Harmony of the Seas review (8/26 - 9/2)

Discussion in 'Royal Caribbean' started by starvenger, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. starvenger

    starvenger DIS Veteran

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    Hang on folks, this is going to be long. Still doing some edits on the later days, will add that as I get them done.

    Day -2

    Left the house around 7:15am and went to pick up my parents. Got to their house and left around 7:45, getting to the airport (Toronto Pearson) around 8:15am. Dropped everyone off and took the minivan to the park and fly valet, was back at the terminal 10 minutes later. My wife and dad had already dropped off the checked luggage so it was time to go through security. We all have Nexus/Global Entry so the process took about 20 minutes total. Probably would have been faster except that my dad's replacement knees got him wanded.

    T3 US area is undergoing renovations so it's kind of a disaster once you exit customs and the duty free. We were in the side wing so had to walk the length of the area to get to the food. Got Starbucks since Freshii is kind of a rip off and didn't feel like eating at the McEwan place. My brother and his kids met up with us at the gate, at which point our kids started getting a little hyper.

    Westjet flight was uneventful, which is how I like my flights. It was really cold though so I was glad I wore jeans and my hoodie. Which I basically wore so that I had something to wear should we decide to go skating on board at some point.

    Got the rental car (Budget. I have Fastbreak so it was literally pick up the rental agreement, find the car and go. Awesome.), and went to the hotel (Hyatt Place Convention Center, booked through valuetrips.com). Very nice room - 2 double beds, a large l-shaped sofa with a divider between beds and sofa. You could probably sleep 6 people in the room with no issues, except for the people that get the pullout bed in the sofa. There is a $7/day parking fee, but that's on the website so I knew about it in advance. What I didn’t know was that the aforementioned website includes the parking fee, but the hotel supervisor noticed this and took it off when I checked out.

    Anyway, dropped our bags, changed to shorts and headed to Sawgrass Mills. Had our traditional Cheesecake Factory meal (wife and kids insist on it when we go to the US) and did some buying of stuff. Came home and slept. Or in my case, wrote this post, then slept.

    Day -1
    More rain. Had breakfast downstairs, and again more shopping at DSW and (again) Sawgrass Mills, hitting the half of the mall we missed the previous day.

    After getting to the hotel and dropping our stuff off, went for dinner at Rustic Inn crab house with my parents and my brother's family. Word of warning - this place seems expensive, but they serve a LOT of food and any non-crab entree is basically a family-sized entree. The kids meals resemble a Disney parks adult entree. I don't eat crab or lobster, but the rest of the family said it was good. In the end, we actually had a small party tray of pasta to bring back to my other brother, who had arrived from his LAX flight.

    After we got back to the hotel, we went to Total Wine to get some, well, wine to bring aboard. I also bought a bottle of Shiner Bock, since a) it's my favourite beer, and b) I can't get a beer for $1.79 on the ship. After we got back to the hotel, packed most of our stuff and went to sleep.


    Day 0… well I guess there isn’t one. Day 0 should really be embarkation day, but the cruise lines don’t treat it as such, so let’s go straight to…


    Day 1 - Embarkation day!

    My experience with Hyatt House/Place is that the weekend breakfasts aren't as good as the weekday ones, and today was no different. Not bad, mind you, just more basic.

    My brother and I went to Dollar Tree to get some beach toys for the kids. Problem - no sand buckets, but the great thing about dollar stores is that you can find items to improvise. So while a trick or treat bucket wasn't ideal, it would do in a pinch. We also bought some magnetic whiteboards for use on the doors.

    At this point, we had a dilemma. We have 13 people but only 12 seats across two cars. Not wanting to pay for the shuttle to the terminal, we decided that I'd drive my wife, kids and dad over, while my brother drove everyone else save my little brother over. We'd drop people and bags at the terminal, I'd pick my brother back up at the hotel, we'd drop the rentals at the airport, and get a taxi back to the ship.

