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Just Booked Harmony for May 2018


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We just booked our first family cruise on the Harmony for May 2018 and super excited :D .  This is our first cruise as a family with my last cruise back in the mid 90s in my teens, my wife's in the early 2000s and our 3 kids (will be 7,6 and 5 at time of cruise) first all together. Western Caribbean itinerary, 2 boardwalk balcony rooms since we will have my mom and brother with us also. My previous cruise was back on the old Norwegian ship the SS Norway so this will be quite a different experience for me. Im sure ill have tons of questions before then so will post here when the time comes. 

 

 

 

 

417 days to go but who's counting lol

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Good for you! Sounds like a great cruise with your family. I have not been on the Harmony and can't really say anything about the ship. But, I was on the Allure last year (same class) and learned that you want to book your entertainment, excursions and dining as early as possible. Start checking your cruise planner in Jan/Feb. DO NOT wait until your on board the ship to book something. By then everything you want to do may be booked up. Come back here with all your questions, there is a multitude of experienced cruises who can help you out. 

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Congrats! I got off of Harmony a few weeks ago and your kids are going to love it! You will never want to sail a different class of ships again after sailing her. Ask away, I live in Fort Lauderdale as well if you have local questions as far as where to stay prior to cruise, activities, dining exc.

 

I appreciate it. We are up in Palm Beach Gardens so will drive down the morning of since its only about an hour or so away.  :)

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We just booked our first family cruise on the Harmony for May 2018 and super excited :D .  This is our first cruise as a family with my last cruise back in the mid 90s in my teens, my wife's in the early 2000s and our 3 kids (will be 7,6 and 5 at time of cruise) first all together. Western Caribbean itinerary, 2 boardwalk balcony rooms since we will have my mom and brother with us also. My previous cruise was back on the old Norwegian ship the SS Norway so this will be quite a different experience for me. Im sure ill have tons of questions before then so will post here when the time comes. 

 

 

 

 

417 days to go but who's counting lol

I would imagine, since it's been so long since you've cruised, it will be like cruising for the first time again. Seeing how far ships have come and changed, in just the last ten years, or so. Good luck and enjoy!

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Good for you! Sounds like a great cruise with your family. I have not been on the Harmony and can't really say anything about the ship. But, I was on the Allure last year (same class) and learned that you want to book your entertainment, excursions and dining as early as possible. Start checking your cruise planner in Jan/Feb. DO NOT wait until your on board the ship to book something. By then everything you want to do may be booked up. Come back here with all your questions, there is a multitude of experienced cruises who can help you out. 

 

That was something we have read from a few places, to book excursion and everything early. We are over a year out and already know what we want to do for excursion, lol.

 

I do have a couple questions, from my understanding we are able to start booking them 90 days out correct? And when booking excursions through RC ahead of time do we pay for them at time of booking them or do they get added to our bill and we pay at the end of the cruise?

 

Here is what we are thinking of tentatively

 

Labadee - Kids and myself want to do the inflatable water park 

                  my brother and i the coaster and zip line

                  my wife and mom just want to relax and hangout

 

Falmouth - I want to do Dunns but wife has a bad shoulder and if she falls on it that would be game over for her. Plus with the should makes it hard for her to climb and hold hands while climbing. Then she thinks our kids would be too                           chicken to, which i agree with her on that, they said noway while watching youtube videos from there, lol.

                 

                  They are suggested the dolphin experience where you knell down and pet them which would be nice but really how long is that going to be. 

 

Cozumel - Think this day we will take a ferry over to the main land and do some shopping,dining and maybe the beach there.

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That was something we have read from a few places, to book excursion and everything early. We are over a year out and already know what we want to do for excursion, lol.

 

I do have a couple questions, from my understanding we are able to start booking them 90 days out correct? And when booking excursions through RC ahead of time do we pay for them at time of booking them or do they get added to our bill and we pay at the end of the cruise?

 

How early you can start booking depends on the ship and sailing. I'm a year and a day out from my cruise on Freedom, but I was able to start booking excursions and spa treatments last month.

 

You do have to pay for the excursions when you book them. But this is actually an advantage, because you can start purchasing an excursion here and an excursion there and spread out the cost of the whole trip. Same with any drink / dining packages (those don't seem to become available until 60-90 before sailing), or internet purchase or pre-paying tips. Do it all with enough lead time and you won't have a big (or any!) credit card bill when you get off the ship!  :D 

 

If you're going to Labadee, check out the blog posts about the cabanas and bungalows. Sounds like the group you have would be ideal for one of those. What you need to know about Labadee Cabanas

 

If you do decide to get one those, book it as soon as you can since they're limited and sell out fast.

