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Harmony of the Seas Experience - 8/22 - Barcelona/Florence/Pisa/Rome


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We just docked back in Barcelona and I figured I’d jump on and share our experience with everyone. Would love to answer questions as I’m sure many of you had questions similar to what we had.

Overall, we had an incredible time and have almost nothing but good to say about our first “post-covid” cruise.

On our ship, that carries over 6000 passengers, had 900 on board. We heard we picked up 300 more in Rome, but can’t confirm that. We hear there’s 600 on the 8/29 sailing. The ship was unbelievably empty. We bid the lowest amount on a RoyalUp suite and won. So, we were spoiled with a bigger room and incredibly empty ship. Everyone paid so much attention to you. No lines at slides, empty mini golf, empty rock wall and flow rider… you could do anything you wanted. Shows were well attended, but still so much seating available.

One of the only complaints we had, sorry had to add it in, was the push for specialty dining. The first two days, literally every crew member that saw you, would give you a 5 minute spiel about the packages. It became very annoying. After day 2, we only heard it here and there.

Excursions had to be through Royal Caribbean, but they all went smoothly. Not my style of tours, but we were happy to see all of the sites. The tours were even smaller groups and some people didn’t even get off the ship. Shopping was usually cut out, as we weren’t able to go out on our own. We still managed to get some good souvenirs. Heads up on the churches… you don’t go inside. So ignore the “wear pants and sleeves” rule, or at least ask about it.

Testing went well. We had a test at the beginning and the end. A couple passengers did test positive and were immediately removed from line and weren’t allowed on the ship. You get your results before they even let you on. Nerve racking, but once you get the results, it felt so good to just get on board.

The new muster drill is AMAZING! You just watch a couple safety videos on the RC app and you get it checked off near the entrance of the ship. Takes 2 minutes.

Everything on the ship was open. Masks were required at all indoor spaces, so if you just hang out outside, problem solved. The staff was not even super strict about pointing out if a mask falls below your nose, etc. We even took our masks off at most tours, because it seems Italy is only “requiring” it for cruise passengers. In Florence, it blew me away how many tourists there were and we were the only group with masks.

Play bingo and go to the contests and auctions, because there’s no competition on the ship. Attend the casino drawings and raffles. We won more stuff on this cruise because our chances were so much higher. We even won a $1200 painting (3 groups at the raffle)

As always, food was amazing, shows were awesome, crew was all smiles, and everything felt very normal for cruising. Can’t wait for masks to become non-existent.

Let me know what else you want to know? For those holding out… just go. It will be worth it to be on an empty ship.

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Hi, thank you for all the info. We are getting on in 2 weeks. Just a few questions. You said they were trying to sell speciality dining. Any idea about the prices or deals, because i am thinking about booking a few and don't know if perhaps it would be cheaper to book now pre cruise or onboard.

Same question for the excursions. Last week there appeared a few excursions in the cruise planner that were very reasonably priced for the italian ports. They are mostly highlight coach tours and cost about 37 to 40 euros. 

Any drinks deals throughout the week? 2 for 1 or, happy hour or perhaps the 10 drinks cards they sold in the past. 

In addition to the 18% gratuity , am i correct that there is extra tax (VAT) on everything you buy onboard. 

About the testing . How long did it take you to get the result of the test for embarkation’ when did you get onboard. When did you get the test to get of the ship in barcelona and how did you know the results.

And finally what time did you get off on debarkation day and what was the latest time slot for getting off.

Thank you so much, and apologies for all the questions .

 

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Thanks for all the info. We're going there on October 3rd. We look forward very much to this cruise after what seems like an eternity since our last.

I wonder about Mallorca though. I've read that at that port you can go out on your own, without booking a tour (unlike Italy). Was that the case? Or what did you experience?

Thank you.

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Thanks for the info. 

How was the debarkation process? Do you know what was earliest possible time to get off the ship? We will have return flight leaving at 10 am and I do have stress about it a bit.

 

 

Was there mandatory daily temperature checks and if so how those were conducted? Did you have to linger on your cabin and wait for staff to check your temperature?

Edited by Wanderer
I forgot to ask.
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On 8/29/2021 at 1:07 PM, Freddyfish said:

Hi, thank you for all the info. We are getting on in 2 weeks. Just a few questions. You said they were trying to sell speciality dining. Any idea about the prices or deals, because i am thinking about booking a few and don't know if perhaps it would be cheaper to book now pre cruise or onboard.

