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Harmony of the Seas Cruise Ship Scorecard Review


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As the third ship in the Oasis Class, Harmony of the Seas first launched in 2016. Actually, we sailed on the ship during its maiden season only a few months later. Since then, this class has been transformed with ships like Symphony of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas. How does this 7-year-old ship compare to its sisters? Well, we give you our honest take with our Harmony of the Seas Cruise Ship Scorecard Review.

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Harmony of the Seas Cruise Ship Scorecard Review (2023)

Pool Deck

Harmony of the Seas is home to three main pools. The beach pool, sports pool, and main pool comprise the lido deck, deck 15.

The main pool is open to all cruisers and hosted classics like the the sexiest man competition. Across the way from the main pool is the beach pool. Aft of these pools is the sports pool, which was home to water volleyball and even dance classes. The family-friendly Splashaway Bay is a water play area for younger children located nearby the sports pool.

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While there are several loungers surrounding each of these pools, they did fill up quickly on sea days. But, we were happy to see the staff doing their best to limit chair hogs with new markers. Nonetheless, deck chairs on deck 16 overlooking the lido deck were typically readily available regardless of the time of day.

Given the age of the ship, the pool deck felt like it could use some sprucing up, especially compared to the updated Caribbean-inspired pool decks on other amplified Royal Caribbean ships. We did miss the Lime and Coconut bars here as well.

One notable difference on Harmony of the Seas from other Oasis Class ships is the Solarium. Unfortunately, this adults-only space is home to several whirlpools and plenty of loungers but no pool!

Sports Deck

One thing we love about Royal Caribbean ships is that many onboard activities are included in the cruise fare. The same is true with Harmony of the Seas. Most attractions are common staples found on the cruise line’s mega-ships. These include two Flowrider surf simulators and dueling rock climbing walls. The ship is also home to a zip line flying 150 feet over the Boardwalk neighborhood, a 9-hole mini golf course, the Ultimate Abyss slide, and several ping pong tables.

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Recently, pickleball has become a new phenomenon on cruise ships. On Harmony of the Seas, there were daily open play hours on the sports court, and there always seemed to be a line of players with varying skill levels ready to play.

Of course, on a ship of this size, there are plenty of other ways to stay active beyond the sports deck as well. The jogging track is located on deck 5, which allows runners and walkers the ability to get some exercise away from the crowded pool deck. There’s also the typical fitness center with various cardio and strength equipment to burn off some of those cruise calories.

Casual Eats

Given the size of Harmony of the Seas, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are several casual and complimentary food options.

On the Boardwalk, cruisers can enjoy hot dogs and sausages at the Boardwalk Doghouse stand. Mini Bites offers quick service Tex-Mex, like tacos, quesadillas, and nachos, not far from the pool (think El Loco Fresh on other Royal Caribbean ships).

Additionally, food is available 24 hours a day at Café Promenade. This coffee shop serves small sandwiches, pastries, and sweets that rotate throughout the day. Across the way is Sorrento’s Pizza. Open until the early morning hours, this venue almost always has a line as the busy cooks try to keep up with hungry cruisers.

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The Park Cafe, located in Central Park, features a custom salad bar and the signature Royal Kummelweck sandwich for lunch along with a bagel bar and other small bites for breakfast. Not to mention, the signature Royal Caribbean Windjammer Buffet offers diverse breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.

While there were plenty of options to choose from, none of them wowed us. We still stand by our claim that newer Carnival ships feature the best casual quick service spots.

Main Dining Room

If you are a loyal Royal cruiser, then you probably already know that Royal Caribbean completely revamped its main dining room dinner menus earlier this year. This was our first time testing out the new selections, and we were eager to see how they compared.

We did like that the new menus had themes, like A Taste of France or Caribbean Night, instead of just a hodge-podge of selections. Though, many of the menu options were found on the previous version of the MDR menus just re-bucketed to different days.

A notable difference is that the previous classics section, which stayed the same every night, was removed. Still, many of those menu items, like a Caesar salad, did appear several times throughout the week. Likewise, items like Fried Chicken or the Chicken Parmesan could be substituted with “grilled chicken available upon request”. Yet, the removal of the classics nightly steak, pasta, and salmon selections did limit the menu.

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On the flipside, there was the addition of a new Indian-inspired dish each night, like the savory and tender aromatic chicken saag. While not huge fans of Indian cuisine on land, these new dishes did spice up the menu.

Over the span of the week, we alternated between staples, like the Prime Rib and the Pork Bao Buns, to new options like the Jerk Seasoned Pork Chop and the Chicken Marsala. Overall, we actually thought that the food was much better than the two previous experiences we had on Royal Caribbean ships in 2022.

Not to mention, our waitstaff of Rohman and Tude were amazing, adding to our overall enjoyment at dinner.

