I have been lucky enough to have many luxury holiday experiences in my life, but the one experience that has always escaped me is taking a cruise. I think there is something so romantic about spending time out at sea discovering new and exciting destinations and being able to return to your suite after a day of exploring. So my wish was granted by a ‘Genie’ quite literally when I was asked to try out the the brand new Harmony of the Seas by Royal Caribbean which is the biggest ever liner in the world and also includes their new ‘Genie’ product exclusive for Royal Suite Class guests. So read on and find out more about what this incredible ship and Royal Suite Class offers.
Harmony of the Seas is currently the world’s largest cruise ship. It’s quite hard to put a scale on this, but her sheer size when you first approach is breathtaking and once you’re onboard you completely forget you are out at sea and rather feel like you are living in a small city as she glides like velvet through the water.
Big in size does mean a high number of people – we are talking 2,100 crew and a max of 5,479 guests these number are significant and could be off-putting. But the clever ‘neighbourhood’ approach to dividing up the different areas of the ship into groups of related activities helps significantly with the flow of guests around the ship and it is remarkably non claustrophobic, just pleasantly busy. Neighbourhoods were first introduced in the Oasis of the Seas in 2009 and is a feature of Oasis Class ships, which Harmony of the Seas is.
There are seven ‘neighbourhoods’ which help you get to the entertainment areas you enjoy the most.
The areas include:
Central Park – an outdoor oasis with garden, bars, restaurants and luxury shops (Bulgari, Cartier)
Boardwalk – a traditional fun fair boardwalk which includes restaurants, bars, the AquaTheatre and even has its very own fairground carousel in centre stage. It is also the landing spot for the Ultimate Abyss – a ten story high slide and largest at sea.
Royal Promenade – this is where you first enter the ship once you check-in, it’s packed with dining options, shops, bars and restaurants and the Robotic Bar (more on that later). It also hosts a street party and has a party atmosphere into the evening.
Vitality Sea Spa and Fitness Centre – for working out and getting pampered.
Entertainment Zone – From a Casino to top broadway shows there is plenty to entertain adults into the small hours.
Pool and Sports Zone – for playing, swimming, being active outdoors or relaxing in the sun. You fill find four slides — five waterslides and one 10-story plunge the Ultimate Abyss as well as a rock climbing wall, zip lines and FlowRiders.
Youth Place – a spot just for kids to chill out and have fun.
Check In & Royal Genie
One of the benefits of being in Royal Suite Class is the new Genie product which is accessible to guests in the Star Class – Loft Suites or higher categories. Your Genie is like your modern age part butler, part Mary Poppins, catering to your every whim. Your first interaction with your Genie is at check in, I boarded from Barcelona Cruise port which has the feel of an airport as your bags are scanned, passport and travel documents checked. Once registered as traveling your Genie meets you and takes you onboard and up to your suite.
Royal Suite Class
This website is all about luxury and Harmony of the Seas know how to do luxury and then some. Staterooms below Suite Class include – Interior Stateroom, Oceanview, Studio, Balcony, but what you really want is to be in Royal Suite Class Staterooms which a whole new level of luxury at sea.
Royal Suite Class is split into three sub categories; Sea Class, Sky Class and Star Class which offer the following benefits.
Sky Class – A breath of fresh air. Languish in your luxurious surroundings or take advantage of everything from reserved seating in the theatre to Voom internet.
Sea Class – It’s the little touches that leave a lasting impression. From bathroom amenities by L’Occitane to dining privileges at Coastal Kitchen, everything’s a cut above.
Star Class – The ultimate in luxury. From the Royal Genie services to access to exclusive activities such as the Bridge, Gallery and Back Stage Tours, you’ll feel like nothing less than royalty in your palatial surroundings.
Worth noting for all us with the millennial mindset is that Harmony of the Seas has Voom internet, this is like being plugged into an ethernet cable – out at sea. I found this hard to get my head around it is lightning fast with no downtime. So if you can’t unplug yourself from being online you won’t miss a single tweet or snapchat on this ship. There is a daily charge, but in Royal Suite Class it is free.
Junior Suite – Sea Class
I was treated to a Junior Suite – in the Sea Class band, and wow doesn’t cover it.
