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Harmony ūüŹą¬†Super Bowl ūüŹą¬†Cruise¬†[not] Live [at all] Blog - February 3-10, 2019

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Welcome to my [not] live [at all] blog from my Harmony of the Seas Super Bowl Cruise. I originally planned to do an actual live blog, but I knew that I would struggle to keep up with it while on the ship. So instead I decided to use the notes app on my phone to document what we did each day while taking lots photos and a few videos. I have always enjoyed following these live blogs and they've helped me get through several dry docks and countless boring days at work so I am excited to pay it forward. I have a lot of respect for the amount of work it takes, especially doing it live onboard. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to do one. Bare with me as this is my first time, and if you have any questions about the ship or ports feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer.

A little background on why we chose this cruise as well as on my wife and I…

We are age 29 and 30 and we live in Texas. We usually cruise out of Galveston, but we have been eyeing the Oasis class for years. We actually booked Harmony through Next Cruise on our last Liberty sailing, but decided to cancel because the flight made it just a little too expensive for us. After testing the waters with Carnival last year we now know that Royal Caribbean is the line for us and decided to take the leap and fly out to Florida to sail on Harmony. We went all out on this one and booked both the drink package as well as a 5 night dining package. The dining package was a first for us¬†so we were very excited to get to try all of the restaurants an Oasis class ship has to offer. My wife is a vegetarian, so there should be some good information in here about the vegetarian options at the different restaurants.¬†The Eastern Caribbean itinerary was also a first for us which we were very excited for.¬†We booked Harmony¬†about a year ago not even realizing this was during the Super Bowl cruise. It worked out great because we both love football and we are Texans fans so unfortunately our team is never there anyways!¬†ūüėí

 

Itinerary: St Maarten, San Juan, and Labadee

Stateroom: Central Park Balcony

 

I am going to try to post a day or two at a time to keep the same feel as a live blog. Here we go…

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Day 0 (Pre-Cruise Hotel)

We flew into Ft Lauderdale a day early and rented a car originally planning to drive down to Miami, but the weather wasn't great so we decided to just stay in town for the day. We booked the Sheraton Suites-Plantation using Priceline Express Deals for $127 all in. They were doing some construction all around the hotel building some sort of new shopping complex. We think this may have been why the deal was so good, but there was no noise issues and it didn't bother us at all. The hotel was great for the price and we would stay there again. It is located in West Ft Lauderdale about 20 minutes from the terminal but since we were renting a car anyways that was fine with us. Here of some photos of the hotel and our room.

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Day 0 (Pre-Cruise-Las Olas Boulevard)

We went down to Las Olas Boulevard to find something to eat and drink. We didn't want to go anywhere expensive and really just wanted something quick and easy. We took to Yelp and found a place called Empanada Top that served Argentinian style empanadas and had 4.5 stars on Yelp so we decided to give it a shot. We sat at the bar and got great service from the bartender who explained the difference between the different types of empanadas served in Central America. He said Argentinian empanadas are baked rather than fried. They had several different choices but I went with Beef and Shrimp while my wife ordered the Spinach and Spinach and Cheese. We both thought they were all really good, but if I had to pick a favorite it was the shrimp. It almost had an Italian type of flavor to it with mozzarella cheese which I wasn't expecting. They were very affordable as well at $3.90 per empanada.

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After that we headed right next door to El Camino to get some margaritas. They have an incredible selection of margaritas and it was hard to pick one because they all sounded so good. We chose the Smoked Pineapple and Watermelon Jalape√Īo. They have a really good happy hour, even on Saturday, that we just missed where you can get them for $5 or $6 which is a steal.¬†

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On the way back to the hotel we passed a Publix and decided to stop in to grab some last minute supplies. We also really wanted to check out Publix because we have heard a lot of good things about it. Here in Texas we have a similar store, H-E-B, that everyone loves and we were interested to compare them. I can see why people love it, and it is very similar to H-E-B. After that we headed back to the room to get some rest and get ready for the big day tomorrow. There is nothing quite like the anticipation felt the night before a cruise...