Specialty Dining

For this 7-night Western Caribbean cruise, we dined at two specialty restaurants.

Our meal at Wonderland on Harmony of the Seas was a two hour feast for the senses. Among the best selections for starters were the liquid lobster, the Mad Hatter’s Purple Potted Shrimp, and the Bird’s Nest.

Given there were four of us, our waitress brought out all 5 entrees. The short rib never disappoints, but I was pleasantly surprised with the pork belly and the branzino as well. To top it all off, the decadent The World dessert melts not only on your plate, but in your mouth.

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Our second specialty dining experience was at Jamie’s Italian. While the line is phasing out this specialty restaurant, this dinner was also delicious. The signature starters like the meat plank and calamari were fresh and flavorful.

Next, we all opted for a small portion of pasta and an entrée. My Bolognese was a hearty portion with al dente pasta in a rich marina sauce, while Heidi enjoyed her carbonara as well. Based on our waiter’s suggestion, I went with the lamb chops for my entrée which were tender and juicy. Of course, the meal wouldn’t be complete without the Amalfi lemon cheesecake and Epic brownie.

For those looking for other selections, Harmony of the Seas also features sushi and hibachi at Izumi on Deck 4. Central Park also boasts Chops Grille, one of the best steakhouses at sea, as well as 150 Central Park, offering savory farm-to-table cuisine. There are also up-charge options on the Boardwalk including Sabor and Johnny Rockets.

SCORE BIG ON HARMONY OF THE SEAS CRUISES!

Onboard Activities

This 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary included 4 ports of call and two full sea days. Like any Royal Caribbean mega-ship, there were a variety of activities occurring morning, noon, and night.

Throughout the day and early evening, there were plenty of trivia sessions. We rocked it at the 90’s Name that Tune session to win coveted Royal Caribbean pens. Although, we didn’t fair as well in the standing room only Star Wars trivia. Rob, from the activities staff, was a true fan as his questions were definitely unique.

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Other cruise staples like dance classes, art auctions, arts and crafts, karaoke, and some upcharge sessions occurred regularly throughout the week as well.

On the pool deck, classics like the International Belly Flop contest and sports competitions were regular occurrences. Pickleball players could rejoice as there were several open play hours and competitions on the sports deck during our trip.

Cruising is now officially back! For the first time on one of our recent Royal Caribbean cruises, Harmony of the Seas featured ALL of the cruiser favorites, from Battle of the Sexes, to the Crazy Quest, to the Hush Silent Disco, Promenade parties and parades, and the Midnight Balloon drop. Each evening was full of plenty of laughs.

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Plus, there was a variety of live music around the ship. We were fond of Luca in the Boot and Bonnet pub playing classic acoustic music. Justin in the Schooner Bar was a lively piano player as well, mixing in humor and even some beat boxing for an entertaining time. There was also the house band, A-Groove Band, in Dazzles and the Latin Heat in Boleros for those wanting to dance.

Signature Entertainment

We always boast that Royal Caribbean has the best entertainment at sea. The entertainment is diverse and high-quality, combining unique entertainment spaces, Broadway collaborations, and unique productions. Although, the Harmony of the Seas cruise ship has yet to update any of its signature entertainment in the past seven years.

The signature ice show, 1887, showcased a talented skating cast. There was also a second more informal show, iSkate, with plenty of upbeat music. Never a disappointment, the Aqua Theater’s Fine Line diving show was a spectacle. On the last sea day, this venue was also home to Big Daddy’s Hideaway Heist, which had a 1950s Polynesian theme alongside the high flying feats of the athletic cast.

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Always a crowd pleaser, Grease in the main theater was energetic and had the crowd signing along to this classic musical. The second main theater show is the musical comedy Columbus. I applaud the cruise line’s ambitious attempt to try something different with this production. Featuring modern pop music, it is a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously as it recounts the tale of Marvin Columbus, a distant cousin to the famous Christopher.

Other entertainment options included a headliner singer and a comedy duo in the nightclub.

While these shows are not the best entertainment in the Royal Caribbean fleet, they were still far better than your typical cruise shows. In particular, we always love the Aqua Theater shows.

Bar and Lounges

While the cruise line plans to update bar menus, not much was different during our cruise. Although, the Royal Caribbean drink prices have increased by about $1 from our last trip in 2022.

The cruise line’s signature martini bar, the Schooner Bar, is home to colins, cocktails, and classic libations including our favorites, the sidecar and lavender daiquiri. Daiquiris and mojitos are shaken up at Latin-inspired Boleros. The English pub, the Boot and Bonnet, offers properly made old fashions and several beers.

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On the pool deck, Harmony of the Seas still features three distinct bars (Sand Bar, Pool Bar, and Mast Bar) instead of the newer Lime and Coconut bar menu and theming. Still, they did feature some of the standard bar menu with drinks like the Pineapple Guava Sangria and Watermelon Margarita.

