Dear Travel Enthusiasts,
Is there anything quite as mystic as going to bed in one country and waking up in another?! Or being able to dance the night away with friends and experience the dawning of a new day with an amazing sunrise?!! If you are like me then, there is absolutely nothing like it, my friends. This is what I had the privilege to experience thanks to the Royal Caribbean Nigerian team. It’s what you can call a magical experience. Indulge me a bit and allow me to take you on a brief synopsis of my journey. Though it was brief ( 2days, I promise it will be longer next time ) I wouldn’t trade it for the world!!
Drawing back my curtains to appreciate the vast endless splendor of the bluish-green ocean while enjoying my morning coffee, the feeling is priceless if I may say! Hello……..I am on a cruise ship. The biggest, boldest, most beautiful ship in the world. This beauty certainly defies superlatives! She’s the Royal Caribbean’s magnificent new ship. Her name is Harmony of the seas ! It was her inaugural sailing and I, my humble self, was invited to sail on board this majestic ship, by Tour Brokers International,(big up to them) the official Royal Caribbean cruise agent in Nigeria. I was incredibly thrilled and honored to be chosen. The ship being the 25th in the fleet of RC ships is longer , wider and heavier than any other ship ever built, weighting 1000 tons and cost a whooping $1billion!
Though am not a newbie when it comes to cruising , I am no frequent cruiser either. I’ve gone on a cruise before in a sense ; if you call boarding a yacht with friends ,winning and dining for the whole day , then, yes. So technically this was my second cruise experience but nothing could prepare me for my experience and perception of ‘The Real Thing’. I had an incredible 2day experience on board the Royal Caribbean , sailing from Port Everglade, Florida to the Bahamas. And I must say that the excitement and adventure at sea can’t be over emphasized.
Check-in was quick and efficient. No hassle what-so-ever. Walking the long corridors I found my way to the elevators and to our homely stateroom on deck 9. It wasn’t the claustrophobic small cabin, I’d imagined. It was quite spacious . Though I didn’t get a balcony suite or loft (all the room were spacious). My room( ocean view) was overlooking the beautiful lush avenue of central park and boasted floor -to-ceiling French doors, the king-size bed was very comfortable (can sleep two) and the compact bathroom had an excellent power shower, now that luxury at sea! The cabin had a large amount of closet space; double wardrobe plus other areas to store all of your items. The plug in sockets were European and they also have USB ports to charge all your electronic devices –which is very convenient. Plus a widescreen TV with great range of channels (You can also order your free room service from the TV!) what more can you ask for?.
Before we set sail, a Hydroflight Team (16) from Aquafly extreme sports escorted Harmony of the Seas off to start her first journey from her new homeport of Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, all the while performing extraordinary stunts. There, on the east coast of Florida, Harmony of the seas was introduced to younger sisters, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, for the first time.
These 3 ships are mega-floating cities; Harmony of the seas is the Royal Caribbean’s 3rd ship in the Oasis class and the largest cruise ship in the world. Taking the title from her sibling, Allure of the seas, which dethroned her other sibling; Oasis of the seas in 2010.The new Oasis class ship is simply amazing! This Ship will astonish and delight both new and experienced cruisers. You have to see it to believe it! From all indication, its apparent Royal Caribbean is determined to keep that “world’s biggest” crown in the family.
With some of the most modern and groundbreaking vacation amenities such as the Ultimate Abyss, a 10-story slide, beautiful designed neighborhoods and gourmet restaurants . Harmony of the seas which took 32 months and cost roughly 1 billion dollars to build in St Nazaire, France cruises at a top speed of 22 knots (25mph).The ship is 215.5ft wide, 1,188foot long, has 4 bow thrusters and delivers more horsepower than 28 Ferraris. The creation of this ship went above and beyond exceeding all expectations.
