Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Not all in harmony over gigantic cruise ship

Published on July 13, 2016 by   ·   No Comments

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With 2,100 crew and 6,780 guests, including a cacophony of caterwauling children corkscrewing down the waterslides, you’d think that there would be anything less than ‘harmony’ on ‘Harmony of the Seas’, but Royal Caribbean is adamant that bigger can be beautiful.

Having spent 32 months under construction in a shipyard in France, Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship and the 25th vessel in the Royal Caribbean fleet, made her maiden voyage in May.  Setting off from Saint-Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire, she arrived a few days later in Southampton ready for her first official passenger trip, a four-day jaunt to Rotterdam.  She has since completed several more short European getaways, dwarfing the likes of Barcelona, Palma, Marseilles, Florence, Rome and Naples with her 18-deck 120,000-tonne presence.  In the winter, the Caribbean will have its chance to marvel at her magnitude as she operates a full schedule from a Fort Lauderdale homeport.

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So, apart from size (she is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, and the widest cruise ship ever seen) what makes this one-billion-dollar flagship so special?  The answer is – a lot.  A proper floating city, divided into seven ‘neighbourhoods’, Harmony of the Seas has 2,747 elegant staterooms (even the inside cabins are marvellous thanks to ‘virtual balconies’ with exterior-mounted cameras streaming what’s happening on deck, in real time, to floor-to-ceiling in-room TV screens), 20 dining venues, 42 bars and lounges, a ‘Central Park’ with more than 10,000 plants and 50 trees and 23 swimming pools.  One of these pools is the deepest on the market and will host diving performances for guests’ entertainment pleasure.  And, as plain as the nose on your face, there is a ten-storey (TEN STOREY) waterslide dubbed the Ultimate Abyss, which, thanks to its 100-foot drop (100 FOOT), makes it the tallest at sea.  One feels quite nauseous just thinking about it.  Three more slides – The Perfect Storm – complete the white-knuckle water scene.

Other sporting facilities include two purpose-built climbing walls, zip lines, an ice skating rink, full-size basketball court, 18-hole mini golf course, FlowRider surf simulator and the Vitality Spa with fitness centre and treatment room – the largest collection of treatment rooms at sea.  The entertainment programme varies from sedate shopping and café culture in Central Park to risky business in the casino, and from dazzling ice skating displays to embarrassing vocal displays in the karaoke bar, a jazz club to a comedy club – even an adventure/escape room, all the rage these days.  But the entertainment highlight is undoubtedly a production of the West End musical, Grease, served up in the ship’s 1,400-seat theatre.

If it all gets a bit much, you can always peruse the 11,252 works of art showcased throughout the ship.  Maybe pop one on the final bill as a souvenir.

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While the media has been quick to point out Harmony of the Seas’ supersize pollution problem (she is estimated to burn about 66,000 gallons a day of some of the most polluting diesel fuel in the world and to emit more sulphur than several million cars) Royal Caribbean has highlighted her ‘green’ credentials saying she produces 20% less CO2 emissions than the two largest ships in its class, partly thanks to bubbles of air pumped into the hull to lighten its load

Stuart Leven, Managing Director UK and Ireland, Royal Caribbean International, has the final word on this world-beater, “The Harmony of the Seas is the world’s largest cruise ship. Bigger can be beautiful when it allows you to put so many great facilities on board to allow people to have a great holiday at sea.”

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“Cruising is changing – it’s becoming a holiday for all the family, it’s not just white table cloths and ties at dinnertime – now the sort of holiday you get at all-inclusive resorts on land can be replicated on the seas.”

“We have a 10-storey slide, surf machines, plenty of restaurants like Jamie Oliver’s Italian on board, a great choice, and you can wake up with a different view from your balcony each day.”

“My favourite facility is the robotic bartenders where you go in with an iPad to place your order and they will mix your cocktail. We are really pushing the boundaries.”


“It’s all about variety – when you have a ship of this scale, you can offer so many things.”


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