Retreat and Renew: Harmony of the Seas

By Shereen Shabnam

After my first cruise holidays over a decade ago when I set sail with Royal Caribbean from Barcelona for a week exploring different European cities along the way, I was hooked to spending holidays on a ship so getting on the impressive Harmony of the Seas needed no persuasion. As a seasoned traveller, I am impressed with cruise holidays as it helps to really unwind, miles away from distraction of work.

Harmony of the Seas is the biggest cruise ship in the world and even spending a whole week on it was not enough. At 361m in length, it is longer than both the Eiffel Tower and Burj Al Arab. Spanning 16 decks, it weighs 227,000 gross registered tonnes and has the capacity to house 5,497 guests at double occupancy.

In short, Harmony of the Seas, is a ship of monstrous proportions, and is more of a floating city than a luxury cruise liner. This nautical marvel boasts spectacular on-board features, many being firsts-at-sea, something award-winning Royal Caribbean International is renowned for.

The impressive feature I found was The Ultimate Abyss, which at 150 feet above sea level is the tallest slide on the high seas and will challenge the nerve of even the most daring of guests. In addition, The Perfect Storm trio of water slides twist and turn over Central Park® some 10 decks below and will thrill water-babies of all ages on board.

Keeping you high up in the air with a birds-eye view is the first zip lines at sea, where you can partake in an exhilarating ride across an open-air atrium suspended above the breath-taking neighbourhood of the Boardwalk with its family friendly activities, eateries and shops. Here, the young (and the young-at-heart) can ride on the full-size carousel, which has been handcrafted just for Royal Caribbean and is another fantastic first, before replenishing at one of the many cafes and restaurants found here which include international brands.

Activities on board included rock-climbing on two 43ft tall climbing walls which flank the open-air AquaTheater, home to a full spectrum of awe-inducing aquatic aerial displays and FlowRider® surf simulators.  

If you are travelling as a family, the kids are treated to days with their favourite DreamWorks® characters; from breakfasts in the main dining room to special ‘meet and greet’ experiences during the day and the renowned Adventure Ocean® Youth Program also offers those aged between three and eleven years an entertaining line-up of activities and games.

For guests looking to just chill out without an adrenaline rush, Harmony of the Seas offers relaxation in droves too. Sit back and soak up the sunshine around one of four pools or inside the adults-only solarium with its serene whirlpools. Pamper yourself at the advanced VitalitySM Spa with the fitness centre and extensive number of treatment rooms.

As the sun sets, the ship comes alive. Take a stroll through Central Park® with its bustling al fresco piazza before stopping in one of the many signature restaurants such as Chops Grille, for a bite to eat. On board Royal Caribbean you can even enjoy restaurants featuring celebrity chef partnerships such as Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver.

Personally, I loved the futuristic Bionic Bar, a technology-forward venue complete with two robotic bartenders that shake, muddle and mix a wide variety of drinks made to order. In fact, Harmony of the Seas is the first Oasis-class ship to feature this photo-worthy outlet.

As a theatre lover, I have watched international productions around the world and the ship’s Broadway’s hit musical Grease in the spectacular Royal Theatre left me impressed with its talented cast and performance. Just when you thought you’d seen it all, prepare to be dazzled by the theatrical grace of world-class skaters in one of two extraordinary ice shows.

Following a day of exploring the world, its exotic cuisine and interesting cultures, there is nothing better than returning to the comfort of your private stateroom. Harmony of the Seas features 2,747 beautifully appointed staterooms that offer luxurious and comfortable accommodation, many with spectacular views out towards to the sea, and with four main categories there is something for every preference.

For a real taste of luxury at sea, book yourself into one of the stunning suites where guests will get to enjoy the benefits of Royal Suite Class including your very own Royal Genie, the ultimate insider, crafting exclusive one-of-a-kind experiences just for you. Highlight of my travel was also a day tour of the Bahamas as the ship docked to let us explore the local sights.

On board Harmony of the Seas, you’ll find everything you want from a cruise holiday and then more than you’d ever imagined possible. Guests’ leave with stories to tell and travel that has inspired, for Royal Caribbean’s biggest ship is a destination in itself, a cruise that’s unlike anything else at sea.

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