While mom was off on her expedition in Asia, Ella, Emily, and I packed up our bags and took a short trip of our own on Royal Caribbean’s newest Oasis class ship, the Harmony of the Seas. Along with 4500 other passengers, we spent 2 ½ days exploring everything we could find on the exciting new addition to the Royal Caribbean fleet.
Rock climbing, water slides, riding the carousel and burning off energy on the Luckey, the children’s safety net wrapped climbing platforms, are just a few of the activities we participated in during our adventure. We found the food outstanding, especially in the main dining room each night. Traditional classics were offered and enjoyed by the three of us – escargot, beef carpaccio, roasted rack of lamb, osso bucco, beef wellington, and one of the girls newfound favorites – duck a l’orange.
We dined early each night so that we could catch at least one of the shows before bed – both shows we attended were excellent and kept of our interest throughout – the Broadway style “Grease” production on the first night, and on the second night, the ships water based show, “The Fine Line” (dancing, music, areal stunts, diving, synchronized swimming all wrapped into a high energy production). Seeing the quality of the entertainment offered reminded me that while we tend to travel on the smaller ships, it was nice to reminded that a large ship cruise does have some advantages – the quality and diverse entertainment options is definitely one of those advantages.
One afternoon, between fighting over who would lead the charge through the halls and who would be the next one to push the elevator button, we took an hour and explored the various suite options on board. Several of the rooms were quite impressive, one could hold as many as 14 guests, and others as Ella excitedly pointed out – “Daddy- come see this one, they have their own hot tub on the balcony” or “Daddy, look- this bathroom is bigger than our entire room!”
With the various neighborhoods offering several areas for dining and exploring throughout the day, we didn’t ever experience long waits or visit anywhere that was overcrowded, even though we were traveling with 4500 other passengers on the ship (Customs was a different story) We could see the ship being a great option for families traveling with children who are a little older than the Disney age, as the activity and entertainment options were far superior to those we experienced on our Disney cruise a couple years ago. It could also be great for a family reunion where a few of the family members could reserve higher end suites and have the option to escape the crowds in the exclusive club lounge, or enjoy hosting the entire family in their larger private living areas.
At the end of our 2 ½ days of fun, we concluded our trip with a full breakfast and one last visit to the Kids Net climber to burn off some energy before the drive back home. We didn’t rush off the boat knowing the customs line would be waiting for us. When we got there, we found the line we were expecting.
Two ships had unloaded, both large, and the lines were wrapped throughout the building. Luckily, the Fort Lauderdale Port Everglades port is the first port to introduce the use of the Mobile Passport app. While waiting in line, we downloaded the app, scanned in our passports, and on one of the turns near the outside edge caught the attention of one of the customs officials. I inquired about the mobile line, they asked to see my completed app receipt, when I showed them I had received an approval and a bar code, we stepped out of the zig-zagging line that had at least three hours of waiting remaining, walked down a straight path marked with the little blue man/mobile passport icon, showed our passports, scanned my phone, and we were on our way. We don’t know how long it will take for the mobile passport to gain in popularity to where the lines for it grow longer also – for now though, it is definitely worth taking a moment to download and install the app on your phone. If traveling through one of the now 20 airports or cruise port that currently has the option, it can definitely save you some valuable time!