Harmony of the Seas – Review of Cabin 9312 (D7 Superior Ocean View with Balcony)

This particular cabin is located by leaving the rear stair/elevator lobby on deck 9 and heading towards the aft on the port side and involves about a 60 yard walk to get to the cabin door itself. It’s further away than we would have like but being as there wasn’t too much in the way of selection left when we booked this was as near as we could get to the stair lobby.


Upon entering the cabin for the first time our initial impressions were very positive and it looked to be much larger than we had anticipated. Lots of blues and greys and it has a real contemporary look and feel to it. Clever use of space and we particularly liked the idea of the wardrobes either side of the bed.

There are some nice new features in the cabin and we were taken by the USB sockets over the desk. All the usual features were present and include safe, hair drier, fridge come mini bar and there were for this sailing plenty of hangers too.

The cabin has a nice large interactive flat screen TV with plenty of channels but nothing we found worth watching (not that we looked too hard or had time anyway) and for this sailing there was only a map but no webcam from the front of the ship.

There were plenty of sockets around the cabin and more than we had in previous cabins, one of which was above the bedside table.

To enable the lights to work one of the seapass cards needed to be sat in a little slot near the cabin door, I can’t tell you if this affected the sockets too but wouldn’t it seem odd if it only did the lights?

There were several areas where a distinctive pattern had been used throughout the cabin, the most obvious was in the carpet, it was then used again in the lamp shades by the bed and lastly it was on all of the door and drawer handles.

We found the cabin to have plenty of drawer space which was spread nicely around with locations being at either end of the cabin, there was also a light in the mirror which we only discovered on the last morning. Nice touch.

Another nice touch was the full height mirror next the TV which because it was on an angle,  gave the impression the cabin was slightly bigger.

The bed was very comfortable but I think we would have preferred it to be nearer the balcony than the bathroom. I for one was very conscious of making any noise in the bathroom due to the beds close proximity.

To alert your Steward or other passengers of the cabins inhabitants activities there is a magnetic sign which can be stuck on the outside of the door to ask for either the room to be made up or for some  privacy with a do not disturb sign.

The bathroom set up was a little different in as much as the door was at a slight angle and opened out. The room is much smaller than we have had previously and is basically set up for use by one person at a time. There is a good shower which has a hinged door and it had a really positive clunk as you shut it. The toilet roll position was in an awkward position under the vanity unit but being as the room is set out for a little space saving there there isn’t really anywhere is it could go. Its a very compact but functional bathroom which we liked. There is a nice big mirror and plenty of shelves for storing all those little bottles and things.

The balcony was nice and deep with two chairs complete with footstools and a small table, the balcony was also set in which meant the upstairs balcony was immediately over the top.

There was an adjoining door to the next cabin and although we didn’t hear any noise coming from our neighbours our friends told us that they could hear all sorts of noises coming through theirs.

Overall though we liked this cabin a lot and found it to be roomy, nicely decorated and very functional. I was just a shame we only had 4 nights in it.


Harmony of the Seas Postcard #5 – Southampton and Disembarking

After our 4th night on Harmony of the Seas it was finally time to get off. The ship docked at Southampton just after 6:00 this morning and everything outside seemed eerily quiet.  The monster had returned!!

We had elected to carry our own luggage off which meant we had to be off between 6:30 & 7:30 but I can’t imagine anyone saying you have to stay on if you were any later than that. Previous experience is they a glad to get rid of you so just want you off whatever it takes.

Regardless of that our plan was to get up and go grab a coffee and a quick bite from the Park Cafe and do what we did yesterday which was consume it in Dazzles. The Cruise Compass said that Park Cafe in Central Park on deck 8 would be open at 6:00 but when we arrived at 6:20 we found people waiting outside who had been told that it didn’t actually open until 6:30. So with 10 minutes to spare we went for a stroll down to deck 5 and walked through the Royal Promenade stopping for a last few photos along the way.

When we got back it was open so we grabbed the bits we wanted and took them as planned to Dazzles where we enjoyed them in the peace and quiet with a great view over the Boardwalk.

