Harmony of the Seas
CruiseClout score: 20.0
Harmony of the Seas: Activities galore on world's largest cruise ship
Launched in May 2016, Harmony of the Seas is now the world's largest cruise ship, carrying 5,479 passengers. Slightly bigger and faster than her Royal Caribbean sister ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, Harmony boasts seven distinct neighborhoods, a wide range of dining options and more than a dozen bars and lounges.
What separates Harmony of the Seas from her predecessors is her signature entertainment offerings, which might be the best trio of onboard shows offered on any Royal Caribbean ship. Highlights include an aqua park for the kids, high-speed Internet throughout the ship, robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar, and the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest waterslide at sea with an adrenaline-pumping 100-foot drop. The addition of a Puzzle Break escape room and new specialty restaurants make Harmony of the Seas worth checking out even if you have sailed on one of the other Oasis class ships in the past.
Who will like sailing on Harmony of the Seas
Harmony of the Seas is a good choice for active cruise passengers who enjoy the biggest and newest experiences at sea and especially for families with active kids who like water sports fun. Kids have their own water park and indoor area (on deck 14), while adults can enjoy their own personal oasis in the Solarium. We encountered cruisers from young to old on our cruise, but Harmony especially caters to families. Still, as a couple in our mid-30s with no children, we found plenty of things to keep us entertained, including some ship unique amenities. With all the adrenaline-fueled experiences and wealth of options on board, one thing's for certain: You won't be bored.
Where Harmony of the Seas sails
Home port: Port Everglades, Fla.
Harmony of the Seas sails seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries during 2017.
Here's a finger-snapping one-minute video of Harmony of the Seas.
Don't miss these highlights
- “The Fine Line,” the acrobatic and diving show in the Aqua Theater, is an awe-inspiring mix of technology, music, and impressive feats. With its 360-degree immersive experience, it is one of the finest shows you will see on any cruise ship.
- Pony up the small entrance fee and head to Puzzle Break’s Escape the Rubicon, one of the most high-tech escape rooms in the world. It challenges you and up to 12 guests to solve the puzzles and clues necessary to escape within 60 minutes. Or, be lost in space for eternity.
- Kids and kids at heart will love the Perfect Storm, a trio of wet and wild waterslides. For those who prefer to stay dry, the 10-story Ultimate Abyss twists and turns its way down to the Boardwalk. Are you daring enough to ride them all?
Where we went & what we loved
Our original itinerary in January 2017 was a typical Eastern Caribbean cruise, with planned stops in St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau, the Bahamas. A ship of this size is limited as to where it can dock, and it turned out that storms in the Atlantic altered our plans, switching out two of our stops for San Juan and Royal Caribbean’s private island of Labadee, Haiti.
In Labadee, we spent a few hours relaxing in a beach lounger that we rented for the day before the rain washed away our plans for fun in the sun. In St. Maarten, we joined a racing team in one of the best shore excursions in the Caribbean, the America’s Cup Yacht Race. We highly recommend this interactive chance to race an actual America’s Cup yacht. San Juan is an amazing place to explore, with rich culture and history just a short walk from the cruise terminal. However, having recently visited Puerto Rico, we took advantage of a mostly empty ship and had Harmony of the Seas all to ourselves while others went ashore.
Three main dining rooms, each with its own unique décor, serve the same nightly menu for dinner. One of the restaurants, American Icon, provides set-time dining or “traditional dining” with two set dining times, meaning you'll eat at the same table with the same people and same waiter staff every night. Two others, The Grande and Silk, feature My Time Dining, where cruisers are able to dine at different times each night, either with or without reservations.
New dining choices on board include some standout dishes, such as the lamb shank, bone-in pork chop and Caribbean lobster tail. The Windjammer buffet remains a popular casual option, with breakfast, lunch and dinner. But, with several other casual options open for breakfast and lunch — including Park Café (home to the line’s own freshly carved roast beef sandwich, the Royal Kummelweck), the Café Promenade, Sorrento’s Pizza and the Dog House — we usually opt to avoid the long lines at the buffet. The Solarium Bistro (deck 15) is another good, often overlooked choice.
Several specialty restaurants are also available on board offering more signature menu items:
- The Asian restaurant Izumi Hibachi and Sushi serves sushi, sashimi, noodle bowls, soups and salads. Try the spicy miso ramen or spicy crispy shrimp roll. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cost: a la carte or $35-$40 per person.
- The homemade guacamole at the Mexican restaurant Sabor Taqueria is worth the $10 upcharge, and the handcrafted margaritas are the best at sea.
- The '50s-style diner Johnny Rockets is free for breakfast (flapjacks, fried eggs and hash browns) and costs $6.95 for a lunch of burgers, fries and hot dogs.
- Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver helped design the menu at Jamie's Italian, a straight-ahead infusion of dishes from the Italian countryside. $20 lunch, $25 dinner.