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Not sure if you know this or now but you don't have to book shore excursions through RC (except Labadee).  If you are willing to do a bit of research, you can find great independent operators or even the same beach club for much less.  While you give up the cruise line protection, I think you spend more time at the actual location rather than in the herd of crowds where you spend a lot of time waiting for your fellow passengers.  We like to give ourselves plenty of buffer time to make it back and all of the operators we've worked with know the ship schedule very well and won't chance not getting you back on time.

 

We hired a driver in Falmouth, Wilson of Tour Jamaica Today and he was great, safe driver.  We chose to go to Blue Hole and lunch but he'd take you anywhere.  My kids (oldest on that trip was 16 and youngest 4) are pretty adventurous but you don't have to do any of the jumps if you don't want to.  Lots of smaller jumps between the big ones.

 

Why go to the mainland if only shopping and beaches in Cozumel?  I can see it if going to the ruins but there are so many shopping/beach choices in Cozumel within a 10 minute taxi ride as opposed to spending 2 hours of your day on a ferry.  Just my .02.

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/30/2017 at 1:42 PM, melski94 said:

Not sure if you know this or now but you don't have to book shore excursions through RC (except Labadee).  If you are willing to do a bit of research, you can find great independent operators or even the same beach club for much less.  While you give up the cruise line protection, I think you spend more time at the actual location rather than in the herd of crowds where you spend a lot of time waiting for your fellow passengers.  We like to give ourselves plenty of buffer time to make it back and all of the operators we've worked with know the ship schedule very well and won't chance not getting you back on time.

 

We hired a driver in Falmouth, Wilson of Tour Jamaica Today and he was great, safe driver.  We chose to go to Blue Hole and lunch but he'd take you anywhere.  My kids (oldest on that trip was 16 and youngest 4) are pretty adventurous but you don't have to do any of the jumps if you don't want to.  Lots of smaller jumps between the big ones.

 

Why go to the mainland if only shopping and beaches in Cozumel?  I can see it if going to the ruins but there are so many shopping/beach choices in Cozumel within a 10 minute taxi ride as opposed to spending 2 hours of your day on a ferry.  Just my .02.

Thank you for the tips. I have a customer of mine who is huge into cruises and he was the one who recommended going to Playa versus staying in Cozumel. He said shopping and dining was better and more of a selection on the mainland than it was on Cozumel. We are open to either really since it will be our shore day with no excursions paid for so we are free to do what ever we want. Im definitely open to hearing everyone thoughts on this as well. 

 

For Jamaica im a little nervous doing something that isn't thru RC after reading some not so positive reviews but would love to hear others opinions on this as well. Right now we are leaning towards a dolphin experience excursion.  

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On 3/30/2017 at 0:54 PM, JLMoran said:

 

How early you can start booking depends on the ship and sailing. I'm a year and a day out from my cruise on Freedom, but I was able to start booking excursions and spa treatments last month.

 

You do have to pay for the excursions when you book them. But this is actually an advantage, because you can start purchasing an excursion here and an excursion there and spread out the cost of the whole trip. Same with any drink / dining packages (those don't seem to become available until 60-90 before sailing), or internet purchase or pre-paying tips. Do it all with enough lead time and you won't have a big (or any!) credit card bill when you get off the ship!  :D 

 

If you're going to Labadee, check out the blog posts about the cabanas and bungalows. Sounds like the group you have would be ideal for one of those. What you need to know about Labadee Cabanas

 

If you do decide to get one those, book it as soon as you can since they're limited and sell out fast.

Not sure the cabanas would work out well for us. Our 3 kids do not sit still at all so relaxing is something we dont do much, lol. We will end up bouncing around from the different beach throughout the day so having one main spot usually never works out for us with doing that. 

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34 minutes ago, Hockeyman55 said:

Also does anyone know if they allow camera on the coaster in Labadee?

I've seen a ton of YouTube videos from people riding the coaster and giving the "POV" experience. So they definitely allow them, although you absolutely need to keep it smaller (smartphone size, maybe palmcorder) so that you can hold that in one hand while using the other to operate the handbrake on the coaster car. it can go pretty fast (I think I read it hits up to 45 mph), and there's an area at the end with a big sign telling you to slow way down, so you don't want to be fumbling for the brake while trying to avoid dropping your camera.

I'd also advise having a hand strap or other way to secure your camera so you don't risk dropping it if the car lurches around a bend and you lose your grip. Or a really secure head mount with a chin strap if you're using a GoPro or similar head-mounted camera.