With breakfast taken we went back to cabin picked up the luggage and made our way to the elevators to go down to Deck 3 to disembark. We were off and in the car very quickly and arrived home before 10:00am.

It was great to have the opportunity to try out this class of ship but it did confirm our reservations which were that it would be too big. The ship is a masterpiece of engineering but because of its size, for us it lacks soul and it all feels very impersonal. I have read this morning that RCI have ordered a 5th ship in this class which concerns me a bit. The current approach is to build these brutes and I hope at some point this trend will burn itself out. Cruise lines at the moment seem to be building either big or small and nobody we like to cruise with seems to be building the size of ship we enjoy any more. We do love a new ship but wonder if we will ever get the chance to try one out again.

We enjoyed Harmony and were fortunate to have the chance to try her out but its not something we will be in a hurry to repeat.

Finally, I have added today’s photos along with others not previously uploaded to the Flickr Album which you will find >>>Here<<<

Harmony of the Seas Postcard #4 – A Sea Day

We think the sail out from Rotterdam is one of the most fascinating there is, passing all sorts of things along the route that in most walks of life you don’t see. By this I am taking about the industrial side of things and as a sea fairing nation, the Dutch make very good use of their closeness to the water. It certainly makes for an amazing spectacle when sailing out.

Dinner last night was at 9:00 and in Jamie’s Italian restaurant and on the whole very nice indeed. Food was fresh and tasty and the staff brilliant. One thing that did occur to me though, it really didn’t feel like we were on a ship, and by that I mean we could have been anywhere in the UK in one of his other restaurants. The experience was very enjoyable but it just didn’t seem right.

We didn’t leave until gone 11:15 and once again found the time had passed really quickly. So feeling really tired through all the walking we all retired for the evening but not before hearing a couple a few cabins down having some sort of drunken brawl in their cabin. In 10 years and twenty plus cruises that is a first for us. Does it have any coincidence with it being our first sailing from the UK?????

This morning was a very relaxed one and we made the decision last night not to go to breakfast, instead opting to go for lunch in American Icon when it first opened at 12:00. There is only so much you can eat in 4 days so breakfast was skipped today in favour of a bit of a lie in.  However after getting down to the Park Cafe in Central Park to get coffee I spotted a nice English Muffin with egg, cheese and ham which looked as if it would go nicely with coffee so who was I to refuse?
We took these back to Dazzles which is a lounge/bar overlooking the Boardwalk as and to date we haven’t seen many using it. It’s on two levels and this morning there were plenty of seats for us to sit and enjoy our mini breakfast.
Feeling the clothes getting a little tight we then walked four laps of the running track before going for lunch.   Can you see a pattern emerging???? Guilt free cruising!!
We were very disappointed to find the lunch menu was identical to the one we had two days ago, what’s that all about???? Come on Royal Caribbean pull your finger out.

After lunch the sun came out to play so we sat out until it was time to go to Studio B to watch the ice show (1887:  A Journey in Time) which was a 50 minute show featuring about a dozen or more skaters and some impressive lighting effects. Well worth the effort and just a shame we booked it on the best day for weather. As soon as it had finished we hastily made our way up to deck 16 to catch the last of the days sunshine. We are baffled by the amount of people still wanting to stay inside.

There are still some things not open and this includes all the water slides which was a tad disappointing as I had geared myself up to go on those but it looks like that will never happen now. I did spot a sign that amused me and perhaps it will amuse you too. I just have this vision of a guide dog going down one of the water chutes.

One thing that did open today was the zip line which quickly generated a queue but for something that lasts less than 8 seconds I am baffled again by the desire to do it.

Tonight we have dinner in Silk Restaurant again and after its packing time, as we are walking off with our own luggage we don’t need to have them out by 10:00. It does however mean we have to be off by 7:30 so should be easily home before midday.

