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Harmony of the Seas: What it's like onboard right now

In:
26 Apr 2022

It has been just over nine months since Royal Caribbean restarted cruises from North America, and on April 24th, 2022 I boarded Harmony of the Seas for my 13th cruise since the "Royal Comeback."

Harmony of the Seas boardwalk

While I have been on many different ships, this is the first time I’ve been on Harmony since December 2019.

I was curious to see not only what’s different since then, but how cruising has progressed since my last sailing just two months ago. For reference sake, I’m writing this blog on day three of a seven night sailing.

Masks optional in cruise terminal

I received my e-mail from Royal Caribbean with their updated “Healthy Sailing” instructions two days before the cruise.

The updated mask policy read that masks are optional for vaccinated guests onboard and also in the terminal, unless required by local regulation.

It felt odd to enter Port Canaveral’s terminal without a mask. That’s something I haven’t done in over two years.

Entertainment: Main Theater

After doing the e-muster drill (which I hope Royal Caribbean never gets rid of), we went to our room.

We had a copy of the show schedule for the week tucked into the daily planner.

The main theater has their Broadway Musical “Grease” performing on three different days. The Headliner performers were a comedian, a musician and a magician. There was a movie showing the first night, “Reminiscence”. The Love and Marriage Game Show will be held later in the week. There are many days of Bingo scheduled.

What continues to be notably absent is the “Columbus! The Musical” stage show. There has been no word on when or if it’s returning.

Entertainment: Studio B

Studio B is where you will find the ice shows. Harmony has a brand new ice cast that signed on this week. In fact, the show we saw was their "opening night". The cast performs two different shows. “1887: A Journey in Time” is their main show.

I’ll be honest, it’s not one of my favorites in the fleet. The story is hard to follow and the music is not exactly engaging. However, I can appreciate the artistry and athletic abilities of the cast so it’s still enjoyable.

Their other show is “iSkate Showcase.” It’s a chance for the cast to show off their talent with songs that they have chosen. It is high energy, fun, and they are very engaging with the audience. We really enjoyed that show.

Entertainment: The AquaTheater

“The Fine Line” was Harmony’s main show in the aqua theater for years. I’m not sure if it’s been available on other sailings since the restart, but on this one it has been replaced by a “showcase,” which I assume is similar to the free skate show that we saw last night from the ice cast.

Movies are also being shown. Some examples are “Cruella,” “No Time to Die,” “Jungle Cruise” and “Fast and Furious 9: The Fast Saga.”

Later in the week, the aqua theater will host the 70’s Disco Inferno dance party.

Entertainment: Around the Ship

The pool has been a bustle of activities with the return of the belly flop and world’s sexiest man competitions as well as plenty of live music.

The On-Air Club and Schooner Bar are home to trivia. I counted 25 different trivia options in my Royal Caribbean app. Everything from music, movies, general knowledge and eras. They also offer a scavenger hunt throughout the ship.

The Boardwalk is the place for Hula Hoop Competitions and Beer Pong (with water instead of beer).

“The Quest” continues to be unavailable. In fact, I haven’t seen it come back on any ship since the restart.

Read moreTrying out the free activities on Harmony of the Seas

Dining

We purchased the Unlimited Dining Package for this sailing.

Yes, I know, there are so many free food options that you don’t need a dining package. We decided we wanted to be able to go to all of the specialty restaurants for lunches (embarkation and sea days only) and dinner.

We like the variety and a more intimate, personalized dining experience. The main dining room and Windjammer feel crowded and loud to me.

So far we have had lunch at Jamie’s Italian, Chops and Sabor (which is being replaced by Playmakers on most ships. It’s currently only available on Harmony and Allure.) Dinners have been at Coastal Kitchen and 150 Central Park. Everything from the service to the meals themselves have been outstanding.

It should be noted that the unlimited dining package isn’t exactly “unlimited”. It does not include Chef’s Table, room service, the tapas menu at Vintages or “Captain Jack’s” shack on CocoCay.

You may have heard that the Windjammer buffet has gone back to self service. We stopped in there to check out the situation for ourselves. There was a crew member at the entrance making sure everyone was washing their hands. We also witnessed the crew sanitizing each table between guests.

