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Floating City: Inside the World’s Largest Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean’s massive new ship sailed into its home port of Fort Lauderdale for the first time in November 2016. The world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas promises adventure at every turn, and it’s tough to refute that assertion, especially when the ship comes fitted with a slide that takes guests on a 10-story plunge. The ship is 16 decks high, weighs 227,000 gross registered tons (that’s more than 17,000 African elephants), and can accommodate 5,497 passengers. If you stood this 1,188-foot-long mega-ship on end, you’d find that it’s 6.5 times taller than London’s Big Ben, more than twice as tall as Barcelona’s Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, and 121 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. With all that real estate, you’ll have plenty to explore while at sea. Here’s a first look at Royal Caribbean’s newest fleet addition.



Harmony of the Seas is uniquely designed to encompass seven distinct “Neighborhoods,” or themed districts. As you stroll through the thoroughfare you might even forget you’re out at sea. . Central Park is one of the most compelling neighborhoods, comprising upscale dining and shopping, plus a greenspace with more than 12,000 living trees and plants. Be sure to visit the Royal Promenade for bar-hopping, dining, and shopping; the Boardwalk neighborhood features a beautiful handcrafted carousel and old-timey arcade; the Pool and Sports Zone is best for thrill-seekers, with water slides, rock-climbing walls, zip line, and FlowRider surf simulators. Get centered at Vitality Spa and Fitness, then check out Entertainment Place for shows and the casino. Youth Zone offers  supervised activities for kids of all ages. .

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With a vessel as large as Harmony, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to accommodations. The ship has 2,747 cabins, and that includes studio cabins for solo travelers, interior staterooms (some with a “virtual” balcony offering real-time views of your destination), and balcony staterooms with views of the ocean, the Boardwalk, or “Central Park.” There are several types of cabins designed specifically to accommodate families.. All cabins feature Royal Caribbean’s incredibly fast and reliable VOOM internet. It’s robust enough that you can even stream content to your devices, a rarity on cruise ships.



For a more luxurious experience, book one of Harmony’s suites.  Suite passengers get additional perks, like access to the VIP-only Mediterranean restaurant, Coastal Kitchen, plus a private lounge with ocean views and an exclusive full-service sun deck called the Suite Sun Zone. From the balcony of the AquaTheater Suite, guests can watch high divers perform incredible acrobatic feats as they dive into the pool below. There’s a four-bedroom family suite, and the enticing Royal Loft Suite, pictured here. Choose from three categories of service: Star Class, which includes a “Royal Genie” personal assistant to grant your every wish; Sky Class, which comes with a personal concierge; and Sea Class, which includes upgraded ensuite amenities from Hermes, Ferragamo, and L’Occitane.



 Onboard Harmony of the Seas you’ll find 20 different dining options. Flexibility is the name of the game here: you can select from two seating times at dinner or opt for Royal Caribbean’s My Time Dining program, which lets you pick your own seating time and table mates in a dedicated area of the main dining room. You can also enjoy a meal in one of the ship’s eight specialty restaurants. Some of the most popular venues include Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar, Chops Grille, Jamie’s Italian with recipes from British chef Jamie Oliver, and Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine (pictured).



If you’re accustomed to ordering the same beer or wine with dinner, a cruise aboard Harmony is your chance to spread your wings a bit. The ship offers 40 brands of beer and wine from 340 different vineyards. If you’re in the mood for a mixed drink, they serve all of the classics, plus 127 specialty cocktails created by the onboard mixologists. Most bars offer musical entertainment in the evenings with the exception of the Bionic Bar, powered by Makr Shakr, which is its own form of entertainment: order a drink via tablet at the bar, then watch this robot blend the concoction before your eyes.



You’ll find three swimming pools on Deck 15: the Main Pool, Sports Pool, and Beach Pool. At the front of the ship is the three-deck adults-only Solarium with plenty of spacious hot tubs. (There are 10 total whirlpools aboard Harmony of the Seas.) Splashaway Bay is perfect for kids, with water cannons, drenching buckets, and a fun jungle gym.



For the adrenaline junkie, there are 23 pools, water slides, and surf simulators, in addition to an 82-foot-long zip line that’s nine decks in the air. There are also two 43-foot rock-climbing walls, an ice-skating rink, and a full-sized basketball court, and for the true adventurer, The Ultimate Abyss is the tallest slide at sea, promising a 10-story plunge. If you’re not quite up to the challenge, try one of the other multistory waterslides instead.



The Vitality Spa spans decks five and six, offering a range of services across 23 treatment rooms, including a room just for couples. The thermal suite is a major draw here, and includes heavenly ceramic loungers, a steam room, and a sauna. All treatments—ranging from bamboo massages to anti-aging facials—and access to the thermal suite carry an extra fee, but are well-worth the indulgence. The ship’s expansive fitness center is located in the spa and includes all manner of exercise equipment and a classroom space for group sessions of yoga and tai chi. There is also a full-service beauty salon.



No matter how picky your kids are, they’re bound to find a lot to love aboard Harmony. Royal Caribbean is a leader in onboard children’s programs, and you’ll find group activities organized by age and supervised by trained youth counselors, all of whom possess a four-year degree in education, recreation, or a related field. There’s also a teen lounge area and disco, a nursery for babies, and a playgroup for tots. The cruise line’s helpful “Babies 2 Go!” program lets you pre-order Huggies diapers, wipes and creams, and Gerber baby food, so everything you need is right in your stateroom upon boarding. Even if your kids don’t want to take part in organized activities, they’ll love the carousel and games on the Boardwalk, the 3D movie theater, and the chance to meet their favorite DreamWorks characters from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and other animated films.



If you’ve cruised before, you know you can look forward to traditional types of entertainment, like Broadway-style shows (Harmony’s rendition of Grease is a must-see) and a lively casino.  For something a bit further afield, attend one of Harmony’s ice shows; Royal Caribbean is the only line that has ice rinks aboard some of its ships. You also must attend one of the shows at AquaTheater at the aft of the ship. This is where you’ll see stunts performed by high divers into the world’s deepest pool at sea.

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