That time has come again, Cruise Ship Crayz is coming to you live and this time from Harmony of the Seas, the second largest cruise ship in the world! Join us this week for non-stop live onboard action and consistent reviews of shows, dinners, and so much more. Keep up with us here or on any of our social channels, click below to follow! Live blogging begins September 8th midday!
Embarkation Day: 9/8/2018
An early day made for a smooth embarkation process. We arrived at Port Everglades at 10 A.M. and were onboard by 10:30 A.M. with priority embarkation. Boarding the Harmony takes you up to the fifth deck and into the heart of the ship, the Royal Promenade! Opening up in front of us the promenade welcomed us with friendly faces, warm lights, and fun music. After having the ship to ourselves for roughly an hour general embarkation began around 11:30 and with the snap of a finger, the Harmony of the Seas went from a calm, guest free oasis to home for 6,000 new guests! The lights brightened, the music started, bartenders started pouring, and guests began filling the ship! Some walked, some ran, but most danced in true cruise spirit.
After 26 cruises I now know to stay as far away from the buffet as possible on embarkation day so after a brief tour of the ship we made our way to Park Cafe, one of the many included restaurants onboard. Park Cafe offers premade sandwiches, and salads along with a fresh salad bar, a small dessert, and drink selection, just enough to fill you up! After lunch, our staterooms were ready for us, so we made our way there, unpacked, freshened up and we went back on our way to discover all the Harmony has to offer! One thing Harmony has a lot of is alcohol, so we decided it was only right to assist Royal Caribbean in ridding them of some of those delicious Adult beverages! After our bar crawl was halted by the mandatory muster drill, we decided to hurry up to the pool deck to catch sail away! We made it to the top deck before anybody else (lucky, I know). We grabbed another cocktail and secured our spots against the railing to enjoy the last sight of reality for the next week!
Just like that, we hurried back to our cabin to get ready for dinner because the first night was upon us! We reserved a table at the Solarium Bistro, which is now included, and indulged in the Mediterranean cuisine 1/2 buffet 1/2 a la carte restaurant, now how does that work? At Solarium Bistro you select your main course from the menu and can choose appetizers and dessert selections in the buffet area. The chic atmosphere, light Mediterranean flair, and phenomenal service are just a few things to expect here, and best of all it is never crowded!
We are fancy people, or so we think, so what better place to be fancy than Wonderland? We sat at the Alice in Wonderland inspired bar and each ordered specialty cocktails, both of which took our taste buds to a new world, but no time for more because GREASE is the word!
Yes, Grease is the live show onboard Harmony of the Seas, and it is a can't miss show! Most of us know the story of Danny and Sandy and the cast onboard Harmony takes you back to this classic! The real amazement of this show was the woman who stars as Rizzo, she will leave you with goosebumps after her solo performance of "Worse things I could do," she stole the entire show! After a beautiful performance of Grease, we decided to do a bit more bar hopping, which included the Trellis Bar on deck 8, and the rising tide bar which takes you from Central Park to the Royal Promenade and back, if you choose. Lastly, we had to end our day with a late night snack and what better than a stop at Sorrento's which now conveniently offers gluten-free pizza by the slice! After a late night snack and A LOT of cocktails, we decided to turn in to rest up for our week of WOWS!
Nassau, Bahamas: 9/9/18
The sun rose as the Harmony sailed closer towards Nassau, Bahamas! An early arrival of 7 A.M. forced us out of bed around 6:30 and our first stop was, of course, coffee! With a full Starbucks and Seattle's best onboard coffee is not hard to find. We opted for Seattle's Best, the included coffee shop with the beverage package, to get our espresso fix! Located in Cafe Promenade on deck five lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, macchiatos and practically anything else know to coffee kind is available here! In addition to coffee, you will find pastries available all day and select small bites throughout the day! After a nice cup of morning coffee, I headed to the full-size gym offered onboard Harmony of the Seas. The gym onboard includes a spin studio, a TRX studio, Yoga, multiple treadmills, bikes, weight machines, free weights, rowers, ellipticals, bench press area and a full-size jogging track located on deck number five! The "Vitality Fitness Center" has more than enough equipment and options for you to stay on your regular workout regimen, but we understand if you want to take a break for a week!
An excellent workout deserved to be finished with freshly made juice or a fresh fruit smoothie. The Vitality cafe has just that, and the best part about this cafe is, you have to pass it when you leave the gym! So I created my own and enjoyed a peanut butter, banana, and almond milk smoothie!