Crown and Anchor Society

This is the first cruise since we turned Pinnacle nine months ago that we are allowed back into the suite lounge and have access to Coastal Kitchen for lunch and dinner. Even though the two venues are connected, our sea pass cards only unlock the door to the suite lounge and not Coastal Kitchen.

On Harmony, Pinnacles are still not permitted in Coastal Kitchen for breakfast. There is a pinnacle breakfast available daily at Chops. We went yesterday as soon as they opened. We waited 45 minutes for our food to come out, only for it to be cold. It was very disappointing.

The top tier event was held in the main theater. That was a first for me. I’m used to it being in the aqua theater on the larger ships or the Star Lounge or Viking Crown lounge on smaller ships. Platinum members and above were invited to the event. It was a full house. Captain Johnny and Paul, the Loyalty Ambassador welcomed two new couples to the Pinnacle Club, recognized folks that were reaching 1050 and 1400 point milestones and introduced the top three cruisers. The passengers per tier were as follows:

  • 1,276 Gold Members
  • 491 Platinum Members
  • 234 Emerald Members
  • 464 Diamond Members
  • 295 Diamond Plus Members
  • 85 Pinnacle Members

Paul also mentioned that there are a total of 1175 Pinnacle members in the Crown and Anchor Society.

On the first day we had invitations in our room for the “virtual backstage tour.” I’m not sure what that entails, as it is on day 6 of our cruise, all I do know is that the bridge tours and the behind the scenes tours remain unavailable.

Day 6 will also be our “Cheers with an Officer” lunch in the main dining room. It’s available to Crown and Anchor members with 340 points or more and is typically offered on sailings of seven nights or longer. Pre-pandemic, it was “lunch with an officer”, where an officer would be seated at each table and you could chat with them and get to know their role on the ship.

Usually the Captain, Hotel Director and the cruise director toast to the room and say a few words before leaving you to your meal with your fellow passengers.

Capacity

Probably one of the most asked questions in recent times is “how crowded is the ship?” This sailing has 4992 passengers. It can reach max capacity of 6,780, which is not typical. The double occupancy total is 5,479. There are 1,964 crew members onboard.

It’s not as crowded as it was pre-pandemic but it is definitely getting there. If you’re concerned at all about social distancing, stay out of the elevators. The signs are gone that limited the number of people in the elevator and guests are using every inch of available space.

Final thoughts

Even though it’s only been three days, the cruise has been fantastic. Besides the Chops breakfast that wasn’t up to par, everything else has been outstanding. (In Chops defense, we had lunch there today and the food and service was great). We have been lucky enough to find two of our favorite bar staff from previous ships. It’s nice to see our crew friends again.

While masks are optional for passengers onboard, the crew is still required to wear them, even the lifeguards at the pool. Hopefully that can change soon. Slowly but surely things are returning to “normal,” which is wonderful to see.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
28 Nov 2021

The last day of our cruise brings us to Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

Ideally, I prefer to have my last day onboard be a sea day, but I will never complain about spending time at CocoCay because of how much fun it is spending time there.

While this may have been my fourth time visiting CocoCay in two weeks, the weather last week was far from perfect, so today looked to be a way to end on a high note.

We did not arrive to CocoCay until almost 10am, which meant there would be a rush among guests to get off the ship at the same time. Moreover, we were sharing the island with Independence of the Seas.

What does two ships mean? There are 4100 passengers on Harmony and 3000 passengers on Independence, so while far from a full capacity day (CocoCay can handle 9-12,000 guests), it certainly would be busier than earlier this summer.

We started off with breakfast at Park Cafe, partially because I neglected to put a breakfast order in with my Genie the night before. I certainly don't mind a bagel and schmear to start my day.

By the time we finished eating, the gangway was open and we were on our way downstairs. 

Walking down the pier, it certainly looked like a great day. Not oppressively hot and low humidity meant a comfortable outdoor experience.

We had nothing reserved, so grabbed a chair near Oasis Lagoon and then hopped into the pool.  The pool was indeed very cold. We all braved the temperature and shivered a bit before getting used to it. 

Later in the afternoon, the sun came out more and that helped make being in the water a bit warmer.

The kids went to Splashaway Bay for some kiddy slide time. While not the CocoCay water park by any means, it got some energy out for the kids.

