Royal Caribbean has received a ton of buzz over its latest ship, Harmony of the Seas, which embarked on its maiden voyage this week. As the largest cruise ship in the world -- with 16 decks and 2,747 staterooms -- Harmony combines the best features of the Oasis- and Quantum-class ships, with a few new features.
The benefit to sailing on the world’s largest cruise ship, of course, is that there is something for virtually every type of traveler. Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway or looking for you’re next adventure, here’s how to make the most of your time on Harmony of the Seas.
The place to indulge in some me-time is at Harmony’s Vitality Spa, which has services that range from teeth whitening and bamboo massages, to yoga classes and private trainers. Begin your stay in the thermal suite, soaking in a whirlpool with algae that has healing properties for your skin. Make an appointment for acupuncture, and don’t miss the seaweed wrap massage -- perhaps the most indulgent offering -- which includes an exfoliating scrub, a seaweed wrap, and a full-body massage.
If you’re looking to jump, rather than ease, into your path to healing, sign up for a heart-pumping spin class or book a private trainer who will analyze your fitness level and nutritional needs and draw up a custom regimen to help you meet your goals. Afterward, grab a fresh berry smoothie at the Vitality cafe, and head to Mini Bites for guilt-free, palm-size portions of everything from apple pie to pepperoni pizza. Windjammer, the ship's buffet, even has fruit parfaits and vegan muffins at the dairy- and gluten-free station. After a week in the sun, you’ll want to book a moisturizing facial to round out your stay. Finally, hit the shops on the fifth floor to refresh your wardrobe.
Recommended accommodation: A cabin on deck six, so you have easy access to the spa and fitness center for early morning sessions.
With four swimming pools, 10 whirlpools, and 11 bars onboard, there are plenty of places to relax, talk, drink, dance, and tan. At mid-day, head to the boardwalk for tacos and margaritas at Sabor. Catch the sunset over the horizon at the Solarium bar, or grab drinks at Bionic Bar, at which a robot concocts your order -- and where there is always a scene -- before sitting for hibachi at Izumi or for unlimited dishes and desserts in the main dining room. Spend the evening belting out karaoke tunes and dancing at the nightclub or at the 90s street party, depending on your mood (and outfit). Don’t miss the ship's Escape Room, where your crew has less than 60 minutes to solve a collection of puzzles that ultimately free you from the room. (Trust us, this can get heated.)
Depending on how late you stay out, kick start your morning with a group yoga class on the deck, then head to the spa, where you can book a group time slot for hot stone massages and pedicures before you head home.
Recommended accommodation: A boardwalk-facing balcony suite to stay in on the action.
Book a couples’ massage for the morning, then head to the adults-only Solarium (Decks 14 and 15) for a peaceful afternoon overlooking the ocean. With a glass of Champagne in-hand, take a dip in one of the ship’s 10 whirlpools -- preferably one of the two overlooking the ocean. Make a late dinner reservation, so you have time to stop for wine under the stars at Trellis, an outdoor bar in Central Park -- Royal's first open-air park at sea, complete with lush tropical plants, trees, and benches. Reserve a table for two at Jamie’s Italian, which serves rustic Italian favorites like tagliatelle with foraged black truffles and eggplant parmesan. Post-dinner, head to the jazz club, where you can nab a leather loveseat, sip martinis, and settle in with some soothing tunes until bedtime.
For an epically romantic off-ship experience, work with a travel concierge to craft a special shore excursion for you and your partner. Think: exploring the Italian and French Riviera by private yacht.
Recommended accommodation: Sky Loft Suite, a two-deck high stateroom with panoramic views, a shower for two, and a private balcony with a dining table where you can sip wine and dine privately overlooking the ocean.
One of Harmony’s most significant upgrades is VOOM, which the company claims is the fastest Internet at sea -- and the statement holds up. Though Royal says they made the investment to serve millennials, don’t worry; between the zip line, the trio of multi-story slides, and the arcade, your kids won’t be glued to their phones.
Splash Away Bay (a water park for the ship's littlest guests) is close enough to the adults’ pool for you to keep watch, while far enough to keep you (and your martini) dry. Sports-obsessed kids can sign up for open-play soccer or basketball on the ship’s full-size field and courts; while parents who prefer to watch sports over big screens and beers can head to the fifth-floor sports bar.
During the day, hit the boardwalk for a burger and fries at Johnny Rockets and a latte (for you) at Starbucks. On Kid's Avenue (Deck 14), children can do everything from science experiments to hip hop dance classes. At the end of the day, round up the team for mini golf (Deck 15) and a 6:30 p.m. showing of Grease -- an impressive theatrical hybrid of the classic movie and the original Broadway musical. Afterward, parents can rock out to tribute bands, while teens head to the dance club.
Recommended accommodation: The Royal Family Balcony Suite, which comprises two bedrooms with two twin beds that convert into a king, and two Pullman beds. There is also a living room with double convertible sofa, an entertainment center, two bathrooms, and a private balcony.
Just one look at the twin, 38-foot rock climbing walls proves that Harmony is not only for those looking to unwind. If after the zip line, the ice-skating rink, the indoor track, the onboard surf simulator, and (of course) the Abyss -- a dry slide that drops you 10 stories in seconds -- you’re still thirsting for more, book an excursion built for true adventurers. Hover in the air in a water-propelled jetpack off of Saint Thomas, or take a high-adrenaline Jeep tour to hidden Mayan ruins on a secluded side of Cozumel that few people have had the chance to see.
Recommended accommodation: An interior room for the value, since you will only be in there to sleep anyway.
With 29 dining options onboard, you could eat at a different restaurant for each meal and, after a five-day Harmony cruise, you won't repeat once. Start with a pre-dinner wine tasting at Vintages wine bar in Central Park, followed by the prix fixe at 150 Central Park, where the table-side preparation of tuna tartar and steak and the assortment of French cheeses feel decadent. At sea, there is certainly no shortage of quality seafood; Izumi serves hand-rolled sushi, and Wonderland provides a whimsical dining experience with avant-garde décor and dishes like lobster with bone marrow and caviar, and crispy tempura kim chee. During the day, sign up for a cooking demo with one of the ship’s esteemed chefs in Studio B, or book an excursion to taste the wines and olive oil of Provence. You can also buy dining packages that include up to five of the specialty restaurants for $100.
Recommended accommodation: A Royal suite, which includes two twin beds that convert to a king, a balcony, and access to the private, suites-only restaurant Coastal Kitchen and lounge for cocktail hour.
There’s a common misconception that cruising excludes culture. But Harmony provides endless opportunities to whet your cultural appetite, whether through TED Talk-like presentations in Studio B or trying out your Latin dance moves at the salsa club. But the real cultural draw is the exhaustive list of excursions: Discover Authentic Haiti brings guests to the home of Haitian family to learn about local island life, voodoo culture, and cuisine; and a walking tour of Naples brings guests to the Royal Palace, San Carlo Opera House, and the subterranean Borbonic Gallery -- a tunnel that was built in the 19th century as an escape route for the palace -- followed by an authentic Neapolitan pizza dinner.
Recommended accommodation: Outward facing balcony toward the front of the ship, so you can get the first view of your destination as you pull into port.