Nassau is a very familiar port to me so I decided to take my time getting off the ship and settled down at the outdoor seating of Starbucks located on the Boardwalk! After an hour or so of "work," I decided to take a stroll on to the island. A low key day is what I was aiming for in Nassau and chose to simply walk around the main downtown area. I remembered quite quickly why I always debate whether to go ashore or not while in Nassau and made my way back to the ship to enjoy Harmony all to myself! I had a few hours to enjoy all the onboard activities with the exception of the shops and casino! I surfed on the FlowRider, slid 10 stories down on the Abyss, conquered the Perfect Storm waterslides, and zipped across the boardwalk!
We quietly slipped away from Nassau around 2 p.m. as I lounged on a deck chair preparing for the dinner I have been waiting for since February, Wonderland. The Royal Caribbean Exclusive restaurant featuring Imaginative cuisine! The experience in Wonderland requires a blog of its own which you can expect very shortly, be prepared to drool over the pictures!
The night ended with a leisurely stroll around the ship with a little bar hopping and then as much as we wanted to go on, the first port day proved to be too much for us to handle and bed called to us, besides we needed to rest up for our first Sea day!
At Sea: 9/10/18
So what to do on a sea day? Well, everything is open shopping, bars, restaurants, waterslides, the Ultimate Abyss, rock climbing, ice skating, the carousel, and more or you can do nothing! I decided to stay productive and roamed around the ship to get more acclimated with this 227,000-ton beauty.
To begin, a gentle jog around the outdoor track located on deck five allowed me to burn off the food I indulged in at Wonderland the night before and even though it is a specialty restaurant does not mean you will leave hungry, you will roll back to your stateroom! After my jog an excellent fresh squeezed juice from the Vitality Cafe refueled me. It was time to head to one of the many breakfast places onboard Harmony of the Seas. I opted in for the Windjammer Cafe on deck 16 due to the number of breakfast options they offer, however The Solarium Bistro, Johnny Rockets, Mini Bites, and Park Cafe are all included breakfast venues!
After a small breakfast, I decided to wander and make sure I didn't miss any part of the ship and as hard as it is to believe I made sure I saw everything before the second night, which made it easier to get around! Fast forward to dinner time we finally decided to go to the main dining room for " My Time Dining" which is located on deck five in "Silk" the top level of the main dining room! There are three restaurants in the main dining room. American Icon Grill, The Grande, and Silk all of these have the same menu which changes nightly, but the atmosphere is different in each!
Overall, the main dining room was ok. Menu options are more limited than they have previously been onboard but there is enough variety of options that will cater to everyone's tastes. The service is phenomenal the food is three stars!
After our dinner, we proceeded to "The Fine Line" one of two Aqua Shows performed onboard Harmony of the Seas. Located on deck six at the back of the Boardwalk is one of the only four Aqua theaters at sea, the others being onboard Oasis, Allure, and Symphony. The show was amazing and consisted of acrobatics to the extreme, and dives from heights only rivaled by the zip line! Finally, we proceeded to the comedy show in the Attic, which contrary to what you might think is located on deck three next to Studio B, the ice rink. Both comedians,Paul Ogata and Phil Tag, were hilarious but not for the children! As hard as it is to believe we returned to the stateroom to rest up for our day in St. Thomas!
St. Thomas, Amalie : 9/11/18
Watching the Sunrise from my deck 14 balcony is a special kind of beautiful, an ocean sunrise with no obstruction is just a sight to behold! As the morning continued I stopped at the Solarium Bistro to enjoy a small breakfast then made my way to the small outdoor deck located on deck 14, which you can only access through the Solarium, to watch the giant Harmony of the Seas Sail into St. Thomas, Amalie. One sail in you should watch it is this one, it's nothing short of a miracle! We docked just before 10 a.m. and were cleared to journey onto land around 10:30, but we decided to wait until about 11:15 to avoid any crowds and we walked right onto the island without any waiting!
We skipped the shopping area right outside the ship and headed to the taxis which are lined up waiting to take you to a plethora of places around the island, but we opted to go downtown. Four dollars per person one way reserved us a spot to be driven directly downtown from the ship, as ships as large as Harmony are docked further than most. After a brief stroll through the downtown area, we stopped into "Jen's Cafe and Deli" and enjoyed some excellent frozen beverages and pleasant conversation with Hilary the Bartender who powered through 100 days without electricity after Hurricane Maria and Irma! Once we finished our drinks, we decided to head over to "The Shops at Yacht Haven Grande", which is located close to the other cruise ship port in
St. Thomas, roughly three miles from where the Harmony was docked but about one mile from downtown, it is an easy walk for those who enjoy walking!