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Day 1 (Embarkation-Daytime)¬†ūüõ•ÔłŹ

We woke up early with plenty of time to return the rental car to the location right outside of Port Everglades. We used Budget and they did offer a complimentary shuttle to the cruise port, but it was taking a while and we thought it seemed like we might not fit on the first shuttle so we decided to Uber for $7 instead. We arrived at the port around 10:30AM, had our bags checked in, and were through security without ever having to wait. We probably sat in the waiting area past check-in for about 5-10 minutes before we were called to board.

When we got on it was a pretty surreal experience for us. It had been years in the making, and in a weird way it almost felt like we had been there before because we had watched so many YouTube videos and seen so many pictures. It would be cool to experience a ship without having seen any footage of it before, but that just isn't possible for us! The first thing we did was walk the promenade and check out the Bionic Bar before heading to the MDR to set up our specialty dining reservations. There were a few groups ahead of us so it took about 15 minutes before it was our turn to set up all of our reservations for the week. I am glad we went when we did because it looked a little busier later on. Shout out to @Matt for that tip!

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Once all of our dining reservations were set we headed down to Central Park to get a drink at the Trellis Bar and get a sneak peak of our room that was¬†located directly above the bar. Our first drinks were a Ginger Rye for me and a Mudslide for my wife. I was immediately impressed with the menu selection at the Trellis Bar. They had a whole page of drinks dedicated to each type of liquor and I saw several I was interested in trying. At this moment I knew that we were going to have no problem getting our money's worth out of the drink package. We sat and enjoyed our drinks in Central Park while staring at our room above the bar excited for the rooms to be ready. I will do a separate post for the room. After we finished our drinks we headed up to the Solarium to check out the Bridge Wing. Typical first time Oasis class cruiser stuff, I suppose. We also had lunch in the Solarium Bistro, but as a true live blog amateur I forgot to take a picture!¬†ūü§¶‚Äć‚ôāÔłŹ

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As all cruisers know, the cruise doesn't really begin until the muster drill is complete. Our muster station was in Guest Services so we headed down there to see this video I have heard so much about. It would have been nice to be in a station where we could sit for muster, but I do think the video is a nice change of pace from the regular old muster drill. Once that was completed we had one more super important thing to take care of: Avocado Margaritas! These were one of our favorite drinks we had on Liberty so we just had to go get one and check out Sabor on the Boardwalk. They were a little different then we remember, I think because they use a paste rather than mashing avocados but they were still delicious. 

After that it was off to sail away at the pool deck. We didn't know it at the time, but the man dancing in the referee uniform was our cruise director Daniel. He is filling in for Marc Walker while he is on vacation and we enjoyed him. The woman dancing in the photo was also the 2nd top cruiser at the Crown and Anchor ceremony. She was a lot of fun and you could always find her where the music was having a good time. Ft Lauderdale was a beautiful sail away, especially since we are accustomed to Galveston. It was cool seeing the tall buildings moving along the side and it almost looked like they were moving rather than the ship. I included a video down below to show what I am talking about.

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Room Tour (Central Park Balcony - 10229)

We booked a Central Park Balcony for this cruise because we liked the perks that came with it. You get a free bottle of red wine, which is nice, but we were really excited about the complimentary specialty lunch. I am a certified over-planner and this was a bit of a dream cruise for us, so I did quite a bit of research to find the perfect room. I wanted to get one of the larger balconies in Central Park that have been talked about on the blog in the past and I really liked that central area of the park near the Trellis Bar. When I originally booked on the RC website they didn't show any available so I just booked another room near the center, but then saw a comment on here from @Lovetocruise2002 about checking for all available rooms using Costco Travel's website. After doing this I was able to find one of the larger balconies available and called Royal to get it. Thank you so much for that tip!

The rooms were available right on schedule at 1:00PM. The size of the room worked great for us and there was more than enough storage for us. We didn't have any problems with the noise from the pool deck when the door was fully closed. You could faintly hear the music, but if you wanted to take a nap during the day the sound of the TV would drown it out. We were also directly below where they play from so if you wanted to hear it even less choose a room near the ends of Central Park. You'll also be closer to the elevator there as well. At night it was always very quiet and peaceful. Here are some pictures of the room, the bathroom, and balcony as well as a video of the view from the balcony. It was a great people watching spot and we also took a few naps out there as well. 

Note: I am not sure how often they do this, but they were replacing a lot of plants on the first day. The last picture is all of the plants in paper bags before they put them out. It was cool getting to see them getting them all being placed out there.

