Harmony of the Seas – September 2017
The Largest Cruise Ship in the world was our home for seven wonderful nights. The trip originated and ended in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There were three ports of call: Labadee Haiti, Falmouth Jamaica, and Cozumel Mexico. Each port offered a different experience, but the sea days were just as exciting. In addition we sailed with a group cruise which made the trip just that more exciting. Did I mention they were filming a movie starring Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammar while we were sailing.
Harmony of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world. It is an amazing piece of engineering. She is not just big and tall, she is real wide too. The Royal Caribbean concept for the ship is to divide it in to “Neighborhoods”. The two most well known are Central Park, and Boardwalk, in addition there is the Pool & Sports Zone, Royal Promenade, Entertainment Place, Youth Zone, and finally the Vitality at Sea Spa & Fitness Center. I originally had a Central Park Balcony, actually cabin 10593, but later upgraded to a Junior Suite on the aft hump, but more about that later.
Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas
MAIDEN VOYAGE: MAY 29, 2016
BUILT AT: STX FRANCE, ST. NAZAIRE, FRANCE
GODMOTHER: BRITTANY AFFOLTER
TONNAGE: 226,963 GT
LENGTH: 1188 ft
MAX BEAM: 215.5 ft
CRUISING SPEED: 22 knots
MAX PASSENGERS: 6687 guest in 2747 Staterooms
DECKS: 18 total / 16 for passengers
Harmony of the Seas Picture Ship Tour / Neighborhoods
Boardwalk is a very complex zone, the main entrance is on deck 6, The entire zone is on the aft of the ship. In my opinion the spirit of the neighborhood is to feel like the old Jersey Shore with the carousel, a retro restaurant, an arcade , knick nack shops, a hot dog joint, and even a place for a spectacle, like the old time Steel Pier.
The main attractions are:
Rock Climbing Walls
Places to Eat and drink in the Boardwalk zone include:
Sabor / Sabor Cantina
Boardwalk Dog House
Shopping in the Boardwalk Zone:
The “Crown and Anchor” Shop
A serene zone of live foliage along with fine specialty restaurants and high end boutiques.
Restaurants and Lounges:
150 Central Park
Rising Tide Bar
Hublot / Omega
Pool & Sports Zone
Perfect Storm Water Slides
Ultimate Abyss dry slide
The Royal Promenade is in the heart of the ship. It encompasses the middle of the ship on decks 5 and 6. It is a large shopping and lounge district. This is where most of the Customer Relations desk are located.
Places to get some quick eats:
InFocus / Picture This photo studio
Kate Spade / Solera / Port Merchants
Jazz on 4
(0-11 year olds)
(12-17 year olds)
Vitality at Sea Spa & Fitness Center
Vitality at Sea Spa Entrance on Deck 6
Vitality Fitness Center
Vitality at Sea Spa
The Royal Caribbean Blog – Harmony of the Seas- Group Cruise
September 16-23, 2017
We had a one day pre-cruise vacation in Fort Lauderdale prior to the cruise. A large amount of the 100 or so cruisers of the RCBlog GC stayed at the Courtyard Hilton on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
The adventure officially started the morning of the cruise. We boarded a shuttle bus with the destination being Terminal 18 at Port Everglades. The 20 minutes to the cruise port seemed like hours. We were greeted at the curb with the porters who were more than happy to take our bags, and to remind us that this would be the last time we would see them and that any gratuities were much appreciated.
We gave them our standard $2 per bag tip and off we were to security. This trip we were staying in a Sea Class Suite, otherwise known as a Jr. Suite to most people. Essentially it is a spacious balcony cabin with a couple of little perks. The first perk being priority check in. We cleared the security and the metal detectors and we were in a short line to see a check in agent.
The check in agent stop was real quick, we showed the Set Sail Pass for each member of the family, signed our health declaration, confirmed our credit card for the Sea Pass account and away we went.
Next stop was the obligatory Royal Caribbean entrance photo with the Ship background. Then another security check point and we took the escalator up to the waiting area which is huge. Many of the Blog Group Cruise guest were already assembled ready to go.
Right around 11 AM they called for Suite guest along with Pinnacle and Diamond Plus guest. It was time to board the World’s Largest Cruise Ship, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas.
We entered the Promenade on deck 5. We took a quick peek around and we headed to Central Park to set our Day 1 dinner reservations. We had a quick bite to eat at the Park Cafe.
If you are eating at the Park Cafe, then you must try the signature sandwich. The Roast Beef sandwich called the Kummelweck. It is super delish and goes great with the available salad bar.
Since the prior sailing was cut short due to Hurricane Irma and the ship was well below capacity, cabins were ready upon boarding. The process for getting in to your cabin on Oasis class ships consist of grabbing the one Sea Pass that is positioned on the room number plaque. Unfortunately for us our Sea Pass didn’t open the door. We went to customer service and they cut us new Sea Pass cards which worked just fine.