As you open the door to your suite you enter into the dining/living room to the left is a sideboard running the length of the dining space. A bottle of Moet Champagne is waiting on ice for you to pop. Your dining table has a selection of goodies to tuck into including handmade macaroons and the mini bar has a selection of drinks.
In the lounge space which can also be converted into a second bedroom and can comfortably seat 7 people the coffee table has a selection of magazines and cruise itinerary. A selection of fruit is also waiting on the table for you to eat. From the lounge you can access the balcony with runs the full with of the suite (three floor to ceiling windows wide). The lounge also has a large plasma TV against the wall connecting to the bedroom.
The bedroom is connected to from the lounge with two doors to access it. A full glass floor to ceiling window provides uninterrupted views out to sea from the bedroom. The bed has a pillow selection and to the right a dressing table with hairdryer. On the wall looking out to the lounge there is a plasma TV to watch while you are in bed.
The bathroom is completely indulgent with seperate shower and bathtub. Finished in marble, with twin sinks and L’Occitane products.
I LOVED the balcony, it was one of the best features of the suite. The Balcony is larger in width that normal staterooms at three staterooms wide but it is also wider in depth as the balcony juts out, so you could literally have a small party in the space with both sun loungers and dining table.
— The Luxury Editor (@theluxuryeditor) June 6, 2016
If you want to go all the way and why not! Then there are suite categories above mine, two that I really loved are:
Crown Loft Suite:
Part of the Sky Class group, this is a split level suite with a main living area on the ground floor and an open bedroom loft. (545 square feet with 114-square-foot balconies). Offering panoramic views from the two story windows they are incredibly bright and airy. A smaller bathroom on the ground floor with a larger bathroom and tub on the top floor. The main living area on the ground floor includes a sofa bed, dining area, dry bar. Balconies include two padded lounge chairs.
Royal Loft Suite:
The king of suites. The Royal Loft Suite comes in at 1524 square feet and includes an 843 square foot wrap around balcony. Part of the Star Class collection, the suite has two bedrooms, a huge living area with grand piano and dry bar. The Master bedroom on the second level has private bathroom with jettub and shower. The main level has a smaller bedroom and a second tub. The balcony also has a jetted hot tub!
Being the biggest cruise ship in the world, also means it has one of the biggest food selections at sea in the world too as well as some super cool bars.
Decks 3, 4 and 5 are where the main dining rooms are. Dinner in these restaurants is a plated affair (not buffet). Menus offer appetizers, soups, salads entrees and desserts. The menu also always offers a vegetarian option.
Sorrento’s Pizzeria (Deck 5)
In the Royal Promenade is Sorrento’s pizza which can be ordered by the slice or made to order. This is a bit of a godsend when you have been drinking into the night as it offers a late night eating option too!
Cafe Promenade (Deck 5)
The Cafe Promenade offers 24 hour snacks and bites. Pastries in the morning, sandwiches at lunchtime and post dinner suites, cookies, tea and coffee around the clock.
Boardwalk Dog House (Deck 6)
The boardwalk is all about letting your inner kid come out and the Dog House has a Coney Island feel to to it. Try a traditional all-beef Coney Island Dog, bratwurst or chicken sausage, and slather on condiments such as mayo, American or German mustard, ketchup.
Vitality Cafe (Deck 6)
In keeping with the Vitality Spa the connected cafe offers light and healthy menu items which include yoghurt, wraps and fresh fruit.
Park Cafe (Deck 8)
In the luscious gardens of Central Park you will find Park Cafe. A spot to relax and unwind, try their custom made sandwiches, panini and soup.
Mini Bites (Deck 15)
Grab a mini bite to keep your energy levels up as you splash about in the sports zone.
Solarium Bistro (Deck 15)
The adult only Solarium was one of my favourite spots in the ship. A peaceful oasis of calm. The bistro is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Windjammer Marketplace (Deck 16)
The all you can eat buffet. Windjammer Marketplace is full to bursting with breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
Coastal Kitchen (Deck 17)
Open to suite only passengers. All suite passengers can dine at Coastal Kitchen at night when it serves Mediterranean and Californian farm cuisine options.
