Tag Archives: Royal Caribbean

Harmony of the Seas – Maiden Voyage, Southampton to Barcelona, Days 1 & 2


After much anticipation, it was finally time to board Harmony of the Seas for her official maiden voyage from Southampton to Barcelona. This is a one way repositioning cruise so we flew from Manchester down to Southampton and extended the holiday by spending the night before at the Novotel, a reasonably priced 4 star hotel located near West Quay shopping centre and within easy walking distance to the port – literally just 5 minutes away, manageable even with cases and a small child.

We arrived at the port about 10.15am (totally ignoring the 1pm check in we’d been allocated) but thankfully there were no queues and we were greeted by staff with iPads who checked our paperwork, took us through the health questionnaire and directed us to a waiting area. As we are suite guests we were sat in section A and by 10.45am we were boarding!

In a change to usual procedure our cruise cards would be waiting for us in our cabin but we could use the set sail passes we’d printed at home to charge purchases until cabins were available at 1pm. We went straight to my favourite spot on the Oasis class, Central Park, an amazing space hollowed out of the centre of the ship, filled with thousands of plants, trees and living walls and also home to speciality restaurants Chops Grille and Jamie’s Italian. We took a seat at the Trellis Bar and enjoyed the first of many glasses of red on our drinks package accompanied by the must try hot roast beef sandwiches from Park Cafe, a complimentary venue serving salads, sandwiches and cakes throughout the day.

Central Park

If you like a drink or two on board I highly recommend pre-booking a drinks package. We paid around £250 each for a premium package which includes pretty much all beers, wines and cocktails and is unlimited for the duration of the cruise. The bar staff were selling our package on board for significantly more than we paid so do try and pre book the one that suits you as pay as you go drinks aren’t cheap at around $10 for a good glass of wine. If you manage 4 or 5 drinks a day you are already winning!

Like many others, I was a little concerned when I read some of the media reports of the two pre inaugural cruises including the tabloid headline ‘Disharmony of the Seas’ and reports of a floating building site but rest assured this certainly isn’t the case. The ship looks immaculate and beautifully finished, everything is open and functioning and I’ve not seen any last minute work taking place.

We left Central Park and went to The Boardwalk, another of the ship’s distinct ‘neighborhoods’. This is a Coney Island style boardwalk with full size carousel which is free to ride, the Dog House, a complimentary hot dog bar, Mexican speciality restaurant Sabor, a Starbucks for anyone needing a caffeine fix and Johnny Rockets an American diner serving burgers and fries at $5.95 a head alongside a free and unmissable breakfast menu in the morning. It’s also the final destination of of The Ultimate Abyss, the world’s highest dry slide at sea dropping an impressive 11 decks in not many more seconds, and the Aqua Theatre where we saw staff rehearsing a Cirque du Soleil style high diving show which I’m looking forward to viewing from our balcony later in the week.

Crown Loft Suite

By 1pm our cabins were ready so we took the lift to deck 17 where we’d splashed out on a Crown Loft Suite. I turn 45 the week after we get home so this is a kind of mid life crisis cruise which called for an upgrade :) The cabin is absolutely beautiful, a two story loft with floor to ceiling windows, two bathrooms (one with a bath and one with a shower) stocked with L’Occitane toiletries, a bedroom, a sofa bed for Finn, a dining area and spectacular views from our balcony across the sports decks and the Boardwalk to the rear of the ship.

We unpacked our cases into two large wardrobes and endless sets of drawers and celebrated sail away on our balcony with friends who are also onboard. We then enjoyed dinner in Costal Kitchen, a gorgeous restaurant for suite guests on deck 17 with panoramic windows overlooking the sun decks below before ending the evening in the Schooner Bar watching pianist / singer Katia who was so good we had possibly one glass of red too many – thank heaven day 2 was a sea day!

A great night’s sleep was followed by a much needed full English in Costal Kitchen then a trip to the Cruise Critic Meet n Mingle which was followed by a cabin crawl expertly organized by Gillian aka Dutch Clogs. We were hosting so went back to the suite to await our visitors and big thanks go out to Alfonso our stateroom attendant who was fully aware of the cabin crawl concept and who had tidied up beautifully. Over 40 guests arrived to look around our room and admire the view from the balcony and there was still room to swing a family of cats : ) I think I may be hooked on the suite thing for life so I’m going to have to work hard and earn some serious cash ahead of next year’s holidays. It was a lovely sociable thing to do and everyone was putting faces to the names of people they’d met online and even our eight year old Finn made a brand new friend as they bonded over a mutual love of video games.