    I had everyone packed in the car and left around 10:40. Slight traffic at the terminal, but was done and back at the hotel around 11:15 after topping up the fuel. Picked up my little brother, we returned the car and were waiting for my brother to arrive by 11:35. At this point my wife messaged me and let me know that her four had checked in and were eating at the WJ.

    My brother meanwhile, left the hotel around 11:10. When HE got to the terminal it was packed, and it took him 45 minutes just to drop off everyone and the bags. By the time he met up with us at the rental return it was around 12:45.

    So went over to the taxi stand and when we got to the terminal, there was no wait to drop us off. So lesson learned - if you can't get to the terminal early, you might as well wait a bit for the craziness to die down.

    Security lines were kind of long, but it was at most a 10 minute wait. All three of us had 2 bottles of wine, and the only question we got was whether we were all in the same room. So people looking to take more than the allowed 2 bottles take note - if you go through security separately and at different times, you can probably take more wine in.

    At this point, it was after 1, so we simply went up to our rooms. Luggage wasn't there, so I went up to WJ for a quick bite, then went to Chops to switch my First Night Done Right reservation over to them. This is where something weird happened, as the system showed that I'd cancelled my FNDR, but Royal IQ clearly showed that I still had it (we were assigned to Jamie's. We didn't want it since there's a Jamie's in Toronto, plus we go to the UK about every other year so in theory, we can go whenever we want to. In theory.). Full credit to Anthony, the Chops host, as he managed to overcome whatever glitch had happened and booked us and the kids for 5:30.

    After that was resolved, went upstairs and got the kids signed up at Adventure Ocean. Got back to the room, and by this point it's time for the Muster Drill. Since it's raining (again) just about everyone is in the promenade (we should actually be on the Boardwalk) and with that many people, it's really warm. But after a bit the captain gives the all clear and we walk back up to the room.

    Since we have an early dinner we hang out on the balcony to watch the boat depart. Got changed and went to the Promenade to watch a King Julien history of dance dance routine of some sort. Then it was time for food!

    And Chops mostly didn't disappoint. Had the Wild Mushroom soup, black pepper bacon beef carpaccio (Livy ordered the carpaccio, took a bite and said she didn't want it. And thus I had to give up my pork belly) and 9oz filet. Carpaccio was fine, but I don't get a whole lot out of eating it. But I was taking one for the team, so it was what it was. Filet... this was probably the second best filet I've ever had (I still like Ruth's Chris better). Flavourful and juicy.

    After Chops, kids went to Adventure Ocean, and we did a stroll around the upper decks. It’s very nice at night. Picked the kids up around 9:30, and we basically crashed.

    Day 2 - At Sea
    First full day on board.

    Had breakfast at Johnny Rockets. As is normally the case with breakfast, nothing special about the food, but it was very pleasant outside (sunny with a nice breeze) which really is what you want when you eat there.

    I should note at this point that on this cruise, we were trying to avoid going to the Windjammer. Yes it's convenient to go there, but with other options available we thought it was worth trying other spots.

    Took the kids to Adventure Ocean. Hannah is in the 9-11 group and Livy is in 6-8 along with one of her cousins. With the kids gone, it was time to do some exploring. We did a couple of (walking) circuits of the track. Usually there's a couple of good spots to lounge around the track but we didn't see any here. This was followed by a stroll through the Promenade, Boardwalk, and Central Park. Then we went up to 15, walked the pool portion of the deck, and settled in on some Adirondack chairs (I think. There is a slight difference between Adirondack and Muskoka chair but I can't really distinguish the two. So I'm guessing here) near Mini-Bites and the soft serve machines. Stayed there until almost noon and went to pick up the kids.

    Had lunch in the MDR (American Icon on 3). Had fish and a custom salad. There is a chocolate fountain at the dessert table here, so if that's your thing (and it usually is with the kids) you can find one here during lunch.