For lunch, I had to go to Snack Shack for my favorite complimentary food: mozzarella sticks and the "secret sandwich".

To my surprise, the line for Snack Shack was really long and moved slowly. I'm not sure if they were just overwhelmed with a lunch rush, or something else, but it was the longest line I've ever experienced there. Regardless, they got the line moving and I had my food soon enough.

The afternoon was spent at the pool, and it was an opportunity to hang out with friends from the group cruise one more time.

All aboard was 4:30, so we headed back to the ship in mid-afternoon. 

Since it was a 7-night cruise, unvaccinated kids needs to get a covid test done prior to disembarkation. Our genie escorted us in and got the tests complete quickly.

Back in the room, we showered, changed, and snuck in a quick nap.

Chips and dips from Sabor were waiting for us in the room, which was a nice pre-dinner snack.

We were not sure which restaurant to go to for dinner, but decided on going back to 150 Central Park.

I was glad we went back, because their entrees are really good. I really liked combining the halibut with cauliflower to combine flavor and texture.

After dinner, we said our goodbyes to friends in the pub before calling it a night.

Overall, it was a fantastic group cruise and it felt so good to see friends and make new ones along the way. After two other cancelled group cruises, this was an especially important sailing that I am glad happened without any incident.

If you'd like to join us for a group cruise in 2022, we have two more scheduled.

Thanks for reading this live blog. Our next live blog begins in a month when we fly to California to sail on Navigator of the Seas!

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Sea Day

In:
27 Nov 2021

Our last sea day on Harmony of the Seas isn't our last day onboard, but it does give us a nice break after two port stops in a row.

While part of my wishes I could have spent the day sleeping in and lounging, there was plenty of fun in store.

I started off my morning with breakfast in the main dining room, where I ran into two crew members that were on Adventure of the Seas earlier this summer.  It was great to see these two again, and both on the same ship again.

Just like yesterday, the ship was still rocking quite a bit due to the ocean swells. The crew even deployed the vomit bags in stairwells.

Luckily, the motion would calm as the day progressed.

After breakfast, I grabbed Starbucks coffee and went to Dazzles for our first group meet of the day: a Royal Caribbean Blog podcast recording.

In this episode that will air next week, we listed our favorite things we really like on Harmony of the Seas.

After the recording was complete, I went back to my suite to enjoy lunch arranged by my genie.

The other day I was talking about favorite foods with him, and he heard that I really like Indian food, so he sent up a few different types of curry to sample.

Since the weather was so comfortable out, we had lunch on the balcony and it was a wonderful break.

After lunch was over, we spent some time in the cabin before our genie's next wish was granted.

Bertie had the idea to have an ice cream sundae cart brought to the room. I think my kids thought it would be two or three flavors of ice cream, but there were a half dozen flavors and just about every topping they could want.

Little things like this are a fun part of what makes staying in a Star Class suite so much fun.

While my kids burned off all that ice cream energy, I went back to Dazzles for another group cruise meetup to play the card game Moniker.

Moniker is a game where two teams compete in a cross between charades and Scattegories, where you take turns trying to describe people or things listed on the card. 

As afternoon turned into evening, we spent a little bit of time on the Boardwalk before getting changed for dinner.

Dinner tonight was back in Izumi for another round of hibachi.

We had the same chef as earlier this week, and it was another tasty meal.

We rounded out our evening with music before calling it a night.

Tomorrow is our last day on Harmony, and we will be visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - St. Thomas

In:
26 Nov 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our next stop is St. Thomas, where we get to enjoy a port day along with celebrating Thanksgiving.

I had booked a snorkel and beach excursion to take us to St. John. The last time I tried to get to St. John, I failed when I could not get a taxi.  This time, I booked a tour through Royal Caribbean so there would be no problems.

I was a little surprised when I noticed our meet time for the tour was 6:45am, which as you might imagine is very, very early.

Everyone met in the Royal Theater before heading off the ship to board a bus. 

The bus ride took about a half hour to get us to the marina on the east side of the island, where our catamaran was waiting.

We boarded the Stars and Stripes catamaran, where Captain Matt (great name, but not me) and First Mate Paul took us out.

Almost as soon as the boat departed the marina, it began to rain. While the rain was unwelcome, luckily it only rained for the duration of the trip out to St. John.