Sea Class Junior Suite 8636
Quick background for those who did not read the pre-cruise blog post. Originally we had Central Park 10593 cabin booked. We decided to upgrade to a Jr. Suite once I did the math that we would have enough points to reach Crown & Anchor Society Diamond level at the completion of this cruise. With the Kids Sail Free sale the total cost was only a couple hundred more. We received double points, priority boarding, and most importantly access to the Coastal Kitchen for dinner.
A few things on JR Suite 8636. It is on the aft hump so the balcony is larger then a standard balcony. Junior Suites have HUGE walk in closets. Personally I feel the closet is bigger than a ocean view room on Empress of the Seas. There is plenty of storage and the bathroom is stocked with upgraded L’Occitane soaps and lotions.
Full Size Jr Suite 8636 Panorama click HERE!
We had a 3rd person in the cabin. Here is a picture of the couch converted to a bed. Only negative is they left the couch made as a bed for the entire trip.
Well the official activities for the Royal Caribbean Blog Cruise started at 2PM on Day 1. I’ll post the official agenda for the cruise but will note it was subject to change.
Day 1 -2pm – Deck 5 Boleros “Go with the (Lava) flow meet up
The first official drink of the cruise was the Lava Flow meet up in Boleros. It was good to see the many official group t-shirts floating around, it was good to see some old friends, and even better to see new friends.
Next up was the required Muster Drill, followed next by the second official event of the Group Cruise. The Bye-Bye Sail Away on deck 15 by the Sand Bar.
It was great to continue the conversations started from the Boleros meetup. The drinks were flowing on Deck 15. Slowly Florida disappeared in the distance. Next stop was Labadee, Haiti.
We had purchased the four night dining package in the cruise planner prior to the cruise. The general rule is only purchase it for adults. Kids 12 and under are usually charged $10 for each meal.
We chose Jamie’s Italian for night 1. You will also notice that pictures may be better quality because they were shot with a DSLR. What you didn’t see was Mrs. Cookingyo giving me stink eye because her food was getting cold while I was trying to shoot the food.
If you have been following CookingYo.com’s cruising history, then you will remember we ate at Jamie’s Italian on Anthem of the Seas. My review was so-so. You can find the review of Anthem, Here!
Harmony of the Seas Jamie’s Italian was a much better experience.
We started off with the Italian Bread Basket, Pea & Mint Arancini, and of course the must have Cured Meat Plank.
Our sides were the Rocket &Parmesan Salad, the Caprese salad and the Funky Chips.
We each decided we wanted a pasta dish. I chose the Penne Carbonara, the MRS. got Truffle Tagliatelle, and the Bubs ordered Penne Pomodoro.
Mains & Pasta
We were so stuffed after this meal that we actually passed on dessert. I know, THE HORROR! The funny thing is you never know who you are going to run in to at dinner, and afterwards; world famous cruiser and Periscoper BigDawgRonAZ and the Official Travel Agent to RCPeriscorers.Live Jason Poole.
It was a long Day 1 and a large contingent of the RCBlog Group wound up in the Schooner Bar to listen the the wonderful talent of Billy Pando a.k.a. @BILLYPANDOATSEA
Finally it was time to call it a night, for those that have followed my cruising exploits you will know that one of my favorite activities is to have a few adult beverages before bed and try and take pictures of the Milky Way. Granted it wasn’t Prime Milky Way viewing season but that fact is, Harmony is just too bright. So much for that. Better luck on my next ship….. Bummer!
Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise Day Two
Day two was a sea day, we were still steaming away to Labadee, Haiti.
We started the day by heading up the the WindJammer for a little breakfast. For those who aren’t familiar with the Windjammer, it is the informal buffet that is open every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Windjammer is located on Deck 16 right above the Pool deck and below the Coastal Kitchen. There is always a greeter to the Windjammer who will kindly remind you to “Washie, Washie!” Once you are through the hand washing /sanitizing station, it’s game on. Harmony’s buffet is broken down in to small stations.
Granted the Windjammer was really crowded on the morning of Day Two, there were a few distractions going on. Number 1 was the filming of a movie. This morning portion of Deck 15 were off limits. Number one complaint of this cruise is that Royal Caribbean should of let passengers know prior to the sailing of this filming activity. The thought that the movie would not impact paying customers vacations was ignorant at best, but more on that later.
Again for those who have read our previous Blogs aboard Royal Caribbean ships it is real obvious the Cookingyo family is a bunch of serious BINGO players. We bring our own supplies and have a digital mascot. So if you are ever on a sailing with us Watch Out.
BINGO took place in the ON AIR lounge located forward on Deck 6 on the Promenade. We did win a free electronic BINGO card just out of random luck by a drawing of paid receipts, unfortunately we were not victorious this time. In fact an 8 y/o girl won 2 out 3 rounds. Beginners luck! Special Note, Mrs. Cookingyo stated that the best frozen strawberry margaritas on the Harmony where made in the “On Air” lounge.