    After lunch it was time to hit the pool deck, and specifically Splashaway Bay. And it was nuts - very hard to find spots in the pm, as you might imagine. We did find one lounger, and later found a few more as people started leaving. But a problem here was that it was very windy, so sitting around Splashaway was something of a challenge.

    Aside: I've read about people complaining about staff pushing drink packages etc. But apart from seeing bar staff wear t-shirts pushing the drink package, I was never asked about getting one. The caveat here is that I didn't buy a drink until late on Day 2, so ymmv here.

    Went to see 1887. The premise is kind of strange - something Jules Verne-esque is what I got out of it but the skaters were pretty good and the fx used for the show was impressive. The "featured" guest was a bubble guy.

    Dinner was formal night, and our first in the MDR. Since we had traditional dining, we were in American Icon on 3. Had duck terrine and barramundi. Really good. No photos though - we were saving that for formal night 2.

    After dinner, kids wanted to go back to Adventure Ocean (this would be a recurring theme) so we checked them in, went down to 5 to get coffee (promenade seems to be the only place to get paper cups, and you have took for them) and walked around deck 15 at night. Very nice out and interesting to see the deck at night.

    Btw, for those of you interested in the coffee situation, it is in fact brewed aboard the Harmony, and easily better than the swill they serve on board DCL Fantasy. It's still not great, but I'd rate it just above Dunkin/Coffee Time coffee.

    After picking up the kids and putting them to sleep, we went to the Schooner Bar for a drink. Piano player was pretty good. Funny bit where Air Supply was requested, and rejected as he couldn't do any of their songs, so did some Bryan Adams instead.

    Went with my brothers and sister-in-law to the game room, which was pretty noisy. Apparently the tweens and teens will come here to play cards and such (someone brought a D&D game aboard) before curfew. There was also a mah jong game going on, and it was the quietest one I’ve ever heard, even taking the general noise into account. We played Exploding Kittens (I brought it aboard) for about 90 minutes before calling it a night.

    But problems(!) arose as our neighbour sounded like he was talking on Skype, and rather loudly. And with a connecting door in our cabin it sounded like they right there in our room! And sadly, this wasn’t the first time this happened, as they were also quite loud the previous night, albeit not as late. I tried to knock on his door to ask him to keep it down, but got no response. Left with few options, I went down to Guest Services to ask for some help. And in short order, some security personnel came up to assess the situation (spoiler - they discovered they were rather loud and could hear them through the cabin door), and after repeated requests managed to have our neighbour open the door so they could explain the situation.

    On subsequent days, the neighbours did try to keep it down in the late evening, although they were as loud as normal in the early evening, which was fine - I was not expecting people to change their habits at the drop of a hat, and they were making an effort, so it’s all I could really ask for.

    Days 3-8 forthcoming!
     
  2. FabFourteenFamilyFun

    FabFourteenFamilyFun Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for this!!! Can't wait for the rest! Where was your stateroom located?
     
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  4. starvenger

    starvenger DIS Veteran

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    14682. Underneath the Mini-Bites sitting area I believe (so aft/starboard quadrant). My parents were in 14680 and my brothers were in 14670 and 14686, respectively. We were the only ones with a connecting room. Very convenient if you want to go to the pools or get some soft serve. Or chips and guac from Mini-Bites.
     
  5. disneyholic family

    disneyholic family disney on my mind....

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    enjoying your review!!

    did the lack of a pool in the solarium bother you?
     
  6. FabFourteenFamilyFun

    FabFourteenFamilyFun Mouseketeer

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    I forgot to mention- we are staying at the same hotel! We are planning on doing Uber to the port. We are 6 retirees with Boardwalk balconies. I hope you don't mind if I ask questions- just being on disboards you know I am a huge planner!!
     
  7. starvenger

    starvenger DIS Veteran

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    Can't say that it did. But I'm not much of a pool guy to be honest - if I'm in a pool it's because the kids are or I'm trying to do laps (a seeming impossibility on a cruise ship).

    My dad, however, would've liked to have one there.
     
    disneyholic family likes this.
  8. Frozen2014

    Frozen2014 DIS Veteran

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    Great review so far. We're going on Symphony (but a long ways off) so am already interested in hearing other's review on Harmony. Sorry about the loud neighbors. What kind of stateroom did you have?
     
  9. starvenger

    starvenger DIS Veteran

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    I forget the category but it was an outside balcony. Couch becomes a bed and there's a trundle underneath. And of course it was an adjoining room, which was a (ahem) "bonus" feature.
     
  10. FabFourteenFamilyFun

    FabFourteenFamilyFun Mouseketeer

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    Did you feel crowded or wait in line a lot? Did your wife say the WJ was crazy on embarkation?
     
  11. starvenger

    starvenger DIS Veteran

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    WJ was apparently quite busy on embarkation but that's par for the course for every cruise I've been on - everyone heads up to the buffet it seems. The subsequent times that we went it wasn't as busy but still difficult to find seats.

    Biggest crowds I encountered were usually after shows or getting on/off the ship. Not surprising but very easy for people to get separated if you're not careful.

    Promenade can get very crowded when there's a sale or there's an event. If you've been on DCL it's like when they have something happening in the Centrum but with a lot more people in a bigger space.

    And lines for the "toilet bowl" water slide can be long. It's unfortunately a side effect of how the slide operates and as a result I never got to go on it.
     
  12. starvenger

    starvenger DIS Veteran

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    A little later than I thought. Bit to much to do over the week, I'm afraid.

    Day 3 - At Sea

    Hannah wanted to try the Abyss, so knowing this - and knowing how crazy the deck was in the afternoon, we switched things up and had the kids go to the kids program in the afternoon.

    Ate breakfast at Mini-Bites. Omelettes were OK, selection was limited compared to MDR or Windjammer but again it was outside and that’s never a bad thing in the morning. Unless you were sitting near the side where there was no breeze whatsoever. Zero. Sit near the ping pong tables where there is a breeze.

    After breakfast, it was on to the Abyss, where… well, yeah. Put this in the Aquaduck category of “underwhelming”. It was cool and all to have this on board, but at the end of the day it was a slide where you were more concerned about rubbing against the sides than enjoying the drop. At least we went early and didn’t have to worry about lineups.

    With the Abyss done, we hit poolside and Splashaway Bay. As we thought, it was much easier to find spaces to sit. Had a relaxing couple of hours out there before going back to the room to rinse and change. Hannah and I also went on a couple of the waterslides - the traditional ones. These were pretty fun, and kind of dizzying. We did want to go on the third slide, the toilet bowl/funnel style one, but the very nature of the slide means that there’s going to be a wait. In fact, Hannah and I did two slides before some people got to complete one on the funnel.

    Lunchtime, and again it was the MDR. Had a seared striploin steak that was quite good. Also a salad from the buffet.

    In the afternoon, the kids went to the kids club and we did another couple of laps around the track. This was the last time we did this as our resolve to use the track crumbled.

    After that, my wife had to do some work. Her job unfortunately requires that sometimes she needs to review documents and such, even while on vacation. But this does mean that we were able to expense Voom for the cruise. Voom is actually pretty good. It’s probably not quite as fast as what you might have at home, but my wife had no issues connecting and using her VPN to access her work portal. And the wifi keeps you connected throughout the ship - the only “dead spot” I experienced was in the dining room where we were as aft as you could get. And that could probably be attributed to the fact that my phone’s wifi has been deteriorating for the past year. (Should probably get a new one, but I’m trying to get 4 years out of the thing and it’s only been about 2½.)

    Aside - I’m not sure if this was because I was using the Royal IQ app or not, but even when I wasn’t logged into Voom I was getting push notifications, So I could keep up with things like sports scores etc.

    In any event I took the opportunity to do some more walking around, came back to the room and took a nap on the balcony.