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2 hours ago, JLMoran said:

Loving the pictures and videos! That last one of central park was a really smooth pan, did you use a gimbal or is that just the built-in stabilization?

Thank you! I used a Go Pro 5 for that one. I used the Go Pro for most of the videos and my cell phone for most of the pictures. The Go Pro 5 was the first model they put out that had built in electronic stabilization so it does have some minor issues. It works really well for pans but tends to move a little on walking shots, especially in low light. It works best in sunlight shots in general and in my opinion on the 1080P and lower frames per second settings. I have heard the newer Go Pros have even better built in stabilization now.

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following along and can't wait to see more.   @cruiselife my wife and I are very much like yourselves.  all we've ever done is cruise out of Galveston but for 2020 we are flying to FL for our first Oasis cruise on Harmony too.   Thanks for sharing!

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Day 1 (Embarkation-Chops and Super Bowl Party)

For our first night we decided to go to Chops for dinner. We went as soon as they opened so that we could make sure to catch the majority of the game that night. I had the lobster bisque and 9 ounce filet and my wife got the wild mushroom soup and a caesar salad. We had sides of mashed potatoes and truffled fries. The waiter did offer my wife something different since she is a vegetarian but she wasn't all that hungry and was just in the mood for a ceasar salad. The highlights of the meal were definitely the wild mushroom soup and the filet. The filet was a perfect medium rare and my wife liked the soup so much she ordered another serving. The fries were incredibly good too. Although it wasn't our favorite restaurant I thought the steak was exceptional and that is what a steakhouse is all about, after all. For any vegetarians out there Chops probably isn't the best choice, not that it should come as a shock. We knew that going in but I really wanted to try the filet, so there was no disappointment there.

The service was a little bit poor to be honest. It took about 15 minutes to get greeted and there were only bout 5 or 6 tables in the whole restaurant. Once we ordered it got a little better but we still thought it took a little longer than it should have overall. It didn't bother us much though, nothing does on a cruise. No big deal.

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We skipped dessert so that we could get over to the Super Bowl party. It was also a part of our strategy to avoid feeling stuffed and miserable throughout the cruise. We were only going to order dessert if we still had room or something was just too good to pass up. We failed at that the majority of time but stuck to it on night 1.

There were multiple places to watch the Super Bowl on the ship. It was on in the On Air Club, the Pub, and the Aquatheatre and all of them were decorated for the big game. The real action was on the Boardwalk at the Aquatheatre which is where they had a nice little Super Bowl party setup. Since we were late to the party we didn't get pictures of the food they had set up but they had the typical football food you would expect like nachos, wings, hot dogs, burgers, fries, and various other finger foods. The only catch was that you had to pay $6 in order to have access to it, which had a lot of people talking. I did think it was a little odd since, for the most part, it was the same food available in the Windjammer. It didn't bother us much since we were so stuffed from Chops! A lot of people were grabbing food from the Dog House or the Windjammer and bringing it down which is probably what we would have done.

They also had a few ice sculptures and cakes set up that represented each team. The atmosphere was great in the Aquatheatre and even though it was a relatively uneventful game overall there was a lot of energy with the majority of people rooting for the Rams. We couldn't get a seat at first and watched the majority of the first half in the pub but we were eventually able to find seats in the Aquatheatre after halftime. I thought it would be a good idea in the future to maybe charge the $6 for access to the food and also reserved seating. Since we got there late I guess it is possible they did and we just didn't know, but I don't think that was the case. I probably would have paid $6 just for reserved seating because it was an awesome place to watch the Super Bowl. I know @Matt already spoiled the ending, but the Patriots won! Overall I think Royal Caribbean did a good job with it and it was a lot of fun to watch with such a large group.

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Following the Super Bowl we headed down to Entertainment Place to check out the night club in the Attic. It was really dead in there but they also had some music playing in Studio B and there were a few people in there but it was still a little slow. We decided to check out the Boot and Bonnet Pub and listen to some music to end the night. The guitarist for the week was named Kieron and he was from London. He was really good and became our favorite source of nighttime entertainment. We listened and sang along until he was done playing before grabbing some pizza from Sorrento's and heading to bed. Tomorrow is the first of two consecutive sea days.