- You'll find Chops Grille throughout the Royal Caribbean fleet, offering steakhouse staples like filet mignon and New York strip steak. Dinner only, $39 per person.
- Wonderland offers an imaginative tasting menu and is worth the cover charge. Spanning two decks, we were taken in by the decor, inspired by "Alice in Wonderland." Dinner only; $49 per person.
- 150 Central Park, serving a mixture of French, Italian and American cuisine from renowned chef Michael Schwartz, is the place for an exquisite, leisurely meal. Choose from a standard three-course dinner ($45 per person) or a premium four-course menu, where each course is paired with wine ($89 per person).
Bars & lounges
You won't have to search far for a tropical cocktail on board. Some options:
- Sabor Taqueria and Tequila Bar: Modern Mexican dishes as well a variety of tequilas
- The Pub: Gastropub menu (think pub fare, but more flavor) and craft beers
- Jazz on 4: An intimate jazz and blues lounge
- Boleros: Latin dance club with rhythmic salsa and merengue tunes
- Dazzles: A two-level dance club with different theme nights such as big band, disco, etc.
- The Attic: A new adults-only comedy club
- Casino Royale: With late hours, the ship's casino offers card tables, roulette, slot machines and more.
Activities for outdoors & indoors
Harmony of the Seas includes a mix of activities and public venues to please everyone. Offering four main pools, including our favorite, the Beach Pool, cruisers can seek out their perfect spot in the sun. For those searching for some calorie burn, the sports deck is made up of two surf simulators, a challenging mini-golf course, a full-length sports court, a zipline and the Ultimate Abyss.
If you’d rather stay indoors, the bars and lounges offer some traditional cruise activities, including trivia, dance lessons and demonstrations, although we felt there could have been more of these options as they seemed a bit sparse, especially when the weather outside did not cooperate.
Unlike other mega-ships that have one large Promenade deck, Harmony of the Seas offers three distinct spaces. On deck 6 aft, the Boardwalk offers an open-air deck with outdoor shows in the Aqua Theater, shopping, dining and even a carousel. On deck 8, another outdoor area known as Central Park is a bucolic and intimate space with thousands of live plants, luxury shopping, specialty dining, live classical music, the elegant Vintages wine bar and the al fresco Trellis Bar. Down on deck 5 is the Royal Promenade, home to several bars, including the Rising Tide (which ascends three decks up to Central Park on regular “flights”), On Air karaoke bar and Boleros, the Latin-themed bar. In addition, you can also find plenty of shopping and sidewalk sales and a giant piece of smart art.
Designed with families in mind, Adventure Ocean is a program for children ages 3-12, offering exclusive activities throughout the cruise. If you want to keep your little ones in line of sight, Splashaway Bay is a new and improved waterpark for kids that is sure to provide hours of entertainment. For teens, the Living Room provides a space to hang out with others their own age. Video games, computers and the Fuel “club” are all located here so these pre-adults can have their own space away from mom and dad.
The whole family can enjoy many of the attractions found throughout the ship, including waterslides, the carousel and Dreamworks photo opportunities with characters such as Shrek, Gloria and even Brach and Poppy from the new movie “Trolls.”
Deck 4 is known as Entertainment Place, and it is the hub of evening entertainment. Venues here include the Royal Theater, the Studio B ice rink, the Attic Comedy Club and the Jazz on 4 club. The casino is also located here, and it is the only indoor smoking venue on the entire ship.
The Royal Theater is home to several shows playing throughout your cruise. The Broadway hit “Grease,” shown on three nights of a typical seven-night cruise, offers some Summer Lovin’ in the Caribbean. An original Royal Caribbean production, “Columbus, the Musical!” is a hilarious telling of Marvin Columbus, distant relative of Christopher Columbus, who sets out to find his own place in history. Along with a Headliner act, the theater also featured the fan favorite “Love and Marriage Show” and a family comedy show on the last night of the cruise.
Two ice shows are featured in Studio B. “1887” takes you on a journey of love and adventure, featuring a bubble performer and special effects/technology unlike any other ice show at sea. “iSkate” is a fun and modern show that features an impressive cast skating to their favorite hits. Adult comedy occurs on most nights in the Attic, also on deck 4. After the last laugh, the Attic became the late-night dance club for those who just don’t want to go to bed. The Aqua Theater also features two shows, the aforementioned “Fine Line” and “Hideaway Heist.” This unique outdoor theater is the perfect setting for spectacular shows, if the weather cooperates.
In addition, Harmony of the Seas hosts some one-of-a-kind parties including a White Party in the Solarium, the RED Party in Studio B and our favorite: the ’90s Street Party on the Royal Promenade. If the parties aren’t enough, many of the bars and lounges on Harmony of the Seas offer live music as well including piano music at the Schooner Bar, pub music in the Boot and Bonnet, and a live house band in Dazzles.
Royal Caribbean's newest ship features Voom High Speed Internet, offering guests the fastest Internet at sea, thanks to the mid-orbiting satellites Royal uses.