    Dinner was not too bad. Had Salmon Tartare, Shellfish Consomme and Pappardelle. My wife had the Rack of Lamb, and while it was good, there were only 3 bones so if you love lamb, you may want

    We had a show tonight - The Fine Line, which is Harmony’s first of two aqua shows (the other, Hideaway Heist, was later in the week). Can’t say that I was able to discern a plot, but they seemed to enjoy mashing up songs (example: Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic, Sabotage and Body Movin’, and Chemical Brothers with Oasis). Keep an eye out for the “whip guy” if you watch this. I’m not really sure how to describe him, but he got a feature spot to himself and has to be seen to be believed. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this is good or bad.

    After we put the kids to sleep, I did about 30 minutes at the blackjack table, and ended up winning $60 off my $100 buy in. Tables pay 6 to 5 for blackjack, which frankly sucks, but I could deal with it (they also have single odds craps, which is also terrible). There were two $10 tables. One was a multi-deck with a continuous shuffler. The other was single-deck which ran pretty good with 3-4 players. For the week I won $200, basically playing 15 minutes here and there. Not a lot, but it was $200 that didn’t need to come off my credit card at the end of the cruise.

    For whatever it’s worth, the ventilation in the casino was pretty good, as the non-smoking area didn’t smell of smoke at all. Can’t say the same for the aft starboard elevator bank though. If you’re doing MTD in Grande, consider this a warning.


    Day 4 - Philipsburg, St. Maarten

    Had breakfast in the MDR, where we discovered that the breakfast buffet there (and presumably in the Windjammer) had… congee! Might not seem like a big deal to have this simple rice porridge, but for a Chinese family like mine, it’s kind of a big deal to have a non-Panda Express “taste of home” on board.

    After looking through our options, decided that going to the Great Bay beach was the best option for everyone. We thought about going to Maho Beach, but that was too far. Took the water taxi ($7pp, 5 and over) over to the boardwalk area, where many, many people would try and get you to rent their beach umbrellas and loungers. Our guy tried to rent us his for $10, but sadly it was the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of beach umbrellas, if you know what I mean. Got proper ones for $20, as did my brother when he came a bit later.

    Beer and water were relatively cheap, going from 5 for $6 to 5 for $10, depending on whom you talked to. Given what you pay for beer on the boat, I’m not going to complain too much about that price.

    Water was very nice, just cool enough to provide some relief from the sun. Our makeshift sand toys came into play here, as the kids got to build… something on the beach. I’m still not entirely sure what they were going for, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter what I think - maybe they’ll be the next Gehry or Lloyd Wright.

    One thing I do know is that Hannah and Livy refused to wear their rash guards, with predictable results. The kids don’t burn that easily (with sunscreen), but they still got a bit red after a few hours in the sun.

    Left the beach around 1:30 and got back to the boat around 2pm. Went for a late lunch - Park Cafe (Cuban sandwich is quite good) and quick Windjammer run. Not much left close to 3pm. Shawarma looked like really bad doner/donair meat and one lady took the last 6 gyoza. Was a little annoyed about that, but it was more the fact that I didn’t get there before her to get some than the fact that she took the rest of them. A little earlier in the service, then we might have a problem. Close to end of service, I can’t be mad about it.

    Dinner is probably one to skip if you get a specialty package. Had the Thai Chicken Breast, but the flavour really wasn’t up to where I was hoping it would be - a bit too sweet, which I suppose is my general criticism of Westernized Thai food in general. Spaghetti Carbonara wasn’t too bad, but my sister-in-law’s portion was missing a poached egg.

    After putting the kids to sleep, had drinks in the piano bar and called it a night since I’d be doing a bit of walking the next day.

    Day 5 - San Juan, Puerto Rico

    Kids decided to stay on board with Adventure Ocean. Which was good because our plan was to explore Old San Juan and maybe do some shopping. Certainly, we’d be looking for some after sun and new sunscreen after the previous day’s outing. Fortunately, we spotted a CVS and Walgreens just off the port, so we knew we’d end up there before reboarding.