Same question for the excursions. Last week there appeared a few excursions in the cruise planner that were very reasonably priced for the italian ports. They are mostly highlight coach tours and cost about 37 to 40 euros. 

Any drinks deals throughout the week? 2 for 1 or, happy hour or perhaps the 10 drinks cards they sold in the past. 

In addition to the 18% gratuity , am i correct that there is extra tax (VAT) on everything you buy onboard. 

About the testing . How long did it take you to get the result of the test for embarkation’ when did you get onboard. When did you get the test to get of the ship in barcelona and how did you know the results.

And finally what time did you get off on debarkation day and what was the latest time slot for getting off.

Thank you so much, and apologies for all the questions .

 

1. Specialty Dining - I would say that the deals weren't any better than what I've seen in the past. They did offer a 2 dinner package, for two, for about 130 euros. I will admit that I don't know a lot about the prices for specialty dining, but it didn't seem a lot better than what I've seen in the past.

2. Excursions - We didn't try it, but they offered 50% off some excursions on board. There were some people that cancelled their excursion and rebooked to get the 50% off. It was very limited excursions, so it wasn't 50% off on the ones that we had booked. It didn't seem like the other deals were better. We did book one, since one of ours was cancelled, and the prices were the same as we saw online.

3. Drink deals - On day 1, there as a deal on the Deluxe Drink Package. I think it was get one and get a second 50% off. Not sure if that will be on every cruise.

4. Taxes - yes, that is correct. We have about 10 receipts that we're going to give to customs in the US to get a majority of the tax back. They'll be sending us about $300 in tax refunds within the next week or so. We did have to pay them on board though.

5. Testing - It took about 10 minutes for us to get the results to our tests. They weren't very clear on what to do, so we probably waited longer than we needed. Once you get your negative result, you just walk up and show the crew member in your boarding zone and they'll tell you to go ahead. You'll do your final test the day before you get off, and it takes about 10 minutes to get that result too. The first test we did was the "brain test" where they shoved it up our nose as far as they could. The final test was just 1cm in the nostril, which I appreciated.

6. Debarkation - We opted for the very last slot, and ours was 8:45am. We got breakfast in the Windjammer and then took our time walking off the ship.

Happy to help!

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On 8/29/2021 at 1:50 PM, Ban-One said:

Thanks for all the info. We're going there on October 3rd. We look forward very much to this cruise after what seems like an eternity since our last.

I wonder about Mallorca though. I've read that at that port you can go out on your own, without booking a tour (unlike Italy). Was that the case? Or what did you experience?

Thank you.

I don't believe so. Where we docked, they boarded us right on the busses. It didn't appear that anybody was able to go out on their own. Things are always changing frequently though.

We had the bike tour booked, but it was cancelled because we were the only ones signed up. ?  After that, we booked the caves tour, which I would ABSOLUTELY recommend.

Spain is requiring masks everywhere you go, and are pretty strict about it.

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21 hours ago, Wanderer said:

Thanks for the info. 

How was the debarkation process? Do you know what was earliest possible time to get off the ship? We will have return flight leaving at 10 am and I do have stress about it a bit.

 

 

Was there mandatory daily temperature checks and if so how those were conducted? Did you have to linger on your cabin and wait for staff to check your temperature?

The debarkation process was so smooth. The earliest possible time to get off was 6:00am. We met another couple that had a 10am flight and they made it off easy. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the airport, so you should be there by 7:00am at the latest. 

There are mandatory temp checks every single day. if you miss it (which we often did because of early excursions), you have to go to guest services to get it or they will call you down. Nobody gets away with it. Haha. All joking aside though, it was super easy and they just grabbed you as you left or came back to your room. It was quick and easy. 

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On 8/29/2021 at 12:39 AM, crabkitty said:

We just docked back in Barcelona and I figured I’d jump on and share our experience with everyone. Would love to answer questions as I’m sure many of you had questions similar to what we had.

Overall, we had an incredible time and have almost nothing but good to say about our first “post-covid” cruise.

On our ship, that carries over 6000 passengers, had 900 on board. We heard we picked up 300 more in Rome, but can’t confirm that. We hear there’s 600 on the 8/29 sailing. The ship was unbelievably empty. We bid the lowest amount on a RoyalUp suite and won. So, we were spoiled with a bigger room and incredibly empty ship. Everyone paid so much attention to you. No lines at slides, empty mini golf, empty rock wall and flow rider… you could do anything you wanted. Shows were well attended, but still so much seating available.