Fee Paying Dining
I didn’t get to eat at all the restaurants as there is too much choice, but one I did try and loved was
Izumi Hibachi and Sushi (Deck 4)
This Japanese restaurant run and owned by sushi expert Travis Kamiyama has grown from one restaurant to across all Oasis class ships. A seafood based menu which does excellent sushi and sashimi, pre-booking is essential is essential as it is busy.
Others that I liked the look of include:
Johnny Rockets (Deck 6)
A 1950s style diner serving up a big slice of traditional USA style dining. Hamburgers, fries, melts and hot dogs.
Starbucks (Deck 6); a la carte:
I was told you can’t get a good cup off coffee at sea, well Starbucks have sorted this problem with a cafe in the Boardwalk.
150 Central Park (Deck 8)
A Michael Schwartz creation located in Central Park, offering two dinner options – a 3 course option or premium 4 course option. This is a full evening experience as some courses are prepared at your table.
Jamie’s Italian (Deck 8)
The one and only Jamie Oliver also has a restaurant out at sea now! Also located in Central Park. Dishes are the same as his popular UK restaurant dishes. Rustic and delicious.
Wonderland (Decks 11 and 12)
Rising Tide Bar (Deck 5 through 7)
A little bit of fun the entire bar doubles as an elevator taking you from the Royal Promenade to Central Park.
Bionic Bar (Deck 5)
I forgot how many cocktails I had at the Bionic Bar! Order your drinks on the interactive pad and watch your robotic barman make it for you. Choose from classic cocktails and ship specials or go for broke and make your own cocktail…
— The Luxury Editor (@theluxuryeditor) June 5, 2016
Dazzles (Decks 8 and 9)
Fun when evening turns to night. Dance away to live music or head to the top deck for some people watching.
Pool Bar and Sand Bar (Deck 15):
Find a real holiday atmosphere at the Pool Bar, these two small bars serve everything from beers to cocktails!
I loved the Jazz bar as well which has live jazz music late into the night.
Think you will get bored at sea? Think again. Here are some key activities I loved!
Can you watch a broadway show at sea? Yes you can in Harmony of the Seas Theatre spectacular Grease! This is on daily throughout the cruise duration. An absoulute must see is the AquaTheatre show. Daredevil acrobatics, is mixed with an light and water show, it is like nothing I have seen before and a real edge of your seat experience.
I love a flutter and the casino offers all the usual casino table games as well as a large number of fruit machines.
Another vice of mine is the gym, so the huge state of the art gym was amazing. If you like a jog then you might be surprised to know there where is a jogging circuit the runs the entire circumference of the ship too!
On deck 15 there are a number of swimming pools which have a really sun seaside feel to it.
Recreation & Fun
Adrenalin junkies will love the entertainment options on the Harmony of the Seas. The ultimate is the Ultimate Abyss a 10 story dry slide that starts on deck 15 and finishes in the Boardwalk. Enter via the giant angler fish head climb the stairs into the GLASSS BOTTOMED floor and choose one of the two slides. I tired it and really loved it, however it isn’t for the faint hearted as it is fast and quite scary, it’s 12 seconds of heart racing fun.
Another adrenalin fueled ride is the ships zipline. Which crossed desk 16 looking down into the board walk. Again not for the faint hearted.
The ship also has three water slides called the Perfect Storm. Two are racer slides that goes super fast and the third features a ‘toilet bowl’ that ‘flushes’ riders into the pool below.
Another popular experience are the FlowRiders where you can practice your Boogie boarding and Surfing skills. Deck 6 has a rock climbing wall across from the AquaTheatre.
Are you a sun worshiper? Well Harmony of the seas have that covered too. My personal favourite area on the ship for relaxing is the adult only Solarium at the front of the ship. Open to passengers ages 16 +, the space is semi covered with loungers, chairs and plenty of large capacity hot tubs!
Suite passengers, those in the Sky Class and above, get access to the exclusive suite sun deck on Deck 17. Here, you’ll find padded lounge chairs and a private bar.
After stepping into Harmony of the Seas I am officially now a cruise fanatic – the bench-mark has been set high with this Royal Caribbean Ship.