I was lucky to be able to spend this weekend on board the worlds largest cruise ship: Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. Oh boy is she big!
She came into port on Tuesday, I could see her from my apartment but also got a great view on my way to the station the last few days – the first thing that strikes you it her width, she is definitely big boned! She’s also tall, but not any more than other RCI ships that have visited in recent times, and at 18 decks – pretty average, I’m sure P&O Azura has 19 in fact.
This is the first time I have cruised with Royal Caribbean, and as expected, it’s quite a different experience from other trips I have taken with P&O, Cunard, Fred. Olsen and Saga, and from the Holland America and Princess ships I have visited. The best way to describe it is… less (erm) Cruisy!
At first I found it really hard to come to terms with the fact that I was actually on a ship, it felt more like I’d just arrived at a holiday resort/tourist town somewhere, perhaps because there’s very few places on the ship where (ironically) you can actually see the sea! The size is also really overwhelming at first, but after a day or so of familiarising myself it actually began to feel much smaller.
The ship is almost split into two parts, with a hollow in the middle where you will find Central Park, The Board walk, and the Royal Promenade, which are the hubs of the ship where most of the stuff is going on, and where you’ll find the majority of the shops and restaurants. They don’t feel like cruise ship restaurants, in that normally it’ll be a -similar set up to each other but with varied décor around the ship, but these places felt like different restaurants in themselves – a café, an American diner, a Starbucks, a Jamie’s Italian etc. The thing that’s also quite interesting about the Boardwalk and Central Park, is that they both have balcony cabins overlooking them!
Central park (Deck 8) was my favourite of these areas, it was just like a lovely park, with plenty of plants and trees, benches and natural light, it was a lovely place I could see myself letting days pass with a cool drink, a book, a comfy seat, and some people watching. It felt like quite a grown-up area of the ship. Just off of the park was a nice cafe serving, well, cafe food – at breakfast they had a nice selection of bagels, foccacia sandwiches, yogurt and granola, and of course coffee, tea and juice, I didn’t get a chance to pop in at other meal times. Also off of the park are several of the speciality restaurants including Chops Grill and Jamie’s Italian – where we had dinner the first night.
360 Panorama of Central Park
I didn’t have the highest expectations for Jamie’s as I’d visited one in Leeds a few years ago and was a little underwhelmed, but oh boy was I wrong! I had eaten in a Michelin starred restaurant earlier in the week which was utterly disappointing, and I would pick the meal I had in Jamie’s over that any day! To start I had the board of cured meats which also had olives, mozzarella and a home-made slaw, followed with a truffle and Parmesan Tagliatelle. Wow, this pasta was beautiful. They make the pasta daily, an the subtle truffle flavour with parmesan and olive oil was something special. I ordered polenta chips on the side as I’d never tried them before, I’ll be having those again! And to finish, Jamie’s ‘Epic’ Brownie; in my experience brownies in restaurants can be a disappointment but this certainly was not! I also ordered an Affogato which was quite greedy of me but I’d been fancying one for ages so why the hell not! The ice cream both in the Affogato and on the brownie was clearly a very good quality vanilla with plenty of cream in the mix, heavenly! Pictures below, apologies for the dodgy photography…
Me being, me I went straight to gabbling on about food, but of course one of the most important places is your cabin, it is after all ‘home’ for the time you spend on the ship, and the place you got to lay that tired head at the end of the day, and believe me, you will be tired, on Saturday we didn’t really do much, yet I still clocked up just shy of 7 miles walking! Below is the cabin we stayed in, it is on deck 9, cabin 684 which is an oceanview stateroom. The decor was lovely in neutral shades of grey, there were plenty of wardrobes and draws, a large interactive TV, the bathroom felt spacious even though it was small. The shower was quite large as cruise ships go, and beautifully hot and powerful, my only gripe is that I like a bath sheet as opposed to regular towel size, but to be honest most don’t offer those so meh.
There’s so much to tell you about that you can see and do on this ship, I did manage to cram a fair bit in for two days, and probably a bit too much to tell you about in one blog post so I’m trying to keep it short! One of the things that is quite cool, but you will NEVER catch me doing is this:
A video posted by Ria (@riakmartin) on
WHY?! Why would you even want to do that? I went up to the top and confirm, yes, it’s a bloody long way down!! I would however have given the abyss a try, a 100ft slide, but it was closed due to the damp whether, apparently in those conditions you might get stuck! – No thanks! The entrance is quite cool though…
One of my most favourite things on the ship is the Bionic bar, it’s a bit of a novelty but I love a gadget and the techy side of this is right up my street. It starts with swiping your cruise card or wow band on a tablet, you then navigate the app and select your drink and hit order. It then shows up in a queue with a waiting time, which was about 12 minutes when I went. When it’s your turn the screen shows you each step of your drink, which took about 2 minutes to make, you then swipe your card and it zooms towards you, I took a video of the experience (and sped it up 4x)…
There’s so many more places to show you but since this post is becoming almost as big as the ship itself, I’ll let you take a browse of the photos instead!
One thing that really did strike me on this ship was the really funky works of art, I’ve popped a couple of my favourites below:
And finally I can’t finish this post without a couple of photos from my trip to the bridge. I’m lucky to be able to say it’s not the first ship’s bridge I’ve visited, but of course this is the largest – possibly 3 times the size of the ones I’ve seen before, and far more modern!
I must say the captain looked a bit young…
Oh and, this is obligatory…. #Bridgeselfie
Righty, I’m off for a nap after all that excitement!