Harmony of the Seas Live Blog

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Nassau

In:
06Nov2016

My first full day on Harmony of the Seas coincided with waking up earlier than I expected to full take advantage of this fabulous day.  

Today we are docked in Nassau, Bahamas, although I had no intention of leaving the ship.  It was going to be a great day, with plenty to see and do onboard.

I decided to have breakfast in American Icon Grill (AKA the main dining room).  I wanted a custom made omelet, and I really enjoy the main dining room experience.  The breakfast features a fixed menu, plus a buffet option in the center of the dining room.  You can opt for either or both.

Following my meal, I went up to Cafe Promenade to take advantage of my Diamond-level Crown and Anchor Society benefit, which on this sailings gives us complimentary premium coffee (not Starbucks).  This is Seattle's Best coffee, and I went for a latte.

With my coffee in hand, I spent some time working on a few blog posts from the comfort of Central Park, and then headed over to the Schooner Bar for morning trivia.

I met a nice family from South Florida to play general knowledge trivia. We did not win, although I was quite intrigued to see the prize for the winning team were travel coffee mugs.

Next, it was time to try my hand at the water slides.  I was very excited to try them out ever since they were announced. I tried to bring my phone in a water proof case, but the crew informed me you cannot bring anything with you.  Just you and a bathing suit.

There is one line for all three slides.  Near the top, the attendant asks guests which slide they want to ride.  At worst, I waited perhaps 10 minutes I think.  First up was the champagne bowl slide.  It is a regular water slide that empties into a large, circular bowl area that you swirl around in until exiting in the middle.  Myself and a few of the other older guys seemed to get stuck right at the end, although a quick push and I was on my way.

Next were the two racer slides.  When it was my turn, they grabbed a kid who was also riding alone, and the 12-year old wanted to race.  Fine, bring it kid!

I was so dead set on showing this kid who was boss, but I ended up getting stuck a few times in the slide.  I would essentially slow down until I came to a stop, which in the racer slides is a bit nerve wracking because most of the slide is in the pitch dark! I managed to scoot a few times to get going.  At the bottom, I spoke to a crew member that told me the more clothing you have, the slower you will go. I was wearing board shorts and a rash guard shirt, so clearly that did not work well.  Oh well, it was still a fun experience!

I got back to the room and showered and changed and was ready for lunch.  I had hoped to eat lunch in either Sabor or Johnny Rockets, but neither opened until 2.  I decided to try lunch in the Solarium Bistro instead.

I am not certain if I have ever eaten in the Solarium Bistro before, but I really enjoyed it.  It is complimentary and offers a nice selection of salads, main courses, side dishes and desserts.  Plus, the ambiance of dining in the restaurant or just outside is quite lovely.

After lunch, it was down to Starbucks for an afternoon pick me up. Man cannot subside on regular coffee alone (or at least, not this man).

I did some more exploring of the ship and eventually stumbled upon the main dining room, which was still open at about 2pm.  I glanced at the menu and saw the lasagna from the dinner menu was available so I figured eating two lunches in one day is totally acceptable, right?

Like breakfast, there was a fixed menu and a buffet area in the center of the restaurant.  The buffet also had a chopped salad area, where you can specify the ingredients to put in your salad and the crew member will prepare it for you.

I also tried something brand new for me in the afternoon, by doing a "Total Request Live" Periscope broadcast.  Basically, I went on Periscope and offered to go anywhere onboard (within reason) that the people watching wanted me to go.  It was a lot of fun, and I even got to see much more of the ship than I had before.  Might have to do this again sometime!

Afternoon trivia came around and it was another general trivia session.  This time, our team did extremely well and won!  Not only that, they had inaugural season coffee cups as a prize! 

It is formal night tonight, so I went back to the room to relax a bit and then get dressed. Originally I was not planning on dressing up, but I had brought a pair of khakis and a polo shirt. I promise to dress up significantly more for the next sailing!

As the day turned to night, I wandered to the Boardwalk and finally lamented for a quick jaunt to my favorite restaurant, Sabor.

I went in with the idea of just getting guacamole, but ended up also getting tuna tacos.  I would love to rationalize it for all of you, but the truth is I just decided to indulge a bit.

Needless to say, Sabor was wonderful and remains a must-eat specialty restaurant on any Royal Caribbean ship that offers it.

This evening it was rather pleasant outside, so I decided to take a few photos from up on deck to see the ship lit up.  

