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Photo tour of Category B1 Boardwalk View Stateroom with Balcony on Harmony of the Seas

In:
16 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas has a lot to offer, including a number of staterooms.  Today, we will look at the category B1 Boardwalk View Stateroom with Balcony, which will take you through the cabin to provide an idea of what to expect if you book this category stateroom.

On Harmony of the Seas, we reviewed stateroom 9723, which is located on Deck 9 aft, fairly close to the end of the hall. In fact, it is just four staterooms away from the end of the deck.  Entry to the room is by RFID scanner, which is above the door handle.

Walking into the room, you will immediately see the light from the balcony shining ahead of you.

The bed is joined together but can be split apart if need be. There's a large, flat screen television across from it and two night stands on opposite sides of the bed. Access to the balcony is also on the other side of the bed.

Across from the bed is a widescreen, high definition television.

Beyond the bed is a large sofa, with desk and chair opposite it. This is where the bulk of the indoor living space is located and the room offers a good amount of space to navigate between objects and other guests.

A B1 stateroom features a full bathroom as well with stand up shower.

Of course, the reason to book this stateroom is the balcony.

The balcony provides a full view of the Boardwalk neighborhood, and a partial view of the AquaTheater.

The balcony is 47 square feet in size, with the stateroom measuring 182 square feet.  There is certainly enough room for two adults to enjoy the space together.  In fact, there is a lot of storage space provided in this room, which is more than the storage space provided on Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean offering inexpensive Caribbean shore excursions starting at $19

In:
16 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Shore Excursions offerings are now featuring some inexpensive shore excursions for guests on shorter sailings to Nassau, Bahamas and Key West, Florida.  Many of our readers are always interested in good and low-cost shore excursion options, so perhaps some of these will be helpful.

 

Through March 7, 2017, guests sailing on Empress of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas can take advantage of these fun and inexpensive tours.

Nassau Tours

Key West Tours

Harmony of the Seas Cruise Review on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
16 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Episode 172 is available for downloading where Matt shares his thoughts on his recent cruises aboard Harmony of the Seas.

Matt experienced a lot onboard Harmony of the Seas, and this week, he dives into what makes Harmony of the Seas unique and discusses the aspects of dining, entertainment and accomodations that stood out and why.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 172. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Royal Caribbean offering Crown and Anchor members bonus 5% discount on all cruises

In:
15 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is rewarding its loyal customers with bonus savings just for members of Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program, the Crown and Anchor Society.

For a limited time, guests that are Gold tier or higher in Crown and Anchor Society can save an extra 5% on select sailings through June 2017 on bookings made between November 15 - 30, 2016.

With this bonus offer, guests will receive get 30% Savings off sailings departing between December 15, 2016 to March 31, 2017 and Europe Sailings departing between April 15, 2017 to June 30, 2017. Offer excludes China departures. 

Offer is not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including but not limited to Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates, and Shareholder benefits.

Restaurant Review: Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas

In:
15 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Ever since Royal Caribbean introduced the Wonderland restaurant on Quantum of the Seas, the concept has resonated with many guests who find the aura of this sort of not-so-typical restaurant truly attractive. With Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has seemingly "doubled down" on the idea with its largest Wonderland yet.

Of all the specialty restaurants on Harmony of the Seas, perhaps no other restaurant has attracted as much intrigue surrounding what it is like to dine there, so I made very certain on a recent sailing to try it out for myself.  I had dined at Wonderland on Quantum of the Seas, but I was curious how similar (or dissimilar) the version on Harmony of the Seas was and how this experience stacks up to my memory.

In full disclosure, Royal Caribbean invited me to try Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas as their guest for the purposes of this review. I promise I kept at least one eyebrow raised at any given time, in an effort to be as inquisitive as possible during the meal. 

Time to go through the looking glass (and eat)!

Atmosphere

If you are unfamiliar with Wonderland, it is a specialty restaurant developed by Royal Caribbean that is loosely based on the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland novel by Lewis Carroll.  Like all Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants, the food available is different than anywhere else on the ship, but it also is big on the experience.

Wonderland is located in the aft of Deck 12, in a rather quiet part of the ship. Unlike other specialty restaurants that are in busy neighborhoods, or areas of the ship with a lot of foot traffic, Wonderland is on what is otherwise a deck of staterooms, so one really has to go in search of Wonderland to come across it (unless your stateroom happens to be on Deck 12).

Unlike Wonderland on Quantum class ships, this restaurant does not feature a whole lot of ornate decorations outside the restaurant. Instead, it squeezes them on the interior of the space.  So while you might not get the same sense of curiosity simply by passing by on Harmony of the Seas, the restaurant's look more than makes up for it once inside.

Entering the restaurant is via a tunnel that leads to a golden door.  The door is symbolic, and can easily be side-stepped, but it represents the disconnect between the "real world" and the experiences you will encounter in Wonderland.

Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas is comprised of two decks, a first for any Wonderland restaurant.  The entrance area, along with a bar and a few tables are located on the top deck of Wonderland, while a majority of the seating and the kitchen are located down the stairs on the lower deck.

Like all Wonderland restaurants, the decorations are quite ornate. The motif of the decor is meant to intrigue.  Wonderland is purposefully different, both in look and experience, so stepping foot inside should instantly accompany a thought that this is somewhere unlike anywhere else.

The most prominent part of Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas is the view of the Boardwalk. On the Quantum class ships, Wonderland had no view to speak of, but we have here a floor-to-ceiling window that overlooks the Boardwalk.  It is a stunning view, which really looks amazing at night when the ship is lit up.

There are plenty of decorations on and around the tables.  Guests will find odds and ends that evoke the overarching story that you are dining somewhere very different than you are used to dining on land or at sea.

Like Wonderland on other Royal Caribbean ships, the serving staff also dress for the part.  You will see them wearing velvet jackets and playing their part in acting just a little bit silly.

Eats

Sitting down for your meal, the experience of Wonderland begins immediately with the menu.  Each guest is given a picture frame with a blank menu and paintbrush. 

Guests are then instructed to dip their paintbrush into water and "paint" the picture that reveals the menu.  A bit of a spoiler if you have never dined there before, but it is always a fun experience.

Like the restaurant, nothing is conventional with the menu.  For our meal, the waiter brought us out a number of choices he picked from the menu to sample, followed up with an entree of our choice. In all of my meals at Wonderland, this has been the typical experience with the waiter bringing out a variety of bite-size appetizers to sample before the main course.

Each appetizer was shared at the table, and they all tend to look a little different, but ended up tasting better than they look.  The idea is to intrigue guests with the the presentation of the food, and then follow that up with food that is quite tasty.

In terms of the entrees, the terroir beef is still my top pick for what to order.  I had it on Quantum of the Seas, and my wife tried it again on this sailing and it is simply very, very good.  The meat is fall-off-the-bone quality, and the flavor is just perfect.

I also tried the branzino in crispy bread, because the waiter recommended it.  It was a small portion, but tasted great.  Still, hard to beat that terroir beef.

The desserts were a bit different than I had on Quantum of the Seas.  We had three dessert options for us to share at the table.

By far, the chocolate globe was the best.  It tasted like a Snickers candy bar and was something I wanted to have just to myself.

Overall

Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas attracts a lot of attention from guests who are intrigued by the concept, and it is safe to say that it is well-deserved.  On a cruise ship filled with plenty of dining options, Wonderland stands apart as an unique option.

The reason to dine at Wonderland is the blend of an eclectic motif and some very good food. Unlike any other specialty restaurant, the experience and "schtick" of Wonderland are what endears the restaurant to many guests and makes it as compelling an option as it is.

It is important to note that Wonderland does come with a rather high price tag for a specialty restaurant. Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas costs $45 per person, which is not a cheap specialty restaurant, but then again, there is no other specialty restaurant  that compares to the overall experience.

Wonderland certainly has a wide-ranging appeal.  Guests that are new to cruising will love the prospect of trying something new like this, and veteran cruisers will find Wonderland a welcome change from the typical specialty restaurant scene.

In short, Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas is a very different experience and perhaps the most intriguing Royal Caribbean dining experience that needs to be tried at least once to fully appreciate.

Wonderland is open for dinner and we reviewed Wonderland aboard Harmony of the Seas.

Top 10 Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas hidden secrets

In:
14 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas is a massive cruise ship, packed to the brim with lots of things to see and do.  With a ship that large, it can be easy to miss a few diamonds in the rough.  

Having sailed on Harmony of the Seas, here is our list of best hidden secrets that can be missed on Harmony of the Seas.

1. Bridge wings and see-through floor

Oasis class ships are known for their bridge wings, which offer small observational platforms on either side of the ship that extend away from the ship's main structure, to provide one-of-a-kind perspectives.

The bridge wings are located on deck 14 of the Solarium, at the very front of the ship and are accessible at any time by simply walking to them.

Keep in mind that each bridge wing is different from the other.  The port bridge wing has a see-through floor panel in one point, which allows a guest to see directly down to the ocean below them.

The starboard bridge wing does not have the see-through panel, but does have a telescope.

2. Secret entrance to bridge wings

The bridge wings are accessible from the Solarium, but there is a lesser-known means of getting directly to the port bridge wing without going to the pool deck first.

Go to the port side of deck 14 and walk all the way forward.  At the very end of the hallway is a door that leads to the Solarium, and the port bridge wing.

3. Stairwells are color coded

A ship the size of Harmony of the Seas might have some guests concerned about getting around, but Royal Caribbean color coded the stairwells to make it easier to quickly know if you are where you should be.

