Vanessa Lee aboard Harmony of the Seas Photo credit: BestTrip.TV
The Fine Line performing at Christening
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
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
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
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
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.