Next up was The Fine Line show in the AquaTheater.  It is hard to describe what the show is, but it is a combination aerial acrobatic show that happens to be set in a rather unique pool.  

What makes The Fine Line different from other AquaTheater shows, such as OceanAria, is the added element of aerial stunts with the aid of high-tension wires.  There is quite a bit of "flying" and tight rope walking involved, and it is another really incredible show to watch from a pure performance standpoint.  The coordination and skill involved is quite extraordinary.

During the show, it began lightly raining and I ended up retreating to a Boardwalk balcony room that some fellow Royal Caribbean Blog readers (hi Tim and Kim!)offered to watch the rest of the show.  My room is 4 rooms away from the AquaTheater, but their room is the first room away, and had a nearly unobstructed view (and no rain).

I returned to my stateroom to discover all guests were given complimentary Harmony of the Seas inaugural hats! Thank you Abe!

I also received this nice gift from my travel agent to enjoy.  Red velvet anything is right up my alley!

Tomorrow is a sea day, but I will actually be spending the day doing my day job from sea.  I know it may seem odd to be doing work from a cruise ship, but doing my work on a ship is far better than doing the same work from anywhere else. Thanks Voom!

Stray Observations

  • There are a lot of amazing fresh flowers all over the ship.
  • I spoke to the water slide attendants for a bit about crowd pattern.  They recommend the least lines are when they first open, as well as during the evening when it is meal time.
  • Multiple water slide attendants told me that if you want to go the fastest down the slide, a Speedo is the way to go.  

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
05Nov2016

My Harmomy of the Seas adventure begins today and naturally, I was up bright and early to get a start on it.

Harmony of the Seas leaves from Port Everglades, Florida, and I live about 3 hours north of there in Orlando.  I was on the road a little after 6am and enjoyed a quiet and uneventful car ride down the Florida Turnpike to Harmony of the Seas' new home.

I arrived at the pier at about 9:30am and was among perhaps 30-40 other early birds to get in line for security.  It is absolutely not necessary to arrive that early for any cruise, but I was so excited that I could not help myself.

Check-in was quite easy and simple.  The check-in is a hybrid of the traditional Royal Caribbean check-in process, mixed with a little Quantum class touch.  You still go to the counter to check in, but I was able to provide a photo of myself during the online check-in.  Also, guests are not given SeaPass cards. Instead, your SeaPass cards are waiting for you just outside your stateroom.  

Once checked in, I was seated in the Diamond section of Terminal 18.  Because Harmony of the Seas was coming from a transatlantic voyage, US Customs was going to take longer to clear the ship.  Royal Caribbean did send passengers an email prior to the cruise warning guests of this delay.  That being said, boarding did not begin until a little after noon, and I was not onboard until 12:30.  Not a big deal, but the issue with a late embarkation like that is there was a big crowd in the terminal to get onboard.

Once onboard the ship, I followed my traditional embarkation day regiment and headed straight to the Windjammer for lunch.  I was blown away by the size of the Windjammer on Harmony of the Seas! It was massive, and much larger than the Windjammer on Allure of the Seas.  This was a welcome change.

After lunch I started exploring the ship and immediatley I noticed that Harmony of the Seas felt so much like a Quantum class ship.  I joked on Periscope that Harmony of the Seas feels more like a Quantum class ship that is pretending to be an Oasis class ship, than the other way around.  This is by no means a bad thing, just a surprise to me.  The look and feel of Harmony (especially in the staterooms, cooridors and certain venues) is so reminiscent of being on Anthem of the Seas that I would dare someone who has been on either to see certain photos onboard and be able to know the difference.

Our rooms were ready at 1:30pm and I really like my Boardwalk balcony stateroom.  The room is quite large and can easily accomodate two guests.  The amount of storage space is fantastic and the decor is once again nearly identical to the Quantum class rooms.

Of course, the balcony is what this sort of stateroom is all about and the Boardwalk view is terrific.  My room is towards the aft of the ship (perhaps 4 rooms from the end), and that provides a great view of the AquaTheater, rock climbing wall,  and more importantly, Sabor.

I have always been a fan of the neighborhood balconies because they are less expensive (typically) than ocean facing balconies, and offer a kind of experience that no other class of Royal Caribbean ships can offer.

After dropping all my stuff off in the room, I was off to start exploring Harmony of the Seas.  It is a beautiful ship, with so much going on.  I am quite happy that I added this three night sailing on, so that I can get more time to "see it all."

