During my online check in 3 weeks ahead of departure, I made an arrival appointment for 12:30pm to 01:00pm. I then arrived with a taxi at Barcelona 'Moll Adossat Cruise Terminal B', dropped off my baggage at one of the guys in front of the terminal, he just attached a baggage tag with my stateroom number on it. Shortly after that, I simply approached one of the mobile 'Royal Caribbean' agents for check in, Omar was his name. I pointed out that I did not receive a baggage tag receipt, he said that I shouldn't be worried at all, and quickly made a new photo of me with his tablet, just because I looked way too serious for a cruise on the passport photo I used for the online check in. He asked me whether I have been to particular countries with a risk of infection in Africa. I presented my 'Set Sail Pass', my passport and my credit card, and quickly was directed to the terminal entrance, where I passed the security control and the small Duty Free area. I was wondering why there were so many beverages offered, though there is an extensive ban to bring beverages on board, the rules are confusing. I passed the photo hall, where guests could get photographed in front of giant 'Harmony Of The Seas' picture boards, and then went up the escalator to the gangway along the pier. Besides, 'Harmony Of The Seas' towered up like a wall of balconies.
At exactly 01:00pm, I entered 'Harmony Of The Seas' over the gangway. There was a last check of my identity and 'Set Sail Pass', together in total, nearly a half a dozen since baggage drop off, and then I was in something of what I thought that this must be ashore, the 'Royal Promenade', a giant hall over 2 decks with bars, restaurants, the 'Guest Services Desk', 2 ATM's, the 'Bionic Bar', where 2 robots mix drinks - pumping content from bottles hanging upside down on the ceiling and even shake the drinks before serving them -, the 'Rising Tide Bar', a bar on a big open elevator platform, moving between deck 5 and 8, and other amenities. There are space wasting atriums 12 decks high, surrounded by glass elevators at both ends of the 'Royal Promenade'. Loud music surrounded my first wow-experience on board. Many people in a slightly excited positive atmosphere.
I straightly headed to the forward port staircase, jumped 5 decks up within just seconds using one of the express glass elevators and found my stateroom 10176 right around the corner, a short way down the corridor. This is wonderful, as well as in the USA, quick close door buttons in the 24 express elevators, and usually no long waiting times for them, though, one of them seemed to be defunct from day 3 on. There was an envelope containing my 'SeaPass' card next to the stateroom number. This plastic card in the size of a credit card opens the stateroom door by just holding it against the door reader. Furthermore, it is used for leaving and returning to the ship, for on-board purchases and in other situations.
It took me only a little more than 30 minutes in total from my downtown Barcelona hotel with taxi to terminal and through the entire check in and boarding process to my stateroom on board 'Harmony Of The Seas', there was no waiting worth mentioning, and baggage was found 1 hour later in front of my stateroom. That's a record!
I discovered and explored the ship at first, it is huge! Everything is bigger, larger, wider, longer, greater and more extraordinary and exclusive! Real plants and trees in the 'Central Park'! From early in the morning until late in the night, there were much more activities, shows, sights and entertainment offers, than one could ever experience. So, this was not the right time and place for boredom! I really rushed through the 5 days, with few hours of relaxation on sun deck or balcony, in order to not miss anything. Ship appearance at all, everything was new, of course. Public areas were well designed, spacious, with soft carpets everywhere. I did not even notice the air condition, so well were the interiors. Despite the size of the ship, it's unlikely that one gets lost because of all the diagrams, signs and interactive screens, navigation on the ship is well designed and easy. 'Harmony Of The Seas' appeared to me crowded unexpectedly seldom, with very few queues and congestion, even when the captain showed up. The longest line ups I have seen were on the last late evening, when guests without credit card tried to pay their expenses at the 'Guest Services Desk'.
On departure day, the 'Windjammer' buffet restaurant was open from midday to the late evening, and I had a first small meal on board in the afternoon. Back in the stateroom, cabin steward Fitzroy showed up at 04:00pm to introduce himself and give some basic information about his daily presence, which was from 08:00am to midday and from 06:00pm on for a few hours. On board American ships, it is totally normal to get the curtains closed already before sunset. He wondered why I'm travelling alone. Right after that, I took a first short sunbath on the pool deck on this very sunny day in Barcelona.
Security drill was held from 05:00pm on in the bar 'The Attic' for my group, 1 deck below the boat deck, my presence was recorded by reading the 'SeaPass' card, no life vests to put on, just some information over the public address in up to 4 different languages - announcements usually were made in English and Spanish language apart from that -, and a life vest demonstration by a crew member. Many guests were late, but the drill was finished before departure. And then, I experienced the only time of real congestion on the ship during the entire cruise. All guests tried to leave their muster stations at once. I took the stairs.
At 06:10pm, 'Harmony Of The Seas' 4 bow thrusters pushed the ship away from the pier. The thrusters allow 'Harmony Of The Seas' to maneuver without tugs safely. The ship sailed 15 minutes backwards down the harbor to the turning circle, and then she turned within 10 minutes without the support of tugs. At 06:45pm, 'Harmony Of The Seas' left the harbor of Barcelona, and the pilot was dropped off from her with a small boat. Yes, regardless of size, a ship is always female!
The ship was reinventing slowness sometimes, but 20kts were sailed occasionally because of helicopter operations, too. 'Harmony Of The Seas' turned at 09:10pm, followed by a public announcement made by the captain. He turned the ship for a helicopter rescue operation in order to evacuate a guest due to a medical emergency. The ship stopped 70 minutes later some miles off the coast. A helicopter circled over the port side of the ship for a while, but then turned away and the ship sailed closer to Barcelona's nocturnal skyline, where mobile LTE internet connection was possible again. The ship then stopped at 11:50pm, and the rescue helicopter finally landed on the bow platform.