Alt Text!

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

11 Nov 2016

If you had one day on any cruise ship, it stands to reason many would subscribe to the theory of making the most of their time, and I certainly endeavored to do just that.

Today is our only full day aboard this quick Harmony of the Seas sailing, and I had plenty planned.  I woke up nice and early and headed up to the pool deck to see the morning sun reflecting on the ship.  A beautiful start to our day!

For breakfast, I grabbed a breakfast Panini from Park Cafe in Central Park, which was a great choice. Quick, simple and very tasty.  Definitely a winner.

We had the opportunity to have a question and answer session with Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley and Harmony of the Seas' Captain.

It was an unique opportunity to pick these gentleman's collective minds about many facets of the cruise industry and Harmony of the Seas.

Today I was actually making my own lunch, by attending a pasta making class in Jamie's Italian (note, I cheated and ate a quick lunch at Mini Bites because I get hangry when I do not eat on time).

This was a really fun experience, where the chef took the group through the steps of creating pasta from just flour and eggs. It was educational and a lot of fun.

Speaking of fun, the highlight of my cruise came next when I tried to the Escape the Rubicon escape room experience.  

It is located up on deck 14 near Adventure Ocean.  I had done an escape room game on Anthem of the Seas, but this was very different.  Unlike on Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean designed this space with this experience in mind and it was extremely fun.

If you are unfamiliar with escape room games, essentially you are "locked" in a room for an hour and have to solve a number of puzzles and riddles to come up with the secret equation/phrase that allows "escape" from the room.

It was really, really fun and I relished the experience.  The most fun I had that afternoon!

Next up was a mixology course in Wonderland.  The mixologist took us through how the hand crafted beverages in Wonderland.  It provided an interesting look at how drinks were made, as well as an opportunity to try very unique drinks.

For those keeping score at home, we were actually docked in Nassau, Bahamas today.  We docked at around noon, but I decided to stay onboard the ship.  I will be back in March on Anthem of the Seas, so I felt my time was better spent onboard.  Every hour counts!

By far the big event of today was the special concert by pop band, DNCE.  If you do not know who DNCE is, it is that band that played that song you likely hummed along to all summer, "Cake by the Ocean".  

It was a pretty spectacular show, and the band brought a lot of energy.  Royal Caribbean branded the event a "Friendsgiving" celebration, with Friendsgiving referring to a fun, informal get together alternative to Thanksgiving.

I cannot say I am the world's biggest DNCE fan, but I do enjoy hearing a hit song played live.

After the show, we got changed and headed down to the Royal Theater to see Columbus, The Musical again. I think it was better the second time around, and it is my favorite stage production on any Royal Caribbean ship.

For dinner, we had the opportunity to try out Wonderland.  I had dined at Wonderland on the Quantum class before, but Royal Caribbean reimagined the venue for this iconic restaurant on Harmony of the Seas.

Other than the location, there were some small differences between the two, but Wonderland continues to live up to its billing as an eclectic and unique restaurant, where the experience is just as important as the food.  My picks for the two best things I ate there are the terroir beef and whatever that chocolate globe thing is.

I rounded out my evening with some music, drinking and (awful on my part) dancing.  A fun end to a really great experience.

I will definitely miss Harmony of the Seas, because it completely exceeded my expectations.  Harmony of the Seas is not just another Oasis class ship, and incorporates so many new features that it is almost a sub-class in of itself.  I will be returning to Harmony of the Seas in September 2017 on the Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise, but I admit I wish my return was much, much sooner.

Thank you to Royal Caribbean for hosting me on this sailing, and to the amazing crew and staff onboard that helped show off how impressiveness of this ship.  Can I go back again?

Stray Observations

  • The Stowaway piano player has been spotted! I actually saw him twice, but today was the first time I saw him across the 5-nights I had been onboard.
  • Those Greek salad rolls from Cafe Promenade are super addictive. 
  • Time for my favorite anything on the ship...
    • Favorite thing I ate: Aloo Ghobi curry in Windjammer and roast beef sandwich from Park Cafe
    • Favorite spot onboard: bridge wings
    • Preferred stateroom I stayed in: Oceanview Balcony
    • Preferred stateroom I toured, but will likely never stay in: Crown Loft Balcony
    • Number of slices of pizza from Sorrentos I ate: 4ish
    • Number of Izumi sushi samples I ate: I ran out of fingers
    • Favorite entertainment: Columbus, The Musical
    • Favorite water slide: Supercell (the champagne bowl slide)

Thank you for following along all the fun.  My next live blog will be on Navigator of the Seas in February 2017!