Royal Caribbean says Harmony of the Seas staterooms are the most spacious and luxurious in its fleet with an eye toward comfort and sophistication. As always with a ship of this size, there are a large number of cabin sizes to choose from, including Star Class, Sky Class and Sea Class accommodations.
All staterooms come appointed with upscale fabrics, contemporary art and wood finishes. Select interior rooms feature virtual balconies to give guests a view of the outside seascape, sunrises and sunsets in real time. A number of inside rooms offer a view of Central Park or the Boardwalk. Our Central Park View room, on deck 9, overlooked a small area of this cheerful open deck. The room was long and narrow with a typical layout and a nice seating area by the window. With several USB ports available, your devices will be fully charged and ready to capture every moment of your trip to share on social media.
Passengers who pony up for the Royal Suite Class of staterooms will receive 24/7 personal assistance from a butler, all-inclusive beverages, onboard gratuities included, free high-speed Internet, exclusive access to the Coastal Kitchen restaurant and free access to the ship's Thermal Suite.
- Pre-book your entertainment options, especially the three main shows, as shows do book up quickly. Also, keep your eye on the online cruise planner for different pre-cruise deals. We scored a 20% discount on our beverage package and specialty dining, 30% off internet and $30 off our shore excursions by regularly checking our account.
- Be aware that Harmony doesn't have a NorthStar viewing pod, iFly sky-dive simulator or bumper cars in the SeaPlex. That's because she's part of Royal's Oasis class of ships, not the Quantum class.
Dinner is smart casual in all complimentary restaurants most nights of the cruise, though this is usually not enforced. You will see all types of outfits at dinner; we recommend long pants and a collared shirt for gentlemen and a sun dress or slacks for women. There are two formal nights on the ship, and here, too, you will see everything from tuxedos and evening gowns to khakis. If you really want to stay in your bathing suit and flip-flops all day, one of the casual restaurants is probably your best bet.
You only live once!
A first on this class of ship is the experimental restaurant Wonderland. Offering a tasting menu that features uniquely prepared small plates, the food looks just as good as it tastes, not to mention the presentation is out of this world. Wonderland is well worth the upcharge (which is typically $49 per person). The innovative cocktails, covered in the Deluxe drink package, complete the memorable and photo-worthy dining experience.
Tips & gratuities
All drinks carry an 18% gratuity, and you're charged this additional fee even if you purchase a drink package. Specialty dining prices are quoted with gratuity included, but we did tip an additional 10-15% for exceptional service. There is also a daily $13.50 service charge, higher for suite guests, that is split among the cruise staff, including your dining room staff, room attendant and other crew members. We did provide additional gratuities to our room attendant and wait staff, who did an excellent job all cruise long.
Harmony of the Seas attracts a wide array of travelers. On our sailing, about half of the passengers were former Royal Caribbean cruisers, meaning many were new to the brand or to cruising in general. We did experience a more international crowd than we expected, especially travelers from Central and Southern America. Even though school was back in session, we did encounter a fair share of families with young kids and teens on the ship. You can expect cruisers from all backgrounds and age groups on this floating city.
Shopping & bargains
The ship has plenty of jewelry and watch stores scattered throughout the Royal Promenade and Central Park. In addition, there are several sales you can't miss, including tobacco and liquor, discounted watches and jewelry and the ever-popular $10 T-shirt sale. Items do sell out fast, so if you know you want something, you should buy it sooner rather than later.
This is the largest ship in world, and you will be sharing it with more than 5,000 others. Even though the design and layout of the public spaces have better passenger flow than the two other Oasis-class ships, you cannot escape the other passengers completely. We did find some quiet nooks in the Solarium and in the Adirondack chairs near the sports deck during the day. Leaving shows or popular events like parades is when you will feel the crowds the most. The hard-working crew members do double duty to serve guests, but don't expect the same personal level of service that you might find on smaller ships. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised with crowd control and give a big thumbs up to Harmony of the Seas.
Fun facts about Harmony of the Seas
- At 1,188 feet tall, Harmony is twice as high as the Washington Monument.
- She weighs more than 17,000 African elephants.
- Just one of her four bow thrusters has more horsepower than 7 Ferraris.
Interested in a cruise on this ship?
If you're interested in a cruise on Harmony of the Seas, contact a Cruiseable travel advocate at 1-877-322-3773 or by email. You'll get a better deal than you can get by contacting the cruise line directly.
How about you? Have you sailed on Harmony of the Seas? I'd love to hear about your experience or see your photos!
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Top highlights on this ship
- The Ultimate Abyss is the tallest waterslide at sea with a 100-foot drop.
- Fun choices for active cruisers, including 2 FlowRiders, a zipline, ice rink and bumper cars.
- Lots to keep the kiddies entertained, including Splashaway Bay with its sea creature water cannons and winding slides.
- Multiple upscale dining options