    Forgot to mention that we bought a 12-pack of spring water in Florida, and we were able to bring that aboard with no issues. Wife likes the taste of spring water better than the filtered water they use on board, so we used that when going offshore. Filled the insulated bottle with ice and some water, and brought along some extra bottles to refill as needed. And man, did we need it!

    Old San Juan is pretty easy to navigate, once you get your bearings. Of course, it helps if you have a US data plan to help you out - being Canadian, I did get a US SIM card for my time in Florida and San Juan, and this did allow me to use Google Maps and do some web searches while onshore. We went to San Cristobal first, since it’s almost directly north of the port. We got some great views, including seeing a Carnival ship come into port, which in hindsight really allowed us to see how the fort was used to spot ships as they came near the island. Also some lovely breezes up on the fort, which were largely absent at ground level.

    We did the 1 mile walk over to San Felipe del Morro. It is largely more of the same, but being a historical site it was kind of cool to walk around. I’d definitely say we got our $10 worth ($5 each) on this excursion.

    After that, we did some window shopping around the streets of Old San Juan. Almost bought 1 or 2 things, but nothing really caught our eye here. Went back to CVS and bought our after sun and some sunscreen, as our sunscreen supply was rapidly running out (my fault - I didn’t check to see how much we had left in our bottles). We bought a continuous spray bottle, which was both a good idea and a mistake since there is a lot less sunscreen in a spray bottle versus a tube of similar cost. With that said, we did have enough of our other sunscreens to last the rest of the cruise, plus the cruise shops if we were desperate.

    And with that, we were headed back to the ship. Because this is a US territory, the security screen is actually on board the ship. I don’t know that this makes any real difference to us cruisers, but just something of note.

    MDR was closed so we went to the WindJammer for lunch. Had pasta, veggies, and curry chicken, which was pretty good. Not really a big fan of the WJ food still, but I can definitely say that you should be able to find at least one thing to eat there.

    Mid afternoon, took the kids to the pool while my wife did some work. One thing I didn’t realize was that the pool was salt water! It took me by surprise, probably because I remember the kids pool on Allure being fresh water. And had I bothered to check earlier, I would’ve seen that this was the “Beach Pool”, for which a salt water pool makes sense! (Sort of. We have freshwater beaches in Ontario) Anyway, the kids enjoyed the swimming, then rinsed and moved over to Splashaway Bay while I relaxed, had a “daddy soda”, as I believe they are called, and watched us leave San Juan.

    Dinner on this night was the filet of sole for me, and beef short rib for the other 3. One thing I have to say is that while dinner service was better on DCL versus Royal (although our server, Teodorio, was excellent), the food in the MDR had been consistently better on Harmony. To be fair, if you took away the food in Animator’s Palate I think it’s pretty close, so realistically I’m splitting hairs.

    So tonight’s entertainment was the “headliner” act, and for some reason the ventriloquist that was originally booked was cancelled, and we got 13-time Star Search winner and Motown-style singer Kenny James as our headliner. And, well:

    [​IMG]

    Sorry Kenny, but putting kids to bed and playing Exploding Kittens was the right call for us. I’ve really got no beef with having the headliner skew towards the older set, but it never looks good when people are leaving in droves during the set.
     
  13. starvenger

    starvenger DIS Veteran

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    Day 6 - Labadee

    Ah, Labadee - the private peninsula that, truly, is what it is. Those of you that have been to Castaway Cay will probably agree that it’s not as nice as Disney’s private island. But as with most things cruise-related, there’s not a whole lot to dislike about it, except the occasional rude cruiser (it happens).


    As we were docking a bit later in the morning, there was no real rush at breakfast. MDR was actually less busy on this morning, so I can only imagine what WindJammer was like.


    We disembarked about 30 minutes after docking, well behind some of the more aggressive types who like to stake out their spots and others who had excursions. This actually worked well for us as we were just in time to take the first water taxi to Columbus Cove. Being the furthest beach from the ship, there were still plenty of spots on the beach, so we were able to get a nice area under 2 trees for the family. Kids enjoyed both the water and the sand. They - wisely - decided to wear their rash guards after the St. Maarten incident.


