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New ship No. 5 — Harmony of the Seas

Fifth in a series of new ships for 2016

Ship-Harmony

This third Oasis Class ship is already being called the world’s biggest ship by Royal Caribbean, but who’s measuring. Harmony of the Seas is the identical length of its predecessor for the title, Allure of the Seas, and weighs 718 tons more but is 49 feet smaller in width. The determining factor seems to be capacity, which at two-per-room gives Harmony the edge by 88 passengers. It’s really a moot point because the three Oasis sibling ships are the three biggest cruise ships anywhere.

Launch date: May 22

Capacity: 5,488

Sister ships: Oasis of the Seas (2009), Allure of the Seas (2010)

Maiden voyage: Southampton return (4 days)

Home port: Barcelona and Fort Lauderdale

Ships then in Royal Caribbean fleet: 26

Interesting: While Harmony of the Seas has all the trappings that have made the Oasis Class so popular — Central Park, Boardwalk, Giovanni’s Table, Broadway shows, Flowrider — this $1.35-billion ship’s identity is likely to be the Ultimate Abyss. Thrill seekers will drop 10 stories when they venture into the tallest waterslide on any cruises ship, which continue to display slides that are bigger, wilder, scarier. Passengers will wear “WOWBands” to help them find their way and Royal Caribbean says VOOM is the fastest Internet at sea. Harmony’s Broadway show is Grease, certain to be a winner, and its other distinguishing gimmick is likely to be the robots who serve drinks in the Bionic Bar. Do they ask for tips?

Today at portsandbows.com: Geographically appealing ports for Canadians


Norwegian Sun
14 nights
February 27, 2016
Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Puerto Madryn, Port Stanley, Cape Horn, Ushuaia, Beagle Channel, Punta Arenas, Strait of Magellan, Chilean Fjords, Puerto Chacabuco, Puerto Montt, Santiago
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $71
www.ncl.com

North Star? RipCord? Go now!

If you’re booked on Anthem of the Seas, the newest Royal Caribbean ship on the sea, make sure you take a ride on the North Star. That’s the pod at the end of an arm that North Startakes you on a ride over the water while the ship is cruising. And after you’ve done it, do it again. And again. And again.

If you are a cruise aficionado who can’t wait to see Harmony of the Seas, the next new Royal Caribbean ship that’s due in 2016, go on its North Star, too. Then go again. And again. And again.

If you think you might like simulated sky diving, RipCord by iFly is available (or will be) on RipCordboth those Quantum Class ships, so don’t miss a chance to give it a shot. Then do it again. And again.

Both those thrill features are free.

For now.

The flagship for this class is Quantum of the Seas. It is cruising in Asia, home-ported in Singapore. If you go on that North Star, it costs $20. If you go on that RipCord, it costs $26 for the one-minute ride.

Isn’t it just a matter of time?

In the news…

• Eight-year-old boy drowns in pool on Liberty of the Seas
• Crystal Cruises announces plans to add two jets and double air fleet
• Pier 66 cruise terminal improvements project approved in Seattle

Today at portsandbows.com: Hurtigruten expanding operations


Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam
7 nights
January 24, 2016
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon Cay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Key West
Inside: $539
Cost per day: $77
www.hollandamerica.com

‘Greased Lightning’ Coming To Harmony

Olivia Newton-JohnWhen you go to see Olivia Newton-John perform, as we did last week, there’s some baggage that comes with it. Friends and relatives who are less enlightened will say — or at least infer — that you’re living in the past. One was astounded that you passed up watching the World Series to see a 67-year-old “has-been” sing songs from another century. Some may even keep their distance, for fear of being tarred with the nostalgia brush.

We didn’t care. We loved Olivia’s show and, unless our hearing is going, she sounded as good as the last time we saw her 33 years ago.

Furthermore, we love Grease. One of us has seen it so many times she’s lost count. Her husband has to admit it’s a classic, too. What’s not to love?

In the movie, Olivia Newton-John plays Sandy Olsson. John Travolta plays Danny Zuko. If you don’t already know that, you’re probably not interested in knowing that Sandy and HarmonyDanny are going to be performing Grease on Royal Caribbean’s third (and next) Oasis Class ship, when Harmony of the Seas is launched next year.