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Michael's Day 1

11 Nov 2016

My cruise on board Harmony of the Seas is finally here, my excitement level kept building watching Matt for three days. Since I live in Florida, I decided to fly into Ft. Lauderdale this morning for a short 35 minute flight. I landed around 9:45am and took a short $22 taxi ride over to the port. I know I could find better options getting to the port, but I was just looking for the fastest way over. 

We had to wait around an hour before we could board at 11am and maybe it was just me but that was a long hour! 

 Boarding Harmony of the Seas 

 At 11:00am we were able to board the ship, and when I first walked on board it kind of felt the same as her sister ships. That is until I noticed robot bartenders in place of the Champagne bar. This new bar is called Bionic Bar, and they have two robot bartenders, which you order a drink on an iPad. If you have never seen this in person this is a must try. 

I have been craving Sabor recently seeing everyone eating there on their cruise, so I went straight to the boardwalk and they were closed for lunch. But not to worry, they are usually open for lunch at 11:30, but because we are on a special media sailing they were just doing samples. So I was a little sad, but let’s just say I tried my samples. 

I decided to head up to the Windjammer for lunch and it was hands down the nicest windjammer I’ve ever seen. When you first arrived you walk into a side room where you wash your hands, similar to Quantum Class or Empress of the Seas. Lunch was uneventful and fast due to excitement to go explore the ship. 

 Afternoon on board 

 Our rooms were ready really fast at 11:45AM and since had some bags we headed to our cabin. I had a Central Park cabin on deck 14. If heard about these water slides for well over a year now, so I was excited to go try them out. 

Well my friends, a little over an hour later I went down them 11 times! I just couldn’t stop, and since most of this sailing is media there were zero lines. 


If you have kids coming on this ship, plan on likely not seeing them all day, because they will ride them over and over. It was getting close to muster time, so we decided to get out and just go explore the flowriders. Royal Caribbean’s social media team had some unique cameras that take 10 pictures of you all at once to form one shot. 

 Naming Ceremony 

 Today was a special day because it was the official naming ceremony for Harmony of the Seas. All the top excutives and CEO’s were on board talking about the history of the cruise line, history of Oasis class, and how Harmony came out. They made a comment that they thought about calling Harmony her on class of ships, but stuck with Oasis Class – which I’m happy they did. 

The new Godmother of the ship, Brittany Affolter was on board and got the honor to push the “button” to cause the champagne bottle break. She is a local School teacher in Miami, FL and was voted by many to become the Ship Godmother, what an honor. This event was extremely special to be apart of, and I couldn’t be more honored to see it in person. 


 Since this is a unique sailing all the specialty resturants are closed to invite only. We didn’t really feel like spending 2 hours in the main dining room, so our options were Windjammer, Park Café, or Johnny Rockets. 

I decided to head for some burger and fries, why not! The meal was very fast as the venue was not that full, but they were still dancing for us. The food was great as always here, and if you have read my live blogs before you know I love their Apple Pie here. 

Evening on board 

We had about an hour to kill before we saw the Aqua Show, and that took us to the Rising Tide bar. This is very similar to the one on her sister ships, but this one looks a little more modern with her décor. 

We took it down and then back up, each way takes 15 minutes from waiting period to actual rising/lowering. 

 The Fine Line – Aqua Show 

Tonight was the Fine Line aqua show at 10:30pm, and if you recall from my preview post this was one of my top 3 things I wanted to try. I actually thought after the show how I was doing to describe it. 

It’s very different from the other two shows on her sister ships, but in a good way. There is more people flying around then diving but I really enjoyed the show. I’m actually really excited to see it again in March. 

 Late Night 

 At 11:30pm – 1am they hosted a 90’s street parade that quickly changed into 80’s party. But I’ll take it, 90’s music is slowing working it’s way to Royal Caribbean. 

After a few pints at the pub, I called it a day – and what it day it was! So action packed from the moment we stepped on board. Tomorrow we are in Nassau from 12-6pm, but I plan to stay on board and enjoy our last day.

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Matt's Day 1

10 Nov 2016

I am back onboard Harmony of the Seas and it feels great!

Today, began our two-night Harmony of the Seas adventure.  After a quick, but busy two day respite, my wife and I hopped in the car bright and early to head to Port Everglades.

This is a two-night sailing, where Royal Caribbean invited members of the media, travel agents and other VIPs to preview this new ship.  As a guest of Royal Caribbean, I was looking forward to meeting and chatting with the people in the company that make everything work.  I have been on these sort of media sailings previously, including Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas.  They are great opportunities to not only see the ship, but meet the folks in charge.