After the cabin crawl we had a great al a carte lunch in American Icon on the ground floor of the main dining room followed by another visit to the Boardwalk for more carousel rides and lots of clambering fun on lucky climbers, a child friendly climbing frame reassuringly surrounded by nets. I had a hair appointment at the Spa for a reasonably priced $39 wash and blow ahead of formal night. We dined in Costal Kitchen again where they do a fabulous Californian / Med fusion as well as offering all the classics off the main dining room for less adventurous diners like me. It was impeccably served by our waiter Fransisco who also kept our glasses topped up with Malbec as we all enjoyed generous portions of filet mignon. We then went to Harmony’s impressive 1400 seater theatre for the must see Broadway style musical version of Grease which was electrifying!

As well as this blog I’m using an app called Periscope to broadcast live video and commentary of our cruise and viewers can even ask questions as I’m showing you around. All you need to do is download the app and follow @nickywake if you’d like to see some of my previous videos and watch future ones live.

Harmony Here We Come!

Harmony of the Seas

It’s been a while since I last posted but I’m now officially on cruise countdown and I suspect this one will be well worth the wait!

Next Sunday we’ll be boarding the inaugural Harmony of the Seas cruise from Southampton to Barcelona. Royal Caribbean’s new flagship is the biggest cruise liner in the world, a whole 6 inches wider than its sister ships Oasis and Allure. We sailed on Oasis of the Seas in 2012 and love the Oasis class although some may find the size overwhelming. It can also limit where a ship as immense as Harmony can dock but this cruise is definitely about sampling the things Royal Caribbean are great at rather than the itinerary.

As I’ll soon be celebrating my 45th we’ve splashed out and booked a Crown Loft Suite, a double height cabin with floor to ceiling windows, a dining area, a couple of bathrooms and a large balcony. Additional perks include free wifi, concierge lounge, VIP sun deck, show seating and a dedicated suite restaurant. All in all far more impressive than those we enjoyed on P&O Britannia last Christmas.

I originally booked the three of us on what was to be Harmony’s first ever sailing however RCI subsequently announced three earlier departures, a 2 night travel agent and loyalty club voyage followed by a 3 night and  4 night mini cruise. At first I was a bit disappointed about it but I’ve actually loved being able to read all the early reviews and watch the Periscope and YouTube videos that were being uploaded over the weekend. Fingers crossed it’ll also mean they’ll have ironed out any early issues before we board : )

I’m looking forward to the neighbourhood concept on Harmony as we loved exploring all the distinct areas on Oasis. My favourite was probably Central Park with it’s trees and gardens, a beautiful place to have a glass of red in the sunshine!

Our 8 year old son Finn can’t wait to explore Adventure Ocean, a whole deck of kids heaven with a science lab, theatre, art zone and age appropriate rooms and entertainment. RCI do kids clubs brilliantly and I just know we’ll struggle to get him to actually spend some time with us!

We’re all excited to check out the ship’s art and loved the ‘small wonders’ (a kind of telescope you peer into to see amazing things inside) that were dotted around Oasis. There’s also large scale artwork wherever you turn and Harmony has an incredible piece by Czech artist David Cerny, a huge three dimensional head that rotates in layers and is sure to be a talking point on board.

Update: RCI have been checking out the blog and sent this link to their video about the art on board if you’re interested.

After a few months pre cruise dieting I’m especially looking forward to sampling the food on board as it’s generally some of the best we’ve had at sea. We’ve booked Jamie’s Italian, Wonderland and the suite restaurant Costal Kitchen but if I’m honest the thing I’m looking forward to most is breakfast at Johnny Rockets. This is unique to Oasis class ships and we can’t wait to sample it again although I’m not sure I’ll be taking the 10 story Ultimate Abyss slide to get there!

Thanks to our free wifi I’m planning to write a few blog posts while we are away and share a bit of the atmosphere of sailing on Harmony. I’ll also post a round up review and add photos when get back home. If anyone has any questions or wants to know anything specific do get in touch…

5 sleeps and counting!