After about a half hour, we reached Honeymoon Beach on St. John. Almost immediately the rain stopped, which allowed us to enjoy time outside and in the water. In fact, the weather continuously improved as the morning went on.

Guests had the choice of snorkeling around or taking a dinghy to shore. My oldest went snorkeling while we went to the beach. 

In terms of snorkeling, there was an area between the beach and our catamaran where there was sea grass that was home to many types of marine life, including sea turtles.

Over on the beach, you could sit on the sand as you saw fit. There was a vendor renting chairs, but I did not inquire how much they were.

According to Captain Matt, we had 90 minutes of time once we arrived in St. John to be in or around the water.

What I love about St. John is the beautiful water colors and clarity, and today did not disappoint. While it would have looked better if the sun was shining, the clouds kept the temperatures comfortable and it felt great just wading in ocean.

All too quickly, our time came to an end and we took the dinghy back to the catamaran for our ride back.

On the return journey, complimentary snacks, drinks, champagne, and rum punch was served.

The tour was fun, and my kids really liked the beach time.  In fact, my oldest now wants to snorkel again as soon as possible. 

I wish we had more time at St. John, but that's a problem to consider for my next visit.

Upon returning to the ship, we grabbed lunch at the Windjammer.

By now the early morning wake up and beach time caught up with all of us, and it was time for a nap.

Our ship departed Harmony of the Seas around 3, but I was still sleeping when that happened. I woke up to a beautiful ride out of St. Thomas.

Almost as soon as we departed, the motion in the ocean returned.  In fact, all night the ship was rocking quite a bit.  The notion that Oasis Class ships don't really feel motion has been quickly dispensed.

Being Thanksgiving, we got changed for dinner to enjoy a family meal together. Rather than feeding the kids first and then dropping them off at Adventure Ocean, we opted to have a family Thanksgiving dinner together.

You may be wondering what Thanksgiving on a cruise ship is like, and there were all sorts of special add-ons. There were decorations around the ship, arts and crafts activities, and a special Thanksgiving menu.

Our group enjoyed a celebratory drink together at Dazzles, before heading to dinner.

This evening, we went to Coastal Kitchen for dinner. In addition to their regular menu, they also had Thanksgiving offerings.

This was my first time eating at Coastal Kitchen for dinner. It's a lovely location on deck 17, although I prefer the Coastal Kitchen set up on Quantum Class ships because it does not share a space with the Suite Lounge.

After dinner, I went down to the pub for live music.  A good time was had by all.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - St. Kitts

In:
25 Nov 2021

Our first port stop is in St. Kitts.

Originally, we were supposed to go to Antigua, but Royal Caribbean informed us that work on dredging the port will not be complete in time. As a result, Royal Caribbean swapped out Antigua for St. Kitts.

Our tour was not until 11:45am, so we had time to sleep in and take things easy.

I would have slept in longer, but my phone jumped ahead an hour to match local time, so my alarm went off an hour early. Oh well.

Our Genie delivered Starbucks coffee to the room, and then after the kids managed to get up, we went up to the Windjammer for breakfast.

We then took a short walk around the Boardwalk before heading back to the room to get ready for our plans ashore.

I booked the Safari Island Drive tour, which is a 3 hour tour in an open-air truck around the entire island. 

Once the tour got underway, we drove up one side of the island, and made three stops along the way.

Our guide narrated the entire journey and pointed out various points of interest. There were lots of goats, chickens, cows, and horses to see, in addition to beautiful flora and very scenic views.

Our first stop was at an estate where we got to walk the grounds and do some light shopping.

We then made our way to the point where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet.

There was even time to grab a beer at a shop.

Our final stop was near Frigate Bay, where you got a fantastic view of St. Kitts and Nevis.

I enjoyed the ride, and it was just long enough to see the countryside without feeling too long. Luckily there was a nice breeze for most of the ride, which made it comfortable. I'm not sure how comfortable it would be in July, but our weather was great.

Once we got back to the pier, we got onboard the ship to relax and recuperate before our evening plans.

Our Genie had chips, salsa, and guacamole from Sabor waiting for us in the cabin when we got back.  Since we didn't eat lunch during the tour (only water was provided), it was a welcome surprise.

After relaxing in the cabin, we headed out for dinner.