We arrived in Port Everglades by about 9:45am, and were in line for security rather quickly.  One difference with this embarkation process was we were given boarding groups, although we were still seated according to our Crown and Anchor Society status.  We were in boarding group 1, so we were onboard a bit after 11am.

Once onboard Harmony of the Seas, it was time to explore. We started out with lunch in the Windjammer, a Hochberg family tradition.  Great spread, as always, and I got to enjoy another lovely lunch on Harmony.

Being back onboard, I did feel a great sense of relief that I was not trying to see the entire ship at once.  That being said, there would be plenty to do onboard today.

During these preview sailings, there are various staterooms open for guests to see. I saw some of the loft suite rooms, which are stunning.  I am not certain I will ever have the opportunity to stay in one of those kinds of rooms, but I can certainly dream about it!

Our stateroom was ready rather early, and on this sailing, we are staying in an ocean balcony stateroom.  

We are on deck 10, very close to the elevators.  My wife loves ocean facing balcony rooms, and I have to admit having the ocean breeze while you sit on the balcony is quite lovely.

Inside, the room is nearly identical to my Boardwalk balcony room in terms of layout and size. A great room, although I plan on being in it for very little time on this sailing!

I took my wife on an exploration of the ship.  Within an hour, she was asking when we can go on Harmony of the Seas again and how soon.  She and I both like Harmony a lot, and rank her even ahead of her Oasis class sister ships.

Following our muster drill, I spent a few hours doing a video shoot for a small project that will make its way to the blog later on, so stay tuned for it!

On this sailing, there was the official naming ceremony that coincided with the ship's Christening and a spectacular fireworks display!  The fireworks were quite impressive and no amateur display.

My wife saw 1887, the ice skating show onboard, and reported it is the best ice skating show she has seen on any ship.  She indicated that she liked there was a more coherent story to the performances, compared to other ice skating shows.  Plus, the bubble performer is quite amazing.

The projection technology incorporated into 1887 is also particularly good.  It is amazing how Royal Caribbean continues to push the bar with their shows, and innovation with their ice shows is a great example of that.

Dinner this evening was in the main dining room.  We were in American Icon Grill, and it was essentially My Time Dining.  Another fabulous night in the main dining room!

Tomorrow we will be in Nassau, but I will spending a great deal of it engaging in a number of immersion sessions, interviews and shows.  It will be a very busy, but exciting day ahead!

Be sure to follow the fun on Instagram, Periscope and Facebook! We do regular live broadcasts from the ship on Facebook and Periscope, so do not miss out!

Stray observations

  • The Voom internet is really fast this evening. It is open to everyone on this sailing.
  • I mentioned on this past weekend's Harmony of the Seas sailing there were lots of flowers onboard, and they are definitely in full bloom now because the ship smells amazing.
  • It was much warmer today than last weekend. There was profuse schvitzing occuring throughout the day.
  • I can really get used to cruising twice per week!

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Michael's Cruise Preview

09 Nov 2016

Hi Blog readers, it’s time for another Live Blog from Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Harmony of the Seas. I know, you must be thinking we already read the live blog preview for Harmony? Well for the first time in Royal Caribbean Blog’s history, we will have two live blogs on the very same ship in action.

Matt and Michael on board together sharing our experiences from completely different views, and doing different things. 

The Cruise

This cruise is a special 2 night sailings that Royal Caribbean invites travel agents, media, contest winners (Ticket to Adventure), and top tier members from their Crown & Anchor society.

On this sailing they will have some special events taking place to help promote the ship. The main event-taking place Thursday afternoon is the naming ceremony. If you recall a few weeks ago Royal Caribbean hosted a contest to name the new Godmother of Harmony of the Seas. I have watched these events take place over the years, but it will be my first time to experience it live. 

A week ago, Royal Caribbean announced another contest “Friendsgiving Celebration” with a live performance by DNCE. The band will be hosting a concert on board, so you never know what you might see when I go live on Periscope. I am hopeful they preform in the Aqua Theater, and I’ll enjoy it from Sabor. 


For only my second time ever, I’ll be sailing in a deck 14 Central Park balcony cabin. My last time was in 2011 on Allure of the Seas.

Personally, I enjoy the boardwalk balcony cabins better. The only reason I prefer one to the other, is because you have a view of the ocean and the boardwalk. With that being said, I’m sailing with my girlfriend, so I’m really excited for her to experience the central park balcony cabins. 


This cruise is only 2 days, so you might be surprised to see we do have a stop planned. On Friday, we will dock in Nassau, Bahamas from 12-6. I was here a month ago, so I likely won’t get off the ship and continue to enjoy the ship. I might get off to just take pictures from the pier and jump right back on board. 

