We started our cruise adventure with an evening flight from Denver International Airport en route to Fort Lauderdale. Due to school schedules, we chose to fly on Spirit Airlines rather than our go-to airline of choice Southwest Air. We were fully aware of the added costs to the base fare for Spirit, but it wasn’t until our packing commenced that we felt the difference between Southwest and Spirit.
We always pack in soft-side duffel bags to best pack in as much weight as possible, after a quick review of Spirit’s website we found that we had 10lbs less per back to work with (40lbs vs. 50lbs)! Packing got creative, and upon check-in, we were both at 39lbs. The other big difference is that my travel backpack was a couple of inches too large to count as a personal item, so I had to rethink my carryon to avoid $90 roundtrip charges for my backpack.
The flight was very uneventful, seats were somewhat comfortable, and we enjoyed the food that we had brought onboard so not to have to buy anything. Service was courteous, and we departed and arrived on time. Once in Fort Lauderdale was grabbed our bags and hopped in our Lyft to the Hilton Ft Lauderdale Marina. Using the digital key in the Hilton app we proceeded straight to our room and convinced the boys that they needed to go to sleep since it was approaching 11 pm, they were a little restless from their naps on the flight, but soon enough they fell asleep.
When we awoke, we met up with my parents (who flew in from San Francisco the day before) for a quick breakfast from the bagel shop down the street. Our check-in time window as at 11 am, so we then proceeded via Lyft XL to Port Everglades. As we drove closer to the port, the sheer size of the Harmony of the Seas became more and more evident. Seeing her next to other ships was just amazing, she seemed to tower over her port-mates, and her young age showed in the overall appearance of the ship.
From the time that we dropped our bags with the porter to when we were onboard only about 20-30 minutes had elapsed. The security line was about 10 minutes, from that point forward we did not wait in line again. We swiftly moved through check-in, the obligatory pre-cruise photo, table to get the kids’ wristbands then on to the ship; this was by far the fastest embarkation that we have ever experienced. Once onboard we headed straight to Park Cafe in the Central Park Neighborhood, and our vacation started.
We had an oceanview balcony room, 12316. The room measured 182 sq ft with a 50 sq ft balcony. We felt that the room was comfortable for our family of four, especially with the new couch bed that Royal has started to use. Rather than a typical sofa bed, the couch itself converts easily very comfortable bed, then below it is a slide out trundle mattress that had a great memory foam mattress. Both of our boys said that their beds were very comfortable!
The room had ample storage for us all, plenty of closet space as well as drawers and cubbies. The bathroom was very typical for Royal Caribbean ships, with a glass-enclosed shower, small sink and unfortunately not a lot of storage for my wife.
We enjoyed the placement of both our room and my parents’ room. I selected staterooms on Deck 12, AFT, near the elevator stack. My parents were a few doors from the elevator hallway, and we were a few rooms down the hall. Deck 12, AFT was PERFECT for easy access to the main dining rooms, Windjammer Cafe, the Boardwalk and the Promenade. The only venue that was further for my parents to walk to was the Royal Theater. They seemed to enjoy the ease of access to a good majority of the ship!