One of the only complaints we had, sorry had to add it in, was the push for specialty dining. The first two days, literally every crew member that saw you, would give you a 5 minute spiel about the packages. It became very annoying. After day 2, we only heard it here and there.

Excursions had to be through Royal Caribbean, but they all went smoothly. Not my style of tours, but we were happy to see all of the sites. The tours were even smaller groups and some people didn’t even get off the ship. Shopping was usually cut out, as we weren’t able to go out on our own. We still managed to get some good souvenirs. Heads up on the churches… you don’t go inside. So ignore the “wear pants and sleeves” rule, or at least ask about it.

Testing went well. We had a test at the beginning and the end. A couple passengers did test positive and were immediately removed from line and weren’t allowed on the ship. You get your results before they even let you on. Nerve racking, but once you get the results, it felt so good to just get on board.

The new muster drill is AMAZING! You just watch a couple safety videos on the RC app and you get it checked off near the entrance of the ship. Takes 2 minutes.

Everything on the ship was open. Masks were required at all indoor spaces, so if you just hang out outside, problem solved. The staff was not even super strict about pointing out if a mask falls below your nose, etc. We even took our masks off at most tours, because it seems Italy is only “requiring” it for cruise passengers. In Florence, it blew me away how many tourists there were and we were the only group with masks.

Play bingo and go to the contests and auctions, because there’s no competition on the ship. Attend the casino drawings and raffles. We won more stuff on this cruise because our chances were so much higher. We even won a $1200 painting (3 groups at the raffle)

As always, food was amazing, shows were awesome, crew was all smiles, and everything felt very normal for cruising. Can’t wait for masks to become non-existent.

Let me know what else you want to know? For those holding out… just go. It will be worth it to be on an empty ship.

First off let me include my gratitude for all the wonderful updates you have provided to us with future sail dates. It helps ease some of the stress of the unknown. I have some follow up questions of my own.

1. For daily temperature checks, I was under the impression this was for only non-vaccinated guests. Are you confirming that all guests regardless of vaccination status had to have daily temperature checks?

2. For testing it is my understanding that no test has to be taken before arriving to the terminal. That the only test you had to take or show evidence of is the negative result taken at the terminal. Basically asking do I need a negative test before arriving to the terminal?

3. I was wondering if you took home copies of the Cruise Compass? If it would be possible to share in this forum we would all be appreciative of this to see what activities are being offered. I think I saw on the August 15th cruise there was no musical. But have seen crew hired for a Grease musical that may not have started yet.

4. The other thing that I found surprising on the August 15th cruise compass I saw was that there was live music, but a disclaimer that there was no dancing. That you had to listen to the music and remain seated in your chair. Can you confirm if anyone was up dancing, or was it only chair swaying during the music.

5. Can you advise which excursion you went on where you didn’t go into the church, and not required to “cover up” was that the one in Florence. As that disclaimer was on the tour we booked as well, and we assumed it was because we were going into the Duomo.

Thank you again in advance for the wonderful help.

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On 8/29/2021 at 6:39 AM, crabkitty said:

 

On our ship, that carries over 6000 passengers, had 900 on board. We heard we picked up 300 more in Rome, but can’t confirm that. We hear there’s 600 on the 8/29 sailing. The ship was unbelievably empty. We bid the lowest amount on a RoyalUp suite and won. So, we were spoiled with a bigger room and incredibly empty ship. Everyone paid so much attention to you. No lines at slides, empty mini golf, empty rock wall and flow rider… you could do anything you wanted. Shows were well attended, but still so much seating available.

 

I Think you could be wrong, because the first date available for  boarding from Civitavecchia was on 2 September.  I will be there.
Also I could tell you, there are many problems with the cabins, and the app for this date

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17 hours ago, LanceRomance said:

First off let me include my gratitude for all the wonderful updates you have provided to us with future sail dates. It helps ease some of the stress of the unknown. I have some follow up questions of my own.

1. For daily temperature checks, I was under the impression this was for only non-vaccinated guests. Are you confirming that all guests regardless of vaccination status had to have daily temperature checks?