For something not found on many other RCI ships, there is Sabor. This venue features a well-balanced Jalapeno-Cucumber Margarita, which I enjoyed especially during the Cinco de Mayo Weekend.

Other bars on Harmony of the Seas include Vintages wine bar, the Trellis Bar in Central Park, Rising Tide Bar, and the Bionic Bar. Cruisers on the Royal Caribbean Drink Package can even test out some experimental potions at the Wonderland Bar on Deck 12, with no restaurant reservations required! Of course, for our Harmony of the Seas cruise ship review, we made sure to stop at each bar at least once for a signature drink.

Service

With a full ship, you do expect there to be small queues. Happily, for this Harmony of the Seas cruise ship review, we can report that the crew did a fantastic job keeping up with the requests of everyone onboard. This was by far the busiest cruise we have been on since the restart, but the service was still on point.

Mr. Oliver and Giovanni at the Café Promenade kept us caffeinated throughout the day. These two quickly learned our drink order and greeted us with a smile. It felt like your neighborhood coffee shop back on land.

At other bars and lounges, we never waited long for drinks. Whether ordering from the bar or at a table in a lounge, the venues were well staffed.

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Dinner in the main dining room was moderately paced, with most dinners lasting about 90 minutes. Our servers, Rohman and Tude, were terrific. They were friendly and always ready to strike up a conversation. They were quick to get drink orders or grab another dish for our table of 4 to sample. Waitstaff at both our specialty dinners were also very attentive. They kept us well fed and drink glasses full.

Unfortunately, Royal Caribbean has reduced service for most cabin categories to once daily. Still, Darius, our stateroom attendant, made us feel right at home fulfilling all our requests and making sure our room was promptly tidied up. He even entertained us with various towel animals during the week.

Similarly, embarkation and disembarkation were quick and efficient.

Stateroom

For this Harmony of the Seas cruise ship review, we stayed in an oceanview balcony cabin, stateroom 7622. This category 2D stateroom was aft on deck 7, starboard side. According to Royal Caribbean’s website, the cabin was 182 square feet with a 50 square foot balcony.

This cabin was just the right size, with adequate storage and space. With closets flanking the bed, we could unpack a week’s worth of Caribbean attire and nighttime outfits without too much difficulty. Further, the desk and dresser offered enough shelves for my additional tech along with space for Heidi to get ready.

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The bed was closer to the entrance of the stateroom, which is actually not our preferred layout. Still, this did not impact the overall functionality and flow of the stateroom. The sofa was located closer to the balcony, where I was able to get some work done in the afternoons.

The only drawback was the limited number of outlets in the cabin. There were three outlets and two USB outlets near the desk. We did miss having USB outlets near the bed for charging phones at night, as only one side even had a power outlet.

Additionally, our balcony offered plenty of space for the two chairs and small table.

While the room showed slight signs of wear, it did feature the newer gray and blue color palette. Overall, the room was a comfortable and well-maintained home away from home for the week.

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Harmony of the Seas Cruise Ship Review Recap

After an exhausting year of cruising in 2022, this family trip was actually our first cruise of 2023. Happily, it was a great return to sailing after 5 months on land. While it is not the newest ship in the fleet, this third Oasis Class ship still offers plenty for cruisers of all ages.

While the casual dining on Royal Caribbean does lack a bit, the main dining room and specialty restaurants exceeded our expectations. From the service, to the food preparation, taste, and presentation, this was some of the best dining we have had since the restart. That is really saying something for a ship that holds over 5,000 passengers.

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While we were a bit skeptical about the change in the MDR menus, we actually enjoyed the fresh take and some new menu items. Even the wife and her picky palette was able to find something she liked on the menu each night.

All of the cruise activities and entertainment were exactly what we have come to expect from a Royal Caribbean ship of this size. While Jeff, the cruise director, was rarely around, his activities manager and the rest of the staff made up for his absence. This team was energetic and great hosts for the regular events occurring throughout the cruise.

While the ship was busy, Harmony of the Seas handled the crowds well with the exception of the Windjammer. We had no problems getting drinks at the bars or seats at the theater about 30 minutes in advance. While there were some lines, we were able to see all of the shows, as well as use the onboard attractions without too much waiting–even the waterslides! However, there were often long queues to get into the buffet, and it often took a few laps around the venue to find a table.

With another Oasis Class cruise in a few months, we look forward to more Royal Caribbean mega-ship cruising.

Comments

Do you agree with our Harmony of the Seas cruise ship scorecard review? What aspects of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships do you like (and don’t like)? Drop us an anchor below to share your recent cruise reviews.

The post Harmony of the Seas Cruise Ship Scorecard Review appeared first on EatSleepCruise.com.

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