The next activity was the “The Most Civilized Bar Craw Ever”. We had a start time of 2:30 pm. It started on deck 5 of the Promenade at the Bionic Bar. It was a good starting point. The group started assembling, and ordered a beverage. Those who have never had a custom drink from the Bionic Bar. Here are a couple of pointers. Remember to add ice! 1 part of an ingredient is more like half a shot so order 2 parts per shot and 4 parts for a double! I ordered a simple Rum and Coke, but there are plenty of preprogrammed drinks to choose from. The Bionic Bar is fun but I prefer a live human.
Next stop was our favorite piano bar on Deck 6. The Schooner Bar at 3pm, by now our numbers were increasing. Maybe we should of let Royal Caribbean know what was going on because we swamped their bartenders; maybe they could of assigned a floater bartender to go along the tour path.
Moving on, we went up a couple of decks to the Trellis Bar on deck 8 in Central Park at 3:20 pm. Now are group was really starting to have a good time and was feeling “relaxed”. Little known fact, the Trellis Bar serves all the alcoholic beverages for all the restaurants in Central Park.
Next stop we really went up, actually it was Deck 16 forward in the Solarium bar at 3:40. I’ll be a little honest. I was feeling a little fatigued but a quick bottle of water and I was good to go!
We then moved on to the Sand Bar at 4:00 It was nice to stand in the shade of the overhang and enjoy the fellowship of the group. I heard they make a mean Kraken Colada there. Believe it or not our group was still going pretty strong.
We were getting close to the end. It was 4:20 pm. Next stop was the Wipe Out Bar, it is located on deck 16 aft right by the Ultimate Abyss. The game plan was to have an adult beverage and then go down the slide. Well it worked. Most participants made their way down the 10 stories to the Boardwalk.
The End! It was 4:30 and the final stop was the bar at Sabor for Tequila shots. Let’s just say we were a jovial bunch and the bartenders were more than happy to hook us up. I’ve never seen a bartender have a stack of Seapasses like that before. It looked like a deck of cards. Good times!
A special thanks to Billy from Cruisehabit.com for joining the RCBLOG group cruise and designing the pub crawl. A link to Billy’s site and the Pub Crawl agenda can be found HERE!
The RoyalCaribbeanBlog had a special dinner for those who financially give support each month called INSIDERS. I proudly donate a few bucks every month to the blog to help pay hosting fees, upgrade equipment and give the blog any other resources needed. If you follow the RCBlog check it out HERE!
Dinner was Hibachi at Izumi. Let me be perfectly clear, this is the best meal at sea, Period! The entertainment by the chef is great, but the food is just so dang good. I am salivating right now just thinking about it. O.K. let’s talk Hibachi at Izumi. Currently at the time of this blog post Hibachi at Izumi is only available on Oasis class ships (Oasis, Allure and Harmony of the Seas) going forward other ships in different classes (Independence 5/18, and Mariner otS 6/18), will be included along with the newest Oasis class ship, Symphony of the Seas in April of 2018.
The Izumi Menu
The basic meal starts off with Edamame which I quickly devoured before snapping a picture. The Bubs wanted a Miso Soup, which I sampled and was very good. Then we had a nice salad before the cooking started. Chef introduced himself and then the entertainment started.
The meal was delicious, make sure to leave room for dessert.
One of the group activities during dinner is that chef essentially makes a large omelet, cuts it in to bite size pieces and then attempts to land it in each participants mouth. Let’s just say that chef has mad skills. Watch it in Slow Motion. Way to go Mrs. Cookingyo!
The last official activity for the night was the Royal Caribbean Blog Group Photo. It was formal night so we went to Dazzles which is a a beautiful lounge that overlooks over the Boardwalk neighborhood.
Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise Day Three
Day three Port of Call was Labadee, Haiti. We were the first ship to dock there since Hurricane Irma. The actual amount of damage done to the resort was minimal, really only affecting a few cabanas over the water. Otherwise Labadee was open for business.
The ship was greeted by the locals who were dressed in traditional costumes playing simple instruments, then the powered water craft did a sail by the ship. The sun was shining bright. It was going to be a hot one in Haiti. Our game plan was breakfast then prepare for our appointment for the Dragons Breath, a meet up at the Labadee Schooner Bar then go back to the ship and put our bathing suits on .
Well , we started the day at the Park Cafe for a very filling breakfast.
Again the filming of the movie got in the way of our vacation. There was a delay in our start time and some people’s reservations were pushed back. Luckily the weather wasn’t brutally hot yet and filming ended before it did get too hot.
Now that the movie wrapped up filming it was time for the common folk to get their chance. Anyone who has any doubts about the Dragon’s Breath, don’t. It is actually a real gentle ride and the view is unbelievable.