Top 3 things I’m looking forward to 

 3. Bionic Bar 

 When Quantum of the Seas came out she was the first ship at sea with robot bartenders. Ever since then I’ve been very curious about the experience and taste of those cocktails. I’ve heard mixed feelings about removing the Champagne bar from the Harmony of the Seas to make room for Bionic Bar. However, I welcome the change and really excited to finally be able to see it in person. 

 2. The Fine Line 

 Generally when I cruise I don’t see any shows unless I’m on an Oasis Class ship, because you just can’t miss those. My all-time favorite show I’ve seen is on Oasis of the Seas – Oasis of Dream’s Aqua show. I really enjoy the story line and the divers in the Aqua Theater. So I’ve made reservations to see The Fine Line Aqua show night 1, and I can’t wait! 

 1. The Ultimate Abyss 

 The biggest change and most noticeable when you look at Harmony of the Seas is the new Ultimate Abyss 10 story slide. Sure other cruise lines have slides on their ships, but none of them have one that’s 10 stories down. I can actually picture myself now on deck 16, taking it down to deck 6 for Sabor. Do you plan on trying this slide? 

Well friends next time I join you, I’ll be on board Harmony of the Seas sharing my short journey with you. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below and I’ll jump in and respond. Do you have any cruises booked on Harmony of the Seas?

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

07 Nov 2016

Our last full day on Harmony of the Seas mostly consisted of something I have never done on any Royal Caribbean cruise - I worked from sea.

Rather than taking a vacation day, I decided to work today like any other day. Since my day job affords me the ability to work remotely, I woke up like any other day of the week and logged onto my computer to do my day job.  I have gotten many questions about how reliable Royal Caribbean's Voom is to handle things like a VPN connection, but I can tell you it was flawless.

My VPN connection held up throughout the day, without any disconnects, and I was able to get my work done with no issues.  Sure, the internet slowed down during the afternoon, but it was still quite useable.

I have to say, having a coffee break at Cafe Promenade and my lunch at Windjammer made for the best day of work ever!

I do not have much to report from my day, but once I "clocked out" for the day, I headed immediately down to the Schooner Bar for the final trivia event of the cruise. Sadly, I did not win, but I had a great time.

Following trivia, I headed up to the bridge wings to see the sunset. It might not have been the best sunset I have ever seen, but it was really beautiful and the ship slowed down considerably, making for an even better view.

Some readers asked me about the Concierge Lounge and Coastal Kitchen, so Royal Caribbean Blog reader Dan helped me out with some photos of this great area.  Dan noted the layout is different than on other Oasis class ships, but it worked out quite well. Essentially, the Concierge Lounge is on the starboard side, with Coastal Kitchen on the port side.

For dinner, I headed back to the Windjammer and it did not disappoint. In fact, it was the best spread of this sailing and I really enjoyed the offerings.

I spent some time in Central Park while enjoying my Diamond drinks for the evening, and the earlier sunset (thanks daylight savings time) made for a very lovely evening.  It is still my favorite spot onboard.

After a while, I headed down to the Boardwalk and was able to use my Boardwalk neighborhood balcony perk of complimentary Johnny Rockets for a quick bite to eat.  Royal Caribbean offers certain neighborhood balcony benefits, and the Johnny Rockets option is for lunch, but they were happy to let me dine there for dinner.

My evening entertainment was 1887, which is the ice skating show in Studio B. I love the ice skating shows in general, and this show did not disappoint. Fabulous choreography and very impressive performances all around.

I spent the rest of my evening walking around the ship and enjoying the entertainment.

Tomorrow, my sailing comes to an end and I disembark, but, I return to Harmony of the Seas on Thursday for another quick 2-night cruise. In fact, we will have our very first ever dueling live blog, where myself and Michael Poole will be LIVE blogging every day from Harmony of the Seas.  So instead of wrapping up my live blog, I will simply remind everyone to tune back in for the thrilling conclusion to our Harmony of the Seas live blog!

Stray observations

  • Last night, there was some serious motion in the ocean.  There was a lot of rolling and even vibrating from the waves.  Nothing remotely scary, but certainly not what I expected.  As the day progressed, it got smoother and smoother.
  • They actually ran out of ripe avocados and margaritas at Sabor. To say that is odd and surprising, would be an understatement.
  • I will be doing self-disembarkation tomorrow, but some of the luggage tags are for times well beyond 10am.  That is super late!
  • I saw new characters from the Dreamworks film, Trolls!, for meet and greet today.
  • Remember that coffee thermos I won at trivia? Well, everyone got one in their rooms! I do not feel that special anymore.
  • To whomever sent me vanilla bean cupcakes, thank you! This was a great mid-day snack during my work day!
  • For those keeping score at home, I was actually denied entry to the Diamond Lounge today because I was wearing flip flops.  The rule is clearly written, and the attendant was very kind in informing me that I was not properly dressed. I was totally good with the situation, and in fact happy they were enforcing the rules.  I was told someone else wore flip flops and a guest complained, so when I came in, I was told I could not enter.  They did offer to grab me a drink for me.