That means they’ll be singing Greased Lightning, Summer Nights and Beauty School Dropout together, just like Olivia and one of her back-up singers (no Travolta, but very good) did last week in Las Vegas.

On Harmony of the Seas, Grease will be the main theater entertainment.

As it should be.

In the news…

• Norwegian Escape christened by 'Godfather' Pitbull in Miami
• MSC, Cirque du Soleil in long-term partnership for Meraviglia Class ship shows
• Star Princess ends successful cruise season for Canada's Victoria Harbour

Today at portsandbows.com: Anthem of the Seas — Part Two


Carnival Dream
7 nights
January 31, 2016
New Orleans (return): Roatan, Belize, Cozumel  
Inside: $419
Cost per day: $59
www.carnival.com

Friday File: Making Of A Cruise Ship

It's rare that most of us get a chance to see a cruise ship under construction, even in pictures. Royal Caribbean's third Oasis Class ship will be Harmony of the Seas, currently being built at the STX Shipyard in France. Below is what it looks like now, precisely one year before it opens for business, in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea…

Harmony-1

An aerial view of the new ship before taking a bow.

Harmony-2

A close-up of the bow, on which its name is already visible.

Harmony-3

Soccer players get ‘capped’ internationally…as do cruise ships.

Harmony-4

Appears it’ll be ready sooner than May 2016, don’t you think?

Harmony-5

What the artist thinks Harmony will look like when she’s done.

Oasis

And if Harmony’s like the mother ship, you won’t know her from Oasis!

In the news…

• Puerto Vallarta expecting visits from 131 ships this year, up 16 per cent
• Norwegian introduces specialty dining package starting at $59 for three days
• Chinese cruise market close to hitting a ceiling; Caribbean looking stronger

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival's new policy on bringing drinks aboard

Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam
7 nights
November 29, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon Cay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Key West
Inside: $482
Cost per day: $68
www.hollandamerica.com

Allure of the Seas…More Alluring?

When we heard that Allure of the Seas was going in to be refurbished, our initial reaction was: What could be better?

It is a rite of passage that cruise ships are refurbished every five years or so, even when they’re the biggest and arguably best of all mainstream ships. Until Harmony of the Seas arrives next spring, Allure will retain its big-ship status by about 100 passengers and by about 1,700 tons. It’s a title that has been Allure’s (on a technicality over Oasis of the Seas) since it arrived late in 2010.

The new and refreshed Allure is in Marseille today, early in its first Mediterranean season of weekly round-trips from both Barcelona and Rome, which means passengers can embark in either place. What are Europeans enjoying that North Americans haven’t yet seen, and won’t until Allure returns in November?

Izumi, a wonderful Japanese restaurant that cooked your dinner on a “hot rock” at the table, is now called Izumi Hibachi & Sushi and is fully Japanese cuisine. No mention has Izumi-hot rockbeen made if the hot rock (left) made the cut, but it was cool…proving something hot can be cool.

Sabor Taquieria & Tequila Bar is new. Hopefully, Europeans crave Mexican food as much as North Americans do.

In additiuon to new and upscale shops like kate spade new york and Michael Kors, there are 10 new suites (two Royal, six Grande, two Royal Family) and the Coastal Kitchen with its California-inspired cuisine is exclusively theirs. Does that mean mostly Californians book suites? The suite people also have a new lounge and new sun deck, so a part of the ship has clearly become more exclusive.

Funny…we thought it was already exclusive, just by being Allure of the Seas.

In the news…

• Major cruise lines assessing need to hire lifeguards on ships
• Australia cracks 'magic million' cruise passengers for first time
• Norwegian changes policy on passengers' taking food to rooms

Today at portsandbows.com: Cunard's three Queens 'dance' on the Mersey

Royal Caribbean Splendour of the Seas
7 nights
November 14, 2015
Venice (return): Kotor, Corfu, Athens, Crete, Argostoli
Inside: $588
Cost per day: $84
www.royalcaribbean.com

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