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13 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

I've seen a ton of YouTube videos from people riding the coaster and giving the "POV" experience. So they definitely allow them, although you absolutely need to keep it smaller (smartphone size, maybe palmcorder) so that you can hold that in one hand while using the other to operate the handbrake on the coaster car. it can go pretty fast (I think I read it hits up to 45 mph), and there's an area at the end with a big sign telling you to slow way down, so you don't want to be fumbling for the brake while trying to avoid dropping your camera.

I'd also advise having a hand strap or other way to secure your camera so you don't risk dropping it if the car lurches around a bend and you lose your grip. Or a really secure head mount with a chin strap if you're using a GoPro or similar head-mounted camera.

Thank you. I had planned to bring my Sony Action Cam but was curious about my DLSR. Sounds like the safe play would be to leave it behind. 

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Fab choice we did harmony a few weeks ago as our first cruise and loved it!! We did the same route you are doing. The zip wire is amazing in labadee if you don't have a Go-pro you can hire one of the island for $20 which is well worth it. We booked the all day coaster but only did it once, as you have to control the speed and brakes yourself it's quite hard to take photos/videos. 

The dolphins in Jamaica are brilliant. You actually only get about 2 hours at the park as it's an hours drive each way. We did the Royal push and pull and there was only me and my husband rather then a group of 10-15. It's more expensive but worth it. Pictures are provided on a DVD for $125 approx but you can print photos from the DVD and we got over 100 pictures- although you wouldn't get as many in the normal groups as there is only 1 person taking pictures of the whole group. 

We went on a 15 min speedboat tour whilst at dolphin cove and were shown Dunns river falls it looked lovely but exceptionally busy. 

 

Hope this helps a bit- enjoy!! 

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14 hours ago, Kezolly said:

Fab choice we did harmony a few weeks ago as our first cruise and loved it!! We did the same route you are doing. The zip wire is amazing in labadee if you don't have a Go-pro you can hire one of the island for $20 which is well worth it. We booked the all day coaster but only did it once, as you have to control the speed and brakes yourself it's quite hard to take photos/videos. 

The dolphins in Jamaica are brilliant. You actually only get about 2 hours at the park as it's an hours drive each way. We did the Royal push and pull and there was only me and my husband rather then a group of 10-15. It's more expensive but worth it. Pictures are provided on a DVD for $125 approx but you can print photos from the DVD and we got over 100 pictures- although you wouldn't get as many in the normal groups as there is only 1 person taking pictures of the whole group. 

We went on a 15 min speedboat tour whilst at dolphin cove and were shown Dunns river falls it looked lovely but exceptionally busy. 

 

Hope this helps a bit- enjoy!! 

How busy was the coaster through out the day? I was leaning towards booking it all day but was curious how busy the lines got. Im a huge coaster fan so would ride at least 2-3 times if lines allowed. I picked up Sony's version of the GoPro last year so we are covered with that, will use that to take video on the coaster and zip line. Actually going to pick up another one so my wife can use while on the trip so she has something that can go in and out of the water and not have to worry about getting wet. 

 

If we decide on the dolphin experience we would have to do the one where you get in waist deep water and they come over to you since 2 of our kids will be younger than the age of 8 they recommend it for when it comes time to go. Ive read the photo packages was pretty high but how how else can you get photos, will they allow you to take pictures with your own camera? Do you think the whole experience was worth the money, especially with it only being 2 hours?

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At the Dolphins they take you around to the other side of the park and take you into the water. If someone in your party is not doing it it's still not great for pictures cause you are quite far away. Tbh if you are not doing the swimming with them then it's still fun but I don't think worth the money for how long you at there although we really enjoyed ourselves :-) 

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8 hours ago, Hockeyman55 said:

If we decide on the dolphin experience we would have to do the one where you get in waist deep water and they come over to you since 2 of our kids will be younger than the age of 8 they recommend it for when it comes time to go. Ive read the photo packages was pretty high but how how else can you get photos, will they allow you to take pictures with your own camera? Do you think the whole experience was worth the money, especially with it only being 2 hours?

All reviews about those excursions that I read on TripAdvisor said that they absolutely prohibit any personal picture taking and will actively scold you for trying / make you delete from your device whatever pics you already took (dunno if they'd take film out of an older camera). They really make their money off the picture sales, and as you noted it's really expensive.

Now that said, I know that @DocLC and I think Tommy from the Cruise Dudes podcast has haggled the price of the photo package down to a more reasonable level (like half). I don't know if that's something you can pull off at any of the places that do these excursions, or just certain ones. I think I've only ever heard tale of it being done in Cozumel and other places in Mexico, not so much the Caribbean islands.

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