  • I enjoyed my Boardwalk balcony stateroom. While I may prefer the ambiance of the Central Park rooms, the Boardwalk rooms offer so many opportunities to see what is happening onboard and the fact I was 4 rooms from the end, provided a great view of the AquaTheater.
  • I may have had the best stateroom attendant in recent memory. Big shout out to Barry on deck 9!
  • 3-night cruises go by very quickly. I am glad for the experiences, but the 7+ night cruises are still the best bang-for-the-buck.
  • I cannot wait to return again on Thursday!

Harmony of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Nassau

06 Nov 2016

My first full day on Harmony of the Seas coincided with waking up earlier than I expected to full take advantage of this fabulous day.  

Today we are docked in Nassau, Bahamas, although I had no intention of leaving the ship.  It was going to be a great day, with plenty to see and do onboard.

I decided to have breakfast in American Icon Grill (AKA the main dining room).  I wanted a custom made omelet, and I really enjoy the main dining room experience.  The breakfast features a fixed menu, plus a buffet option in the center of the dining room.  You can opt for either or both.

Following my meal, I went up to Cafe Promenade to take advantage of my Diamond-level Crown and Anchor Society benefit, which on this sailings gives us complimentary premium coffee (not Starbucks).  This is Seattle's Best coffee, and I went for a latte.

With my coffee in hand, I spent some time working on a few blog posts from the comfort of Central Park, and then headed over to the Schooner Bar for morning trivia.

I met a nice family from South Florida to play general knowledge trivia. We did not win, although I was quite intrigued to see the prize for the winning team were travel coffee mugs.

Next, it was time to try my hand at the water slides.  I was very excited to try them out ever since they were announced. I tried to bring my phone in a water proof case, but the crew informed me you cannot bring anything with you.  Just you and a bathing suit.

There is one line for all three slides.  Near the top, the attendant asks guests which slide they want to ride.  At worst, I waited perhaps 10 minutes I think.  First up was the champagne bowl slide.  It is a regular water slide that empties into a large, circular bowl area that you swirl around in until exiting in the middle.  Myself and a few of the other older guys seemed to get stuck right at the end, although a quick push and I was on my way.

Next were the two racer slides.  When it was my turn, they grabbed a kid who was also riding alone, and the 12-year old wanted to race.  Fine, bring it kid!

I was so dead set on showing this kid who was boss, but I ended up getting stuck a few times in the slide.  I would essentially slow down until I came to a stop, which in the racer slides is a bit nerve wracking because most of the slide is in the pitch dark! I managed to scoot a few times to get going.  At the bottom, I spoke to a crew member that told me the more clothing you have, the slower you will go. I was wearing board shorts and a rash guard shirt, so clearly that did not work well.  Oh well, it was still a fun experience!

I got back to the room and showered and changed and was ready for lunch.  I had hoped to eat lunch in either Sabor or Johnny Rockets, but neither opened until 2.  I decided to try lunch in the Solarium Bistro instead.

I am not certain if I have ever eaten in the Solarium Bistro before, but I really enjoyed it.  It is complimentary and offers a nice selection of salads, main courses, side dishes and desserts.  Plus, the ambiance of dining in the restaurant or just outside is quite lovely.

After lunch, it was down to Starbucks for an afternoon pick me up. Man cannot subside on regular coffee alone (or at least, not this man).

I did some more exploring of the ship and eventually stumbled upon the main dining room, which was still open at about 2pm.  I glanced at the menu and saw the lasagna from the dinner menu was available so I figured eating two lunches in one day is totally acceptable, right?

Like breakfast, there was a fixed menu and a buffet area in the center of the restaurant.  The buffet also had a chopped salad area, where you can specify the ingredients to put in your salad and the crew member will prepare it for you.

I also tried something brand new for me in the afternoon, by doing a "Total Request Live" Periscope broadcast.  Basically, I went on Periscope and offered to go anywhere onboard (within reason) that the people watching wanted me to go.  It was a lot of fun, and I even got to see much more of the ship than I had before.  Might have to do this again sometime!

Afternoon trivia came around and it was another general trivia session.  This time, our team did extremely well and won!  Not only that, they had inaugural season coffee cups as a prize! 