    Another reason for choosing Columbus Cove was that last time out, we found Adrenaline Beach to be a bit too rocky and the water a bit choppy due to the direct exposure to the Caribbean, whereas Columbus Cove was sandier and was calmer. And fortuitously, we discovered that the lunch area wasn’t quite as busy, so it proved rather easy to go through the buffet line and get what we wanted. Food was enjoyable - cool salads, mac and cheese, burgers, dogs, ribs and chicken. I didn’t partake in the burgers and dogs, but the ribs and chicken were tasty, if a bit dry. I tried to soak them in the sauce at the pan bottom as much as I could to give me moisture on my second trip. But seating was plentiful, although you more likely than not will have to share tables with others. Note: If we happened to scare you off because there were four chatty kids sitting at the table, I apologize!

    We stayed on the beach until 3, and took the tram back to the ship, as the water taxi is a one-way journey only. A bit of a lineup for the tram, so there was about a 10-15 minute wait. I think that if it were just my wife and I we would have walked, but with the kids and a bunch of stuff to carry, we decided it was better to just wait. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.


    Dinner featured the lobster tail, and the wait staff were generous with giving extra tails to those that wanted them. I stopped eating lobster and crab a while back (lost my taste for them) so I had seafood linguine. In addition, the beef tenderloin roast was quite good. I’ve never tried to do one myself for fear of overcooking it (I’ll stick to the slightly more forgiving rib roasts, thank you very much), so I was quite impressed, especially given the number of these things they have to make for dinner service.


    After dinner, we saw Columbus the Musical, and it was a lot of fun. They went the Moulin Rouge route of using pop songs throughout the show (although I think there was one original song) so if you’re not a fan of that style you might not like it. But I thought it was pretty good, If you enjoyed the DCL “original” musicals (especially the comedic ones), then this is likely up your alley.


    Day 7 - At Sea

    Final day aboard the Harmony, as we headed back to Fort Lauderdale. Once again, we had breakfast at Johnny Rockets. After that, it was up to the zip line. Hannah hadn’t tried this before, so another first for her. She really went flying on the thing. She and I did this a couple of times. After that, she went on the Abyss while I went down to meet her at the bottom. The idea was to do rock climbing after, but the walls were too hot so we delayed this to the afternoon. Kids wanted to go to Adventure Ocean afterward, so we dropped them off, went down to the Promenade for some coffee/tea and did a leisurely walk around the ship. Picked them up around 11:30 so that we could watch the black light puppet show, which was fun but deemed “not mature enough” for my 6-year old.


    Lunch was once again in the MDR. It was actually a repeat of the Day 2 lunch so I had a few things from the buffet. The buffet had “minute steaks” but they looked to be rather thick and there was a line, so I skipped that.


    After a quick break (that included checking into our flight) it was time for rock climbing. Hannah actually did pretty well, making it about 2/3rds of the way up. I gave it a try as well, and surprised myself by making it halfway before my grip gave out. Not bad for an middle-aged overweight guy trying it for the first time! (I keep telling myself that).


    Rest of the afternoon was spent at the pool, as my wife (again) had to work and the kids wanted to go to Splashaway.


    Final dinner featured lamb shank and prime rib roast. Pretty good meal. We also ordered a vegetable korma for the table, and it was actually quite tasty as well. Dessert… well, you know you’ve ordered the wrong dessert when you ask for the beignets and the waiter, in no uncertain terms, asks you if you’re sure you wouldn’t want to try something else. And you know, he was right! The donuts were barely warm, and frankly tasted a little old. Bottom line, your waiter knows what he speaks of.


    After dinner we spent some time doing our final packing and tagging for the traditional baggage pick-up. It’s never as fun as unpacking, or packing for the trip, for some reason. Plus you’re always trying to minimize the amount of things you’re physically carrying off the boat. But it got done, and in plenty of time, so the rest of the night was spent at the Schooner Bar, just sipping on drinks and enjoying the music (after we put the kids to bed).


