Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International. All other photos by Jason Leppert.
Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas, the third Oasis-class vessel, is currently the largest cruise ship in the world, and yet architecturally she still appears sleek, albeit much wider than most. Inside she is comprised of several chic “neighborhoods” dividing the massive public spaces into more manageable districts. The effect is a ship that feels much like a shoreside hotel or shopping mall, appealing to potentially hesitant land lubbers.
Overall, the ship has enough intimately-sized venues to keep the behemoth in check, but there are times when its grand scale is unmistakable. Thankfully, the ship does a fine job of spreading its high guest capacity evenly around as crowds are few and far between. The Royal Promenade horizontal atrium is particularly dramatic stretching the primary length of the ship, and the Central Park with living landscaping is an impressive al fresco feat open to the sky above. But both lack any direct view to the sea, causing a certain sense of isolation from the destination.
The Boardwalk at the stern is better at showcasing the ocean as the airy horseshoe-shaped aft courtyard looks upon the wake behind, with the thrilling Ultimate Abyss slide, zip-line and pair of FlowRiders perched high above. One of the biggest fringe benefits to Harmony’s size is its stability. The ship is so wide in the water that it holds its own against listing admirably well, another selling point to anyone leery of seasickness.
As on most new cruise ships, there is quite a variety of private accommodations to select, ranging from inside cabins to loft suites. Entry-level stateroom shower enclosures are decent in size and easy enough to turn around in thanks to their rounded perimeters. Plus, interior cabins are available with unique vistas of the various promenades and courtyards within the greater ship or virtual balconies displaying the outside view on a screen.
On the other end of the spectrum, of course, are the loft suites featuring expansive double-decker floor-to-ceiling views and verandas to match. Some single-level suite balconies even look back upon the AquaTheater, effectively creating private box seats for the shows as well as wake views. Decor for all accommodations is modern and bright without being cold or stuffy. Colors are vibrant, finishes are refined and storage is equally plentiful. USB charging ports are nice to have, but even more would go a long way as would the inclusion of tissues beyond just toilet paper.
The Harmony is truly the closest a cruise ship has come to offering something for everyone. All one needs to do is look to the Boardwalk to see everything from a tame carousel to the thrilling Ultimate Abyss. In fact, the vibrant magenta slide lives up to the hype. Put your feet in a sort of sleeping bag and off you swiftly go, descending the dry slide over ten decks in no time at all. The carousel is surprisingly amusing as well to ride at sea.
A unique offering onboard is Escape the Rubicon (pictured below), a fun escape room experience where groups of up to