This evening, we went to 150 Central Park for dinner. 

As usual, the assortment of modern American fare did not disappoint. Between the various dishes, it had a sort of Thanksgiving feel to it all, with the mashed potatoes, pumpkin bisque, and various vegetables.

We decided to call it an early night because we have to wake up super early for our excursion tomorrow in St. Thomas.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Sea Day

In:
24 Nov 2021

Another day on Harmony of the Seas, another sea day to enjoy.

We started off our day with our first group cruise event: water slides!

Our group rented out the Perfect Storm water slides for an hour in the morning, meaning only our group could ride the slides as many times as we wanted.

Having the water slides to ourselves meant minimal waits to try each of the slides.  I found the champagne bowl slide to be much faster than I remembered.

After the slides, we transitioned over to the pool for some time to relax. The weather was great today, and very comfortable to be outdoors.

For lunch, we decided to go to Izumi for sushi.

While the Izumi hibachi is for vaccinated guests only, the sushi side is available to all guests.

After lunch, a few of us in the group went down to the casino for a few rounds of blackjack.

While lady luck did not shine upon any of us for this go-around, we did have a good time trying our best.  Plus, having a table at the casino just for our group made it far more enjoyable to lose our money.

Our other group event today was the bar crawl, where we try a number of bars around the ship.

We managed to visit 4 bars along the way:

  1. Bionic Bar
  2. Schooner Bar
  3. Wipeout Bar
  4. Ride down Ultimate Abyss
  5. Sabor

The real fun in any bar crawl is getting to know everyone in the group as you go from bar to bar and share a drink together.

Tonight is formal night, so it was back to the room to change and get ready.

Dinner took us to Jamie's Italian, where our genie, Berty, was waiting for us.

Jamie's Italian rarely disappoints, and while I prefer the updated Giovanni's Italian Kitchen menu, I did not leave Jamie's disappointed.

After dinner, we went down to the comedy show. Once again, Berty had reserved seats for us.  I was happy they were not in the first row so that I could avoid becoming part of the show.

After the comedy show wrapped up, I had a couple drinks in the pub before calling it a night.

Tomorrow is our first port stop in St. Kitts.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
23 Nov 2021

Our first full day on Harmony of the Seas is a sea day, which means an opportunity on an Oasis Class ship to knock out a few favorites.

We slept in a bit, but I was too excited to stay in bed for long. After getting the family up and going, we headed down to Park Cafe for a quick breakfast.

After bagels for breakfast, it was over to the Boardwalk to stop by Starbucks for coffee.

Starbucks drinks (but not food) is included with Star Class. There are few things not included with Star Class, in terms of places you can spend money. The arcade is another area where Star Class does not cover the charges there.

Speaking of Star Class, so far it's been a bit of a different experience than I thought it would be.  Our genie is great, but the onus is on the guest to reach out and make requests.  While the genie can sometimes surprise you with things based on conversations they've had with you, ultimately it is up to you to ask for things.

I think the "learning curve" behind Star Class just means to not assume as much and simply ask. It has become a quick lesson for me so far.

Our first group cruise event today was a Royal Caribbean version of the classic game show, "Match Game".

As an example, here is one of the questions. Please share your best answers in the comments below: "Michael just invented a talking scale. After going on a 9 night cruise it yells, '_____!'"

My kids wanted to do the Ultimate Abyss, so we headed to try it. My youngest was too short last time to try it, so we had a chance to all do it.

This time, I actually scraped my knee on the side of the slide on the way down as I tried to avoid rolling over. Luckily the scrape was not too bad, although I haven't tried swimming yet.

For lunch, we decided to go to the main dining room since sea day lunches there are always so nice.

After lunch, I took my oldest daughter ice skating during an open skate session. 

Another nice Star Class perk is our genie was able to sign us up for a session without having to wait in line for it. Saving a few minutes here or there is a major source of value for what the genie provides.

Ice skating went well, although the bottom of my feet always hurt me after a bit. 

Being a sea day, I decided to enjoy a time-honored cruise tradition: an afternoon nap.

After my wonderful nap, it was time for our welcome aboard party in Dazzles.

We rented out Dazzles for an hour to serve everyone drinks while getting a chance to officially say hello and thank you for cruising with us.

