Harmony of the Seas: what it’s like on board right now
It’s been just over nine months since Royal Caribbean restarted cruises from North America, and on April 24, 2022, I boarded Harmony of the Seas for my 13th cruise since the “Royal Comeback”.
Although I’ve been on many different ships, this is my first time on Harmony since December 2019.
I was curious to see not only what has changed since, but also how the cruise has progressed since my last sail just two months ago. For reference, I am writing this blog on the third day of a seven night cruise.
Masks optional in the cruise terminal
I received my email from Royal Caribbean with their updated “Healthy Sailing” instructions two days before the cruise.
Updated mask policy says masks are optional for vaccinated guests on board and also in the terminal, unless required by local regulations.
It was strange entering the Port Canaveral terminal without a mask. It’s something I haven’t done in over two years.
Entertainment: Main Theater
After doing the e-muster exercise (which I hope Royal Caribbean never gets rid of), we went to our room.
We had a copy of the show schedule for the week in the daily planner.
The main theater presents its Broadway musical “Grease” on three different days. The headliner performers were a comedian, musician and magician. There was a movie showing the first night, “Reminiscence.” The love and marriage game show will take place later this week. Many bingo days are scheduled.
What continues to be conspicuously absent is the “Columbus! Stage show “The musical”. There has been no word on when or if he will return.
Entertainment: Studio B
Studio B is where you will find the ice shows. Harmony has a brand new ice cast that signed on this week. In fact, the show we saw was their “opening night”. The cast presents two different shows. “1887: A Journey Through Time” is their main show.
I’ll be honest, it’s not one of my favorites in the fleet. The story is hard to follow and the music isn’t really engaging. However, I can appreciate the artistry and athletic abilities of the cast, so it’s still enjoyable.
Their other show is “iSkate Showcase”. This is an opportunity for the actors to show their talent with songs they have chosen. It’s high energy, fun, and they’re very engaging with the audience. We really enjoyed this show.
Entertainment: The AquaThéâtre
“The Fine Line” was Harmony’s main show in the water theater for years. I don’t know if it’s available on other crossings since the reboot, but on this one it’s been replaced with a “showcase”, which I assume is similar to the free skate show we saw last night from the ice cast.
Films are also shown. Some examples are “Cruella”, “No Time to Die”, “Jungle Cruise”, and “Fast and Furious 9: The Fast Saga”.
Later in the week, the water theater will host the 70s Disco Inferno dance party.
Entertainment: Around the ship
The pool area was a buzz of activity with belly flop comeback and the sexiest man in the world competitions as well as lots of live music.
The On-Air Club and Schooner Bar are home to trivia. I counted 25 different quiz options in my Royal Caribbean app. Everything from music, movies, general knowledge and eras. They also offer a scavenger hunt throughout the ship.
The Boardwalk is the perfect place for Hula Hoop competitions and Beer Pong (with water instead of beer).
“The Quest” continues to be unavailable. In fact, I haven’t seen him return to any ship since the reboot.
Read more: Test the free activities on Harmony of the Seas
We purchased the unlimited meal plan for this sailing.
Yes, I know, there are so many free dining options that you don’t need a meal plan. We decided we wanted to be able to go to all the specialty restaurants for lunches (boarding and sea days only) and dinner.
We like the variety and a more intimate and personalized dining experience. The main dining room and the Windjammer seem crowded and noisy to me.
So far we have had lunch at Jamie’s Italian, Chops and Sabor (which is replaced by Playmakers on most ships. It is currently only available on Harmony and Allure.) Dinners have been at the Coastal Kitchen and the 150 Central Park. Everything from the service to the meals themselves was outstanding.
It should be noted that the unlimited meal plan is not exactly “unlimited”. It does not include the Chef’s Table, room service, tapas menu at Vintages or “Captain Jack’s” hut on CocoCay.
You may have heard that the Windjammer buffet has gone self-service again. We stopped there to check out the situation for ourselves. There was a crew member at the entrance to make sure everyone washed their hands. We also saw the crew sanitize every table between guests.
Crown and Anchor Society
This is the first cruise since we remodeled Pinnacle nine months ago that we are allowed back into the suite lounge and have access to Coastal Kitchen for lunch and dinner. Even though the two sites are connected, our Sea Pass cards only unlock the suite’s living room door, not the coastal kitchen.
On Harmony, Pinnacles are still not allowed in Coastal Kitchen for breakfast. A fine breakfast is served daily at Chops. We went there yesterday when they opened. We waited 45 minutes for our food to come out, only for it to be cold. It was very disappointing.
The high profile event took place in the main theater. It was a first for me. I’m used to being in the Aquatic Theater on larger ships or the Star Lounge or Viking Crown Lounge on smaller ships. Platinum members and above were invited to the event. It was a full house. Captain Johnny and Loyalty Ambassador Paul welcomed two new couples to the Pinnacle Club, recognized those who reached the 1050 and 1400 point milestones, and introduced the top three cruisers. The passengers by level were as follows:
- 1,276 Gold members
- 491 Platinum Members
- 234 Emerald Members
- 464 Diamond Members
- 295 Diamond Plus Members
- 85 Pinnacle Members
Paul also mentioned that there are a total of 1175 Pinnacle members in the Crown and Anchor Society.
On the first day, we had invitations in our room for the “virtual backstage tour”. Not sure what this entails as it is day 6 of our cruise, all I know is that deck tours and behind the scenes tours remain unavailable.
Day 6 will also be our ‘Cheers with an Officer’ lunch in the main dining room. It’s available to Crown and Anchor members with 340 or more points and is generally offered for cruises of seven nights or more. Before the pandemic, it was a “lunch with an officer”, where an officer sat at each table and you could chat with them and learn about their role on the ship.
Usually the captain, hotel manager and cruise director toast the room and say a few words before letting you enjoy your meal with the other passengers.
Probably one of the most asked questions lately is “how crowded is the ship?” This sailboat has 4992 passengers. It can reach a maximum capacity of 6,780, which is not typical. The double occupancy total is 5,479. There are 1,964 crew on board.
It’s not as crowded as it was before the pandemic, but it’s definitely getting there. If you’re concerned about social distancing, stay out of the elevators. Signs limiting the number of people in the elevator are gone, and customers are using every inch of available space.
Even though it’s only been three days, the cruise was fantastic. Apart from the Chops breakfast which was not up to par, everything else was outstanding. (In defense of Chops, we had lunch there today and the food and service was excellent). We were lucky enough to find two of our favorite bar staff from previous ships. It’s nice to see our friends from the crew again.
Although masks are optional for passengers on board, crew are still required to wear them, even lifeguards at the pool. Hopefully that can change soon. Slowly but surely things are getting back to “normal”, which is wonderful to see.