Over the Christmas break, my family and myself with the additional of my brother’s girlfriend went on a 7-day cruise on the Harmony of the Seas with Royal Caribbean. This Cruise marked the first time in 17 years that my family has travelled together since our trip to California back in 2000. This cruise was also to celebrate my father’s retirement. The 7-day Western Caribbean cruise ported in Labadee, Haiti – Falmouth, Jamaica & Cozumel, Mexico. These were the same ports as my previous cruise but this was the only one that worked with the timing of all our schedules. My parents are frequent cruisers so we were able to get on-board credits that we all put towards an excursion together (sort’ve).
The Harmony of the Seas is one of the largest ships in the world soaring over 17 decks high. It offers the fastest and most widespread internet service –Voom over water, The Abyss –giant slide from the 17th deck to the 6th deck, 2 flowriders for surfing and boogie boarding simulations, mini putt, rock climbing, ziplining, an outdoor gym, a spa/gym, outdoor track, 5 pools, 5 jacuzzis, a skating rink, a casino, an entertainment deck, a formal dining area, a promenade and much more.
Online check-in is supposed to help you get boarded faster. You get to print out your seapass and your luggage tags (print in colour). You go through security before boarding. You are allotted 2 bottles of wine to bring on the ship if you like otherwise, all alcohol must be purchased from the boat. Apparently all the early check-in things we did meant nothing, as we had to fill in that information and retake our photo again.
We flew to Fort Lauderdale to board the boat. You can take the Cruise transport, which is $11USD/person OR if you have a group – grab a taxi for cheaper transport to Port Everglades.
You won’t have access to your Stateroom until roughly 1-3PM as they have to clean them from the previous cruise. When the room is ready, you will find your room key/sea pass card in an envelope by your door with your luggage sitting outside your Stateroom. The new passengers can start boarding as of 10AM until 430-5PM before the boat departs.
You have the option to carry your luggage (if it’s small enough or carry on size) or you can choose to check it and just carry your passport, seapass print out and credit card.
You can opt to purchase the WOW wristbands for $5USD to replace or as an addition to the seapass card. The seapass/wristband asks as your credit card, ID and room key on board. You do need your Seapass card when you are at a Port and decide to disembark the ship for security purposes.
The boat uses a App called Royal IQ which you can use on your phone (additional fee if you want on-board chatting). With this app, you can reserve shows (for you and others by name), check your statements and see the program and itinerary for the day.
NOTE – There are hidden gratuity fee of $11-13USD/day which in the end pays the staff.
We got to the airport for around 330AM for our 645AM flight. Funny how a family with the last name U all books tickets together yet my name is the only one that can’t get checked in beforehand. As I went to the kiosk to check-in, my ticket comes out but as I am showing it to get to the first part of security, the lady takes a highlighter to my ticket. Turns out the SSSSS on my ticket means I’ve been randomly selected to be searched – yay….
At the airport, I repacked my personal backpack with a change of clothes, swim suit and flip flops because your luggage gets taken away from you and you won’t have access until 1-3PM.
We went straight for food at Windjammer and then to the solarium to sunbathe for a bit. Windjammer is the main eating establishment at the back of the ship. Buffet style. The Solarium is the adult’s only Jacuzzi section with giant egg nesting loungers. The Solarium also has an eating establishment – The Bistro (not as big as Windjammer and less variety). We walked around the ship to check out our “home” for the next week.
There is a mandatory emergency meeting where we are clustered into musters. The muster is shown in large print on your Seapass card. Our muster station was the gym.
We finally departed around 530PM and since the Harmony of the Sea is one of the largest ships in the world – you don’t actually feel it moving (not that often) as it is a floating island. The cruise was full of families celebrating Christmas and the holidays together. There was 6780 guests in total on the ship.
Dinner at Windjammer and we ended our evening watching the Grease broadway show.
First day cruising so I woke up, went for breakfast (ate way too much) and then decided I was going to workout – good and bad decision. Seeing as we were on a cruise ship over the holidays, everyone was trying to stay in shape especially the day before Christmas. The gym was super crowded and people (including me) were just trying to find a space to get our workouts in. I grabbed some dumbbells and found a spot by the mirror. After doing a half decent workout, I walked the track and came back to stretch.
After my workout session, I found my brothers and Tammy and hung out in the Solarium area to lounge and tan. We eventually got up and ate lunch at the Bistro. We walked through Central park and the Boardwalk then went back to our Statesroom to shower and just relax out of the sun.
We had made reservations to watch the Ice show 1887 in Studio B. Not 100% sure what the storyline was but nonetheless entertaining. The website description describes it as “a magical journey inspired by Jules Verne, legendary author of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. This exhilarating, time-traveling journey blends fantasy with reality“. The cast from Grease put on a special Christmas Carol show in the Opal Theatre.
We had booked a formal family dinner that night at Silk -formal dining. The service is a little slower but the atmosphere is more upscale than say Windjammers. You can order as many apps and entrees as well as desserts as you want. I got the escargot, duck terrine, osso bucco and creme brulee.
After the formal dining, we went back to our rooms to change and went to the Attic on the entertainment deck to watch the comedy show. At 11PM, in the nightclub they held the Hush party – a silent dance party where all guests wear headphones and with a flick of the switch, you were either listening to one DJ or to another DJ. It was a very fun experience but more entertaining when you take the headphones off and hear people singing to the songs.
Our first port of the cruise was in Labadee, Haiti. We woke up early – around 7AM, ate together around 8-830AM at the Bistro. We departed the ship by scanning our Seapass cards. The port of Labadee has been renovated since the last time I was here (back in 2013) due to natural disasters and just expansion. This port is manmade and a private port for Royal Caribbean. It features 2 beaches, an outdoor water obstacle course, a water slide with hidden cabanas into the mountain on one side. There are canopies and ziplining the other side open to the main waters.
The volleyball court moved into the middle beside the kids water park. My full family set up beside each other and just hung out on the beach. Since we were ported and it was a private beach, lunch was a BBQ style buffet beachside.
After lunch, we headed back on board. We tested to see if the gym would be less busy in the afternoon. I got a little arms workout in. After the workout, I found my parents and brother and we just hung out in the Solarium for awhile before heading back to the room to shower and watch some TV and Dreamworks movies.
We met back up with my brother and Tammy to have Christmas dinner together at Windjammers. For once, our family didn’t have to host and cook a turkey and ham which was a nice little break and have other people do it for us. We had reserved the Headliner show for after dinner. The Headliner show starred Ronn Lucas who is a well known ventriloquist. He has entertained royalty to presidents and had his own show back in the day. He was really good. The promenade had 50’s-60’s music night. We called it a night after grabbing a slice of pizza from Sorrento (the only 24 hour food establishment) in the Promenade.