Royal Caribbean offers great family cruises for kids on its Oasis class ships. Currently, the newest and largest addition to the Oasis class is Harmony of the Seas (but that status will be eclipsed later this year with the addition of Symphony of the Seas). As my family has always had a fantastic time on our multiple sailings on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the seas, we were eager to see how Harmony of the Seas compared to its sisters. Bottom line, if you are looking for a great family cruise for kids, Harmony of the Seas has something to appeal to kids of all ages. But, it earns particularly high marks for its preschool appeal (kids ages 4 and under). Read on to learn 7 reasons why.
1. Harmony Of The Seas Has Awesome New Water Play Options.
One of the biggest new attractions on Harmony is the trio of water slides known as the Perfect Storm. And, it also features a new 10-story dry slide, The Abyss. My kids were extremely excited by these features once they found out we would be sailing on Harmony of the Seas. They repeatedly clamored to watch Youtube videos showing off these new features.
From my big kid’s perspective – the new attraction met all of his excited expectations. He rode all of the slides multiple times throughout the week. My preschool child, however, was disappointed to learn that these new heavily promoted slides came with height restrictions. Restrictions that were just high enough to exclude a 4-year old cruiser.
At first, he was quite bitter about it. But his disappointment quickly washed away once he got a look at the new expanded splash park for the younger kids. While both Oasis and Allure have fun splash park areas, the one on Harmony of the Seas definitely rises a few steps above. Best part, it features its own set of brand spanking new water slides! Ones perfectly scaled for smaller kids, yet still big enough to provide a thrill.
2. Harmony Of The Seas Has Fantastic Dreamworks Characters.
As with its sister ships, Harmony of the Seas features the Dreamworks Experience. This means that numerous characters from different Dreamworks animated movies floated around the ship all week. During our sailing, the ship featured characters from Madagascar, Shrek/Puss n Boots, and Trolls.
Although you could run into characters without really trying, the daily cruise schedule set out times and places where you could meet up with your individual favorites. For an extra fee, you could also sign up to have breakfast with the characters.
3. The Ship Features A Redesigned Mini-golf Park.
I confess that we usually don’t spend all that much time at the mini golf park, but we ended up making several trips to the one on Harmony. As with the splash park, Royal Caribbean has upgraded the golf park. On this ship, the golf park was set out a little differently and seemed to be more accessible and more highly trafficked. This increased the overall fun atmosphere of the course. But what really stood out was the section of mini-golf that was set up for the truly little kids. Basically it was a pre-school course adjacent to the main course. This little kid course had its own set of holes and scaled down putting clubs. It also had its own set of scaled down waiting chairs.
4. The Ship Has An Upgraded Open Play Room.
Harmony of the Seas has Kids’ Club areas essentially laid out the same as on the sister ships — a theater, a science lab, several different age based rooms and a nursery. What was a little different was the unsupervised playroom.
The playroom is basically an area where parents or caregivers can take kids to play with various toys that have been made available. Generally, no ship staff supervise this room, so this is not a drop off area. That said, this particular area seemed much larger than on the other ships and seemed better stocked with toys that appealed to a slightly larger age range. On prior cruises, my little kid never really wanted to play there. But he was very attracted to the playroom on Harmony. So this became a good activity option during the times when the Kids’ Club was closed.
5. Harmony Of The Seas Has An Outstanding Kiddie Climbing Wall.
The Oasis class ships are known for having large multi-story climbing walls at the back of the ship (with a panoramic view of the ocean). You can find a great description of these iconic walls here. Of course, those 30-40 feet walls (which require harnesses, helmets, and signed liability waivers) are not suited for small kids. Guests must be at least six years old to climb those walls. But, on Harmony of the Seas, right around the corner from the signature adult rock climbing walls, you will find a scaled down climbing wall for kids.
This turned out to be a very popular activity among the younger passengers. And, this may have been my preschooler’s favorite activity. He did it daily. Literally. And, he begged to eat at Johnny Rockets so that he could play before/after eating and while waiting for food. We ended up eating there multiple times (but this was partly due to our issues with Anytime Dining).
What I particularly loved about this wall, was the large overlay of webbed netting. This allows small kids to climb relatively high without fear of crashing to the ground. And the open netting provides lots of fresh air and ventilation.
Although this new feature is fantastic, it could use a couple of organizational tweaks. For instance, a shoe rack would have been nice. It would have avoided the jumbled pile of shoes that inevitably got kicked around by excited kids.
6. The Boardwalk Shines On Harmony Of The Seas.
The open air Boardwalk is one of the hallmark features of the Oasis class ships, and this carries over to Harmony. This area definitely provides many fun activities for the preschool set. There are lots of fun, free activities such as a carousel, entertainers, climbing wall, balloon animals and face painting. The face painting was very popular on our cruise, and the ship offered it numerous times throughout the week. But be forewarned, this activity has strict cut-off times. And, ship staff would close the line earlier than the actual advertised stop times so that all face painting could be completed. So if you want to do this, go towards the early part of the advertised period.
7. Harmony Of The Seas Has Great Kid Friendly Dining Options.
Once you look beyond the main dining room, room service, and the buffet, there are several good alternatives for kids. But these came with a small upcharge. Our favorites were Johnny Rockets and Sabor (which offers Mexican cuisine). Both of these venues were off of the Boardwalk and had an option for outdoor seating. They were also both the cheaper options of the venues that required an upcharge. The outdoor seating areas for both venues offered views of the Aqua Theater which provided bonus dinner entertainment when the water acrobats were performing. Both venues offered solid menu choices that appealed to kids. They are also both adjacent to the kiddie climbing wall (around the corner from adult rock climbing wall).
One of the more traditional specialty restaurants that worked for us was Jamie’s Kitchen – by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. I am always a little leary about the speciality dining options, and whether they are actually kid friendly. Jamie’s Kitchen is a good speciality restaurant. It had great Italian food. They offered a separate kids’ menu. And, they also have kid-friendly pasta options on the main menu. It was a reasonably laid back atmosphere. The wait staff interacted well with the kids. The restaurant’s location on the Central Park deck also provides an outdoor seating option.
Like its sister ships, Harmony of the Seas has lots to offer family cruisers, particularly families sailing with young kids. But, noteworthy outstanding additions of the upgraded water play areas for little kids, the child climbing wall and the preschool size golf course can make this a really special sailing for your preschooler.
Have you taken your kids on Harmony of the Seas? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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