It is formal night tonight, so I went back to the room to relax a bit and then get dressed. Originally I was not planning on dressing up, but I had brought a pair of khakis and a polo shirt. I promise to dress up significantly more for the next sailing!

As the day turned to night, I wandered to the Boardwalk and finally lamented for a quick jaunt to my favorite restaurant, Sabor.

I went in with the idea of just getting guacamole, but ended up also getting tuna tacos.  I would love to rationalize it for all of you, but the truth is I just decided to indulge a bit.

Needless to say, Sabor was wonderful and remains a must-eat specialty restaurant on any Royal Caribbean ship that offers it.

This evening it was rather pleasant outside, so I decided to take a few photos from up on deck to see the ship lit up.  

Next up was The Fine Line show in the AquaTheater.  It is hard to describe what the show is, but it is a combination aerial acrobatic show that happens to be set in a rather unique pool.  

What makes The Fine Line different from other AquaTheater shows, such as OceanAria, is the added element of aerial stunts with the aid of high-tension wires.  There is quite a bit of "flying" and tight rope walking involved, and it is another really incredible show to watch from a pure performance standpoint.  The coordination and skill involved is quite extraordinary.

During the show, it began lightly raining and I ended up retreating to a Boardwalk balcony room that some fellow Royal Caribbean Blog readers (hi Tim and Kim!)offered to watch the rest of the show.  My room is 4 rooms away from the AquaTheater, but their room is the first room away, and had a nearly unobstructed view (and no rain).

I returned to my stateroom to discover all guests were given complimentary Harmony of the Seas inaugural hats! Thank you Abe!

I also received this nice gift from my travel agent to enjoy.  Red velvet anything is right up my alley!

Tomorrow is a sea day, but I will actually be spending the day doing my day job from sea.  I know it may seem odd to be doing work from a cruise ship, but doing my work on a ship is far better than doing the same work from anywhere else. Thanks Voom!

Stray Observations

  • There are a lot of amazing fresh flowers all over the ship.
  • I spoke to the water slide attendants for a bit about crowd pattern.  They recommend the least lines are when they first open, as well as during the evening when it is meal time.
  • Multiple water slide attendants told me that if you want to go the fastest down the slide, a Speedo is the way to go.  

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

05 Nov 2016

My Harmomy of the Seas adventure begins today and naturally, I was up bright and early to get a start on it.

Harmony of the Seas leaves from Port Everglades, Florida, and I live about 3 hours north of there in Orlando.  I was on the road a little after 6am and enjoyed a quiet and uneventful car ride down the Florida Turnpike to Harmony of the Seas' new home.

I arrived at the pier at about 9:30am and was among perhaps 30-40 other early birds to get in line for security.  It is absolutely not necessary to arrive that early for any cruise, but I was so excited that I could not help myself.

Check-in was quite easy and simple.  The check-in is a hybrid of the traditional Royal Caribbean check-in process, mixed with a little Quantum class touch.  You still go to the counter to check in, but I was able to provide a photo of myself during the online check-in.  Also, guests are not given SeaPass cards. Instead, your SeaPass cards are waiting for you just outside your stateroom.  

Once checked in, I was seated in the Diamond section of Terminal 18.  Because Harmony of the Seas was coming from a transatlantic voyage, US Customs was going to take longer to clear the ship.  Royal Caribbean did send passengers an email prior to the cruise warning guests of this delay.  That being said, boarding did not begin until a little after noon, and I was not onboard until 12:30.  Not a big deal, but the issue with a late embarkation like that is there was a big crowd in the terminal to get onboard.

Once onboard the ship, I followed my traditional embarkation day regiment and headed straight to the Windjammer for lunch.  I was blown away by the size of the Windjammer on Harmony of the Seas! It was massive, and much larger than the Windjammer on Allure of the Seas.  This was a welcome change.

After lunch I started exploring the ship and immediatley I noticed that Harmony of the Seas felt so much like a Quantum class ship.  I joked on Periscope that Harmony of the Seas feels more like a Quantum class ship that is pretending to be an Oasis class ship, than the other way around.  This is by no means a bad thing, just a surprise to me.  The look and feel of Harmony (especially in the staterooms, cooridors and certain venues) is so reminiscent of being on Anthem of the Seas that I would dare someone who has been on either to see certain photos onboard and be able to know the difference.

Our rooms were ready at 1:30pm and I really like my Boardwalk balcony stateroom.  The room is quite large and can easily accomodate two guests.  The amount of storage space is fantastic and the decor is once again nearly identical to the Quantum class rooms.

