While I was waiting my turn on the Ultimate Abyss, the behemoth slide on the Harmony of the Seas, the two people sliding down at that moment were screaming at the top of their lungs! It felt like they were being tortured inside! There was just one more person ahead of me and soon it would be my turn.
Even before leaving for the voyage on the Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas there was a lot of talk among us about the Ultimate Abyss Slide. There was some debate if it was a slide where you had to take off your clothes i.e. if it was a wet slide. I can now say with authority that it is a dry slide and there is no need to wear a swimsuit. In fact you need to slide sitting inside a bag because the Ultimate Abyss is made of stainless steel. Without a bag there would be high friction. Even though you go at 14 km per hour, it feels ridiculously fast inside the twisting turning tube! The slide starts at Deck 16 and ends at Deck 6 making it a fall of 10 stories.
I was given safety instructions by a young girl. She basically told me to get inside the bag and hold the handle with one hand. Hold the slide with the other hand but once you let go, bring the other hand to handle too. Simple, right? No? Then it is my fault for she was clear in her directions and I understood it too.
But I didn’t like the noise coming out of the tube, now it was the person who went just before me and he looked like a sensible gentleman too.
My actual turn on the slide was scheduled for May 21. I had booked a GoPro for it with the media center. But when I got to know the slide was open to everyone on May 20th itself, I decided to go on a trial run, so that I would know with to do with the GoPro.
Apparently it is a glass platform from where the slide begins but I was too distracted by the screams to notice it! And then it was my turn.
The young lad at the mouth of the tunnel told me to hold the slide with one hand and enter. I was clutching the bag handle with all my mite with the other. Initially I did not slide, in came the head and told me to lie flat. And suddenly I shot off like a bullet! How long does the slide last? It must have been a few seconds in all but I am sure I acquired a few more grey hairs in that time frame!
It felt specially mad at the curves. Twice I thought I would fly off to somewhere! And then it was over. I am not the screaming kind, so I did not scream but my face must have been chalk white when I got out. Someone clicked a picture but I have no clue who they were. How I want to see that photograph! I went off in search of a bar! I certainly needed a drink.
The trouble was I had to do it again the next day with a Go-pro, I was committed. And now I knew what it would feel like, again! Truth be told I was not too keen but I did not see anyway out of it.
The next day when I woke up it was raining. I went to collect the Go-pro I had booked. My breakfast was at the Windjammer Cafe. At 10 minutes to 11 am, my appointed time, I went back to the Ultimate Abyss. They told me it was closed due to the bad weather but it might open if the weather improved. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was happy for the rains! The slide never re-opened on that day again! I would certainly like to go back on the slide some day, but the very next day, the answer was no way!
On the other hand I thank my stars that I went on the Ultimate Abyss the day before, for to go on the Harmony of the Seas and come back without experiencing it would have been terrible beyond words!
Harmony of the Seas was my first ever cruise experience. When I said this to the commander of the ship Captain Gus Andersson he replied, “well from here on it will be all downhill for you!” And we both laughed because the Harmony of the Seas is currently the biggest cruise ship in the world! I was on the pre-media sail from May 20 to 22, 2016. We sailed from Southampton in United Kingdom.
Its a Large(st) Ship!
I had seen videos and pictures of the ship, and yet when I was there in person it didn’t help one bit! It was a huge ship and I initially felt lost. I just could not get a sense of it. But it lasted only for a short while. I realized that the public areas were clearly marked on the panels next to all lifts. Many floors have only rooms or staterooms as they are called on the ship so they are not of public interest! In spite of its huge size I got a sense of the cruise in a while, and if I can do that, well anyone can!
There is Internet, they call it Voom
As I was on a media sail the internet for me was free. Otherwise I saw internet packs being advertised on the ship. In the media briefing they said a satellite beam follows the ship all along and that is how there was internet on it! And it was fast.
My Sea Facing Stateroom
I had a nice sea facing room. It was a lovely room, it served me well. There was a shower in the bathroom. I was happy with the sea facing balcony, but then I hardly spent any time in my room! It was also a pity that the weather decided to remain a uniform grey all the time I was on the ship! There are large glamorous suites on the ship too.
The Entertainment Areas
There are many public areas to explore. With two nights in hand, I explored a bit of everything I could. The most popular hangout place was the Royal promenade that features a Bionic Bar, the rising tide bar and the Cafe Promenade among many other places. My breakfast used to be in the Windjammer Cafe which was huge! There is a central park, there is broad walk and there is a pool area with slides too! Then there are bars, everywhere you walk, you end up being near a bar! And I had only two nights to figure out all this!
The Ultimate Abyss
The Ultimate Abyss is probably the most discussed talked about thing on the Harmony of the Seas! All I am going to say here that I did it! And I will tell that tale too! But it deserves a separate post!
The Theater On-board
I watched a musical for the first time ever at the Royal Theater of the Harmony of the Seas! The musical’s name is Grease and it was an amazing experience for me. The crowd gave the actors a standing ovation at the end of the show! I also watched an ice skating performance, 1887, on board which was once again pretty impressive!
Our pre-media sail was just a spin around in the ocean so there were no offshore tours. And yet there was so much to do on the ship itself! We sailed at about 1000 people and it didn’t feel crowded at all! The ship at full capacity can carry more than 6000 guests!
I was showing some of the pictures to my father. He laughed and said he didn’t imagine such a ship! I agree with him! I went in knowing not what to expect but I can certainly say that I came back impressed!
PS. I was invited by the Harmony of the Seas on the Media Sail
PPS. It was fun to share the experience with Siddhartha Joshi!
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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