Until a few months before we boarded, it was the largest ship in the world, by Royal Caribbean. Then, it was pushed to second place as Symphony surpassed her by some gross tonnage, but not in length. Someone like me would never really notice the difference. With this knowledge, I was still not motivated enough to get on a cruise because I’m not a water lover and I dreaded getting stuck in the middle of the sea for a week. But, my husband assured me that I would not have to look at the water during the night and, after a lot of research, showed me a few activities that we could busy ourselves with there. I tried not to think about the Titanic and agreed with an open and positive mind.
We took more than 20 hours to reach Miami, Florida, from Bangalore, India. We rested that rainy evening. A couple of days later, we drove to Fort Lauderdale to board the Harmony of the Seas. I was in awe of this humongous vessel. We entered the check-in area and grazed through the security check before we walked a few meters to the ship. We had to wait a while before we were allotted our rooms and given our App codes. And then, I began writing down everything I got to know on the ship. All of us do not go through the websites, before a holiday, now do we?
Awesome interiors on Deck 5
Minimal luggage is a must: Despite being allowed two luggage pieces per head, we found that if we had one bag per adult, it would have been a lot easier when we had to drag the baggage, in various places, along with the pram and the kids. Also, lesser pieces meant that we would not have to jump over them in the less than 300sqft room we were given.
Prams are a blessing: With 18 decks (floors), our pram was the most convenient mode of transporting our kids. It is tiring for an adult to get from one end of the ship to another so you cannot expect a child to walk so much unless they are used to it. Sometimes, we have even allowed our 5 year old to sit in the pram while one of us carried the baby. Remember, the ship is 362m in length.
Harmony of the seas
Keep a separate bag: Your basic requirements, like toiletries, an extra pair of clothes, pampers, wipes, swimwear, etc. per head, should be kept with you because your luggage will take around 5 hours to be delivered outside your room. While we were waiting, we had gone for a swim, taken a shower, snoozed and walked around the liner. They had only 2747 staterooms and 6780 guests on-board to cater to, so we could not complain.
Always smile: On this cruise holiday, I realized that it was a good idea for one to smile and greet every person who looks you in the eye. Along with the crew, we need to be courteous too because, in times of trouble, you wouldn’t want to be stuck with someone you fought with or frowned at, right?
Photographs with King Julien
Take a good camera: Like the ‘Beverage package’, there was a ‘Photography package’ too, wherein an official photographer would take your pictures in different poses and with different characters, etc. I preferred taking my SLR and OnePlus instead, so I could click, pose and take ‘selfies’ wherever I wanted.
You’re almost inaccessible: We had informed our families of our cruise holiday because we were aware that we would be unreachable until we got back to port. Wifi and data packages were charged per day and it seemed unnecessary to pay a bomb to chat unless you had a running business and being online was unavoidable. On-board, we were given the Royal IQ App which allowed us to chat and communicate with the other passengers alone. But, at times, this App had its own network issues and then I would get irritable because I already missed Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, my word games, my blogging work and my emails.
Vegetarian pizza at Sorrento’s
Pepperoni pizza at Sorrento’s
The delicious food at Windjammer’s Marketplace
Complimentary items can be awesome: There are quite a few restaurants that you can visit at no cost. ‘Windjammers Marketplace’ (Deck 16) had the widest range of scrumptious buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I went there every single day, either for all meals or only one. ‘American Icon Grill’ (Deck 3) had a delicious spread for breakfast. There was free ice-cream at the ‘Pool and Sports Zone’ (Deck 15). We made sure we had only one ice-cream after every meal. ‘Sorrento’s’ (Deck 5) made such delicious pizzas that we went overboard every night as they were the only restaurant open till 0300 hours. The ‘Dog House’ on ‘Boardwalk’ (Deck 6) was the place we went to while the kids had their joy ride on the merry-go-round or went rock climbing. ‘Café Promenade’ (Deck 5) was open throughout so if the kids wanted milk in the middle of the night, that is where we went.
Dark clouds before it began to rain
Any weather can be expected: Inside the ship, the air conditioning is like the winter season; chilly. In the open areas of the ship, it was mostly windy. So, if your body is fragile and not able to take the cold or wind, get a classy woollen shawl to walk around in. I was shivering in my bikini but I still wanted to wear it and get into the water with the kids. But otherwise, I needed my shawl.
Kids on the carousel at the Boardwalk
It could be convenient without kids: We had a baby and a 5 year old and by the end of the trip I was exhausted just picking and dropping them from and to the ‘Adventure Ocean’ and ‘Royal Babies and Tots Nursery’ (Deck 14) – which was a crèche, play area, activity center, movie center and a place for the children to have fun. The children loved this place but the problem was that they opened at 09 00 hours and closed for lunch at 1200 hours. They open again at 14 00 hours and close at 17 00 hours. Again, they are open from 19 00 hours to 22 00 hours only. We had to schedule our activities according to this commute and found a few clashes with the closing times. If at all we were up to attending the late night parties, we kept the children sleeping in the room while coming to check on them at least once. Also, to book a slot at the crèche, you will have to plan in advance for an extra charge. So, I figured that if we wanted to make the most of it and experience everything on the cruise, it would’ve been better if we went without the kids. Though my kids would do anything to go back there.
1887: A Journey in Time
Escaped the Rubicon
Kids enjoying The Fine Line Aqua Show
Grease: The Broadway Musical
Less time on port days: On sea days, there are plenty of activities and various shows. You can read, complete the daily trivia and play games, solve Sudoku puzzles or try your hand at cards in the ‘Card Room’ (Deck 14). You can try to escape the ‘Rubicon’ (Deck 14) because it is mind boggling and fun. You should attend all the shows like Grease: The Broadway Musical, The Fine Line Aqua Show, Love and Marriage show, Futuristic Spin on Ice and 1887: A Journey in Time. They have an awesome stage and professional performers. We got to see the famous ventriloquist, Ronn Lucas perform on-board. We also had a couple of drinks and swayed to some cool jazz in ‘Jazz on 4’ (Deck 4).
Labadee beach in Haiti
Falmouth in Jamaica
Wearing a sombrero at the Tequila factory in Cozumel, Mexico
Personally, on port days, I did not find enough time (7 hours only) to explore the cities (Labadee in Haiti, Falmouth in Jamaica and Cozumel in Mexico) properly. Then I realized it was probably a teaser for one to decide whether they wanted to come back separately and visit the rest of the city another time.
On the whole, the cruise holiday was quite an experience for someone who has never been on one before. Though I felt like I was stuck in a mall hotel in the middle of the sea, it was pretty amazing to be with various types of people for a week. We met some Spanish women, Indian men and witnessed some awesome grinding and twerking sessions. Because I’m a foodie, I was very happy with the quality of food served all over the ship. Every crew member was aware on how to guide a guest if he was lost. The ‘Daily Planner’ was very helpful by itself though I did not find the time to go through it in the midst of kids, parties, activities and the fact that I couldn’t miss my sleep.
Have you been on a cruise before? What was your experience like? Did you like it, love it or hate it?
Cindy D'Silva, a belly dancer, writer and artist, besides being a mother of two. She loves partying, bowling and eating sushi. There is more about her on the ABOUT ME page. Do check it out! :)
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