2. For testing it is my understanding that no test has to be taken before arriving to the terminal. That the only test you had to take or show evidence of is the negative result taken at the terminal. Basically asking do I need a negative test before arriving to the terminal?

3. I was wondering if you took home copies of the Cruise Compass? If it would be possible to share in this forum we would all be appreciative of this to see what activities are being offered. I think I saw on the August 15th cruise there was no musical. But have seen crew hired for a Grease musical that may not have started yet.

4. The other thing that I found surprising on the August 15th cruise compass I saw was that there was live music, but a disclaimer that there was no dancing. That you had to listen to the music and remain seated in your chair. Can you confirm if anyone was up dancing, or was it only chair swaying during the music.

5. Can you advise which excursion you went on where you didn’t go into the church, and not required to “cover up” was that the one in Florence. As that disclaimer was on the tour we booked as well, and we assumed it was because we were going into the Duomo.

Thank you again in advance for the wonderful help.

1. Yes, this is for ALL guests. Everyone over the age of 16 was required to be vaccinated on our cruise, but everyone still had their temperature checked. The only difference between vaccinated and non-vaccinated was that the NON had to get a test mid-cruise, where vaccinated did not.

2. This is probably dependent on where you're coming from. US to Spain, we did not need a negative test. Our first test was at the terminal, which is a complimentary RC test. I'd look it up, just in case, but if you're US to Spain it doesn't currently require one. This changes on a regular basis though.

3. I really tried, but with everything else going on, I couldn't get pictures or even keep them. No musical on ours, but I'm happy to share the activities.

a. Aquatic show (about 7 different times throughout the week), Ice show (3 different times), Comedian (English and Spanish comedians), Magician (English and Spanish), Tribute to Celine Dion, and a few different game shows.

4. You know... I didn't even think of this until you asked. Nobody was up and dancing, but I also wasn't sure if that's because we were asked not to. The ship was so empty, that there was definitely less energy, so the "no dancing" didn't feel out of place unfortunately.

5. Yes, this was the Florence one. RC told us that it was copied and pasted over from pre-covid. We weren't able to go into any churches in Florence or Rome. We walked around the Duomo, but were not able to go inside. We thought we would go inside as well.

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7 hours ago, Kamehameah said:

I Think you could be wrong, because the first date available for  boarding from Civitavecchia was on 2 September.  I will be there.
Also I could tell you, there are many problems with the cabins, and the app for this date

Yeah, it wasn't a planned boarding. If they did get on, they were only on for 3 days. Again, I can't confirm, so I definitely could be wrong.

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Thank you so much for your sharing your experience. With Cruising changing day by day this gives us an opportunity to see how it was for you on the ship. For Everyone still going on Harmony if you can share your experiences for the rest of us that would be amazing. 

For the rest of us who have not gone on Harmony yet, and our concerned about the Covid test we receive before you get onboard you might want to check out this link below, a friend of mine who works in a Covid unit uses this everyday and swears by it. I ordered it myself but has not gotten here yet. In my mind every little bit of protection cant hurt.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086Q8V26P?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

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On 8/30/2021 at 9:12 AM, crabkitty said:

I don't believe so. Where we docked, they boarded us right on the busses. It didn't appear that anybody was able to go out on their own. Things are always changing frequently though.

We had the bike tour booked, but it was cancelled because we were the only ones signed up. ?  After that, we booked the caves tour, which I would ABSOLUTELY recommend.

Spain is requiring masks everywhere you go, and are pretty strict about it.

Which tours did you book in Italy? Can you provide brief reviews on them? Thanks so much for all of your input. I sail on October 10.

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10 minutes ago, MelKaps said:

Which tours did you book in Italy? Can you provide brief reviews on them? Thanks so much for all of your input. I sail on October 10.

Yep, no problem!

La Spezia - we booked the Best of Florence and Pisa. We absolutely loved this, as we'd never been to Florence. We didn't get to go into any of the churches, but we saw enough that we know we'd like to go back some time and spend some more time on our own. We saw many statues, including "a" statue of David. It's not "the" statue, but we saw a lot of structures that we loved. Pisa was exactly as we expected. We spent about 90 minutes there, which was enough for us to see the leaning tower and the buildings around it. I personally do not like guided tours, because they move so slow, but you're going to get that with all Royal Caribbean excursions in Italy.