Yacht Haven Grande is still recovering with many shops, and restaurants still closed, but there is still plenty to do in the area. Being coffee people as soon as we saw a sign that said "Bad Ass Coffee" we knew that was the place to be. We quickly found our way through the maze of buildings and found ourselves some phenomenal Hawaiian coffee specializing in 100% Kona Brew, and their iced coffee is served with coffee ice cubes! After our wonderful ice coffee beverages, we decided to catch a taxi, ready waiting outside the shops, and head back to our home away from home!
We went directly to Park Cafe upon boarding to have a salad and sit amongst the 12,000 live plants in Central Park then took the plunge on the Ultimate Abyss, while the ship was still relatively empty. We then relaxed until departure where we found a phenomenal viewing area, the very aft of the ship outside on deck five!
Before we knew it night four was upon us, and we still had a lot of nightlife to experience around the ship, and our first stop was the "Rising Tide Bar." We boarded this bar on deck five in the heart of the ship, the Royal Promenade, and I say boarded because we would end our journey on deck eight in central park! Yes, the Rising Tide Bar is an elevating bar (What's better than an elevator with cocktails?)
After our next generation drinks we proceeded back to Silk Dining room for our "My Time Dining" reservation and still had a three-star meal, but the service was above and beyond with our waiter Anastacio who already had been requested for the rest of the cruise because he was so popular! After dinner we decided to postpone our reservation to the ice show to see the classic game show "Love and Marriage"
this is an 18+ show where three couples volunteer to go up on stage and well, spill all! This show is a can"t miss as it only happens once per cruise and all other shows occur multiple times throughout your voyage! After we discovered a second wind of energy after the show, we decided to visit "The Attic" located forward on deck four. The Attic begins as the 18+ comedy club in the early hours of the night and transforms into the adult only nightclub around midnight staying open until 3 A.M. for the duration of the cruise including the final evening! We, however, did not stay until 3 A.M. instead we retired to our stateroom to get ready for the next day on my favorite Caribbean island,St. Maarten!
St. Maarten, Philipsburg: 9/12/2018
The day has finally come, I am back in my favorite Caribbean cruise port, St. Maarten! It has been two years since I have been here and the island has gone through one of the most terrible storms it has ever been through, Hurricane Irma. For those of you who do not know Hurricane Irma hit the island of St. Maarten on September 5, 2017, as a category five hurricane, lasted for 8 hours, and destroyed about 95% of the island. You will be able to read more about the devastation Irma caused to St. Maarten and the recovery efforts in a future blog but for now, let's get back to what St. Maarten has to offer for cruise passengers!
We arrived in St. Maarten at 7 A.M. and had booked the "St. Maarten Island Tour" shore excursion leaving at 9 A.M. to take us on a brief tour around both the Dutch and French sides of the island! This excursion was booked through Royal Caribbean and cost about $25 per person.We first stopped in the downtown area of the French side of the island, Marigot, and had about 30 minutes to browse the stores and the rest of the downtown area. After we left Marigot, we had a brief stop at a very picturesque mountaintop and had about 10 minutes to take pictures. Then off to the Carousel Gelateria Bar, 30 minutes here is just enough to take a spin on the carousel, grab a small cup of Gelato and take in the views of Simpson Bay. Finally, our last trek was to downtown Phillipsburg, and that means that it's time for the beach!
$20 U.S.D. secured us two lounge chairs, an umbrella, and free WiFi steps away from the Ocean! After a few fabulous dips in the perfect temperature ocean, we decided to pack up. We headed to the main street in downtown Philipsburg, Front Street, which is lined with shops, restaurants, and more! After a short stroll down this beautiful road, we decided to hop on the water taxi and head back to the Harmony as the rain began to fall! The water taxi is $4 U.S.D. per person one way and brings you about 1/4 mile away from the ship, these taxis run until the cruise ships leave! After a beautiful but fast day ashore on my favorite island, it was time to return to the Harmony to enjoy 2 and 1/2 more days while we sailed back to Ft. Lauderdale.
After a long day ashore it was time for a nap either up on deck or in my cabin, yes it is acceptable for an adult to take a nap on a cruise! I didn't even make it up to the top deck because the next thing I knew I was waking up as we were sailing away from St. Maarten! The night has begun, and the Harmony was happening! Live music in multiple venues, ice shows, aqua shows, stage shows, night surfing and more are just a few of the options you have onboard. After another dinner in the main dining room, we hurried over to make our reservation to "Columbus the Musical." Columbus is a Royal Caribbean International original production, and as the talent was incredible it was hard to follow the non- existent storyline, this is one show you can probably skip without regretting it!
We decided to skip out on this show a little early and enjoy some live music in the Schooner Bar and then the Boot and Bonnet Pub both located off the Promenade. We still had some energy left in us, so we decided to go down to the late night club, the Attic and people watched. People watching was the perfect choice as it proved to us that the drink package could be your best friend or your worst enemy. For us, it was our best friend, but to the people we watched, it was their worst enemy! We decided to finish out the night with a slice of pizza from Sorrento's, which is open nightly until 3 A.M. onboard the Harmony!
