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Boarding Harmony of the Seas

Updated: Apr 21

Day 2: Royal Caribbean | Harmony of the Seas

Last night I was given options for our shuttle time to the ship. We could either choose the 11:14am shuttle and arrive early or the 12:15pm shuttle and arrive fashionably late. We had a 12:30pm boarding time so I chose the 11:15am shuttle. The shuttle arrived at 11:20am and was packed. It was a short ride over to Terminal 1 where our floating hotel awaited.

We arrived a lot earlier than 12:30pm, but they allowed us through the process anyways. A man directed us to a much shorter line than everyone else. We had the VIP treatment and I wasn’t sure why, but we took it. While the normal line snaked back and forth in queues, our line was a straight shot to the terminal. When we arrived to the front, we were directed to an area for Covid-19 testing. My son had tested three days earlier and the rest of us tested two days ago. Because my son is too young to be vaccinated, he was tested a second time here at the port. We then realized what the VIP line was for all the young children. Three days ago, I entered the Pharmacy drive-through line at the Northfield CVS where a lady provided me with a bag of test stuff and closed the window. I asked myself: Am I supposed to swab my son? Does someone need to watch me do it? It was super unclear what I was supposed to do but in the end it involved me climbing out of the driver’s seat to get to my son while he screamed while I convinced him he wanted me to stick this thing in his nose. I apparently am not a good convincer and he trashed buckled into his car seat as I tried to gently swab the inside of his nose. It was not a pleasant experience for anyone. Fast forward to port testing and the images came back haunting me. I was worried about what was going to happen next. Would he freak out? Would we be turned away? Would he test negative and our cancelled flight was just an omen for what was to come? I was concerned. My son was calm and our swabber was the sweetest lady who was a toddler whisperer. She allowed my son to hold the swab with her so they could swab together. He was happy to do it and earned himself quite a few stickers. It was night and day from the experience three days ago. We then moved to a room where we waited for the test results.

The tests results would arrive by e-mail so I grabbed my phone to check my e-mail. My son had played with my phone the other day and when I went to open my e-mail the app wasn’t there. I thought he moved it so I searched for it and “Mail” wasn’t on the phone. He deleted it! Service was terrible in the area, but I was able to re-download the app. Of course, none of my email accounts loaded back and they all needed the passwords to re-login. Well my saved password didn’t work so that was a fiasco I wasn’t ready to handle. I remembered my iPad was with me, and lucky-for-me my Mail App was there and functioning. After 30 minutes, no e-mail and we began seeing people who arrived after us going through. I went up to ask about it and they too noticed that we should have received the results. They called back to the lab and within five minutes we had his test results and could move forward.

The next lady checked our passports, vaccine cards, and test results. My hands were full with all the different items we needed plus my backpack, plus my son’s backpack plus another bag. I couldn’t carry it all so I handed my iPad, the only functioning device with the e-mail that included my son’s test results, to my four-year-old son who had recently delated my Mail app on my phone. I’m a genius. We then went to one more check-point. This lady needed our boarding passes and also my son’s test results again. I grabbed the iPad from my son and the dreaded, “your device has been disabled” screen was there. Apparently, while I was showing all the documents, my son was trying every code possible to unlock my iPad. He did not unlock it and the iPad retreated to disabled mode so I could not unlock it either. My dad loudly pointed out how stupid I was for giving it to him. Thanks, Dad! We had to pull off to the side and wait the longest five minutes until I could unlock the iPad. Eventually the time passed, and we were able to move forward.

We could finally board Harmony of the Seas! We made our way to our cabins where we found our SeaPass Cards. My parents are in an Oceanview Balcony while my son and I are across the hall in a Central Park Balcony. Our cabin is relatively spacious and our balcony overlooks the park. Crazy that they can have a park on a ship! My son saw a couple in a balcony across from us and wailed, “HIIIIII” as he waved frantically. The couple had decorated their balcony with a banner that said “Love” and they smiled and waved back.

Family in front of Harmony of the Seas
Family in front of Harmony of the Seas

The next order of business was food. We headed to the Windjammer which is the buffet onboard. We filled our bellies and then began to wonder the ship. Eventually, we found the English Pub in the Promenade and my English dad was all about having a Strongbow. We sat at a table and a waitress quickly came to take our order. As we sipped our drinks, a crew person informed us that we were sitting in a vaccinated guests only section. Oops! My son wasn’t allowed at the pub. He said it wasn’t a problem for today, but we couldn’t come back with my son in the future. Fair enough. Shortly after he told us this, my son fell asleep in my lap. Since he said it was okay for today, we sat there letting the tired boy sleep. Not long after we finished our drinks, the man came back telling us we need to leave. Two hours on the ship, and we were already being kicked out of pubs.

We arrived to the cabin with plans of resting. My parents and I discussed when we would rendezvous for dinner. We looked for our dinner time and realized it was already dinner time. So much for resting! We headed to dinner.

Our cabin reservations weren’t exactly kosher. I am a travel advisor and sometimes there are travel perks. Last year, Royal Caribbean announced that any travel advisor that joined ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors) would be given a certificate for a *free cruise. Although it wasn’t quite free, it was still an amazing deal. The free cruise had conditions. One of the conditions was that your guest had to be vaccinated. My guest was my 4-year-old-son who could not be vaccinated which was a problem. So my guest was my mom. And my son and dad purchased another cabin for themselves. My mom and I had “my time dining” which I could not change and my dad and son had the early dining which I could also not change. My time and the early dining report to different decks for dinner. Although, I loved the idea of having a nice quiet dinner with my mom, my dad was less excited about a solo dinner with his grandson. I should also point that my son is autistic so new environments and new situations can sometimes lead to meltdowns. My dad wasn’t onboard. We first when to guest services to see if they could adjust our dinner times. They could not, but said that the dining room may be able to adjust it. There was a long line of people adjusting their times. A woman approached us and pulled us out of line. VIP treatment again! She quickly made the change and we were all on the early time now!

The early time meant we would have the same table and same servers for the week. This was welcome because the more consistency the better for my son and also I have food allergies so it’s easier on me. Our dinners were artfully presented and we ate a ton! We hadn’t learned to pace ourselves yet.

Dinner on Harmony of the Seas
Dinner on Harmony of the Seas

After dinner, we had scheduled the comedy show. My parents continued on to watch it, but it was clear my son wasn’t going to make it to it. I took him back to the cabin where he fell asleep quickly and so did I. After all our adventures with getting to our vacation, we could finally relax and rest. It was blissful.

My parents said the comedy show was okay and that the best part of the show was the opening band. It was a family-friendly comedy show and they said that many of this kids were laughing a lot. The highlight of their evening was listening to a guitarist in Central Park.

About the Author

Amaris is the owner of the Ohio-based travel agency, Adventures by Amaris. Her love for travel began at a young age when she traveled to her parents' home countries of England and Mexico. She continued traveling in High School by participating in a People to People program to Italy, France and Monaco. In college, she spent six weeks in Europe studying abroad and traveling. She visited Spain, Portugal, England, Wales, Ireland, Vatican City, and Italy in a whirlwind summer. Through her adult life she continues to make traveling a priority with her family. Her young son is autistic so navigating the world of traveling with an autistic child brings on new adventures. Her travel resume includes Mexico, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Panama, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Colombia, and Cayman Islands. She is an expert in planning family vacations across the world from Disney World to Europe to worldwide cruises.

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