Like drunken teenagers in a mall, we ran around excitedly. Our 2 days was ticking away. The ship is so big and packed with a vast array of activities and things to do. With more than 2,747staterooms, 20 dining options, 23 swimming pools and a park boasting of more than 10,587 plants and 50 trees; one can only embrace the free will and spirit to do whatever you desire, whenever it suits you ( in my case limited time as I have only 2 days) from sky diving to surfing, relaxing by the pool side, and sliding on the first ever multi-story waterslides at sea that twists and turns over the exquisite Central Park or test your bravery on the 10 story dual slide known as the ultimate abyss, The tallest slide at sea, spanning 10 decks. This one is only for the adventurous and brave at heart. I mustered courage and before I knew it, was sliding down the tallest slide on the high seas. The 45 seconds decent was so scary that I screamed my way down but also incredibly fun. I highly recommend it. (But be warned that if you are suffering from any heart disease, please don’t try it). There’s also mini golf, rock climbing and zip liner.
The entertainment was just out of this world! And its every cruise ships highlight
Royal Caribbean cruise lines have done so well when it comes to entertainment, their innovation and imagination are wild. You have, Broadway shows such as Mama Mia , and The Ice shows literally took my breath away.
GREASE, the musical show was fantastic and even features a full size GREASE LIGHTENING CAR! (In fact a lady approached me while I was busy relaxing at the solarium, a very beautiful and serene area of the ship meant for adult only, and said, I bet you haven’t seen the GREASE. I asked, what’s that? There will be a repeat around 10.30pm she said, and it’s a must see. Glad I listened and not wait for further explanation. Thank you friend.) The theatre is just spectacular. Food on board was, plentiful and tasty with an amazing service to go with it.
Tasty food plus good service = a come-back! Luckily, Harmony of the Seas has about 3,415 sports equipment so you need not worry about those calories.
Food is a top priority for a number of cruisers. Sampling over 20 different restaurants wasn’t an option for me remember, I had only 48hours so I stuck to my good old reliable windjammer on deck 16.There’s always a wide variety to choose from and the best part is that it’s all included in your cruise package.
This cruise ship has just blow me away the bestowing the WOW factor . She’s multi-generational as the onboard entertainment was set to appeal to a wider array of interests. I can’t wait to go on board this ship again. You should try it – there’re different activities for all ages it’s up to you.
I also discovered that the ship has 24 lifts and getting from point A to B was made easy, thanks to the large visual deck plans at every corner turned and also inside the elevator to help you navigate, therefore making it easy to find your way around and if you choose to take the stair ways, you are welcome to do that.
Beautiful art works adorned each level. For art lovers, head over to deck 4. The ship is an art haven featuring over $6.5million art collections, with 11,253 art pieces from over 3000 works curated by international cooperate arts. From painting, sculpture, to abstract works. I was particularly impressed by a metallic head installation in the middle of café/royal promenade, a meeting point on the ship where you have some of the ship’s high-end boutiques, cafés and bars. This ‘head’ consists of 5tonnes of steels and multiple plates’ which moves to form a 3D Head. Harmony has more works of art than the Louvre has paintings. More than 60 countries, from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Greece, and Morocco – took part in bringing Harmony’s collection to life.
Some of the Art works onboard Harmony of the Seas.
Harmony has more works of art than the Louvre has paintings, imagine that! Many of the unique pieces were specifically created for Harmony of the Seas, and designed to intrigue and bring joy and harmony to all, guests and crew alike.
There’s even a bar that levitates between 3decks.The rising tide bar is the world’s first moving bar at sea that spans three decks and allows cruisers to enjoy a cocktail as they slowly levitate between central park on deck eight and the royal promenade on deck five. You can visit the Bionic Bar and have robots mix the drink of your choice.
I was initially worried losing touch on the high seas? Never mind, that ! There is a high-speed Internet on board “VOOM” (fastest internet at sea) so you can keep in touch, share beautiful memories with friends and families. It’s Very Affordable, And Reliable.
Harmony of the seas combines the distinct seven-neighborhood concept that Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class of ships is known for.
- Pool and sports (where Perfect Storm and the Ultimate Abyss live); (2) The Boardwalk (with the amazing Aqua Theater), (3) Central Park (home to a tropical garden as well as some of the ship’s specialty restaurants including JAMIE’S ITALIAN, a celebrity chef), (4) The Royal Promenade, (5) The Entertainment Parade, (6) The youth zone and (7) The Vitality Spa areas.
