Harmony Of The Seas: RCI's Boldest Adventure Yet

with Vanessa Lee

Vanessa Lee aboard Harmony of the Seas
Photo credit: BestTrip.TV

The Fine Line performing at Christening
Credit: BestTrip.TV

Part of deck 5 royal promenade

The bottle breaks at the naming ceremony of Harmony of the Seas

Captain Gus Andersson, Michael Bailey, president and CEO Royal Caribbean International and, Godmother, Brittany Affolter

Entrance to the Ultimate Abyss at night

As Royal Caribbean quite rightly points out, their newest ship, the innovative Harmony of the Seas, is truly “the biggest, boldest adventure at sea”.

This Oasis-class ship - SUPER OASIS really - is certainly recognizable if you’ve sailed on either Oasis or Allure of the Seas before. I love the neighbourhoods, with Central Park always a stand-out for me. There are minor changes and a few nods to successful additions that debuted on Quantum Class. Wonderland is here on Decks 11 and 12 and Coastal Kitchen, the restaurant for Suite guests, is also here but in a much bigger/better fashion with more exclusive amenities.

And of course where would we be without the now ubiquitous robotic bartenders who have taken over what used to be a Champagne bar on Deck 5 – the heart of the ship – along the Royal Promenade.  

I have always admired the Oasis-class ships. When they first launched, no one would have imagined cutting the middle out of a ship and planting more than 12,000 living plants and trees there to create a Central Park. Then, have a bar - aptly named Rising Tide - come up from Deck 5 to 8 is absolutely inspired.


And of course now there’s the Ultimate Abyss to add to the list of firsts. Those brave souls who tried it just loved it!

Harmony of the Seas is also the most technologically advanced ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet.

Here are some of my take-aways from my short preview cruise during which the ship was named by the remarkable young Godmother, the 23 year-old Ms Brittany Affolter.

The naming ceremony was held at the AquaTheater where Chairman Richard Fain, President Michael Bayley and the Master, Gus Andersson joined Ms Affolter who is a teacher and an inspiration to her students. The event was broadcast in several venues and included a performance by Jon Secada; inspirational speeches; and various highlights from some of the onboard shows – Grease, the Ice Show and The Fine Line (see below.)

Of course there was also the must-have: Pipe and Drums from the St Andrew’s Pipe Band of Miami – always a goose bump moment for this British girl.

The actual naming was a techno-marvel with a huge bottle of champagne, called a Sovereign, smashing against the interior of the ship above Central Park. An aerialist swooped in to hand the Godmother a button to press, which made one of the robotic bartenders press another button which in turn triggered the biggest bottle of champagne made by Veuve Cliquot to smash against the infrastructure. Tons of recyclable confetti then shot out to great cheers.

The Fine Line show at the aforementioned AquaTheater took my breath away. At points it felt like Mad Max meets mainstream cruising. These extreme athletes and the show that they put on was outstanding in every way. It pushed boundaries, made one gasp but also combined modern dance, ballet, diving, aerialists and a phenomenal soundtrack. Heartiest congrats to Nick Weir, head of Entertainment at Royal as it is his imprimatur that has taken RCI into the future. The scope of the onboard entertainment is impressive and although it sounds like a cliché it is not – there truly is something for everyone.

Music abounds with Jazz, Latin music, Motown and dance music, the Attic for late night DJ spins, the pop-up “stowaway” piano which was just plain delightful;  classical string melodies, pub entertainment, Caribbean flavours pool-side and yes – much more!

The Royal Theater was the venue for the 2 hour fabulous Broadway show Grease which, according to  Nick, is a morphed production from the stage musical and the movie. The ice show was postponed due to a technical glitch so I was unable to see it but there was kudos aplenty from those who did. Columbus the musical, which featured a talented cast but a slew of recycled and familiar songs was popular with the audience and it got a standing O but I can’t say I totally “got it”. It was campy and charming and apparently the boat used on stage as the main set is only 3 feet shorter than the original Pinta and Santa Maria on which Columbus actually sailed. 

The productions were amazing and the ship has more dancers in their troupe (about 20) than any other ship at sea. They are focused on making a difference in this area of onboard activities and have succeeded beautifully. And no doubt there is more to come when the Icon Class ships arrive in a few years.

This is a brand that pushes every known boundary of cruising, one that is determined to deliver above and beyond any perceived norm at sea. A cruise line that never sits still and never settles and one to be applauded for invigorating and changing up shows which are endlessly entertaining and a delight.

The audience is watching and listening and the audience is happy. Your guests are in safe hands – but you already know that.

 





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