Of course, the balcony is what this sort of stateroom is all about and the Boardwalk view is terrific.  My room is towards the aft of the ship (perhaps 4 rooms from the end), and that provides a great view of the AquaTheater, rock climbing wall,  and more importantly, Sabor.

I have always been a fan of the neighborhood balconies because they are less expensive (typically) than ocean facing balconies, and offer a kind of experience that no other class of Royal Caribbean ships can offer.

After dropping all my stuff off in the room, I was off to start exploring Harmony of the Seas.  It is a beautiful ship, with so much going on.  I am quite happy that I added this three night sailing on, so that I can get more time to "see it all."

I was really impressed by the design of the main dining room on Harmony of the Seas.  The art piece is particularly beautiful!

When muster drill time came around, I realized that my station was in the Boardwalk, near the AquaThear.  My first outdoor muster station experience on an Oasis class ship.  

Following the drill, I immediately made my way up to deck 15 to try my hand at the Ultimate Abyss.  

This is a 10-story slide and I was excited to finally try it.  I was one of the first few guests to get in line and after perhaps 10 minutes, the slide opened up and it was my turn to descend.

As I got closer and closer to the entrance to the slide I got a little nervous with apprehension, but once I pushed off and began sliding down I immediately loved the whole experience.  Not only is it a lot of fun, it is not nearly as intese or scary as one might imagine.  I as impressed by the special effects in the slide, which consist of lighting and sound effects.  Definitely a must-do and I think I have to try it again a few times.

After riding, I spent some more time exploring the ship.  I even got a chance to check out some fellow Royal Caribbean Blog readers' studio staterooms, which were quite nice and definitely something I could stay in if I was sailing alone (especially for the price).

My favorite spot on any Oasis class ship is Central Park, and I was excited it again on Harmony of the Seas.  It is a beautiful area, full of natural beauty and terrific ambiance.  It especially looks great once the sun goes down and the lights come on.

I grabbed a quick dinner in the Windjammer this evening, and enjoyed the great variety of options.  I even brought my own bottle of wine, that the crew were happy to store for me for dinner tomorrow night.

Being in the evening, I also took advantage of the Crown and Anchor Society Diamond level complimentary drinks from 5-8:30.  Because there are so many Diamond members onboard, Royal Caribbean converted the Attic on deck 4 into a temporary Diamond lounge.  I certainly got some value from this very nice perk.

I was so busy exploring the ship that I completely overlooked our sailaway from Port Everglades. Oh well, I will see it again later this week when I return to Harmony of the Seas!

I had planned to see Columbus the Musical at 8:30pm, but unfortunately there was so much motion this evening that the show (and The Fine Line) had to be cancelled. It was really quite odd how much motion we were experiencing so close to land.  As soon as we got out of the channel, the ship started swaying quite a bit.  The good news is by about 9pm or so, the motion subsided quite a bit, and as I am writing this, we are back to barely any movement. I took the extra time to enjoy the live music in Central Park.

I am happy to report that I was able to exchange my old WOWband from Anthem of the Seas to Guest Relations and I received a new WOWband with no issues.  Plus, I finally got a new color (white) to add to my collection.  Personally, I love the convenience of the WOWbands over the SeaPass card.  No digging in my pocket for the SeaPass card and it is so easy getting back into my stateroom.

Since I had my handy, dandy WOWband, I wanted to test it out, so in the name of research...I had a drink from the Bionic Bar.  I ordered one of the stock drinks, and there is no denying how cool it is for a machine to make a drink on demand.  

There was a second showing of Columbus the Musical at 10:30, so I tried for this showing and the motion subsided enough that the show could go on.

I had some high expections for this original Royal Caribbean production and I have to say, it did not disappoint at all. It is a fun show with a goofy, yet endearing plot that works in a lot of hit songs you can easily sing along to.  Easily another must-see show for Royal Caribbean!

Tomorrow we will be in Nassau, but I plan on staying onboard to explore more of Harmony of the Seas!

Random Observations

  • Starbucks did not have the Christmas/green cup drinks yet.  Those drinks came out during Harmony's transatlantic, so I did not expect them to have that quick of a turnarond. I asked, and no coffee card on this sailing either.
  • Due to the Customs delay, our muster drill (and sailaway) was pushed back 15 minutes.
  • Today was the first day of the neighborhood balcony perks.  My perks include free soda drink package, a free meal at Johnny Rockets and a private rock climbing session.  I need to investigate how one "cashes in" on those last two perks.
  • Our cruise director, Abe, made an announcement that due to the embarkation issues many guests experience, Royal Caribbean is giving everyone onboard Voom for free.  If you bought Voom, you will get a credit.  Not a bad start to the cruise!
  • I spotted a Walking Dead reference in the cooridor of deck 9!
  • It definitely pays to pre-book a Royal Caribbean drink package before your cruise. Here are the posted rates for the drink packages if purchased onboard.