SHIP FACT SHEETS
Harmony of the SEAS Built At: STX France, St. Nazaire, France
Maiden Voyage: May 29, 2016
Godmother: Brittany Affolter
1,188 Feet Long
215.5 Feet Wide
22knots cruising speed
Number of guest decks = 16
Number of total decks = 18
Number of guest elevators = 24
Number of staterooms = 2,747 Number of guests (double occupancy) = 5,479
Total Number of guests = 6,780
Number of CREW = 2,100 (75 nationalities)
Sadly ,the day of our disembarkation ( at that moment I wish I could turn back time) came and we were told that harmony of the seas naming ceremony would be happening that day. Thankfully we are invited as special guests. I wasn’t going to miss it for anything in the world.
Hosting the highly anticipated ceremony was Harmony of the Seas Godmother, Brittany Affolter, 23 year-old from teach for America Miami-Dade, Who at a young age devoted her life to helping others. She was selected God Mother of the Harmony Of the Seas for her work in inspiring and instilling in south Florida’s next generation to dream big, think differently and challenge the status quo.
Naming of ships is an important and ancient sea fearer’s tradition and Royal Caribbean International takes pride in observing it. Every ship is represented by a noble woman who bring some of her spirit, some of her wisdom and success to share with the ship and the crew, says Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Limited. This has been the tradition in the shipping world for hundreds of years, and still an important one till today. Over 1000 nominee were received for a search that span more than six weeks for an honor that is usually reserved for celebrities singers, princesses, queens, scientists etc because every God Mother must have something special.
To mark this special occasion, christening of a ship; a bottle of champagne is smashed on the bow of the ship to invite good luck.
Now, since the ship is too big for a normal seize bottle, after all this is the biggest ship in the world, Royal Caribbean had to request a champagne bottle bigger than those commercially available from Veuve-Clicquot, a size they called “Sovereign,” for a not-so-subtle bottle-breaking ceremony. The champagne bottle was suspended on zip line over the central park in the ship.
Harmony of the Seas is a technological marvel, hence a normal bottle breaking just simply wouldn’t do, Fain said, so they decided to use technology (one of the bionic bar robots) as an important part of this process.
The ship’s godmother, then christened the ship by proclaiming, ”I NAME THIS SHIP, HARMONY OF THE SEAS, MAY GOD BLESS HER AND ALL WHO SAIL ON HER”. She then proceeded to press a button that activated the Bionic Bar robot who pressed another button that finally sent the three-foot-tall bottle of champagne hurtling down a zip line and bursting against a steel plate above the pool. It was a gorgeous affair to behold, my friends. There were fireworks and joyous screams with music .Her blessing marked the official start of this vessel’s life .It was indeed a very special and memorable occasion, one I will never forget.
A performance by singer-songwriter and Miami native Jon Secada closed out the celebration.
There’s undeniably something special about being on board a cruise ship during her inaugural sailing. I can’t help but feel elated and proud to be part of this ship’s history. How great is it to be able to say, “ Yeah……I was on Her inaugural sail and also witnessed Her naming ceremony”.
Harmony of the seas is a must see and a must cruise for any frequent cruiser. It’s not because, she’s the largest but because of what she brings to world of cruising and holidaying. I was in awe when I beheld her. She is so large and enormous that standing upright; Harmony Of The Seas is twice as high as the Washington monument at 1,188 feet. The ship has 2,100 crew from 75 nationalities that take care of 6,780 guests. The total capacity of people on board the harmony is 8,880 at a time .
Cruising is not all about the ships alone it’s about visiting and exploring amazing destinations. From the beautiful pristine beaches of the Caribbean to the romantic , vibrant and historic cities of Europe , to the colorful fast paced Far East Asia. The world is your playground and your adventure starts here !!
Harmony has some specular itineraries next year. So start booking .You could be off exploring some of the world’s most amazing destinations. The easy part of holidaying on this ship is, finding something exciting to do(you can never be bored). The hard part is choosing what to do first!