Cruising: The boat that rocked

By Miriyana Alexander

There's a whole new way for Kiwis to ride the waves. Miriyana Alexander went to Barcelona to check it out.

Splashaway Bay and pool decks on board Harmony of the Seas.
Splashaway Bay and pool decks on board Harmony of the Seas.

It's called Harmony of the Seas. It could also be known as The Most Crazy Fun Time You Can Have at Sea.

Harmony, the newly-launched Royal Caribbean ship, is the world's biggest cruise liner. And surely the flashest. It is definitely a cruise ship to give all others an inferiority complex.

Last month I spent three days pootling around the Mediterranean on it. It was like a cross between a kid's birthday bash with everyone happy on a sugar high, and a hedonistic long weekend partying with friends. The sun was hot, we swam, ate and dashed between shows and action adventure rides. There was lots of laughing, afternoon cocktails and sunkissed shoulders. Happy days.

Royal Caribbean International's Harmony of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean International's Harmony of the Seas.

Only a right grumpy bugger wouldn't have been impressed. Harmony has 23 swimming pools, whirlpools, flowriders and water slides, and 40-odd restaurants and watering holes - one of which is called the Bionic Bar, where drinks are ordered on iPads and shaken, stirred and muddled to perfection by dancing robots.

Another is called the Rising Tide Bar and moves between three decks.

The impressive technology did not end there. Those with interior rooms still get the sea view thanks to a virtual balcony - the real view streamed real time to a wall in their stateroom.

But to sleep would be to waste time. After packing in the daytime adventures - mini golf, rock climbing, basketball, a zip-line ride maybe - the evening entertainment runs until the small hours.

After dining at any number of fine restaurants - including Jamie's Italian in Central Park (an area with 12,000 live plants) - there's a casino, nightclub, karaoke, comedy shows and musicals. I saw a very slick Grease and dashed from that to the Fine Line Aqua Show, where Cirque-like high-flyers meet swimming pool. Yep, you will get wet.

And just when you think there's nothing left to do, the longest ship at sea has the longest slide at sea. The Ultimate Abyss is 10 storeys high, and you make the drop in 13 electrifying seconds. I'm told the inside of the tube is graffitied and has 300 LED lights to create a starry-night effect. But I can't verify that - I had my eyes closed. And there may have been swearing.

Royal Caribbean International's Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest and newest cruise ship.
Royal Caribbean International's Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest and newest cruise ship.

Harmony of the Seas: by the numbers

70m high by 362m long. 40cm longer than the Eiffel Tower high.
22 knot cruising speed.
11,200 pieced of art on board.
16 passenger decks and 24 passenger elevators.
23 swimming pools and water rides.
127 types of cocktails are available, and about 50 tonnes of ice cubes are made every day to go in those drinks.
$US1.5 billion cost to build over 32 months.
2745 staterooms for 6000 passengers.
330 steps to walk the length of my hallway.
3. The number of times I had a cocktail before midday.
60,000 eggs, 380 litres of chocolate ice cream and 1100kg of salmon consumed on a seven-night cruise.

DETAILS

Getting there: Emirates flies daily A380 services between Auckland and Barcelona with direct connections at Dubai.

Further information: Harmony of the Seas moves to Florida in late October and will spend the following months sailing in the Caribbean.

- Herald on Sunday

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