Last week I reviewed Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ship Harmony of the Seas. You may recall that I mentioned we took Harmony on a transatlantic cruise out of Barcelona starting at the end of October 2021. What I didn’t mention is that we spent three nights in Barcelona before boarding Harmony. So, over the next four weeks I’ll be presenting to you images of that trip to Barcelona, culminating with a Fun Food Friday restaurant review on February 11 of a tapas place so impressive that we returned to it all three nights we were there.
It was a bright, sunny day when we finally arrived at our wonderful hotel, the amazingly located Catalonia Portal de l’Àngel. You’d be hard pressed to find affordable accommodations at a comparable location. Catalonia Portal de l’Àngel is on a pedestrian street just minutes away from the bustling Plaça de Catalunya.
Alas, the weather was not expected to hold, and rain was forecast for Day 2. Ursula had prepaid for us a two-day pass on City Sightseeing’s Barcelona Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, so we wasted no time taking advantage as soon as we dropped off our luggage at the hotel. We hustled over to the east side of Plaça de Catalunya, picked up our passes, then strolled over to the west side of the plaza to catch a Red Line tour. City Sightseeing offers a Red and a Blue tour, and a third Green tour operates during the summer. Here’s the route map for all three:
My recommendation for the Hop-On/Hop-Off is to take the upper deck, as in most cities the views above beats the views below.
I’m going to stop here for today, as we have much to cover over the next four weeks. Until Wednesday, I’ll just leave you with the photo gallery/slide show taken on Day 1 while cruising the Red Line:
Today I present my favorite photos of Harmony of the Seas. I’ve not yet decided what next week will bring. I have several choices. It might be Barcelona, from before we boarded Harmony, then a series continuation of the transatlantic crossing. It could be the 10-day Mexico cruise from which returned just last week. I might even start a series on a two-week cruise around the islands of Indonesia. Whatever next week brings, here’s today’s Harmony favorites. Enjoy!
Make no mistake about it: While every cruise ship is billed as an ocean-going resort, Harmony of the Seas is truly a floating resort. There is just too much to see and do, with fun distractions for almost all age groups. Indeed, I’m going to go so far as to say that I would not sail the Harmony for anything less than 10 days, and even then only if the itinerary were port intensive. Doing so will leave one far too little time to take advantage of even a fraction of what this Oasis Class resort has to offer. Fortunately, Ursula and I were on a 13-day (shortened from the original 14 days) from Barcelona to Port Canaveral, with only two stops along the way. So we got to pick and choose among the full measure of Harmony‘s offerings.
Yes, there is even a venue for zip-lining while suspended nine stories above the Boardwalk on Deck 6. But if miniature golf is more attune with your level of adventurism, then Harmony has you covered there as well with the Harmony Dunes Mini Golf course:
Between those levels of adrenalin, you have choices ranging from Surfing on one of two FlowRiders…
… to theUltimate Abyss, a pair of dry slides that take you all the way from Deck 16 and dump you nine stories below onto the Boardwalk on Deck 6:
Now let’s head on down to Deck 15 for a closer look at Harmony Dunes:
So, the Boardwalk neighborhood is located on Deck 6 aft. Meanwhile Central Park meanders through the central portion of Harmony on Deck 8. Below is a view from above of both Central Park and the balcony suites that overlook this neighborhood:
Central Park neighborhood on Harmony of the Seas
The Boardwalk resides to the rear on Deck 6, which also hosts a Johnny Rockets; antique carousel; Starbucks; Sabor for Mexican fare and tequilas; the Dog House for hotdogs, bratwursts, and fries; the Luckey Climber play area for adventurous children (with lots of safety nets); an arcade, and a couple of retail stores. Step inside from the Boardwalk and you’ll find one of our favorite watering holes on any Royal Caribbean ship, Schooner Bar, which overlooks the Royal Promenade on Deck 5.