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1 minute ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Your wife has excellent taste !  I also love, love, the cream of mushroom soup.  I can already (almost) taste it.  Will be boarding Anthem in 2 days !

I learned on this cruise that everything with truffle in it automatically tastes amazing! 

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Day 2 (Sea Day)

We woke up around 8:30 and decided on Johnny Rockets for breakfast. How cool is it waking up in the morning and deciding between several different breakfast spots and none of them cost anything? I managed to remember to snap a picture of the menu but once again forgot to get a picture of the food. It was a really good breakfast option and it was nice to have a sit down type breakfast that didn't take a long time. I had an omelette and my wife had the two eggs "her way" which was scrambled.

While eating breakfast the Ultimate Abyss caught my eye so I went to give it a try. It was a lot of fun. It isn't as fast as it looks but still fast enough to be a thrill. After that we took a walk around the jogging track. A lot of people talk about trying to find that connection with the sea on Oasis class ships and this is definitely the place to find it. The chairs on the track along the back and sides of the ship are great spots to read or just relax. I love that peaceful sound of waves crashing against the ship.

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I was still feeling a little bit groggy from exercising my drink package rights the night before so I decided to exercise them again, only this time on a juice from Vitality Cafe in the spa. I suck at eating vegetables so I decided to just have them put all of the vegetables they had in there with some ginger and lemon. The orange color comes from the carrots, and while it doesn't look all that appealing I really enjoyed it. They also have smoothies as well there and I think these options are an underrated aspect of the drink package. I swear they cure hangovers, but it may just be that fresh salty air.

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Then it was time for the World's Sexiest Man competition. If you have seen one of these then you have pretty much seen them all, but it is one of those fun things that remind you that you are on a cruise and we enjoy watching it. After the competition we stayed on the pool deck and enjoyed some music from the pool band for a while. We thought they were a really good pool band.

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After that we walked around in the Solarium and talked to a nice couple we met out on the bridge wing for a little while. Here are a few short videos of the Solarium and the bridge wing on Harmony for anyone who has never seen it before. Now it was time to head back to the room and get ready for dinner. We are going to 150 Central Park tonight.

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Day 3 (Sea Night)

Before dinner we stopped by Dazzles because we heard the house band music and it drew us in. I definitely agree that Dazzles is an underrated venue on Oasis class ships. I loved the energy of the live band and the venue itself is incredibly nice. We listened for a while and when they stopped playing they were setting up for the Finish That Lyric Gameshow so we stuck around and watched that for a while as well. It was really fun to watch and I'm glad we happened upon it but we had to leave early for our dinner reservation at 150 Central Park.

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150 Central Park was probably the venue that my wife and I were the most excited about and it didn't disappoint. Not only were there a ton of options for my wife, but I also had trouble narrowing it down to just one item, so I didn't. For appetizers I had the Seared Honey Glazed Scallops and my wife had the Roasted Spiced Pumpkin Bisque and we both really enjoyed them. For entrees my wife had the Cauliflower Steak and I had the Roasted Beef Tenderloin and also the Lobster Thermidor. They were both incredibly good and I honestly couldn't pick a favorite. If I went back I would order both again. We finished off the meal with the fried cheesecake which was also great. Our waiter, Andre, was probably the best waiter we have ever had anywhere.

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Once we finished an amazing meal we were incredibly excited to go see Grease! We had reservations but we were running a little bit late and only managed to get there about 15 minutes early. Even though they hadn't started letting the standby group in it was already packed and we could not find a seat together anywhere. We spoke with a crew member and we were able to book Grease for the last night of the cruise. We learned our lesson on getting there only 15 minutes early. If you want to make sure that you get a good seat or if you have a larger group I would recommend getting there at least 20-30 minutes early.

It actually worked out because we were able to get into the comedy show that we probably wouldn't have been able to see otherwise. I didn't get any photos but the comedians were both funny. We went and had a few drinks after the show and then wound up back in The Attic for the silent disco. For anyone who has never been this is a night club event where everyone is given headphones and two choices of music to play. The color on the headphones indicates what music someone is listening to. It was a lot of fun to see everyone dancing and then take off the headphones and basically hear nothing but people singing. It was a blast and everybody seemed to really enjoy it. Here is a picture and a video of it. After that we headed to bed. Another sea day was coming tomorrow.

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