Plan the Ultimate Family Cruise

Take the ultimate family cruise on the world’s biggest cruise ship, where there’s something fun for everyone.

Originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of AAA Traveler.

Rock climbing wall on Harmony of the Seas ultimate family cruise

Rock climbing wall

Photo Credit: Courtesy Royal Caribbean International

When it comes to cruising, strict demographics are dead. Ships were once designed exclusively for the youngest among us or those several generations senior, but the cruise industry has caught up with modern families, who are more often shipping out together and inviting the grandparents to come along, too.

Grease in the Royal Theater on Harmony of the Seas ultimate family cruise

Grease in the Royal Theater

Sailing in to meet the many demands of multigenerational travelers, Royal Caribbean International®’s new Oasis Class ship Harmony of the Seas®, the world’s largest passenger ship, knows how to please passengers, offering something for everyone. A cross between Royal Caribbean®’s biggest class, Oasis, and its most tech-forward class, Quantum, the groundbreaking ship hits the Caribbean Sea this fall brimming with amenities, including the multi-course molecular gastronomy restaurant Wonderland, among 20 dining options; radio-frequency bracelets that serve as room keys and charge cards; the tallest shipboard slide; and the first full-length at-sea production of the Broadway hit Grease.

The essential motivation of multigenerational travelers is to create lasting memories—to spend time away from the day-to-day and seek new bonding experiences. Yet traveling with your family also means confronting disparate interests and competing demands. Harmony of the Seas® embraces the challenge creatively with group and generational pursuits—creating the ultimate family cruise.

FlowRider surf simulator ultimate family cruise

FlowRider surf simulator

Time Together

Families can spend precious time in conversation around the table, whether it’s a sushi bar or steakhouse booth. Follow the kids to the FlowRider® surf simulator and the zipline to master the learning curves together. Have a meeting of the minds in the Puzzle Break escape room, in which players team up to find clues and solve puzzles to break out of their enclosed area within 60 minutes. Do arts and crafts for a few hours, then hit the Boardwalk for a round of ring toss, skee ball or any of myriad other classic arcade games. Research has shown that intergenerational game play brings families closer and increases kids’ achievement levels in school.)

Catch amazing shows in the AquaTheater, which stages daring diving and acrobatic shows, and on the shipboard ice rink, where professional figure skaters tell stories through edges, spins and jumps. Speaking of stories, film buffs of all ages will enjoy the programs of the exclusive DreamWorks Experience, such as watching 3-D movies and sharing breakfast with beloved film characters like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda’s Po.

Time Apart

Everyone needs me time, and Harmony of the Seas® provides a place for each pace. For guests seeking solace from the splash zone, the adults-only, open-air Solarium offers a tranquil swimming pool. Take a yoga class or go for a spinning session, or treat yourself to a massage, pedicure or even a teeth whitening at the Vitality at Sea Spa & Fitness Center. Declare a date night and go dancing at the Latin nightclub Boleros or gambling at Casino Royale, and enjoy a cocktail shaken up by a robotic bartender at the Bionic Bar.

The Perfect Storm trio of water slides on Harmony of the Seas ultimate family cruise

The Supercell water slide is part of The Perfect Storm trio

For kids and the young at heart, the ship-top Splashaway Bay water park boasts slippery slides, drench buckets and water cannons. The ship also breaks new ground with the Ultimate Abyss, a 10-story slide that spirals from one of the top decks. Teens have their own club, the Living Room, with a video arcade and dance floor; younger siblings get their own neighborhood, Kids Avenue, which features a science lab and a theater. The Royal Babies and Tots Nursery offers parents childcare drop-off options for infants and toddlers (6 months or older) in the daytime and evening.

The beauty of a large ship is the variety on deck for families of any size and age range. Harmony of the Seas® stacks its 18 decks with mood-spanning activities, and it boasts family-friendly suites that sleep as few as four up to as many as 14. Manage your ultimate family cruise with new EAT.DRINK.PLAY packages in family-friendly, Boardwalk-facing balcony rooms that include a meal for four at Johnny Rockets, a soda package for two and two hours at the rock wall. In the couples-oriented Central Park balcony rooms, the package includes lunch for two at Giovanni’s Table, a bottle of red wine in the cabin and private casino gaming lessons.

Photos courtesy Royal Caribbean International®

Harmony of the Seas sails in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Visit AAA.com to browse available cruises or call 877-396-7159 to speak to a AAA Travel Counselor.

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Marco Ruiz, AAA Travel Counselor, Monterey, Calif.

I love to suggest Italy and Spain because of the culture and the flair of the people–their fashions, language and way of life. They take time to enjoy life's pleasures. When you're there, you feel it, too.

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