When you arrive at the zipline, check in the staff will have you fill out a waiver form, also there are lockers available if you need to stash some gear. Next you go in to get fitted for a harness. Then you wait. The lead guide will then go over some safety stuff and explain a little bit about flying and preparing to brake. Next stop is the training tower.
There is a small zipline located a short distance off the beach. Here everyone gets a chance to practice the technique of flying and braking in a more controlled environment. The practice tower and the actual launch tower are identical with the same safety rules.
Once everyone finished the practice run, we were loaded on to large trucks and we started the treck to the top of the hill. Note: the journey takes you off compound for a short bit and you get a glimpse of actual Haiti. Also the hardest part of the whole zipline experience is the very bumpy road going up. There was security at both the gate leaving the compound and at the top of the hill.
Once we arrived we were unloaded from a raised platform and had a short walk to the tower. The view is outstanding. The World’s Largest Cruise ship looked like a ship model. They asked all groups of 5 to hang together and they melded the rest to reach groups of 5.
When it was your groups turn, 1 by 1 you are brought to the launch deck and clipped in. You are to assume a flat bullet position of lying back with your feet crossed. Your hands are on each side of the zip line apparatus. Then you wait. Once all five slots are filled. it’s go time! and this is where the anticipation ends and the fun begins.
Note to self: Next time you film the zipline don’t turn the camera off as you are braking. Moving on!
The ride last about 45 seconds and once you reach the fifth marker you are to move your hands to the braking position and spread your legs. A few seconds later the unit automatically brakes and you are done. The attendants unhook you, you get a quick Royal Caribbean picture and head back to the gear shack where you drop your harness. That’s it. It’s a Wonderful Ride.
We finished the zipline just in time to head over to the one Official RCBLOG activity for the day. Friendly reminder for those that purchased the Ultimate Drink Package. Your seapass will get you drinks on Labadee as long as you have a DP printed or a DP or UP sticker, but the WOW bands don’t work. We headed to the “Labadoozie Appreciation Society” meet up. The group met under the cover of the Schooner bar on the far side of Labadee. It was nice to see new friends and see a few others who might of imbibed a little too much the night before who were actually up and functioning.
Once the meetup finished up it was actually about lunch time. We walked over to the well stocked buffet, loaded up and then sat at the large pavilion directly across the way.
Once lunch was finished Bubs wanted some trinkets and I wanted to take a couple pictures of the wonderful beach. The temperature was in the 90’s by now and it was taking it’s toll.
We walked back to the ship to get changed and get ready to go back to the beach. Well we know how this story usually ends. We got back to a nice air conditioned cabin and we rested for 5 minutes, yeah scratch that. 90 minutes later we decided to go to the pool and ride some water slides while the lines would be less.
We relaxed by the pool for a couple of hours. It wasn’t very crowded and the drinks were cold.
We finished up at the pool and headed back down to the cabin. I wanted to take a Panorama from the balcony. The Full sized 16mb image can be found HERE!
Dinner on Night 3 was at 150 Central Park. Let’s start with a simple tip. There is a button to open the automatic door. If you don’t hit it the door is a bear to open and you look a little silly. Don’t ask me how I know this… just trust me!
First off let me say this, 150 Central Park serves gourmet salt to top the unsalted butter for the bread. The salts go from mild to wild. I highly recommend trying all of them even if it means going a little carb crazy with the bread.
The starters we chose were excellent, The Bubs went a little out his comfort zone and chose the Duck Confit, The Mrs. got the Lobster Gnocchi, and I got the Veal Bolognese Agnolotti.
Cookingyo tip. If you get the pasta, try and sprinkle your favorite salt on it to up the flavor just a bit.
We all got steak for dinner. The Mrs. and I split the 18oz Roast Tenderloin of Beef for Two. Bubs got a 9oz Filet.
We ordered the steak for two medium rare. It was a good compromise between her normal rare and my normal medium. The tenderloin was a perfect medium rare, the picture doesn’t do the steak justice.
Dessert was such a treat. Bubs chose the Artisanal Cheese Selection, Mrs. had the Lychee Tres Leches, and I had the super bombastic Warm Doughnuts.
I was thoroughly impressed by the food and the service. Our server went above and beyond to ensure our meal was to our satisfaction. The only negative I could say was that our 11 year old was told if he didn’t order off the kids menu then he would be charged the full $45 cover charge. This goes against normal Royal Caribbean etiquette. The Mrs. and I both had a four night package. Typically for kids you do not purchase a package for them because in most restaurants with the exception of Hibachi at Izumi they are charged a reduced cover charge normally like $10. It is what it is but I thought I would share with everyone to avoid a little sticker shock or a youth getting stuck eating a crappy kids meal when all that delicious fare is available to try.
Pardon the crappy, grainy photo but I thought it was important to show the 150 Central Park room. Unfortunately this is a case the DSLR would of made sense but due to lighting the Iphone disappointed. Next time on Harmony I promise to get a better Panoramas of all the restaurants.
