Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas has arrived in Florida. After two 2-night pre-inaugural sailings, she is sailing out of Ft Lauderdale, alternating between western and eastern Caribbean itineraries.
If you are not familiar with pre-inaugural sailings, these are short outings typically put on for travel agents and the media. This go ’round, Royal Caribbean also extended invitations to some of their Pinnacle status members of the Crown and Anchor Society. The purpose of pre-inaugural sailings is to introduce new ships to those who will be selling it (travel agents) and hopefully promoting it (travel agents and the media).
In the past, pre-inaugural sailings were referred to as “a cruise to nowhere.” But after recent changes, legally the cruise lines lost the ability to offer cruises to nowhere. Fortunately, when you’re sailing out of Ft Lauderdale it’s easy enough to add in a short (six hour) port of call in Nassau to meet federal regulations. I’m not sure how this will be worked around with pre-inaugurals out of the New York/New Jersey area; or if pre-inaugurals will even be offered out of those ports in the future.
Harmony of the Seas is now officially the largest cruise ship on the seas (for now), barely measuring longer than her sister ships Oasis and Allure of the Seas. Harmony has quite a bit in common with her sister ships, however, with the plethora of room categories offered (eight different ocean-facing balcony categories alone), the neighborhoods like Boardwalk and Central Park, and more entertainment than you can take in over the course of two days. Of course, there are some subtle differences: one of the biggest changes is that the Wonderland restaurant (first introduced on Quantum of the Seas) has been added to decks 11 and 12, where the Diamond Club is located on Oasis and Allure of the Seas. Not to fear, Harmony of the Seas still has a Diamond Club; it’s been relocated to deck four.
As always, Royal Caribbean hits it out of the park when it comes to entertainment. Their Broadway musical onboard Harmony of the Seas is Grease, which is an adaptation of both the movie and the Broadway musical. In addition, they have a new musical called Columbus the Musical. Columbus is an original production created by Royal Caribbean. I had some reservations going into it, but by the end of the show I was sold on it. And the water shows were spectacular, including The Fine Line.
There are some cruise passengers that will not be a good fit for Harmony of the Seas, so qualify your clients carefully. Those clients that enjoy smaller, more intimate ships may feel overwhelmed by the floating cities that are found in the Oasis class ships. However, for clients that enjoy having a large selection of dining and entertainment venues, Harmony of the Seas is sure to please.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations, she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.