With more than half a million parts, stretching almost four football pitches long and having taken 32 months to construct, the world’s newest and biggest cruise ship is ready to take to the ocean waves.
Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas will be making a series of short getaways from Southampton to northern Europe in the next two weeks, before embarking on her maiden voyage on May 29, arriving in Barcelona on June 5.
She’ll be heading to her home port of Port Everglades, Florida, in November, but before then, there will be 34 seven-night western Mediterranean sailings from June 7.
It’s good news for those Brits who prefer to cruise straight from the British Isles, rather than hop on a plane first. A recent poll by Cruise Critic found that 43% of people would prefer to cruise from the UK, and 24% would only take a no-fly cruise - compared to the 16% who’d prefer to fly to their cruise.
On board Harmony, lucky cruisers will find all mod cons, including Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, with a 10-storey plunge; robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar, powered by Makr Shakr; virtual balconies with real-time views of the destination and VOOM – the fastest internet at sea.
“Harmony of the Seas is redefining holidays and intriguing a new generation of travellers with a bold and unexpected line-up of first at sea innovations, while enticing them to explore the world from a new perspective,” says Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.
If Harmony has whet your appetite for a little cruising this summer, check out Cruise Critic’s picks of the best sailings from UK ports:
Visits? Norwegian fjords; Iceland; Baltic; Mediterranean; Azores; Canary Islands; Spain.
Between April and October, just a few options include eight-night cruises to the Norwegian fjords and a 12-night sailing to Iceland and Ireland with an overnight in Reykjavik.
Highlights: Highly commended in the 2016 UK Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards, Celebrity Eclipse was ranked a top five ship across nine categories, and offers a sophisticated and contemporary cruise experience, with excellent dining.
Cruiser Feedback: “Our 14-night cruise on Eclipse was the best of our 28 cruises taken. The ship is looking terrific, both inside and outside.” – Cruise Critic member OkanaganRon.
Visits? Mediterranean; Norwegian fjords; Canary Islands; Iberia; short break cruises (Western Europe).
P&O Cruises has partnered with several celebrity chefs, and offers itineraries featuring these stars on board. Options include a 12-night Canary Islands cruise with James Martin, and a 14-night Mediterranean sailing with Marco Pierre White and Charlie Turnbull. In addition, during a 13-night ‘Strictly Come Dancing’-themed Canary Islands cruise, Olly Smith and James Martin will also be on board.
Highlights: Returning to the UK this month, Britannia is both the line’s largest ship, and the largest built for the UK market. Dining is highly rated, and includes a molecular gastronomy restaurant, The Epicurean, delivering a modern twist on traditional food, as well as a special menu served on formal nights, which is created by Marco Pierre White.
Cruiser Feedback: “We had freedom dining and ate in the Peninsular restaurant, the choice of food was really good, we never had one bad meal, the longest we had to wait for a table was 10 minutes.” - Cruise Critic member Simmo139.
Visits? Canary Islands; Mediterranean; Spain; short break cruises (Paris and Bruges).
During 2016, main sailings from Southampton are 13+night Mediterranean cruises, in addition to 10+night Spain and Canary Islands cruises. Shorter options include a seven-night France and Spain departure.
Highlights: Located at the ship's heart is the Royal Promenade, a shopping, dining and entertainment boulevard longer than a football pitch which features nightly street parades using music, lasers and lights.
Cruiser Feedback: “The nightly entertainment was the best I've seen on my seven cruises.” - Cruise Critic member WDMAC.
Visits? Baltic; Norwegian fjords; Spain; Portugal; Mediterranean.
From Southampton this summer, cruises include a 28-night ‘Northern Europe Grand Adventure’, as well as 11+night sailings to the Canary Islands, Baltic and Mediterranean, and a 7-night ‘Scandinavia’ taking in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
Highlights: The ship recently added SHARE, celebrity chef Curtis Stone's first restaurant at sea, which provides meals designed to be shared with others. Emerald Princess also hosts a giant outdoor cinema screen showing ‘Movies Under the Stars’.
Cruiser Feedback: “The food was excellent and every night even though a different waiter, was so enjoyable!” - Cruise Critic member KimBill97.
Have you been on a cruise from the UK? Tell us in the Comments section below.