I was really impressed by the design of the main dining room on Harmony of the Seas.  The art piece is particularly beautiful!

When muster drill time came around, I realized that my station was in the Boardwalk, near the AquaThear.  My first outdoor muster station experience on an Oasis class ship.  

Following the drill, I immediately made my way up to deck 15 to try my hand at the Ultimate Abyss.  

This is a 10-story slide and I was excited to finally try it.  I was one of the first few guests to get in line and after perhaps 10 minutes, the slide opened up and it was my turn to descend.

As I got closer and closer to the entrance to the slide I got a little nervous with apprehension, but once I pushed off and began sliding down I immediately loved the whole experience.  Not only is it a lot of fun, it is not nearly as intese or scary as one might imagine.  I as impressed by the special effects in the slide, which consist of lighting and sound effects.  Definitely a must-do and I think I have to try it again a few times.

After riding, I spent some more time exploring the ship.  I even got a chance to check out some fellow Royal Caribbean Blog readers' studio staterooms, which were quite nice and definitely something I could stay in if I was sailing alone (especially for the price).

My favorite spot on any Oasis class ship is Central Park, and I was excited it again on Harmony of the Seas.  It is a beautiful area, full of natural beauty and terrific ambiance.  It especially looks great once the sun goes down and the lights come on.

I grabbed a quick dinner in the Windjammer this evening, and enjoyed the great variety of options.  I even brought my own bottle of wine, that the crew were happy to store for me for dinner tomorrow night.

Being in the evening, I also took advantage of the Crown and Anchor Society Diamond level complimentary drinks from 5-8:30.  Because there are so many Diamond members onboard, Royal Caribbean converted the Attic on deck 4 into a temporary Diamond lounge.  I certainly got some value from this very nice perk.

I was so busy exploring the ship that I completely overlooked our sailaway from Port Everglades. Oh well, I will see it again later this week when I return to Harmony of the Seas!

I had planned to see Columbus the Musical at 8:30pm, but unfortunately there was so much motion this evening that the show (and The Fine Line) had to be cancelled. It was really quite odd how much motion we were experiencing so close to land.  As soon as we got out of the channel, the ship started swaying quite a bit.  The good news is by about 9pm or so, the motion subsided quite a bit, and as I am writing this, we are back to barely any movement. I took the extra time to enjoy the live music in Central Park.

I am happy to report that I was able to exchange my old WOWband from Anthem of the Seas to Guest Relations and I received a new WOWband with no issues.  Plus, I finally got a new color (white) to add to my collection.  Personally, I love the convenience of the WOWbands over the SeaPass card.  No digging in my pocket for the SeaPass card and it is so easy getting back into my stateroom.

Since I had my handy, dandy WOWband, I wanted to test it out, so in the name of research...I had a drink from the Bionic Bar.  I ordered one of the stock drinks, and there is no denying how cool it is for a machine to make a drink on demand.  

There was a second showing of Columbus the Musical at 10:30, so I tried for this showing and the motion subsided enough that the show could go on.

I had some high expections for this original Royal Caribbean production and I have to say, it did not disappoint at all. It is a fun show with a goofy, yet endearing plot that works in a lot of hit songs you can easily sing along to.  Easily another must-see show for Royal Caribbean!

Tomorrow we will be in Nassau, but I plan on staying onboard to explore more of Harmony of the Seas!

Random Observations

  • Starbucks did not have the Christmas/green cup drinks yet.  Those drinks came out during Harmony's transatlantic, so I did not expect them to have that quick of a turnarond. I asked, and no coffee card on this sailing either.
  • Due to the Customs delay, our muster drill (and sailaway) was pushed back 15 minutes.
  • Today was the first day of the neighborhood balcony perks.  My perks include free soda drink package, a free meal at Johnny Rockets and a private rock climbing session.  I need to investigate how one "cashes in" on those last two perks.
  • Our cruise director, Abe, made an announcement that due to the embarkation issues many guests experience, Royal Caribbean is giving everyone onboard Voom for free.  If you bought Voom, you will get a credit.  Not a bad start to the cruise!
  • I spotted a Walking Dead reference in the cooridor of deck 9!
  • It definitely pays to pre-book a Royal Caribbean drink package before your cruise. Here are the posted rates for the drink packages if purchased onboard.

