Five Things to Know About Royal Caribbean International's Harmony of the Seas Cruise Ship
Best for: Adrenaline junkies and families looking for non-stop action
Sails: The Caribbean
At a Glance: The world’s biggest cruise ship is a study in superlatives, with so many over-the-top activities, gadgets, and suites, you could skip every stop on your itinerary and never get bored.
It’s Big. Really Big
Seventeen hundred tons larger than the line’s game-changing Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas is so huge that it’s divided into neighborhoods: Central Park, an outdoor space with 12,000 trees and plants; the Pool and Sports Zone, where most of the high-energy activities like rock climbing and zip lining live; Royal Promenade, lined with bars, pubs, restaurants, and shops; Boardwalk, which has a carousel, arcade, and an old-school amusement park vibe; Vitality Spa and Fitness, home to the ship’s spa and fitness center; Entertainment Place, where the casino and shows like Grease are located; and the Youth Zone, a space dedicated to kids and teens.
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If ever there were a ship for gadget lovers, this would be it. Like Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships, Harmony of the Seas has a Bionic Bar where robot bartenders mix up cocktails ordered via tablet. Some interior cabins have virtual balconies, a floor-to-ceiling TV screen that creates the illusion that passengers are looking out over the sea. And instead of using a SeaPass card to charge items and open their stateroom door, passengers can purchase a silicone bracelet called a WOWband to do it instead. The Royal iQ app lets guests book dinner reservations and shore excursions, and helps them keep in touch with other people they know on board. And those who can’t live without their Netflix can sign into Voom, Royal Caribbean’s high-speed Wifi service—so fast that passengers can Skype, stream movies, and even post videos on YouTube, if they choose.
The Tallest Slide at Sea Is Here
Passengers looking for bragging rights line up at the Ultimate Abyss; at 100 feet tall, it’s the tallest dry slide at sea. Actually, make that two slides—both 216-foot stainless-steel tubes that spiral down from a see-through glass platform 150 feet above sea level. Anyone who needs to cool off can hit the trio of water slides at the center of the ship known as Perfect Storm. Typhoon and Cyclone are racing slides, while Supercell swirls riders around in a “champagne bowl” before they pop out at the end. And the activities list doesn’t stop there: There are also two surf simulators, two rock climbing walls, a zip line, an ice skating rink, and AquaTheater, a water theater and the deepest pool at sea.
Kids Have Plenty to Do
Even if your children aren’t old enough to spend their days surfing on the FlowRiders, they can check out the new Splashaway Bay, a kids’ water park filled with slides, water cannons, and waterfalls. Movies like How to Train Your Dragon and Madagascar 3 play in the 3-D theater, and Dreamworks characters (Shrek, Puss In Boots) are on hand around the ship for photo ops. And when parents need some zipline time, they can drop their charges off at the nursery or the Adventure Ocean club, which keeps kids busy with science-themed activities.
The Restaurant Selection Is Vast
With 20 dining options on this ship, trying every one is almost impossible, so prioritizing is key. For lunch, skip the buffet and dining room and try one of the other fun, free options: Sorrento’s Pizzeria has slices and gluten-free pies; Boardwalk Dog House dishes out chicken sausage, bratwurst, and beef dogs with all the fixings; and Mini Bites serves, well, mini bites—everything from mini-quiches to meatballs. For dinner, try Izumi Hibachi and Sushi, the Chops Grille steakhouse, or Jamie’s Italian, Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant. The quirkiest spot on the ship is Wonderland ($45), a two-story Alice in Wonderland-inspired eatery that specializes in molecular gastronomy. (Think liquid olives and tempura caviar.) For a treat, splurge on a night at 150 Central Park ($45 for three courses, $89 for four with wine), created by James Beard award winner Michael Schwartz. The highlight of the artisanal menu? A 28-ounce aged ribeye for two carved tableside.