This is an event we typically do on every group cruise because day one can be a bit rushed, but by this point on the second day, everyone is ready to get to know each other.

Dinner this evening is in Izumi hibachi, to enjoy one of my favorite meals on every ship.

I love teppanyaki because of the combination of great food and entertainment.

We wrapped up our evening with a few rounds at the roulette table, followed by music at the pub.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Stray Observations

The ocean conditions steadily improved throughout the day. It was still fairly rocky in the morning, but the movement onboard seemed to subside as the day progressed.

I spotted the stowaway piano player onboard Harmony.

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

In:
22 Nov 2021

I'm back on Harmony of the Seas for a Thanksgiving cruise, and our first RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com group cruise since the shutdown.

Not only is it our first time back on Harmony of the Seas, but this is my first time trying out Star Class. Star Class is the top-tier of Royal Caribbean's suite class offerings, and I'm excited to try it all out.

Harmony is sailing on a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise from Port Canaveral, and will visit St. Kitts, St. Thomas, and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites last night, which was a nice hotel for the night. They offer a shuttle to the cruise port, but we had our own car, so we drove.

In the weeks leading up to the cruise, our Genie contacted us via email with an introduction and opportunity to convey different requests. We were able to book specialty restaurants, arrange for drinks and food to be waiting in our suite when we arrived, and even booked times for the kids at Adventure Ocean. Leading up to the cruise, I was impressed with the level of service we had before even stepping foot onboard.

We booked Star Class this time around because when we booked many years ago, the price was reasonable. Prices can really run the gamut for Star Class, but I found this sailing to be a great deal.

Our Genie told us to arrive a bit earlier than our boarding time because our kids needed to be tested at the terminal, since they are unvaccinated.

There is a special check-in area at Port Canaveral for Star Class guests. Instead of giving porters your luggage and it being delivered to your room later, the bags are brought up to your cabin right away.

The testing at the terminal went smoothly, and took about 45 minutes to get the results. This is our last time having to do a test at the terminal since our kids will be fully vaccinated before our next sailing.

After the test results arrived via email, we completed the check-in process and our Genie, Berty, met us in the terminal.

Our cabins were not quite ready yet, so we decided to take the kids to the Boardwalk to start exploring.

The carousel was not running yet, so it was up to the Windjammer for lunch. They had a wide selection of food, including lobster tails.

I got the message from Berty that our room was ready, so we went up to the cabin. The Genie can message you via the WhatsApp app.

We have a two-bedroom AquaTheater suite for this sailing, which is on deck 9.

AquaTheater suite are located at the very back of the ship, and offer fantastic views of the AquaTheater, Boardwalk, and ocean. 

There are two bedrooms, along with a nice living room.  It is not the largest cabin on the ship, but the wrap-around balcony is massive. 

We did a little bit of exploring in the afternoon, starting in Central Park and then moving down to the Royal Promenade.

Of course, we completed our muster drill by doing most of the steps in the app, and then visiting our muster station.

While Berty had signed the kids up for time slots in Adventure Ocean, we still had to register them.

Registration was held in what used to be the open play area for younger kids. Royal Caribbean removed the toys due to Covid protocols, and now is where the staff meets you to sign kids up.

We had a our first meetup of the cruise at Boleros to celebrate the start of the sailing.

There are about 112 friends sailing with us on this group cruise, and we have a few special events planned throughout the sailing.

Harmony of the Seas departed around 5:30pm. There were a few other ships, so we left last.

While it was cloudy enough to block sunset, the weather could not have been more comfortable. Temperatures in the mid 70s, low humidity, and a brisk breeze.

I generally do not get that wrapped up in sail away, but I had to go to our balcony to watch sail away because of the amazing views our balcony offers.

Our kids got room service for dinner: pizza and steak. Another benefit of Star Class is you can order off the specialty restaurant menus and have it delivered to the room. 

For my kids, this is perfect because they can to eat dinner nonchalantly, and then be ready for Adventure Ocean later.

With evening upon us, it was time to shower, change, and get ready for dinner.

We dropped the kids off at Adventure Ocean and then headed to Sabor for our first dinner onboard.

Sabor has been one of my favorite restaurants on a Royal Caribbean ship ever since it first debuted years ago.