Harmony of the Seas 2016 Live Blog - Cruise Preview

In:
03Nov2016

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas is nearly at her new home of Port Everglades, Florida, and I will be onboard two of the first few sailings and LIVE blogging every day of the cruise, to share with you what it is like to experience this amazing ship.

This is a somewhat different type of live blog, and cruise experience, for me.  I will be on two different sailings, separated by two days between them.  Our cruise begins later this week, but here is a cruise preview to share with you what to expect on our trip!

The Cruise

As I mentioned, I will be on two different Harmony of the Seas sailings. The first is a three-night Bahamas cruise on November 5th, and the other is a two-night Bahamas cruise on November 10th.

The story of booking this cruise goes back a few months ago, when Royal Caribbean invited me to come aboard a two-night Harmony of the Seas preview cruise, where members of the media, travel agents and other VIP's are invited to check out this new ship.

Royal Caribbean Blog has been lucky enough to have been invited to a couple other preview sailings on Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, so to be honored with an invite for this sailing is quite wonderful.

These two-night preview cruises go by extremely quickly, and are filled with a number of events meant to educate and provide a deeper insight into how the ship functions. The events are very interesting and offer quite a bit of insight, but it comes at the expense of the limited time onboard.

I had noticed there was a 3-night sailing on Harmony of the Seas just prior to my 2-night sailing, and it was over a weekend.  This seemed to be the perfect solution to allowing me additional time for ship-based research prior to the media cruise experience.

With as much of a serious tone that one can use in a written blog post, I will be using my collective 5-nights on Harmony of the Seas to spend it researching what is unique about this ship, and using my time to collect information that I plan on using in future blog posts.  Of course, I relish this sort of "work", and the opportunity to check out Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship is extremely exciting to me.

Stateroom

I will be staying in two different stateroom categories between the two sailings.

On the first sailing, I will be in a Boardwalk view balcony stateroom.  When I made the reservation, I got a Neighborhood Balcony Guarantee stateroom, because it was less expensive and I was fairly open to the room type.  I will be sailing solo on the 3-night sailing and believe it or not, the Neighborhood Balcony Guarantee was the cheapest option available.

After a couple of weeks, my room was assigned and discovered it would be a Neighborhood Balcony guarantee.  I have stayed in Central Park Balcony rooms, but never a Boardwalk Balcony.  I am excited to try something new and see what the whole Boardwalk view experience is all about.  Also, my room is very close to the end of the hall (4 rooms away from the aft of the ship), so I am hoping I might have a decent view of the AquaTheater too.

On the two-night sailing, my wife will join me and we will be in an oceanview balcony.

This is a classic stateroom option, and this will be the first time I will be staying in an oceanview balcony on an Oasis class ship.

Itinerary

Both cruises are short and will include a stop in Nassau, Bahamas, although I do not plan on getting off the ship on any of the stops.  I want to take full advantage of my time onboard Harmony of the Seas, and will stay onboard to ensure I have as much time as possible to experience as much of what the ship offers as I can.  Plus, I will be back to Nassau in March on a different sailing, so there will be time to explore there later.

Three things I am excited to try

3. Water slides

Harmony of the Seas features a number of firsts, and its water slides are one aspect of the ship that many families are super excited to try.  Even as an adult, I cannot wait to try them out for myself and check out one of the first water slides at sea on a Royal Caribbean ship.

There are three new slides on Harmony of the Seas, collectively known as The Perfect Storm. Two racer slides and a champagne bowl slide mean I will be taking quite a few trips (in the name of research).

2. Boardwalk balcony

This is my first time staying in a Boardwalk balcony stateroom, and I am excited to compare the experience to staying in a Central Park balcony. Both room types are quite popular with many guests, and getting a chance to check it out for myself is going to be a real highlight.

When staying in a neighborhood balcony, the key feature is the balcony experience.  I always loved having the ambiance of Central Park around me, so I cannot wait to see what it is like with the busy nature of the Boardwalk.

1. Columbus, The Musical!

Of all the amazing entertainment that I have booked so far on Harmony of the Seas, the one I am most excited to see for myself is Columbus, The Musical!

This is a Royal Caribbean original production that was created in the same style as Something Rotten and Spamalot. I have high hopes for this show, based on the reviews I have read about it and the stories I have heard from Royal Caribbean about the show's creation.

What's next

Our Harmony of the Seas cruise begins on Saturday, November 5th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on TwitterFacebookInstagram 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!

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