    Day 8 - Debarkation

    Our flight was scheduled to depart at 11am, so we got an early debarkation number (5) to ensure that we got to the airport in good time. It did mean that we needed to get up early to change, do final packing, and eat breakfast, but that’s a known tradeoff, and it is what it is.

    Breakfast was up on Windjammer, and as expected it was a bit of a zoo. Ate some eggs and congee, had some coffee, and that was that. We went back to our rooms to pick up our bags and do one last sanity check, and once our number came up it was time to leave.

    This was the first time we left the ship so early (usually we’d have been in the 70s) and getting off was a breeze. No lines to get down to the baggage reclaim, and barely a line at customs. We were out of the building and at the taxi stand in less than 15 minutes. The taxi actually took a bit longer than usual to get to the airport (about 10 minutes) but it was still early so no worries there.

    What was worrying was the long WestJet line, but as it turns out the line was actually for people checking in and not the bag drop. We were able to print our passes from a remote kiosk and then drop our bags off with no issues.

    Going through security was uneventful. We had TSA Precheck and that got us through 5 minutes faster than my brother. But seeing as the time was 8:45, the saved time was a non-factor, unless you were dying to go to Starbucks.

    Overall, this was a great trip for us! Hoping to do another one next year but as always it really depends on what my dad wants to try out. We were thinking about maybe doing Celebrity or even a Beaches resort but we'll see what we come up with.
     
  14. DisLyd2008

    DisLyd2008 Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    Messages:
    92
    Great Review! We did the Harmony last May and had the same headliner, so your comments on him made me giggle!

    Where do you pick up the water taxi to get to that nicer beach area? We found it last time after the terrible walk through the market area. I would love to avoid passing through that again if we can!
     
  15. HappilyEverAfter80

    HappilyEverAfter80 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2014
    Messages:
    1,396
    Great review! We have gone on the Anthem from NYC, really liked it and want to go on Harmony next.
    Do you have any pictures?
     
  16. starvenger

    starvenger DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    Messages:
    1,769
    I don't appear to have any pictures that don't feature my kids, but I'll check again.

    On my three Royal cruises I've had:
    - An ABBA tribute band
    - A singing impressionist who, yes, did George Burns (and Sinatra) as part of his act
    - An Ed McMahon-era Star Search winner specializing in Motown

    You kind of get what you get though. Sometimes you get tribute acts, sometimes you get ventriloquists, sometimes you get magicians who unironically use "The Final Countdown" as part of their background music (I can only assume that the guy has never watched Arrested Development). I book a time for the show because there's always the chance that they might be really good.

    The water taxi should be on the pier, before you actually reach the peninsula. It is only available in the morning, so if you decide to go around lunch, you either need to take the shuttle or walk through the market.
     
  17. we"reofftoneverland

    we"reofftoneverland DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2015
    Messages:
    808
    Love your review. Thanks for taking the time to write it.
     
  18. sammydent

    sammydent Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2005
    Messages:
    141
    How exactly did you get the early debarkation number and how early did you have to be up and off the ship? We have the same flight departure time that you guys had.

    Thanks for the review!
     
  19. starvenger

    starvenger DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    Messages:
    1,769
    My memory is a bit fuzzy on this part, but when you get the disembarkation forms to fill out you should be able to put down your flight departure time. I feel like I may have put down an earlier flight time than was actually the case.
     
  20. KashasMom

    KashasMom DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2012
    Messages:
    1,959
    Thanks for the review! We're on the Harmony in November - can't wait!
     
    starvenger likes this.
  21. KarenP

    KarenP <font color=darkorchid>So try closing your eyes fo

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 1999
    Messages:
    156
    Did you find deck 14 to be particularly noisy? I have 14630 booked on an upcoming cruise. I wanted a higher deck but am worried about noise from the deck above.
     

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