On most Royal Caribbeans ships the Royal Promenade is the heart of social gathering and places to hang out. And while Central Park gives the promenade on Oasis Class ships a run for this title, the Royal Promenade on the Harmony still comes out on top. Here, from the bow, you can see Boleros Latin Club and the shore excursions desks:
Here you can get pizza by the slice or order a whole pizza to share at Sorrento’s:
And then there’s the sportscar/racing themed Boot & Bonnet Pub with both “indoor” and “outdoor” seating for some liquid refreshments:
Speaking of sportscars, all Royal Caribbean ships have in their respective Royal Promenades a classic automobile over which you may drool. Harmony has one of my all-time favorites, a Jaguar XK120, and it appears to me that it’s an early production example — probably from around 1949-1950:
Well, time for dinner. And upscale dining on Harmony of the Seas means going up to Central Park. Here you’ll find Vintages wine bar, Jamie’s (as in Jamie Oliver) Italian, Chops Grille steakhouse (a staple of all Royal Caribbean ships), and 150 Central Park. I’m going to apologize right now, because I neglected to take my camera for by far the best meal we had, which was at 150 Central Park. So, instead, I’m going to review the second best meal of the voyage — Jamie’s Italian. After that I’ll give you a brief description of our meal at 150 Central Park, and what made that dining venue so fantastic.
Now for restaurant reviews: Ursula and I were first introduced to a Jamie’s Italian during our back-to-back Alaska cruises beginning in late November (first of that series at: Cruising in the Age of Covid-19 — Part 1). We had no real interest in going to Jamie’s, but we ran into an old friend working aboard Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas. That person is Slavio Correia, who handles Park West Gallery auction events on various cruises. We’ve knows Slavio for many years, and it was wonderful running into him again. At any rate, Slavio insisted upon taking us to dinner at the Jamie’s Italian on Ovation, which is his favorite dining venue, so we were ready to try it again on Harmony.
We were familiar with the menu by now, buy you probably are not. So here it is:
One last look around theHarmony version of Jamie’s before we get to the food. Here you’ll find nice, homey touches, such as:
Ursula was eager for us to dive into the Our Famous Meat Plank, which she adorned from our previous experience aboard Ovation. This appetizer includes prosciutto, Tuscan fennel salad, various olives, focaccia, pecorino sardo topped with a chili jam, bocconcini mozzerella, coppa picante, a pistachio mortadella, and a tomato-topped crostini.
Appetizer Number Two was a favorite from our last Jamie’s encounter, the Crispy Squid served with a lemon-garlic mayonnaise. And while it was delicious, this example was a bit on the rubbery side and not quite as crisp as in the establishment aboard Ovation.
For a change I decided upon trying Our Famous Prawn Linguine. Here the prawns nicely prepared, the pasta perfectly al dente, and the saffron-and-fennel infused tomatoes a nice, tasty touch.
Ursula went with the Chianti-Braised Short Rib, which came with a Parmesan mash potato. This dish was a real winner, with the rib meat fork-tender and hearty.
We kept the sides simple and tasty. Ursula opted for truffle and Parmesan Posh Fries, while I got the more mundane parsley and garlic Funky Fries. The flavors were definitely up to snuff, but the fries themselves could have used more time in the frier. Or, better yet, a traditional European second trip to the frier to crisp up a bit more.
And, for the pièce de résistance we finished up this meal with an incredible Amalfi Lemon Meringue Cheesecake. This is described in the dessert menu as, “Velvety mascarpone & lemon cheesecake topped with Italian meringue, served with lemon curd & blackcurrants.” And, yes, it was even better than it sounds or looks. It was stupendous.
Now for the dining highlight of our cruise (and, once again, my apologies for neglecting to bring my camera for this one): 150 Central Park. We opted for two entrées, a half portion of the Roasted Tenderloin Beef for Two (150’s version of Chateaubriand) and Lobster Thermidor. The appetizer was a delightfully prepared Crispy Berkshire Pork Belly with parsnip purée, apple and watermelon radish slaw, and a port wine reduction.
The staff at 150 were kind enough to halve the already half portion of tenderloin so that Ursula’s portion would come out bleu (raw in the middle) and mine made medium rare (warm pink center). This steak was, quite possibly, the single best piece of beef either of us has ever tasted. It met the clichéd cut-it-with-a-fork tender, and the flavor was absolutely divine.
Not to be outdone, the Lobster Thermidor presented us with tender chunks of cold-water lobster islands floating amidst a delectable cognac cream bearing just the right balance of tarragon and Parmesan. Neither flavor trumped the other, and the generous chunks of lobster shone through. Just as they should.
If you’re going to spring for only one additional-cost meal aboard an Oasis Class ship, 150 Central Park is it. Trust me on this. The fare is absolutely stunning.
Fun Photo Friday I’ll present my favorite shots of the magnificent Harmony of the Seas, and next week well see the start of another travel series.