Just got back from our first holiday to the USA. Thought Id write short review of the cruise. Feel free to ask me any questions.
Myself (49), Wife (50) and our 18 year old daughter. This was to be our tenth cruise, our fifth with Royal and the others all with P&O. All are other cruises have been either Mediterranean or European.
We stayed a week before our cruise in Orlando at the Doubletree Seaworld hotel in order to experience both Universal Studios and two of the Disney Parks. The hotel was great and the room very comfy and we had a good time at Universal and Epcot but we were disappointed with Animal Kingdom.
On the day of our cruise we drove the hour or so’s journey to Port Canaveral from our hotel. We dropped the rental car at the Alamo centre and was told that there may be a little wait for the shuttle to the cruise terminal. However just as we got into the depot a man came and shouted for anyone for Harmony, so we jumped straight onto a shuttle and made our way to the terminal. Check in was a total breeze and within twenty minutes we were on board. We quickly went to deck 8 and found a restaurant that would take our Unlimited dining package bookings and with this soon done we headed of for our Key lunch. Unlike what we were expecting this was in the main dining room I’m guessing due to the number of Key guests. Anyway, it worked well, and lunch was great. After a quick wander around we were allowed in our rooms to unpack. Then the dreaded muster drill, this was fine, but the scrum afterwards was ridiculous, and we very nearly missed sail away as it took so long to get out of Studio B
We have never been on an Oasis class ship before, so we were very impressed with scale and finish of the ship. The ship was very well maintained and well laid out. It rarely felt busy except for muster drill and the pool decks on sea days which I described as ‘human soup’. In fact, we never got into the pools as they were always full to the brim with kids. On se days we spent some time in the Solarium but due to the lack of a pool it was just too hot and humid in the afternoons. We found the small sitting areas at the front of the running track and often camped out our afternoons here. We never tried to zipline, slides (see above for pools!) or flow riders, too much like hard work to fight the lines and heat. We loved Central Park and the promenade area. Didn’t visit much of the shops, in my opinion Royal have missed a trick here. The shops are just too expensive with high end goods. I never saw anyone in any of the watch or jewellery shops, maybe some slightly cheaper venues might be a good idea. I know most don’t like to hear it but Royal is a mainstream cruise line catering to normal people and not the uber rich so most don’t have thousands to spend on a Tag watch. Just a thought.
We were in 8606, a Seaview balcony room. This is just before the hump that has the bigger balconies and thus ours was ever so slightly bigger even though we didn’t pay for the bigger balcony. This was great as there were three of us in the room and the extra space was welcome. The room was very clean and had plenty of storage space for the three of us. Sofa was near the balcony and the brilliant room attendant converted this to the bed on the first night and left it like that for the week.
We had paid for the Unlimited dining package and after speaking to a few who hadn’t was glad we did so. Many were saying that food in the main dining room just wasn’t up to standard, but as we never dined there ourselves I cannot comment on how accurate that was. Anyway we dined at the following:-
Jamie’s (First and last night) – We loved Jamie’s the first time, great food and great service. My wife is Gluten free and they (and everyone else) were very accommodating about this. I had the Penne Carbonara and the streak the first time and the pasta was amazing, the sauce was to die for. But I was very disappointed the second time we went as the sauce was watery and tasteless, so I guess it depends on what night you go.
Chops – (second night). Very good food, very good service and happy to help my wife with her gluten free choices.
150 Central Park (Third night). I was expecting good things for this restaurant, but sadly was disappointed. The service was great, but the food was just ok. Nothing special and we all felt underwhelmed. In fact, it was the same standard as what the main dining room used to be ten years ago when we first cruised with Royal.
Wonderland (Fourth night) – Well it was different! as expected this was an experience. Food was interesting and, in some cases, fantastic. Other bits were just a bit odd. We enjoyed the experience, but would we do it again? Not sure. The waiters seemed to spend a very long time explaining the food to you, it just seemed a bit OTT.
Sabor (Fifth night) – Great Mexican food, if rather a lot. They even had a great gluten free choice. Enjoyed it.