Rome - We did the Gladiator tour, as we'd both been to Rome already. I had not been inside the Coliseum, so this is exactly what I wanted to do. We explored the Forum as well, so we saw a lot of Rome. We had already been to the Vatican, etc, so that played a big part in our tour. We loved going into the Coliseum for sure. (Vaccine proof required)

Naples - Capri, Sorrento, and Pompeii by Land and Sea - Capri was possibly our favorite spot in the Italy stops. That place is incredible. Again, another guided tour, but we spent a lot of time getting snacks and doing some shopping, which we didn't get with the others. I had been to Pompeii before, and did it without a tour guide. We didn't get much time in Pompeii at all, so that was disappointing based on what I know is there. We still loved this tour. (Vaccine proof required)

One thing to note about the tours is that they sold water at the beginning of all of them. We did get a bottle of water in our Naples excursion, for free. We just filled water bottles before we left the ship and took them with us, to avoid dragging around their giant bottle of water that cost $4.50.

 

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Thanks for these updates. To be honest I'm not surprised about numbers since they don't allow you to book 3 to a cabin.

 

We want to go with our 16 year old son in October we have tried ringing and they  will absolutely NOT allow 3 in a cabin and seem unwilling (???) to book connecting cabins when we phone despite availability on the website.

 

What happens if you test positive getting off the ship? Are you stuck in Barcelona for a week?

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Morganno said:

Thanks for these updates. To be honest I'm not surprised about numbers since they don't allow you to book 3 to a cabin.

 

We want to go with our 16 year old son in October we have tried ringing and they  will absolutely NOT allow 3 in a cabin and seem unwilling (???) to book connecting cabins when we phone despite availability on the website.

 

What happens if you test positive getting off the ship? Are you stuck in Barcelona for a week?

 

 

If it's showing available on the website, have you tried actually just booking it online?

Regarding testing positive getting off the ship, for cruises sailing on or before the 31st of October, Royal's Covid-19 Assistance says "If you test positive for COVID-19 during the cruise, Royal Caribbean will cover the costs of COVID-19 related medical treatment onboard, any required land-based quarantine, and travel home for you and your Traveling Party." (https://www.royalcaribbean.com/the-healthy-sail-center)

In theory, you could be stuck in Barcelona, but in practice they may opt to provide you with private transport back home immediately upon disembarking. There are reports of them doing that in the US/Caribbean, actually flying people home by private jet. 

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Thank you SO much for all the details. This is EXACTLY what I have been searching the forums for, since we have a Harmony sailing booked later in sep.

I have read all you answers, and only have a few additional questions about the Casino:
1) In the Casino, was it mask on at all times? Another guest wrote that if you sat down at a machine and had a drink, they allowed you to remove it. Did you notice this?
2) Was the Craps tables running? I could imagine that with so few guests it would often be closed?
3) If Craps was running, was it mask on at all times (perhaps since you are standing up)?

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2 hours ago, Morten Andersen said:

Thank you SO much for all the details. This is EXACTLY what I have been searching the forums for, since we have a Harmony sailing booked later in sep.

I have read all you answers, and only have a few additional questions about the Casino:
1) In the Casino, was it mask on at all times? Another guest wrote that if you sat down at a machine and had a drink, they allowed you to remove it. Did you notice this?
2) Was the Craps tables running? I could imagine that with so few guests it would often be closed?
3) If Craps was running, was it mask on at all times (perhaps since you are standing up)?

1) Yes, if you sat down and had a drink, nobody would say anything to you. To be honest, as long as you have a drink in your hand, they really didn't say anything at all. The guests all did a really good job (IMO) with the masks, so they were pretty loose about it.

2) YES! Every table option was actually still available. Craps, Roulette, BJ, Three Card Poker, the works!

3) It was mask on at all times for all of the table games. This is where they were actually pretty strict. They would still let you pull it down to get a drink, etc.

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24 minutes ago, crabkitty said:

1) Yes, if you sat down and had a drink, nobody would say anything to you. To be honest, as long as you have a drink in your hand, they really didn't say anything at all. The guests all did a really good job (IMO) with the masks, so they were pretty loose about it.

2) YES! Every table option was actually still available. Craps, Roulette, BJ, Three Card Poker, the works!

3) It was mask on at all times for all of the table games. This is where they were actually pretty strict. They would still let you pull it down to get a drink, etc.

This is interesting.  I thought that there were no masks required for vaccinated-only venues.

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