After dinner we headed over to one of the Best shows on Harmony of the Seas. The Fine Line which happens on the aft of the ship in the Aqua Theater is visually awesome, the soundtrack kicks ass. The actual story. Who knows? Everyone I talked to agreed, great show, have no clue on the story.
When you first enter the theater there is a lone performer on the stage wearing a costume that could best be described as a flowing skirt. This dude twirls for like 15 minutes non stop. He must of went through astronaut training or something because I would of lost my 9oz filet long time ago. Anyway it is a amazing talent.
Then the action starts. It goes from stage to pool to trampoline to high wire to people diving off of perfectly good platforms, to people bouncing on cargo straps to whips to chicks running in air while flipping. Boom! A must see.
Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise Day Four
We started off Day four at a venue which is more known for their shakes than their breakfast. Johnny Rockets located on Deck 6 in the Boardwalk Neighborhood also serves breakfast. Whereas there is a cover charge for lunch and dinner, breakfast is complimentary.
The breakfast menu is pretty basic but it will fill you up and will leave you full.
Day four we were docked in Falmouth, Jamaica. We had previously scheduled the VIP Bamboo Beach excursion, it was a Royal Caribbean excursion but a large amount of participants were from the RCBlog group.
We had beautiful weather as we came to Falmouth.
Our excursion start time got pushed back a few hours. Can any one guess why? Oh that’s right the filming of the movie which shouldn’t of affected our vacation had once again affected our vacation. The second unit was sent to Bamboo Beach to get some shots, while we were stuck in port for a couple of more hours.
So what to do while waiting to get of the ship? Why not stroll the Promenade. Guess what, they were filming there too. It seems that the film crew was shooting the Promenade with Kelsey Grammar in a scene on the Rising Tide Bar. O.K. not really a big deal for us . We decided to leave because that wasn’t our thing.
Here is the thing. Staff did not close down the Promenade, they didn’t block or rope it off or anything. So if you weren’t 100% in the know then you could of walked right through the shot. Which some people in our group did, and people either tried to grab them or they were essentially yelled at for almost ruining the scene. Not cool on one’s vacation.
So we finally left the ship as our excursion time was coming up. I left my RCPERISCOPERS.LIVE Banner up on the Balcony of 8636 and away we went.
Falmouth is a lot like Cozumel, there is a “Safe Zone” that is in a compound with local merchants, RCL “Recommended Shops” and a small bazaar with craft and locally produced items.
We met our motor coach which was full of RCBLOG folks and finally we had a representative from Bamboo Beach arrive. She was our “guide”. We set off for the resort which was a little further along then originally advertised, but hey “No Problem Mahn”. When we arrived we were sent to the “VIP” section, which my understanding is a less rocky beach and a better lounging area.
Our guide talked a good game. She said we would be eating and drinking till our hearts content. Well!
The actual water and the beach were outstanding. The loungers were padded and comfortable. Since we got to the resort a lot later then we were originally supposed to, we were placed all the way to the right facing the beach. The was nice because it was more secluded but it was horrible because we were so far from the bathrooms, and the bar.
Now how it was supposed to work is a server would bring a trays of drinks, and then later trays of food. Here is where we were screwed thanks to the movie shoot. Because of our distant location the drink servers would start out at the bar carrying a tray of drinks, by the time it got to our side of the beach she would have 1 or 2. The group offered to help them carry trays of beers. “No Mahn can’t do that”. So what ended up happening was we would have to send a runner to the bar and they would wind up bringing 4 beers back at a time.
Like I said before, the actual water and beach was great. Food was eventually served it consisted of a jerk chicken and a little lobster, some greens and plantains. It tasted fine.
Now don’t get me wrong. Our people had a fun time being just being with our group. The Sun was shining and the water temperature was perfect. We spent a good amount of time just talking cruising and life in general out in the water. The Bubs even found an encrusted conch shell.
The facility boasted free wifi, and it did, just not at the end of the beach we were at. I did have 3G cell service and using the ATT $10 a day pass I was able to Periscope, as was World Famous Periscoper, and Give Away personality Rich Triplett.
All “good” things must come to an end. Well it was time to get changed and then load up the bus and head back. First let’s talk about the facilities. The bathroom was let’s call it rustic but had running water, it was enough to get the job done. The changing / shower are was also very simple. An open air stall with a lockable door. They even supplied a cinder block so you could stand on to keep your feet dry while changing.
Well the time had come to depart, after some time in the sun it should of been a nice relaxing ride back to the ship. Well, let’s just say that there was an early bus, it broke hard so our bus took them back. Now we knew that the ship wasn’t going to leave us since we were on an Official Royal Caribbean Excursion. The question was how long till transportation could be arranged. The good news is by now most guest had left the resort and we could get to the bar and served quickly. Also good news is another although smaller bus was found and soon we would be on our way.