There are 4 color codes to help guests quickly understand where they are.

  • Forward port: orange
  • Forward starboard: green
  • Aft port: blue
  • Aft starboard: yellow

A wall in each stairwell will have these colors, which makes it easier to know if you are in the right stairwell for you.

4. Chairs at aft of ship

If you want to enjoy the aft view of the ship, Royal Caribbean has set up a space for you.

On the jogging deck (deck 5), there are a number of chairs set up at the rear of the ship that provide a great view of the ocean.  This area doubles as an usually quiet spot to relax too.

5. WOWbands can be purchased at Guest Services

Have you heard about Royal Caribbean's RFID bracelets that work just like a SeaPass card, but with far greater convenience? You might see some guests wearing them on Harmony of the Seas and wonder how to get one for yourself.

If you want to get a WOWband, head over to Guest Services on the Royal Promenade.  At any point in your cruise, go there and ask to purchase one (or more).  There are 4 colors, although the colors are tied to your muster station, so you will be limited by that requirement as to which colors you can use.

The cost for a WOWband is $4.99, although you can bring them back on future cruises that have WOWbands enabled and exchange them for a new one without any additional cost.

6. The secret to going faster on the water slides

Harmony of the Seas features 3 very fun water slides that guests can enjoy time and time again, but if you want to get down these slides as quickly as possible, here are two important tips.

First, cross your arms and legs while going down the slide.  In all cases, the least resistance in the water (and slide) that you have, the faster you will go.

Second, the least amount of clothing you wear will result in faster speeds. Rash guards, t-shirts and more elaborate swim suits will result in you slowing down.  In fact, the crew members say for optimal speed, men wearing a Speedo swimsuit would be ideal.

7. You can use the Royal Caribbean app without paying for Voom

If you are sailing on Harmony of the Seas, you can use Royal Caribbean's smart phone app, which has a number of useful features, including being able to check the Cruise Compass, manage dining reservations and book shore excursions.

Even if you are not paying for an internet package, you can still use the app.  Simply download the app before you get onboard the ship and then start using it once connected to the Royal Caribbean WiFi network.

All the app's features will be available for use throughout your cruise.

8. Least crowded places for embarkation day lunch

Embarkation day can lead to lots of guests wanting to get something to eat as they get onboard their cruise. As a result, popular spots like Cafe Promenade and the Windjammer are frequently crowded.

There are two great spots to avoid those crowds on embarkation day and still get a great selection of choices for lunch.

  • Solarium Bistro - Deck 14 forward
  • Park Cafe - Deck 8 mid-ship in Central Park

Both venues have some really good choices and are complimentary.

9. Best spot for any parade on the Royal Promenade

The best spot for seeing the Let's Celebrate parade is going to be right in front of Sorrento's.

The complimentary pizza restaurant has lots of space to enjoy the show, and is situated at the center of the entertainment. While these events have the word "parade" in the titles, they tend to be events where the entertainment deploys to a certain area, performs and then marches around before exiting.  The bulk of the entertainment occurs while they are deployed to a certain area, and being in front of Sorrento's will be the perfect spot to see it all.

10. Keep your elbows in when riding the Ultimate Abyss

Many guests likely have the Ultimate Abyss slide near the top of their must-do lists, but if you do go for a ride (or four), make very certain you keep your elbows in to avoid a nasty scrape.

Due to the high rate of speed experienced on Ultimate Abyss rides, you will want to make very certain to keep your elbows in and legs straight.  If part of your arm comes in contact with the slide during the ride down, it can result in a rather painful bruise.  

Did we miss any Harmony of the Seas secrets? Share them in our comments!

Photos from Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas inaugural sailaway from Port Canaveral

In:
14 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean and Port Canaveral celebrated the official inaugural sailing of Oasis of the Seas from her new homeport in Port Canaveral, Florida.

A ceremony was held onboard the ship with the ship's staff, and culminated with a fantastic send-off during the ship's scheduled departure.

Port Canaveral held a Sail-a-bration event at Jetty Park, which is located along the Port Canaveral channel.  Port Canaveral provided games and entertainment for onlookers during the day to enjoy, leading up to Oasis of the Seas' departure.

Oasis of the Seas will offer year-round 7-night sailings from Port Canaveral to destinations in the eastern and western Caribbean.

Harmony of the Seas officially named by her Godmother

In:
13 Nov 2016
By: 
Matt Hochberg

At long last, Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas had her official naming ceremony over the weekend, with a spectacular naming ceremony that starred the ship's Godmother, a "hometown hero" in Education, Brittany Affolter.

The event took place onboard Harmony of the Seas, and included Affolter, as well as singer-songwriter Jon Secada.  The two took turns during the event to celebrate the ship's official arrival in her new home.  