And lastly I have added today’s photos to the Flickr Album which you will find >>>Here<<<

Harmony of the Seas Postcard #3 – Rotterdam

Yesterday evening was a big improvement on the afternoon, Grease was very good and should you ever find yourself on this ship in the near future I would highly recommend it. This was followed by dinner in the Silk Restaurant where service and food was of a very high standard. This is our designated restaurant and we believe it’s the one allocated to Diamond members and above, a lot of the other passengers were that much older in there and the service was just that higher from our lunch experience. Last night was also a formal night, we were sort of aware of it and I would say 50-60 dressed up. As there was no mention of it in the Cruise Compass so we didn’t bother and didn’t feel of of place because of it. Again we put this down to poor organisation onboard.
On the subject of Wow bands, I would say for us as an experiment it has to go down as a failure. 50% of the time when we have tried to use it we have met confusion or inability of the crew member to know how to process the transactions. It’s been great for opening the cabin door but that is about it.
This morning we arrived in Rotterdam at just before 5:45  (we haven’t changed clocks and have been told to use ship time). I hope this isn’t going to result in yet more confusion with Rotterdam being an hour ahead of everybody getting off the ship. It’s a bloody stupid idea if you ask me!!
We met up with our friends at 7:00 and intended to go to breakfast at the Solarium Bistro but when we got there we found it didn’t open until 7:30. So we made our way to the Windjammer which was open and had a quick breakfast before getting off.

The plan was to go to Kinderdijk via water bus but we missed the first 202 waterbus and it was another hour and twenty minutes until the next so plotted another route which involved going up river on a different route with a 40 walk the other end. This worked well and we still arrived an hour ahead of when the next 202 was due to arrive.

Kinderdijk is a Unesco world heritage site where there are a collection of windmills dating back hundreds of years. Two of which you can still go in and both are in working order, in fact the first one we went in had all its sails in and was going round at an incredible speed. Really exhilarating to just stand under and watch the sails being driven round at such speed.

The return journey sadly didn’t go to plan either and it involved taking two water bus trips but it made for a very eventful and interesting trip.

Crossing the bridge back to the ship was a nightmare with all the people wanting to take selfies of themselves with the ship behind. Very dangerous in places when you needed to step onto the cycle track with the cyclists not slowing down for anything.

We were back on board for 1:30 and ended up going for lunch in Johnny Rockets Diner which apart from the Windjammer was one of the few venues available to eat and even then we had to wait until 2:00 pm for it to open. What is it about eating and restaurant opening times on this ship?????

We sailed from Rotterdam 30 minutes late at 5:30 and although very chilly it has to be one of the best sail outs there is. So much to see and the first 2 miles done in reverse.

So many people have turned out to see us sail out and it seemed to be all along the river. It makes you truly appreciate the fact we are on the world’s largest cruise ship.

Tonight we are eating in Jamie’s Italian restaurant at 9:00 which is another venue to squeeze into this cruise. Fingers crossed it’s as good as they others. With a $30 per person cover charge you would hope so.

Once again I have added few more photos to the Flickr Album which you will find >>>Here<<<

Harmony of the Seas Postcard #2 – A Sea Day

For our first sailaway from Southampton we went up on deck by the Mast Bar making full advantage of the drinks vouchers which come with our Crown & Anchor Diamond status. You can use your 3 vouchers in any bar between 5:00 and 8:30. After we watched the sailaway it was then back to the cabin where I  managed to post the blog and it was then pretty much time to go to Chops for dinner. So after getting ready we made our way down to Central Park on deck 8 which is where Chops and a few of the other restaurants are. Our booking was for 8:30 and I made it using the Royal IQ app on my phone. We last ate in Chops 10 years ago while on our first cruise and I remember there being a bigger selection, however I can’t complain about last night’s experience as the the food and service was excellent. It was a very enjoyable evening and we were very surprised when we came to leave and looked at our watches to see it had gone 11:00. We had intended to go and see Bobby Davro in the theatre but only managed to catch the last 5 minutes.
We eventually retired for bed at just after midnight and reports on the bed are….. Very comfortable indeed.