Hibatchi – (Sixth night) – Amazing, just amazing. Best meal we had all week. The show by the chefs, the quality of the food, the choice – all top notch. Only down side was it was a little crowded, with my wife perched next to a sink.
We also get lunch on sea days with the package but other than the last day at Johnny Rockets we didn’t take advantage of this as we just couldn’t face three big meals a day. Johnny Rockets were ok, and they were happy to provide a gluten free burger for my wife.
We ate breakfast and most lunches in the Solarium Bistro and this was great, not too busy and a good choice. I only ate one lunch in the Windjammer as I was on my own that day and it was fine. Never ate any pizza or any of the hot dogs so cannot comment on those.
We saw Grease, The Fine Line, 1887 Ice Show and Columbus. Grease was fantastic, just like the film, with my only criticism was the vocals were sometimes a little hard to hear clearly.
The Fine Line! Wow this is amazing, we say it twice it was so good. The divers and dancers are just amazing and its well worth watching. We came away awed by their skill.
1887, again amazing dancers and skaters. The story is a little thin but that’s a minor problem as it’s the skating that’s the main draw and boy do they work at it.
And then there was Columbus!!, we watched it with open mouths and at the end all three of us just couldn’t believe what we had witnessed. The singing and acting was great, the set design was amazing, but the story!? Was the person who wrote it on drugs at the time?? Dancing sharks, dancing hamburgers and magic pickles?? I felt sorry for the cast having to speak the drivel they had been given. Was not impressed!
Overall all though the quality was great and enjoyable.
We found this well worth the money, it was great to drop off the bags on the first day, and the Key lunch was nice. Internet was fantastic, and we found it fast enough to stream Netflix etc. Priority seating at the entertainment venues was well worth it and very useful. We were able to get off the ship at all ports using the Key with little trouble. Final day breakfast was nice, and we disembarked using our own line. Didn’t use the priority hours for the flowrider etc.
First port was Cococay, ‘A Perfect Day at Cococay’, or so they kept telling us. We had booked a beach bungalow and we were looking forward to a relaxing day at South Beach. However, first of all we were told a few days before the cruise that South Beach was closed and that the bungalows had all moved to Chill Beach. A bit closer but much busier. And no one had told the weather that it was supposed to be perfect. The morning stated off with a rain shower, and it was kinda dry for a few hours after that but just around lunch time the wind whipped up and along came the rain. It was not just a shower either, so we gave up on the Perfect Day and decided to cut our losses and go back to dry of the ship. Problem was, so had the other 6000 people and the lines for the ship were long…..very long. Took us over an hour in the pouring rain to get back on board. Obviously not Royals fault, but I did wonder why they were making everyone go through the security scanners when it’s a private island. Everything on the island is what Royal has brought so what did they think we were gonna smuggle on board? But I guess the rules are the rules. So half a day in a damp bungalow and an long line in a rain storm….. not so much the Perfect Day, but no one’s fault other than the weather gods I guess.
Second port was St Thomas, we had booked a day on a catamaran and a visit to Honeymoon cove. Really enjoyed the day, saw sea turtles and tons of fish whilst snorkelling, (My wife saw her breakfast again after getting a bit seasick on the initial trip to the snorkelling place). Nice BBQ lunch at Honeymoon cove. The crew of the catamaran were brilliant. Worth the money!
Last Port was St Marteen. I didn’t do much on this island as my wife and daughter had booked to go horse-riding and I don’t do horses, so I stayed on board and chilled. Wife and daughter enjoyed the horse riding but were concerned that the horses were very underfed in some cases and the safety equipment was not good. They were given cycling helmets instead of riding helmets and most did not fit well and would just come off. One young girl was given a proper riding helmet, but it didn’t have a chin strap and would just slide of her head making it useless if she came of the horse. She mentioned this when she got back to the shore excursions people who said they would feed it back to Miami.
We enjoyed our experience on the Harmony, and would love another cruise on an Oasis class ship, maybe in the Med as the nine hour flight is a bit of a killer. Food was great on the dining package and other than a few moans it was a high standard cruise.