Let’s just say we made good time back to the ship. Our driver must of been a retired Red Bull extreme race car driver. The myth and the legend of bus #4 can only really be appreciated by watching the Periscope of the ride back to the ship.
The Sunset off the coast of Jamaica was absolutely gorgeous!
Night Four dinner plans were simple. We planned to use the Junior Suite Perk of eating dinner in the Coastal Kitchen. The Bubs planned to do Kids Club so he ate in the Windjammer.
We went with the classics Caesar Salad, French Onion Soup, and Escargot
I had the cheese Tortellini and the Mrs. had the Roasted Lamb Loin
Dessert was a classic Creme Brulee along with a New York Cheesecake.
We then spent some time walking the ship grabbing a drink here and a drink there. Eventually we wound up in the Royal Theater for the “Love and Marriage Game”. Those not familiar with the game .It is a game show style event. There are four couples, a newlywed, the longest married and two couples somewhere in the middle. The longest married couple was married over 60 years. There are two rounds.First the gentleman are asked questions and the ladies answer, then they flip positions. The winner is the couple with the most correct answers. It is an adult show and some of the answers are real zingers, especially from the longest married couple.
The highlight of the evening was “CLUB RED”. Once during the cruise Studio B gets turned in to a top notch disco that would rival some of the best in Miami or New York but we were at sea.
The line to get in was wrapped around Deck 4. It was neat to see the portable bars, the lights, the revolving RED sign and of course the music. Actually there was a positive to the movie shoot. It appeared that most of the film crew was at the disco and they gave an extra boost of energy to the room. They must of had the next morning off because they were partying hard. Anyway, we enjoyed our time and the room was a good mix of all age groups.
There was world famous Periscoper and frequent cruiser BigDawgRonAZ who was scoping the event. Many members of the Group Cruise made an appearance including the Grand Poobah, Matt Hochberg.
Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise Day Five
Day five was a sea day between Jamaica and Mexico, we knew this would be our biggest eating day so we had a very mellow breakfast at the Park Cafe. Also there were three RCBLOG events planned today.
A little later in the morning we went and played BINGO again in the “ON AIR” lounge. We had won another auto-play tablet device which the Bubs played. Hint, anytime B3 comes up, don’t be afraid to get up and dance and hoot and holler. B3 is the Royal Caribbean Mascot, and we were rewarded many times celebrating. Also if you ever win a Royal Caribbean Bingo Shirt. Bring it and show the staff when purchasing your BINGO cards. Most of the time you will be rewarded along with the Crown & Anchor free card, you can have much better odds of winning.
Well the good news is Mrs. Cookingyo won a round of BINGO, the bad news was she had to split the pot. Well at least it wasn’t the snowball jackpot. SPECIAL NOTE: If you win at BINGO the Cashola does not go back on your Seapass also do not go to the Casino to redeem; go to Guest Services to redeem your cash prize.
They were celebrating Oktoberfest during this cruise. There was a special on a large German glassware from Paulaner. Some of the group naturally gravitated over there prior to the first RCBLOG event for the day.
We decided that we wanted to try Sabor for lunch today. This was outside of our four night dining package, so this meal would be going on the Seapass account. In case you need a reminder where Sabor is, it is located on the aft of the ship Port side across from Johnny Rockets in the Boardwalk neighborhood.
For those of you who have never eaten at Sabor, they are really well known for their Guacamole. When you sit down there is chips and salsa. Then the server will ask if you want Guac. Of course is the normal answer, also they will ask how spicy you want it. The mild is mellow, but if you have those who are afraid to get their spice on, your server can bring peppers on the side. BTW, I was “allowed” to take pictures with my DSLR, hence the better quality shots.
We decided we were going to get tacos. I got chicken, the rest got an assortment of beef short rib, pulled pork, the grilled cobia and the shrimp tacos. When you order multiple types of tacos you essentially get a full serving per type. To say there was a lot of food on our table is an understatement.
Oh we also got sides of Yucca Barrel Fries, Rice, Beans and Grilled Corn on the Cob.
The Bubs ate enough that he felt the need for Churros for dessert. I felt the need for the Aztec Martini. Both were delicious and both had chocolate. Yummy!
The first RCBLOG event was planned for 2 PM in the Conference Room on Deck 3 forward. The group was playing a version of the classic game show “SUPER PASSWORD” based on a Royal Caribbean theme. Let’s just say you don’t want a certain RCperiscoper to be your partner.
After that it was time to relax with the family by the pool for an hour. It was the second formal night and we had an event prior to dinner. The RCBLOG had a catered thank you get together for the whole group in two adjoining Crown Loft Suites on deck 16&17.
The cabins were pretty much available to check out and the views were amazing.
It was a great event and the cabins are awesome. If you ever have the means, go for it , Crown Loft Suites are absolutely beautiful cabins.
