From the 16th deck of Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas, twin purple slides stem from the mouth of a giant angler fish, a glass floor reveals the 150-foot-drop — and turquoise ocean — below and nervous passengers line up with mats that will carry them down 10 stories on a 15-second, adrenaline-pumping voyage.
Aerial image of Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas. Michel Verdure www.verdurephoto.com
This is the world’s tallest slide at sea on the world’s largest cruise ship. (Royal Caribbean is a fan of superlatives.)
Ultimate Abyss, as the slide is called, is taller than Mount Rushmore. Its height and novelty make it the key attraction for travelers hungry to try another course of Royal Caribbean International ingenuity. It delivers: On a two-night preview sailing of the ship for media, executives and travel agents, lines to ride Ultimate Abyss hovered between 20 and 30 minutes.
Ultimate Abyss, a 150-foot slide onboard Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas during a press sailing from Nov. 10 to 12. Chabeli Herrera firstname.lastname@example.org
With the slide as its leading example, the ship has been touted as the Royal Caribbean’s most innovative. Other new additions include three water slides and a handful of new shows.
“Bigger, bolder, better” was how cruise director Ken Rush described the 6,780-passenger Harmony during the ship’s naming ceremony on Nov. 10.
“When we invite our guests to come seek the Royal Caribbean, this is really what we’re talking about,” quipped Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.
The ship was such a departure, in fact, that the line considered making it part of a new class of Royal Caribbean International ships, rather than the newest sister in the Oasis class of ships, which includes the largest ships in the world, said Richard Fain, parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises’ chairman and CEO.
But in reality, Harmony is more a hybrid of past innovations not really meriting its own category.
Where the ship excels is in uniting the favorite features of Royal Caribbean’s two newest classes — the Oasis class and the Quantum class, which racked up accolades for its technical advancements and whose ships sail from New Jersey, Australia and China.
Guests who can’t afford to fly across the ocean or even the country to see the features introduced on the Quantum class, such as the line’s robotic bars or its Disney-esque ease programmed wristbands that open doors and pay for drinks, can now experience them closer to home.
The Bionic Bar is undoubtedly a crowd-magnet. Large groups were almost always gathered gazing at — and usually videotaping — the two robotic bartenders as they took orders from tablets stationed around the bar and mixed drinks from an expansive collection of upside-down bottles that made up the bar’s ceiling. Guests can track the wait time, their spot in line, their $12 drink’s process and even the most popular drinks by age, on screens on the side of the bar.
The wristbands, called WOWbands, are a welcome addition, particularly at a time when guests have come to expect extreme ease of use. The “where is my room key?” days are (practically) over on Royal. (Except when turning on the lights in your cabin; you still need to plug in your card for that.) They come in four colors — white, black, yellow and blue — for a $5 charge.