The ship's Godmother, Brittany Affolter from Teach For America Miami-Dade, was selected as Godmother of Harmony of the Seas for her work in inspiring South Florida’s next generation to dream big, think differently and challenge the status quo. Royal Caribbean conducted a six-week search and received nearly one thousand nominees for the honor usually reserved for celebrities and royalty.

As with all traditional maritime namings, Royal Caribbean smashed a bottle of champagne on the ship, as part of the inauguration process.

To cap off the evening, an array of fireworks filled the sky over Port Everglades in commemoration of this special day.  

With Harmony of the Seas now in her new homeport, she will offer seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries throughout the year.

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

In:
12 Nov 2016
By: 
Michael Poole

Today is our second day onboard the Harmony of the Seas and we are docked in Nassau from 12pm-6pm. We started our day with some breakfast at Johnny Rockets. I know you must be thinking, did you not have dinner there last night? But on Oasis Class ships they offer free breakfast at Johnny Rockets, so off we went.

I ordered an omelet with a side of bacon. There are a few reasons I recommend having breakfast here. One, they are very fast so if you are looking to get in and out this place is perfect. Two, the food is really good, much better than the windjammer if you are looking for eggs. 

After breakfast we changed for some slides action, well on Harmony they have a total of 5 slides. There are 3 poolside, and the 2 large 10 story dry slides called Ultimate Abyss.

We did the dry slide first, Abyss and it was fast few seconds down to the boardwalk deck. The views from the boarding platform are unbelievable; the floor is all glass so you can see straight down. I wish I had taken my camera with me, but you cannot slide down with it, so I left it in the cabin.

After we went down we headed to the pool deck where I rode the water slides 4 more times. I know I shared my thoughts on them yesterday, but I just could not get enough of them.

If you are taking kids on this ship, they are going to love them! 

Cabin Crawl 

Since this is a special media sailing, they had one of every cabin type open for viewing. I have never seen the loft suites in person, so those are the only type I went to see.

The Royal Loft Suite was the most amazing cabin I have ever seen. The balcony alone was amazing, from the full bar set-up to the hot tub. I also went into the standard loft suite cabin, which felt a little smaller than I was expecting but there were 20-30 people in there viewing it also. 

Escape the Rubicon 

 On Anthem of the Seas they introduced their first escape room, and that transferred to Harmony. However, on Harmony they have a full room for the game and our host talked about on Anthem they just kind of added it in.

Needless to say, I did not want to go at all, but I had so much fun. You work together as a team to find clues in the room to ensure you escape within 1 hour. I am happy to report my team finished with 1:07 still on the clock! If you get the chance to play the game you will love it, I am sure just think out side the box is the only hint I will give you. 

Nassau, Bahamas 

 I had originally planned to stay onboard in Nassau since I was recently just here, and we only had 2 days onboard Harmony.

I just couldn’t resist not going to my favorite pub in Nassau Pirate Republic. It is the only craft brewery in Nassau and it is the very first bar you see once you get off the ship.

We only stayed for an hour since it was 3pm when we arrived. The beer was just as enjoyable as always, they have 3 – 3oz flights for $8. We headed back to the ship a little after 4:30pm. 

 Afternoon onboard 

 Once we got back onboard I noticed they had the ship decorated for Frindsgiving with balloons all blown for a party tonight. Really nice set-up, and I am sure they will use some of the footage for social media on Thanksgiving.

I ended up at the Pub back onboard and my girlfriend took a nap. They only offered a select type of beers, but I was happy Stella was one of them. I made good conversation with the bartender about their last few months in Europe. 

 Evening Onboard 

 Tonight we decided to spend most of our evening in Central Park. Usually when I sail on Oasis class ships it is late spring or summer and the park is extremely hot. But on our sailing Central Park felt so nice in the evening and I wanted to be outside enjoying the evening.

We had a few classes of wine in Vintages and again it was packed. I have never seen Vintages standing room only like this before, but it was tonight. They have self serve wine stations that you just tap your sea pass card up to and it pours wine.

I have seen this on other ships across the fleet, but never this many. 

 Dinner 

 Well I am sad to report our dinner tonight was at Sorrento’s Pizza. I was started to feel very tired at this point and did not want to eat in the main dining room. We went up toe the made to order pizza station and both got a personal pan pizza. They only take 10 minutes to bake and it was really good. If you ever want to wait for a snack get the made to order pizza, and it is complimentary too! 

 After dinner I decided to take a little nap before our evening, I should have known better but I never woke up. I guess all the non-stop action finally caught up to me and I enjoyed a full 11 hours of sleep. 

 Wrap Up 

 Thanks for follow along during my 2 day adventure on Harmony of the Seas. She is a great ship and I really cannot wait to get back on this ship in March. The décor onboard is very modern and really makes her stand out in my mind as the best ship in the fleet. But that does not mean I will abandon my small favorite ships.