So to recap, we had Sabor for lunch, then the beautiful spread from the RCBlog, now we had our 6:30 PM dinner reservations at CHOPS Grille.
The Caesar Salad, Onion Soup, Beef Carpaccio and the Slice of Bacon were all very good.
We each got the 9 oz Filet. The Mrs. wanted to Lobster too.
Our sides were Smashed potatoes, Gruyere tater tots, Mac and cheese, and the Sauteed mushrooms.
We were so stuffed from the amount of food we ate on Day five that the entire table passed on dessert. The HORROR, I know!
The last RCBlog event for the evening was a Columbus the Musical meet up. We had such a good turn out that the group almost filled an entire row in the Royal Theater. In fact we sat in the row right in front of the sound boards, which are really great seats. The show is a little silly but it was entertaining especially when you are with a bunch of friends.
Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise Day Six
Harmony of the Seas arrived at our last port of call, Cozumel, Mexico. We arrived just at sunrise. It was going to be a beautiful day in Cozumel. Since we were just in Cozumel a few months prior we did not plan any Royal Caribbean excursions. In fact a large contingent from the RCBlog group had the same idea.
We decided to do Nachi Cocom Beach Club which is a private beach club about 20 minutes away. It is an all inclusive, alcohol and food.
We grabbed a taxi from the taxi stand right outside the compound that is the shopping district around the ships. It is around a $17 taxi trip. Make sure you have your reservation paperwork. When you arrive at Nachi there is the standard Cheesy Tourist photograph.
Then you check in. You will then be taken to the beach where your server will explain how things work. Also there is a bar in case you need a drink between your server coming back.
Nachi with a group of people is awesome. The water was nice, the bar was close and many a cruising stories were exchanged. Due to the multiple ship cancellations because of the recent hurricanes Nachi lifted there normal 130 person capacity closer to 160. There were 20,000 people in port this day, so I guess an extra 30 people wasn’t that bad.
A couple of hours after getting there our server brought around a menu and everyone ordered. About a half hour later lunch was served.
After lunch we decided to move the party up to the pool for the remainder of our time. The pool is pretty large and there is a swim up bar. Surrounding the pool are loungers and a couple of cabanas. The pool temperature was perfect and it wasn’t that busy. We even ventured in to the attached Jacuzzi, but most dropped out after 10 minutes in the sweltering water.
We enjoyed our time at Nachi, the weather was great up to the time it was time to go. When you want to leave just let your server know and he will call a taxi. A brief torrential downpour breezed through. Our taxi came and off we were to reunite with the ship.
There must of been a sale on Whale Tails, as there were 4 in port in addition to the Norwegian ship a little down the way. Let’s face it, The Garbage Scowls, which I call the Carnival ships just can’t compete with Harmony of the Seas. She is big and bad and all that the other ships could do is drool an awe in wonder.
Once back on the ship we got ready for dinner. Our original game plan for dinner was to eat in the Main Dinning Room. When we called for reservations we were offered like 5:30 PM and 9 PM. I told Mrs. Cookingyo to hang the phone up. We called the Coastal Kitchen. A 7 PM reservation was made and we were golden.
Coastal Kitchen on Night six was great because the Bubs was with us and a bunch of RCBlog group cruisers were eating at the same time.
Bubs started off with a shrimp cocktail, Mrs. got the Tomato Mozzarella, and I got my usual Caesar Salad
The entrees looked delicious and we chose, NY Strip, Grilled Chicken Breast, and Orecchiette
The cheesecake was popular this night and we all left full and happy.
Well while leaving the Coastal Kitchen we ran in to the Film crew AGAIN. This time the Leads were both in Tuxedos of sorts. I’ll just leave it here that there was a slight detour needed to avoid the mess.
After dinner we enjoyed some time in the Boardwalk. Eventually it was time for the big kids to go play. The night number six highlight was the ADULT scavenger hunt called “THE QUEST”. I stress Adult because the show can get down right raunchy. Empress of the Seas still has the raunchiest in my opinion, Anthem of the Seas was the mildest. Harmony was definitely a PG-13 borderline Rated R event. All I can say is if you are going to go to “The Quest” then please have an open mind.
The game is pretty simple. The cruise director will ask for an item and each team is responsible for finding the item and getting it to the captains who will bring it to the CD along with a team number. It starts out simple like a Cruise Compass and somewhere along the way it take a serious left turn.
“The Quest” happens on Deck four in the Studio B complex. It was right after the Battle of the Sexes Game. So be prepared to be early and sit with your friends or in our case our group. Just remember Team Two Rules and we were robbed all because Team One’s captain had a tattoo by her boob.
After “THE QUEST” there was a dance party in the Solarium that went pretty late in to the night.
Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise Day Seven
Day seven is the day that you try and cram everything you were putting off doing.
