Go big or go home
Planning your next big adventure can be tough. OK, so choosing what tropical/mountainous/paradisiacal holiday location shouldn’t be hard in theory (you’re escaping real life, after all). Yet sometimes, a combination of night after after night spent refreshing the Skyscanner app, searching for a 5* poolside villa – without the 5* price tag, obvs – and trying to pull together a half-decent itinerary all whilst holding down a full-time job is hard. Oh, and that’s before you’ve even tried to work out a daily budget.
Enter The Cruise.
No longer the preserve of the senior generation, who get to bask in the sun pretty much whenever they want (hey, they’ve earned it), cruises are becoming increasingly popular with us millennials thanks to a new breed of cruise ships that are built for the sole purpose of us having the Best. Holiday. Ever.
After experiencing this first hand, on the Royal Caribbean’s newest offering, the Harmony of the Seas AKA the world’s biggest ever cruise ship, and on board the brand new MSC Meraviglia, we can confirm that yes, in this case, bigger really is better. In case you need more persuading, here are six reasons why your next holiday destination should involve setting sail on a cruise….
The ship. Oh boy, the ship…
Clearly this element of your holiday is a biggie. In fact, it’s the key element of your stay; push away thoughts of feeling claustrophobic, or trapped, for these cruise ships are massive. Not in an intimidating, impersonal way, but in an ‘OMG this is literally incredible… wait, is that Central Park?!’ kind of way. The Harmony has one area alone consisting of 12,000 green trees and plants, an uptown dining experience and premium shopping. It’s Central Park, in the middle of the ocean. There’s also a solarium, four pools and a spa should you wish to take a moment to yourself and remember you’re on THE BIGGEST SHIP IN THE WORLD. And the Meraviglia? Ok, so maybe it’s not the biggest, but you’re definitely not going to feel cramped while strolling along the 96 metre central promenade, around the open air pools on the top deck, or when popping into the walk-in wine dispensing room on board (yes, dreams do some true).
It’s not your average ‘hotel’ room
You may have been on a cruise before, or perhaps, you’ve crossed The Channel on your way to France, however that on-board experience will in no way prepare you for the interiors on board the Harmony. Your room is not so much a cabin, more a luxe-Stateroom that is spacious (seriously) and features comfy double beds and properly good bathrooms. (We’re not talking single bunks, and tiny toilets here). While the Meraviglia offers a range of affordable, snug interior rooms, right up to the luxury Yacht Club Royal Suite (where the bathrooms have a tub). Oh, and the Wifi is really, really good – because when you’re at sea and it looks this good, it’s all about the ‘gram.
The food options are endless
When it comes to in-cruise dining, it’s not just sat at the Captain’s table that will see you getting the best food in the house. Meraviglia has international cuisines on offer from Italian to Japanese (including a branch of the famous food market Eataly). On board the Harmony, there are myriad food options available round the clock, whatever your food-mood. Feeling like a breakfast of champions? The Windjammer and its amazing views has got you covered. Quick slice of pizza for lunch? Head to Sorrento’s. Whilst you will literally be spoilt for choice on your trip, our tip is to head to Wonderland for dinner. As the name suggests, this multi-sensory experience is loosely based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and from the moment you enter the restaurant via a tunnel that leads to a golden door, to your first sample of food, you will not be disappointed.
It’s like a modern day Dirty Dancing
It is nigh on impossible to be bored on the ship, trust me. You could finish your day with dinner in the aforementioned Wonderland, or have a bespoke drink in the stupidly cool Bionic Bar (staffed by robot waiters) but no Harmony trip would be complete without seeing Broadway’s, Grease (at least once), followed by watching Royal Caribbean’s brand new show Columbus, The Musical (it needs to be seen, to be believed).
Or if your tastes are more acrobatically inclined, Meraviglia is the proud host of two brand new Cirque du Soleil shows (Viaggio and Sonar), and there’s been no expense spared in the Cirque du Soleil at Sea extravaganza – the ship has been built with a €20 million Carousel Lounge on board, designed specially for a 360 degree spectacular. If you’ve ever seen the Cirque crew doing their thing in a big top, imagine condensing that into a highly intimate, circular dining lounge and you’ll have some idea of what you’re in for.
It’s forward thinking
Aside from the marvel that is the Bionic Bar, the Harmony is resolutely forward thinking when it comes to sustainability. In fact, it’s one of the most energy-efficient and technologically advanced ships ever built, by minimising their environmental footprint whilst maximising their contribution to conservation. You can also feel good about the sustainability credentials of MSC’s Meraviglia – each MSC ship has a dedicated environment officer on board to ensure the careful use and monitoring of resources.
You’ll see what paradise really looks like
After departing the port at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on board the Harmony, we sailed overnight and the next day arrived in beautiful Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. Yep, we’re talking a bona fide paradise island. Think lush, hilly landscapes, whiter than white beaches and offshore coral reefs should you want to disembark and take to the waters for some snorkeling. While Meraviglia (not to be outdone) will show you Europe’s most beautiful port cities (insider tip: head to Valetta, Malta, now before it goes mainstream). We spent a morning at port exploring Barcelona, before embarking onto a (much smaller) boat, where we finished the day drinking prosecco and dancing to Fifth Harmony under the sun (with plenty of jumping overboard too). Sun, sea and prosecco on tap? Quite literally the dream.
For more information about Harmony of the Seas visit royalcaribbean.co.uk. To find out more about MSC Meraviglia visit msccruises.co.uk