, we ended up taking the ride back too.  Each sequence was faster than I remember, and it is still quite fun to experience now and then. 

Our entertainment for the evening was 1887, which is an ice skating show. The performances were quite impressive, and "the bubble guy" is astounding.

For dinner, we headed up to deck 12 for Wonderland.

Wonderland is a specialty restaurant loosely based on the Alice in Wonderland tales.  The food never looks like anything you may have had before, and yet tastes great.  My favorites are the terroir beef and reconstructed caprese salad.

Also the desserts are amazing.


 

Tomorrow is our last day, and it is also a sea day.

Stray Observations

  • We had barely any movement on the first 3 days of the cruise, and since leaving St. Kitts there has been a bit of movement.  It is really minor, perhaps 1 or 2 out of 10, but it is funny how you notice it just because we were used to no movement at all in the ocean.  All in all, another very smooth cruise.
  • My wife purchased a few items in the shops onboard and asked to use her Diamond level Crown and Anchor discount.  The crew member said she needed to see my wife's SeaPass card, despite my wife having her WOWband.  It is a bit surprising because looking up the WOWband should show her Crown and Anchor status in the computer.  
  • As a matter of personal preference, I think I prefer to stay on a deck that is lower than our current deck 12.  I say that because I feel I spend more time on the Royal Promenade, Boardwalk or Central Park.  My wife disagrees, and says if the kids were with us, having quick access to pool, Windjammer and Adventure Ocean would change the dynamic.  I think we all know who's right in this situation.
  • Here is the portrait of Harmony of the Seas' Godmother, Brittany Affolter.  She is super nice and you can find her photo near the Guest Relations desk.
  • The array of Indian-inspired pizza continues at Sorrento's with the Chicken Tikka pizza.
  • I do not believe I have ever dined at Wonderland yet where the waiter did not insist on ordering for us.  Menus at Wonderland seem to be just for decoration.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - St. Kitts

In:
05Jul2017

Our fifth day brings us to the island of St. Kitts, and it is also our last port stop.

Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to get off the ship and see the island because I had to work today.  From the looks of it, I would say the weather made for another beautiful day for many that chose to take various excursions around the island.

My morning began with coffee and breakfast at Park Cafe.  I opted to go there to enjoy my favorite breakfast food on Harmony: the vegetable breakfast sandwich.

My wife spent her morning doing some shopping in the Port Zante dockyard area.  She picked up some clothing for our daughters and a bag for herself.

I had a productive morning of coding, which culminated with my wife's return from on shore to enjoy lunch together.

We went up to the Windjammer for lunch.  Being this is a port day, there were not many options to consider other than the Windjammer.  I particularly liked the Thai Chicken Curry, while my wife opted for the pasta station.

After lunch my wife tried her hand at the Perfect Storm slides. She said the champagne bowl slide was not open (slated to open later in the afternoon), but she did try the racer slides.


 

She found the blue to be faster than the yellow.  With both slides, she found them to be a longer ride than she expected and she too got stuck in both. She did find it was better to push off the top of the slide with your hands than doing the "butt scootch" because you can vault yourself with your hands to get back up to speed.

I had a quiet afternoon, with the highlight getting more coffee from Cafe Promenade.  

I also got a nice dessert delivery in the afternoon.  Thank you snack gods!

I wrapped up my workday and headed down to the On Air Club to try something brand new: A Royal Mystery escape room game.

This is a new escape room game that was added to Harmony of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas.  The show is or will be added to other ships too.  

Essentially, it is a game where teams compete to solve a number of riddles, clues and games that will lead them to solving a murder mystery. Think the classic game of "Clue", mixed with puzzles.  

Our team did not win, but it was still a fun time.  I found some of the puzzles in A Royal Mystery to be quite difficult and after learning the solutions later on, would have never figure them out.  Unlike Escape the Rubicon (the other escape room experience on Harmony of the Seas), there is no additional cost for A Royal Mystery.

The escape room worked up an appetite, so we headed to Central Park for our dinner at Jamie's Italian.

This is my first time dining at Jamie's Italian on a non-Quantum class ship and one thing I noticed is the menu has a few variations from other Jamie Italian locations on Royal Caribbean.  That is a welcome change, since seldom do we find menu differences between specialty restaurants across the fleet.

For my entree, I picked the spaghetti puttanesca (minus the anchovies).   It was terrific!

Our server, Caterina, was wonderful and made very good recommendations.  She did, however, warn me before I ordered a drink she did not like but I insisted on anyway.  I like to think I have a pretty high tolerance for drinks, but it tasted so bad! Alas, some folks on Facebook indicated they enjoyed it, so I suppose negroni is an acquired taste. 

We grabbed a few cocktails after dinner around the ship, and even met the characters from Trolls (to the chagrin of our kids back home).

Our evening entertainment is my favorite show on any Royal Caribbean ship, Columbus, the Musical.

Much of the cast has changed since we saw it in November, but this cast absolutely nailed it!  The show is such fun, and I love the songs and comedy mixed in.  Hoping we can catch the final showing tomorrow.

Tomorrow is another sea day onboard the world's largest cruise ship.