Going back to the Royal IQ app,  I downloaded it prior to sailing but you are not able to use any of it until you are connected to the ships Wi-Fi. It’s very easy to use and once you have registered yourself on the system it provides you with loads of information as well as being able to make reservations etc..
We have also found out that the Aqua Theatre isn’t finished so there will be no shows on this cruise. A bit of a shame but we aren’t too bothered by it. I’m sure we can find something else to fill it’s place.

I was awake fairly early this morning with my body clock seemingly thinking I needed to go to work. It was nice to slow down a bit and try and take in some of the literature and find out what is what. I have also booked Jamie’s Italian for Tuesday night at 9:00 so at least we will be giving another restaurant a go. Our friends have been allocated the American Icon Grill as their dining room while ours is down as Silk, we are going to try and see if we can dine together at each of the two dining rooms on the remaining remaining 2 nights we have.
Breakfast was taken in the American Icon Grill this morning and I have to report that it wasn’t the best dining occasion we have ever had. Staff seemed unorganized and unprepared for the amount of passengers wanting to take breakfast. Service was slow and some of the food being brought out want exactly the hottest either.
After doing some more exploring we found the morning had got away from us and it was time for lunch and not wanting to go to the bun fight in the Windjammer we elected to go to the American Icon Grill which was a vast improvement on the breakfast experience.

From there on in we struggled to occupy ourselves on what has been a drab looking sea day. We have encountered the same issues we experienced on Explorer of the Seas and after the novelty of apparently having loads to do found that there really wasn’t that much. This ship is geared up so that everything is focused inwards, the majority of venues are either in Central Park or on the Royal Promenade and today you couldn’t get a seat for love or money. We tried for 90 minutes to get tea and coffee with somewhere to sit and eventually gave up. You couldn’t even get them in the Windjammer which I think for a ship this size is appalling.
Tonight we are off to see Grease then it’s dinner in Silk restaurant so let’s hope things improve from this afternoon.
We are quickly discovering that this ship isn’t for us, nice to experience but there is a lot which doesn suit.

A few more photos have been added to Flickr Album which you will find >>>Here<<<

Harmony of the Seas Postcard #1 – Southampton and Sailaway

How about something different to start a first post with other than we made an early start for the airport? OK here goes, this morning we set off a little after 8:00am and drove to the port of Southampton. Yes that’s right the port and not the airport!! After 10 years of cruising we are finally sailing from the UK.
We had a check in time of 12:00 – 12:30 and although the journey only takes us around 2 hours, we were swayed by the fact there were 3 other large ships in port today so having heard lots of gripes about how bad the traffic gets when there are a few ships in port we decided to try and get there early and then just park up and go grab a coffee until our boarding time. However after we parked up and had our bags collected by the porters we wandered down to the terminal to see if we could get on earlier and by luck we more or less walked straight on. Check in was really quick and once through security we had about a 10 minute wait before we were able to get onboard.

You are immediately struck by the size of the ship, to say it’s massive is an understatement.
We  have also invested in some Wow bands to see how well the system works.

After meeting up with our friends and having a coffee we decided to go off and explore starting from the top down but not before G and myself trying out the Ultimate Abyss. It’s all over very quickly but great fun and you do get get up quite a speed on the way down. I suspect later in the cruise there will be queues but we managed to get straight on.

There are lots of areas where there is unfinished work with some parts of the deck closed off. For example the fastest internet at sea wasn’t working when we first got to the cabin and neither were the TV channels.
We were able to get into the cabin at 1:00 pm and we were instantly impressed with the layout and size. Nice deep balcony but under cover so it wouldn’t be for us on a sunny cruise. It is a really good use of space.

After a spot of lunch in the Park Café we did a spot more exploring, it’s such a huge ship is going to take all four days to get our bearings.
Muster was at 4:30 and sailaway was at 6:00. We can now officially say we have sailed from UK port.
Tonight we have booked to eat at Chops Grille which is a steak and seafood restaurant which carries a cover charge of $39 per person. Our treat for our friends and using up some of our OBC.

That’s me signing off for today, more to follow tomorrow……..

Flickr Album link >>>Here<<<

Harmony of the Seas Cruise Preamble

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.

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?

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.

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.