We started breakfast at Johnny Rockets, while sitting and eating our breakfast we looked up to see the zip line. It was decided Mrs. Cookingyo and Bubs would zip line.
Actually the process was pretty easy. I signed all the releases via the TV earlier in the week. All they had to do was go to the desk to the right of the Wipeout Bar and they were given wristbands. A few minutes later they were zipping across the ship 100ft above the Boardwalk neighborhood.
Since we were up there, might as well hit “The Ultimate Abyss” one more time.
Mrs. and Bubs wanted to go Ice Skating in Studio B, I had to finish documenting the ship with the DSLR, so we split up to finish both task.
Both of them had fun skating.
While I was shooting pictures I popped down to the last official RCBlog event. The taping of the “Live Podcast Recording Staring You”. A lot of the group was there and I was pleased there was such a good turnout.
In case you didn’t know there are conference rooms below most of the action on the upper decks. They are used for more then conferences. I saw performers rehearsing and staff preparing for another cruising group meeting.
Since the RCBlog group had such a good time at Columbus sitting together those of us seeing the matinee performance of Grease wanted to sit together again.
The performance of the Musical Grease was great. Most of the story is close to that of the Major Motion Picture, the sets were great and the acting was top notch. Please make this a must see if you sail Harmony and the Matinee on day 7 was perfect.
After the show we managed to get a little pool time and everyone got a chance to do all the water slides. Also the Mrs. went to the Promenade and went through the scrum at the $10 t-shirt sale, but she was successful.
Dinner for night seven was an informal dinner of 24 of us at Sabor. We pretty much had the same thing with exception of dessert. Oh and I remembered to get a shot of the corn this time. My family got the second table which I affectionately called the “kids” table and we had a ball. It was nice to have a last meal with the group, and that was our official 4th night of Specialty Restaurants. All in all we were pleased with every Specialty Restaurant we ate in.
After dinner we went and listened to Billy Pano one last time in the Schooner Bar. We also picked up our pictures from the Photographer. It turned out that we were there early enough to order actual prints because ours were ready a few hours later. Some folks who came after us weren’t so lucky.
We also cashed our Bingo winnings at customer service. Yeah….. Don’t do that on night 7 trust us. After that we had a nightcap while walking this beautiful ship and we retired for the evening. My family doesn’t use the Royal Caribbean porters to bring our bags down the night before. Instead we prefer to self depart at our convenience after breakfast in the morning.
It seems a lot of the cool kids had the same idea. We met a lot our friend doing the same thing at the Park Cafe.
Our flight was a couple of hours after breakfast. We leisurely strolled off the ship. We even downloaded the Customs App used at Port Everglades. Guess what, It seems the crew from the movie shoot along with their 20 carts of gear also decided to use the quick customs lane. So much for that, instead it took about 20 minutes to go through the normal customs line. From there it was a short walk to the taxi stand and before you knew it we were at FLL. Our flight took off on time and we soon had one last glance of the lovely ship which we called home for seven nights. Thank You Harmony of the Seas for a Great Vacation.
Special Thank You
I just wanted to say a special Thank You to Matt Hochberg, his lovely bride, and his beautiful children. We started this cruise as fans of the Royal Caribbean Blog. We left as friends. We broke bread together, talked ship and you enabled my family to have memories that will last a lifetime. All I can say is Thank You!
Wait, What about the Main Dining Room?
It is true that I did not actually eat in the Main Dining Room because of our 4 night Specialty dining package along with Hibachi at Izumi and 2 nights in the Coastal Kitchen. If you read early we tried to eat at the MDR on night 6 and the times available were 5:30 or 9 pm and that just didn’t work for us. Also with My Time Dining you can just show up and they will eventually seat you. In addition if you have no plans to eat anywhere but the MDR you can book the same time every night on day 1 of the cruise. We have done that on smaller shorter cruises on Empress for example with great success.
I took a picture of the electronic board of the MDR menus for the whole cruise on Day 1.
In case you want to see what the Main Dining rooms look like, here are some random shots.
To see the full size 25mb Panorama of the Main Dining Rooms click HERE!
Hey, what about Wonderland?
We chose not to eat at Wonderland this time, the Mrs. and I ate there on Anthem and whereas it is a must do once, we didn’t feel it was a must do on this trip. I did pop in and grab a few shots. Also there were a few in the group who recommended going up and drinking at the bar. You can check out our review of Anthem’s Wonderland Here!
Cruise Compass and Daily Planners
Boarding Edition Day 1
Day 1 Cruise Compass
Day 2 Cruise Compass
Day 3 Cruise Compass
Cruise Compass Day 4
Cruise Compass Day 5
Cruise Compass Day 6
Cruise Compass Day 7
Daily Planner Day 1
Daily Planer Day 2
Daily Planer Day 3
Daily Planner Day 4
Daily Planner Day 5
Daily Planner Day 6
Daily Planner Day 7
Harmony of the Seas Show Schedule