At Sea: 9/13-14/2018
Two days at sea on board the second largest cruise ship in the world, what could be better? These are the days to sleep a little later, relax in the sun, and get your hands on that ship model you have been eyeing all week! First, you should make sure you got to experience each of the activities onboard, so you do not leave missing anything! Onboard Harmony you need two full sea days to try everything! Lucky for me this was my second time onboard Harmony, so I knew exactly when to try all the activities and not to leave them to the end!
So I had to think to myself: Zipline- Check Waterslides- Check Ultimate Abyss- Check Rock Climbing- Check Flowrider- Check Escape Room- Check Mini- Golf- Check Harmony Bar Hopping: Check Check (My Favorite Activity)
I started my day with a stop at the Windjammer cafe on deck 16 for breakfast then took a stroll through the ship! Starting on deck 8 I made my way through the 12,000 live plants of Central Park then walked down three decks to the Royal Promenade. While on the Promenade I got to witness the "2 for 20 T-Shirt Sale" and I barely made it out with my life! After that craziness, I headed to the Boardwalk located on deck 6 Aft, this neighborhood is a seaside town right onboard. The boardwalk offers dining options; Boardwalk Doghouse (complimentary), Johnny Rockets, and Sabor both of which are specialty restaurants along with the Sabor bar. Shopping options include the Royal Caribbean International Logo Store, Design District, and most importantly, Starbucks has a storefront onboard Harmony with all outdoor seating! Other features include the Rock Walls, the Aqua Theater, a Carousel for all ages, lucky climber for the kids, and the exit to the Abyss which conveniently lets off right in front of the Sabor bar, avocado margarita anyone? Lunch lead me to the Park Cafe where I enjoyed a salad with pleasant outdoor seating in Central Park, by now I am sure you have caught onto my favorite part of the ship? The rest of the afternoon allowed me to get in some shopping for all my Royal Caribbean gear, tax and duty-free liquor, and designer clothes! As the afternoon rolled on, I squeezed in some relaxation time in the Solarium and finished up the afternoon with a cocktail on the Rising Tide Bar!
As night fell, it was time to see one final production, 1877 the ice show! In the past, I have missed this show because it has always slipped my mind, but this time I was determined and excited to experience it. Overall this show is fantastic, one thing to remember when seeing an ice show is that it is very different than typical stage shows. A narrator usually voices ice shows, and each scene is a figure skating routine. 1877 is the fusion of Romeo and Juliet with a time-traveling twist, and it is a MUST SEE show!
The time had come for the final bar hopping experience! So we headed to our favorite Bars. Of course, we visited the Rising Tide bar, Boleros, the Schooner bar, Trellis bar, and finally the Wonderland Bar! Each of these bars were my top choices the entire cruise, and I visited them multiple times a day, because of that drink package, we have to get it's worth!
Disembarkation,The night before:
The worst night in cruise history, the night the luggage goes into the hallway, the last night onboard. The second to last day of your cruise your room steward will provide you with a certain number and color tag. This tag is to be placed on any luggage you wish to have sent into the terminal, so you do not have to carry it throughout the ship as you wait to disembark. The final night you leave your luggage outside your stateroom by 10 P.M., and they will come along to take it, the next time you will see it is, sadly, on land. I suggest sending the largest luggage and keeping the smaller for the last minute items the next day. Other than that, the ship continues to operate as usual with venues remaining open until the last places close at 3 A.M. as it does on a typical night!
Ft. Lauderdale, FL: 9/15/2018
The worst day of the year was upon us, disembarkation day. After seven fantastic days of Caribbean fun, it was time to say goodbye to the beautiful Harmony of the Seas. Disembarkation usually starts at 6:30 A.M. for all those passengers who partake in express walk -off which requires you to carry all your luggage off, then regular disembarkation begins at 8 A.M. Seeing our flight was not until 4:30 P.M. we decided to stay onboard until the very last minute which was about 10 A.M. The disembarkation process was the smoothest disembarkation I have even gone through. Lines were short, and staff both onboard and ashore were pleasant.
All in all this cruise was fantastic! The Harmony of the Seas is an incredible ship, the itinerary was good, and the service was incredible! I look forward to sailing on board the Harmony again in the near future, but until then I'll hold the memories!
Keep a look out for the blogs coming soon: Embarkation Day and Need to Knows. Disembarkation Day and Need to Knows. St. Maarten and it's recovery. Harmony of the Seas Bar Tour. Wonderland: A Culinary Journey.