Stray Observations

  • There is just one coffee size at Cafe Promenade and Park Cafe. I would call the one size "medium".
  • According to the crew member at Cafe Promenade, they added the coffee menu behind the bar on this sailing.
  • Our cruise director, Abe Hughes, had a cameo in Columbus.
  • Check out the line for guests to see Trolls.  I spoke briefly with the crew members escorting them out, and they indicated it is just the Trolls that get this kind of reaction.  If you do not have kids under the age of around 12, you wont understand.  
  • The drink of the day is the margarita azul.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - St. Thomas

In:
04Jul2017

Our second port stop brings us to St. Thomas, a beautiful island in the United States Virgin Islands.

We got up at about 7:30am and got ourselves ready. We knew we had to be ready to go early to take advantage of our time in port.  We grabbed a quick breakfast in Park Cafe, which coincided nicely with Harmony of the Seas arriving into Charlotte Amalie harbor. 

We grabbed some coffee from Cafe Promenade to watch our docking in Crown Bay.  I do not recall if I have ever been on a Royal Caribbean cruise that docked in Crown Bay, and not Havensight.  

Being that it is the Fourth of July (Independence Day for the United States), the ship and crew are in the spirit of the holiday.

The ship pulled into port right on time and we were cleared to go ashore shortly thereafter.  No lines at all to get off the ship.  In fact, I was literally the first person off the ship!  

Once off the ship we took a taxi to Red Hook to catch a ferry to St. John.  The taxi dispatcher warned us of long lines and possible delays due to the Fourth of July celebration in St. John.  We decided to try it anyway, and off we went.

The taxi to Red Hook is perhaps 20 minutes long, although it goes over some steep mountains that offer quite a view, or a lot of anxiety (depending on your mood).

The line for tickets at Red Hook looked long, but it moved quickly and we purchased our tickets and boarded a ferry.  Usually ferries leave every hour, on the hour, however due to the demand to go today for July 4th, they were running ferries continuously.

The ferry ride itself was short. I think it is listed at 20 minutes, but I think it is closer to 10-15 minutes. There was a slight chop on the water, but no issues with getting sea sick at all.

In St. John, the entire town was engulfed in its Fourth of July celebration, which more closely resembled Carnival.  Nonetheless, we went to find a taxi. 

It took us a while to find one, because we were unaware where to go to find one.  Many streets were closed off for the festivities, so we had to do some searching.  We found the taxi stand and hopped on a taxi to bring us to the beach.

St. John is mostly a large U.S. National Park, and there are many beaches to visit.  We picked Cinnamon Bay beach based on the recommendation of Disney Cruise Line Blog writer, Scott.  While Trunk Bay is often the popular choice, Cinnamon Bay is very close by and far less crowded.

Walking into Cinnamon Bay, it looks more like a forest than a beach.  You walk down a path to the beach area, which is open for all to enjoy.  There was no beach entrance fee either.

There is a small restaurant, gift shop and beach facility store.  We rented two chairs for $10 each and went to find a spot on the beach.

I have to say, I was really impressed by Cinnamon Bay.  The beach is pristine, water crystal clear and a warm 80-something degrees.

It was pure bliss relaxing at Cinnamon Bay.  My wife and I enjoyed the surf, along with just relaxing on the beach.  We even grabbed a lunch from the food truck that serves a couple of choices, plus plenty of snacks and drinks.

After a few hours, we decided to head back to the ship. We would have liked to stay longer, but we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to get back.  No sense in adding a heart attack for fear of missing the ship to our list of activities.

The return trip was essentially just like the way there, but reversed.  All in all, a great time!  I think all the great things people say about St. John is absolutely true and I would love to return.  My wife even said we could easily bring the kids with us next time.

My only complaint on the beach we went to was there is no food/drink service, and little to no shade.  Keep that in mind when planning your day.

On our way back to the ferry, we got a sampling of the celebration happening in St. John.

We got back to the ship around 3:30pm, and did the usual post-shore excursion shower and dressing.  

We had dinner reservations at 8pm at Izumi, but our light lunch earlier left us quite famished, so we asked if we could dine earlier at Izumi. The staff could not have been more accommodating.

With the Ultimate Dining Package, each guest gets $50 to spend. Plus, you can combine the stipend for the table.  Fifty dollars is a lot for Izumi, and it afforded me the opportunity to indulge even more than I would if I was paying cash.

Following dinner we went to the Schooner Bar to enjoy music that was right up my wife's alley.  She is a major Broadway fan, and the musical conductor for Grease and Columbus the Musical was playing jazz music for an hour, followed by a series of Broadway songs sung by the cast of Grease.

We had seen similar performances on Allure of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, and it is one of our favorite shows to see. Royal Caribbean has so much wonderful live music onboard, and seeing this kind of a performance is always a treat.

The Royal Promenade transformed into Fourth of July central, with lots of decorations and live performances to coincide with holiday.

All the fun in the sun started to catch up with us, so we called it a night.

Tomorrow is another sea day.

Stray Observations

  • There were special Fourth of July cocktails available at all bars.


  • As an Indian food lover, I was pleased to see chicken tandoori pizza at Sorrentos.
  • Voom performance has been exquisite thus far.  That puts my mind at ease with three more work days coming up.
  • Check out this Fourth of July cake. Note the car in the background that provides scale.

Pages