No matter how many cruises I take, there are always a few things that stand out from each one. Here’s a batch from our recent Harmony of the Seas to the Western Caribbean:
Port Canaveral’s easy on, easy off. Never has getting on and off the ship been better or faster. The baggage drop-off wasn’t crowded, there were no lines into the terminal and because we did online check-in with our phone and Royal Caribbean app, we showed our SetSail Pass and were climbing the gangplank in minutes.
On disembarkation day, we walked off with our luggage, smiled at Customs, which is now using facial recognition instead of asking to see passports, and were out of the terminal and on the road in a flash. (Note: passports are still needed for the cruise.)
Coco Cay, a fun way to spend the day. The beaches were pretty, there was a lot to see and do, and the food was better than expected. It was very spread out and never felt crowded. (Note: our ship was the only one there.) The tropical foliage was photograph-worthy, there were whimsical sand dunes and people-watching galore. A huge pool with swim-up bar (although there were more drinkers than swimmers). Then there’s the water park.
|One side of Coco Cay...|
|...another side of Coco Cay|
Hand-made in Mexico. There were many ships in Costa Maya when we got there, with thousands of passengers descending on the small pier area. But somehow, through the throng, I stumbled on a very special shop, d.origen. Prices were in pesos, so I was initially scared off. But the unique clothing, ceramics and knickknacks—and the helpful and friendly staff (who were happy to convert prices to dollars)—drew me back again. It’s an artisan cooperative, and all items were made by Mexicans, using traditional techniques.
From the “You Won’t Believe This” category. Walking along the busy main road outside the cruise pier in Cozumel, we stopped in our tracks to see an extremely tall man with a tiny woman sitting on his shoulders, reaching up to pick a coconut.
Filet mignon at Chops. I polished off a terrific 9 ounce filet mignon, shrimp cocktail, salad with breaded goat cheese and warm chocolate cake with ice cream. Worth every penny. And beats the main dining room any day.
Dinner with wine. If you’re Diamond Club or higher (Royal Caribbean’s loyalty club), you’ll like this: you can now order drinks off the free Diamond Club menu from restaurants throughout the ship, including specialty dining. Wine with dinner. Sweet!
His and hers. One of the great features of the Harmony balcony stateroom is the two separate closets. It helps having your own space—especially when there’s not much to spare.
A balcony for napping. And here’s another: reclining chairs and hassocks on the verandah, which you won’t find on the Allure of the Seas. You gotta love it—furniture tailor-made for napping!