As we were seated, guacamole and salsa were served. The salsa was just as good as I remember, but unfortunately the guacamole was a little too watery.

The ceviche appetizer and cohiba tacos were very good, and I enjoyed being back at Sabor one more time.

After dinner, we headed to the Boot & Bonnet pub to enjoy some live music with our evening drinks .

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Stray Observations

Yes, the check-in times matter for when you arrive to the cruise terminal.

I've heard there are around 4,500 guests onboard this sailing. Waiting to check with Guest Relations after we sail.

From almost as soon as we left Port Canaveral, there was quite a bit of movement in the ocean. Enough motion to stagger a bit while walking now and then. Probably the rockiest I've experienced since cruises restarted.

The evening performance of Big Daddy's Hideaway Heist in the AquaTheater was cancelled due to the motion in the ocean.

Harmony of the Seas 2020 Live Blog - Cruise Preview

In:
10 Mar 2020

It is time to go back on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and this time, we are headed back onto my favorite ship in the fleet, Harmony of the Seas.

This is a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise for my kids' Spring Break, and we have packed a ton of fun into this vacation.

Yes, I am going on a cruise during Coronavirus

Before I talk about any of my plans, I have to talk about my decision to continue with my plans to cruise on Harmony of the Seas despite the Coronavirus situation.

The COVID-19 illness has dominated the news cycle for weeks, and it has had rampant impact on the markets and policies around the world.  Yet, I still plan to go on my cruise and some may be wondering why.

The short answer is my family's risk factors are low, Royal Caribbean's preventative steps are many, and the impact of the virus is not nearly as dire as some might lead you to believe.

I firmly believe that you cannot live your life trying to avoid "what if" scenarios. You can drive yourself crazy with indecision and hibernation.  And given the fact my family is not at a higher risk for complications due to Coronavirus, I feel confident in my decision to go ahead with the cruise.

What if you get quarantined?

This seems to be the primary concern of many to not cruise, and you need to consider the total number of ships that have actually been quarantined compared to how many other ships have been cruising around the world.  It is an incredibly low statistic.

The Cruise

With my kids getting older, taking them out of school is never a simple task, so cruising when school is out for vacation is our primary family travel strategy.

This year, we picked a 7-night Western Caribbean sailing on Harmony of the Seas out of Port Canaveral.

Harmony is my favorite Royal Caribbean ship, because it is an Oasis Class ship that offers the best amenities of the fleet, that blends options from the Oasis and Quantum Class ships. Water slides, shows, dining choices and plenty of activities make this a very fun ship.

In addition, Harmony of the Seas has some very fun activities onboard. One reason I really love Oasis Class ships is because of the wide variety of events throughout the day.  There is more than enough to keep our family busy every day.

We will visit four ports on this itinerary: Perfect Day at CocoCay, Cozumel, Costa Maya and Roatan.  It will be a busy sailing, with a lot of port stops, but each one offers something intriguing for our family, and I think we have lined up some great things to do in each port.

Stateroom

We booked two connecting oceanview balcony rooms on deck 12 for this cruise. 

Whenever I book a cruise, I consider all the cabin options out there, and pick one that fits our budget and needs.  Connecting rooms is my preferred family cruise approach, because it provides a completely separate room for my kids, a second full bathroom and ease of access with an interior door between the rooms.

The choice of an ocean balcony is a "sweet spot" for us, as my wife really enjoys having a private area to enjoy being outdoors.  March in the Caribbean is a fantastic time of year to enjoy being outdoors, as it is typically warm but low on the humidity still.

Itinerary

Our Harmony of the Seas cruise will make four port stops, with two sea days mixed in.

First and foremost, we will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay on this cruise. Royal Caribbean's private island has been such a big hit since it debuted last year, so being able to visit is a real highlight.  

In fact, we reserved a floating cabana for my family in the Coco Beach Club.  My kids have no idea that I have booked this, so I cannot wait to surprise them with this private vista.

We will also be visiting Cozumel, which means great Mexican food and time at the beach. We will be heading back to the popular all-inclusive beach, Nachi Cocom. I have not been there since late 2017, so I am excited to see how it holds up.

In Costa Maya, I will once again visit Maya Chan Beach because it offers the best service I have ever experienced at any all-inclusive Caribbean beach. Maya Chan has been synonymous with visits to Costa Maya, and I know my kids love going there as much as I do.  

