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When some cruising friends of ours informed us they had booked a four night cruise on Harmony of the Seas out of Southampton and then suggested we join them it was a very difficult proposal to ignore. The chance to try out a brand new Oasis class ship without needing to fly was a real draw. Coupled with the fact we have always been very curious about these monster ships and with words “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it” playing over in our minds we quickly came to the conclusion that we would be silly to miss out on the opportunity so I immediately made contact with all of our favoured agents to see who could come up with the best offer.

The ship,  Harmony of the Seas is a sister to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas which at the time of writing are the currently the two biggest cruise ships in the world, however Harmony will eclipse its siblings by more than 1,700 tons and hold nearly 100 more passengers at double occupancy. This new ship has the capacity to take 6,410 passengers but on top of that there are an additional 2,747 crew members to add as well.

So at 227,000GRT, 218 Feet Wide, 1,187 Feet Long with a 30 Feet Draft and a 22 knots cruising speed, Harmony of the Seas will become the worlds biggest cruise ship and we will be seeing for ourselves what she will be like on this 4 night sampler cruise to Rotterdam and back.

We found cabin selection was a bit of a task considering the size of the ship and complicated all the more with all the different categories but we eventually decided upon on a D7 grade and in particular cabin 9312 which is listed as Superior Ocean View Stateroom with a Balcony on deck 9.

Taking into consideration several factors when choosing the cabin position and noting we only had just the 4 nights we tried to factor in the ability to get round this big ship without having to walk for miles down corridors of cabin doors just to get to ours. So in selecting our cabin we tried to position ourselves as near to the rear stairs as possible which should expedite access to all the key public areas.  However as this cruise went on sail a few weeks prior to our interest the cabin availability was not as extensive and this restricted our selection somewhat so we still ended up having a short walk to a stair/elevator lobby as you we see from the deck plan below.  We also couldn’t see the point of booking too large a cabin as our time will hopefully be spent elsewhere on the ship as this cruise the ship will certainly be the destination.

Notably for the first time in our cruising life (10 years this year) we will be sailing out of a UK port which will be interesting and a real novelty being able to leave the car at the port and not the airport. We are also very conscious that there will be a lot more British passengers on board than we have been used to in the past.

DATE LOCATION ARRIVAL DEPARTURE
Sunday, May 22, 2016 Southampton, England 06:00 PM
Monday, May 23, 2016 At Sea
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 Rotterdam, The Netherlands  07:00 AM  06:00 PM
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 At Sea
Thursday, May 26, 2016 Southampton, England  05:30 AM

What other ship can we expect to see?

DATE LOCATION SHIPS IN PORT
Sunday, May 22, 2016 Southampton, England Celebrity Eclipse 5:30 AM – 4:30 PM (Dock)
Queen Victoria 6:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Ventura 7:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Harmony Of The Seas Depart: 06:00 PM
Monday, May 23, 2016 At Sea
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 Rotterdam, The Netherlands Harmony Of The Seas 07:00 AM – 06:00 PM
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 At Sea
Thursday, May 26, 2016 Southampton, England  Harmony Of The Seas 05:30 AM

51 days out from the cruise we received an e-mail from Royal Caribbean regarding the check in process, despite already having filled in all the online details and printing off the SetSail Pass we were notified that we needed to go back and complete some new sections. The only notable differences that I could see were the inclusion of being able to add what they describe as a security a photo along with the option to select an Arrival Appointment Time (Set your Smart Check-In appointment time to ensure that your boarding experience is fast, easy and secure). The latter giving you the option of half hour time slots so we selected 12:00 – 12:30.

 

Hello, this is Royal Caribbean International, we are writing to provide you with important information regarding your upcoming sailing onboard Harmony of the Seas.

Due to a recent enhancement to our Online Check-in, we invite you to visit us at www.royalcaribbean.com/onlinecheckin today to complete the new sections that will expedite your boarding process.

IMPORTANT: For those that already completed Online Check-in, please complete the new sections and REPRINT your new SetSail Pass.

To ensure a smooth and expedited check-in and boarding process, please arrive at the pier within your selected appointment time frame with your printed Set Sail Pass.

Once at the pier you will:

1.        Drop off your luggage with one of the porters outside of the terminal
2.        Upon entering the terminal you will be directed to one of our check-in agents
3.        Present the completed SetSail Pass for each of the guests in your party
4.        Proceed to board Harmony of the Seas (if boarding is already underway)

Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to welcoming you onboard the Harmony of the Seas.

3 days on from that we received notification that our cruise documents were ready for download and on that note it was a refreshing change to read confirmation of the OBC from the cruise line itself prior to sailing, this is not something I can ever recall seeing on this type of document before.

28 days out we have received further information from Royal Caribbean in that the check-in will take place at City Cruise Terminal and not Ocean Terminal as it may be stated in our cruise documents, well ABParking knew that months ago even if RCI weren’t fully aware.

19 days out we have booked our entertainment which again is something we haven’t done before, all done through the Cruise planner on the Royal Caribbean website. We have booked to see Grease which is RCI’s take on Broadway’s hit musical along with The Fine Line is in the Aqua Theatre and is a show which according to the billing involves high-flying feats, mind blowing stunts and physically demanding acrobatics and lastly we have booked 1887:  A Journey in Time which is in Studio B and is an ice skating show. It is billed as Juliet and her mysterious time travelling companion, the Tempus, travel in multiple dimensions to discover the wonders of the world, and of the heart. It all sounds very interesting and you can be sure that you will hear all about here.

5 days out and yet another SetSail Pass and luggage tag update to print off, talk about it being more eco friendly printing your own documents off. I think the moral of the story is don’t print until the last minute.

Harmony of the Seas Luggage Tags – Spot the difference

So with everything downloaded, printed (more than once) and all necessary files put into a folder to take with us its now simply the matter of packing our case and then just counting the days down.

One last note that I want to add before we set off,  due to the short length of this cruise I can’t guarantee how much content I will be able to post as it is my assumption that much of our time will be spent gadding around and exploring the ship. However if the internet is as good as they say then I will try and post plenty of photos.

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Harmony of the Seas Postcard #1 - Southampton and Sailaway

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