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Some Family Cruise Activities Are Surprisingly Scary

Best Cruise Ships for Kids - Photo of rear view of Harmony of the SeasSo, I previously wrote about why Harmony of the Seas is one of the best cruise ships for kids – particularly the preschool crowd. It also has some cool features that appeal to both big kids and adults as well. Specifically, Harmony has a trio of water slides knows as the Perfect Storm and a 10 story dry slide – the Ultimate Abyss.  (Note, versions of these attractions are also available on Royal Caribbean’s new biggest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas.) Much has been written and videoed about these highly anticipated awesome-sounding features, and I was just as excited as my kids to try them out. But, it turns out I’m not quite the thrill-seeker I thought. At least not when it came to the Ultimate Abyss.

Related Post: 7 Awesome Reasons Preschoolers Adore Harmony of the Seas

Mom Meets The Abyss on One of the Best Cruise Ships for Kids.

From the videos available on the internet, we were all very excited about these new features. This would be our first Royal Caribbean cruise with actual water slides. What we didn’t know before sailing was that both of these attractions had height restrictions that would exclude my youngest son. The big water slides have a restriction of 48 inches. The dry slide requires a minimum of 44 inches. (But that turned out to be okay because there were many other features  that make Harmony one of the best cruise ships for kids.)

From my big kid’s point of view – all of his excited expectations were met.  He rode all of the slides multiple times throughout the week. As for mom’s point of view? Well, I honestly tried. But things didn’t quite work out the way we all had hoped. In particular, my downfall came at the Ultimate Abyss.

Royal Caribbean bills the Ultimate Abyss as the tallest slide at sea. It rises more than 150 feet above sea level. And, it offers two twisting side-by-side slides. Guests can reach speeds up to 9 miles per hour while zipping down the ten decks below.

So, this is what Royal Caribbean says about the Ultimate Abyss on its website:

“It’s the Ultimate Abyss, and it’s not for the faint of heart.
Thrill-seekers can climb the steps into the mouth of a fearsome sea predator, the anglerfish, enjoy the unobstructed ocean views, grab a mat, and then launch themselves down 216 feet of twisting tunnels against the background of whizzing lights, sound effects and pumping music.
It’s something you just have to experience for yourself.”  

There were so many different activities to try on Harmony that I didn’t get around to the Abyss until halfway through the week. My son had been talking it up all week and was very excited to do it together so that we could “race” down. As we walked towards the entrance of the attraction, we passed several signs and posters presumably designed to build suspense and excitement. Instead, they made me a little . . . concerned.

I don’t usually think of myself as “faint of heart,” but on this particular attraction, I got schooled. I confess. Staring down the mouth of the Abyss, I choked.  

When One of the Best Cruise Ships for Kids Isn’t for the “Faint of Heart”

I waited in a moderately long line. Climbed up the stairs. Received my potato sack mat and relevant instructions.  I sat down at top of slide and properly positioned my feet. And firmly gripped the handles.

Then, I looked down the pitch black tunnel to nowhere. I tried to get comfortable with the idea of hurtling ten stories down a long twisty tube. But staring down into the yawning darkness, several troubling thoughts kept popping to mind. What if I got trapped or injured midway down? How would they get me out? Did they have a 10-story ladder? Would they need a blow torch? No one had yet been injured on this attraction, would I be the first?

As I stared down the really dark hole, I observed how it was so pitch black dark that you couldn’t see how long it was. Or, when the curves were coming. Nor could you tell when the loud neon lights and sounds described in the brochure would come blasting. I stared for a good minute or two, and then I said “never mind.”

My nine-year-old son had already done this slide multiple times. And he waited at the second entrance for the precise purpose of racing me to the bottom.  When I announced that I had changed my mind, he was incredulous.  His jaw literally dropped. At first he thought I was joking. I was not. And, I really couldn’t provide a good face-saving explanation. Just had to ‘fess up that I was too afraid.  (Never having wimped out like that before, I hoped that I would be able to redeem myself at some later date.)

I handed by potato sack back to the crew person supervising the attraction.  In exchange, I received a very solemn head shake and a “Tsk Tsk Tsk.” That was followed by the walk of shame down the steps past all of the other eagerly waiting passengers.  The other crew person at the start of the line just gave me a small smile and said it happens sometimes. (Which I found somewhat comforting.)

Alternatives to The Abyss

Did you ever have the experience as a child learning to swim of making your way all the way to the top of the diving board, but being too afraid too jump off? Then having to sheepishly climb back down the ladder while avoiding the eyes of your little friends? Well, that’s what this was like.

While the Ultimate Abyss is an experience that “you just have to experience for yourself” I actually didn’t experience it – at least not all of it.  And that’s okay. Because I still had a fabulous time indulging in the other dozens of activities that makes this one of the best cruise ships for kids and adults. These included: checking out the entertaining shows such as Grease and a twisted take on Christopher Columbus.  Strategizing a way out of the escape room. Watching the fantastic acrobats perform in the Aquatheater. Ice skating. Ice skating shows. Rock climbing. A surfing simulator. And much more.

Eventually, I did manage to jump off the high dive. So maybe one day too I will feel ready to plunge down the mouth of the abyss. Time will tell. But meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy all of the other dozens of attractions offered by Harmony and its sister ships, which are also some of the best cruise ships for kids.

So, for all of you other grownups out there who might be a bit nervous about trying the supersize slide. If you don’t make it down – it’s okay. An hour in the hot tub, or time basking on the sun deck, or a trip to the spa will chase all that shame away. If you feel a wee bit squeamish about staring down that abyss, no worries. You can still have a fabulous time either way. There are so many exciting, relaxing and fun activities that make Harmony not just one of the best cruise ships for kids, but one of the best ships for almost any cruiser. No need to try them all to have a fantastic time.

Have you ever found one of the favorite cruise activities a wee bit scary? Share in the comments.

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