For our visit to Roatan, my kids heard you can hold and pet a sloth.  Rather than risk being the worst dad ever, we are taking them to a sloth sanctuary to give it a try.

Three things I am excited to try

3. Insider's View: Grease

My wife loves Broadway shows, and I wanted to give a try to an activity that enhances the experience.  Insider's View provides a cast meet and greet, signed photo of the cast, pre-show cocktail and premier seating.

I think she will really enjoy getting to know the cast, and I hope it provides a fun activity for a theater junkie.

2. Unlimited Dining Package

I purchased the Unlimited Dining Package on this sailing, and this is my first time using this dining package for a 7-night Oasis Class ship.

We got it for a great price ($179 per person), and with so many choices onboard, I think it will work well.  Plus, I get to try it at Izumi Hibachi.  Place your bets now how many times I end up there in total.

1. Floating cabanas & Coco Beach Club

Although I have seen the floating cabanas, this time around I get to stay in one for the day and I think it is going to be a real hit with the family.

This will be my family's first time at the Coco Beach Club, so I get to enjoy the total experience and see what they think of this exclusive area.  Plus, I think the kids are going to love having a floating cabana and that water slide into the ocean.

What's next

Our Harmony of the Seas cruise begins on Sunday, March 15th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on FacebookInstagram 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!

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Sea Day

In:
12 May 2019

Our final day on Harmony of the Seas is a sea day, although it is not a typical sea day in the sense we are not going to purely at sea.

Captain Johnny made an announcement that we would head over to Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's newly revamped private island, for a test docking.  Essentially, since no Oasis Class ships have docked at the island's new pier before, they needed to test it out prior to regularly scheduled sailings going there. Earlier this week, Harmony tested one side of the pier and today we would be testing out the other side.

While we would not be disembarking, it would give everyone on Harmony of the Seas a fantastic up close view of the great lengths Royal Caribbean has gone to revitalize the island.

Right around 9am we started approaching the island and beginning the docking procedure.

Once the ship got close enough to the island, Harmony spun around 180 degrees to back into her docking position.

The parking job was quick and we were docked alongside Navigator of the Seas for around 30 minutes or so, before Captain Johnny turned the thrusters back on to head out.

The island looks amazing, and I cannot wait to see everything that has been added. Luckily for me, I will not have to wait very long for that pleasure.

My kids opted to sleep through the island visit, so we got them up and moving and enjoyed one last breakfast at Park Cafe.

Next up my oldest daughter tried out the Ultimate Abyss.  She survived and said there was lots of noises, lights and it was faster than she thought it would be.

After that, the kids took a quick ride on the carousel.

Before lunch, there was a parade on the Royal Promeande and the Adventure Ocean staff selected my oldest daughter to be part of the parade as cupcakes in the Happy Birthday section of the parade.

Lunch was enjoyed in the Windjammer. The pasta station at the back became our go-to spot.

Our afternoon consisted of mostly bar hopping and a quick nap.  Typical sea day activities that do not make for exciting live blogs, but are quite enjoyable nonetheless.

We reserved dinner at Izumi for hibachi, which is a family favorite on any Royal Caribbean ship that offers it.

The meal was wonderful and our chef did a great job. Unfortunately we ran into a billing issue, which was partially our fault and partially the system's fault. If you want to dine with kids at hibachi, I recommend paying adult price in advance to lock in spots because hibachi sells out so quickly.

What is supposed to happen is once at the meal, the staff should only charge the kids $10 and the rest of the pre-paid amount refunded as onboard credit.  The lesson to be learned is when you check-in, inform the staff of the kids and the fact you pre-paid so that the billing can be fixed while you dine.  Not a major problem, just took some time to rectify it.

We spent the rest of our evening having one last round of drinks with friends around the ship. 

Harmony proved to be a very fun weekend cruise and just the kind of escape that we wanted. In fact, being able to get back on Harmony of the Seas and enjoy the kind of experiences that made her my favorite ship in the first place was a real treat.

I will be sure to share more thoughts on my cruise in this week's podcast episode.

Thanks for following the live blog and the great comments.  Our next live blog kicks off this Friday, as we head over to Navigator of the Seas.

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