Harmony of the Seas 2016 Live Blog - Cruise Preview

03 Nov 2016

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas is nearly at her new home of Port Everglades, Florida, and I will be onboard two of the first few sailings and LIVE blogging every day of the cruise, to share with you what it is like to experience this amazing ship.

This is a somewhat different type of live blog, and cruise experience, for me.  I will be on two different sailings, separated by two days between them.  Our cruise begins later this week, but here is a cruise preview to share with you what to expect on our trip!

The Cruise

As I mentioned, I will be on two different Harmony of the Seas sailings. The first is a three-night Bahamas cruise on November 5th, and the other is a two-night Bahamas cruise on November 10th.

The story of booking this cruise goes back a few months ago, when Royal Caribbean invited me to come aboard a two-night Harmony of the Seas preview cruise, where members of the media, travel agents and other VIP's are invited to check out this new ship.

Royal Caribbean Blog has been lucky enough to have been invited to a couple other preview sailings on Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, so to be honored with an invite for this sailing is quite wonderful.

These two-night preview cruises go by extremely quickly, and are filled with a number of events meant to educate and provide a deeper insight into how the ship functions. The events are very interesting and offer quite a bit of insight, but it comes at the expense of the limited time onboard.

I had noticed there was a 3-night sailing on Harmony of the Seas just prior to my 2-night sailing, and it was over a weekend.  This seemed to be the perfect solution to allowing me additional time for ship-based research prior to the media cruise experience.

With as much of a serious tone that one can use in a written blog post, I will be using my collective 5-nights on Harmony of the Seas to spend it researching what is unique about this ship, and using my time to collect information that I plan on using in future blog posts.  Of course, I relish this sort of "work", and the opportunity to check out Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship is extremely exciting to me.


I will be staying in two different stateroom categories between the two sailings.

On the first sailing, I will be in a Boardwalk view balcony stateroom.  When I made the reservation, I got a Neighborhood Balcony Guarantee stateroom, because it was less expensive and I was fairly open to the room type.  I will be sailing solo on the 3-night sailing and believe it or not, the Neighborhood Balcony Guarantee was the cheapest option available.

After a couple of weeks, my room was assigned and discovered it would be a Neighborhood Balcony guarantee.  I have stayed in Central Park Balcony rooms, but never a Boardwalk Balcony.  I am excited to try something new and see what the whole Boardwalk view experience is all about.  Also, my room is very close to the end of the hall (4 rooms away from the aft of the ship), so I am hoping I might have a decent view of the AquaTheater too.

On the two-night sailing, my wife will join me and we will be in an oceanview balcony.

This is a classic stateroom option, and this will be the first time I will be staying in an oceanview balcony on an Oasis class ship.


Both cruises are short and will include a stop in Nassau, Bahamas, although I do not plan on getting off the ship on any of the stops.  I want to take full advantage of my time onboard Harmony of the Seas, and will stay onboard to ensure I have as much time as possible to experience as much of what the ship offers as I can.  Plus, I will be back to Nassau in March on a different sailing, so there will be time to explore there later.

Three things I am excited to try

3. Water slides

Harmony of the Seas features a number of firsts, and its water slides are one aspect of the ship that many families are super excited to try.  Even as an adult, I cannot wait to try them out for myself and check out one of the first water slides at sea on a Royal Caribbean ship.

There are three new slides on Harmony of the Seas, collectively known as The Perfect Storm. Two racer slides and a champagne bowl slide mean I will be taking quite a few trips (in the name of research).

2. Boardwalk balcony

This is my first time staying in a Boardwalk balcony stateroom, and I am excited to compare the experience to staying in a Central Park balcony. Both room types are quite popular with many guests, and getting a chance to check it out for myself is going to be a real highlight.

When staying in a neighborhood balcony, the key feature is the balcony experience.  I always loved having the ambiance of Central Park around me, so I cannot wait to see what it is like with the busy nature of the Boardwalk.

1. Columbus, The Musical!

Of all the amazing entertainment that I have booked so far on Harmony of the Seas, the one I am most excited to see for myself is Columbus, The Musical!

This is a Royal Caribbean original production that was created in the same style as Something Rotten and Spamalot. I have high hopes for this show, based on the reviews I have read about it and the stories I have heard from Royal Caribbean about the show's creation.

What's next

Our Harmony of the Seas cruise begins on Saturday, November 5th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on TwitterFacebookInstagram 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!

Subscribe to Harmony of the Seas Live Blog