Ursula and I recently returned from Barcelona, Spain. But we didn’t fly back to the U.S. As you would probably expect from my many travel articles, we cruised back. And what a cruise it was. We were aboard Royal Caribbean‘s ship Harmony of the Seas on its repositioning voyage this past November. This massive ship, with seven separate “neighborhood,” would take us from Barcelona to Port Canaveral, with stops in Málaga, Spain and Nassau, The Bahamas. As Harmony is by far the most impressive ship we’ve yet encountered in 60+ cruises, I thought she deserved a week-long blog treatment. So, Monday and Wednesday I will review Harmony, and this week’s Fun Photo Friday I will present some of my favorite shots of her.
A ship so large that it contains seven distinct neighborhoods, which we’ll discuss in a moment. But first, let’s look at the particulars of the second largest cruise ship in the world, surpassed only by her sister Oasis Class ship Symphony of the Seas. Here Harmony’s relevant stats:
⦁ Gross Tonnage: 228,081
⦁ Length: 1,184 ft. 5 in./361.011 meters
⦁ Beam: 155 ft. 8.0 in./47.448 meters (waterline)
215 ft 6 in./66 meters (maximum beam)
⦁ Height 238 feet/72.5 meters
⦁ Decks: 18 (passenger decks: 16)
⦁ Capacity: 5,479 passengers (double occupancy)
⦁ Crew: 2,300
One fun aspect of this journey are these numbers: You may notice that my photos of Harmony show remarkably few people. That’s on a ship with a maximum capacity of 2,300 crew and north of 6,700 passengers, for a total of around 9,000. There’s a reason for that apparent scarcity of fellow voyagers. We left Barcelona with just over 1,500 passengers and a reduced crew. When we hit Málaga, nearly 250 of those passengers disembarked, as they were travel agents on a familiarization cruise. Thus, we departed Málaga and went transatlantic with only 1,295 passengers served by a crew of 1,818. That works out to 1.4 crew for every passenger. In other words, this voyage is something neither Ursula nor I ever expect to again experience in terms of light crowds and no waits at the various venues and attractions. It was, quite frankly, Cruise Heaven. We felt as though we were being transported upon the most deluxe yacht to ever sail.
There are balconies galore on Harmony of the Seas. Balconies over the water. Balconies overlooking the Boardwalk neighborhood. And if you’d rather have a room with only a view, you can opt for a Royal Promenade View “interior” room. As for today, I’m going to show you our exterior balcony suite:
We were fortunate that our balcony suite was located on Deck 8. I say fortunate because Deck 8 is also home to our favorite neighborhood — Central Park.
Central Park is aptly named, as it sports lush greenery, flowing walkways, high-end shops such as Cartier, Bulgari, and Hublot. It is also home to upscale restaurants, including Jamie’s Italian (as in Jamie Oliver), Chops Grille, and the exquisite 150 Central Park, where we had the best steak of our lives. Also in Central Park is Vintages wine bar and Park Café deli for a light bite in a park setting.
Here’s a montage of Central Park images:
There is another fun spot on Deck 8. Well, sort of. It alternates between Central Park on Deck 8 and the Royal Promenade down on Deck 5. Yep, it’s a venue that travels. Vertically. It’s the Rising Tide Bar:
And here’s the same Rising Tide Bar on Deck 5 in the Royal Promenade:
Another place to find a quick bite to eat with some really great fries is on Deck 15, the Sports Deck. That would be Mini Bites:
Three decks up from 18 you’ll find the Perfect Storm waterslides, which hang over the Boardwalk ten stories below:
We’ll continue our review and tour of Royal Caribbean’s massive Harmony of the Seas on Wednesday. Until then I’ll leave you with this view of the Royal Promenade (Deck 5) and more venues on Deck 4: