The World's Biggest Cruise Ship: Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
In May 2016, Royal Caribbean launched the largest cruise ship in the world, Harmony of the Seas. Granted, it's larger only by a small degree—there's space for just 64 more passengers than the previous Oasis class ship, Allure of the Seas—but with room for a maximum of 6,780 passengers (that's 2,747 staterooms) and 2,100 crew, it's nothing less than a floating metropolis, longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall and too wide to fit through the Panama Canal.
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Harmony of the Seas layout Royal Caribbean
This is how it looks from above—like Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, it's cleft by a chasm that means some rooms face inward and some face the ocean. That canyon is filled with little places to eat and play, and beneath it, inside the ship, there's another indoor mini-mall. As you can see, this arrangement has a price: It reduces the amount of space that can be devoted to pools, which are squeezed to the sides of the vessel.
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Boardwalk-facing staterooms, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
Nearly every cabin has a balcony, even if that means it faces inward. These face the Boardwalk, the playground of the Harmony of the Seas that opens to the ship's stern.
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The Boardwalk, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
Here's the Boardwalk looking toward the stern (back) of the Harmony of the Seas. Passengers can choose to eat in places like that American-style diner without paying extra, although other restaurants do levy fees. But what are those two purple twists coming down? They're the Ultimate Abyss water slides. Click ahead to see more of those.
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Ultimate Abyss, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
This gnarly-looking angler fish is where daring adventurers jump onto the twin Ultimate Abyss slides, which drop you from Deck 16 to Deck 6. Although you start 150 feet above the sea, don't panic, because you only travel at 9 mph/ 14.5 kmph. 
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The Perfect Storm, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
With so many of its major features already available on other ships, the Harmony's calling card is its water slide selection. In addition to the Ultimate Abyss, The Perfect Storm is a trio of midship water slides.
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The Perfect Storm, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
One of the Perfect Storm slides whisks riders into a circuit around this enormous punch bowl before they drain out the bottom into a brief final slide. 
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Central Park, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
Now we're looking up at the Perfect Storm from the bottom of the Central Park canyon. The apex skylight peers into the Promenade mall below.
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Central Park, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
Here's another view of Central Park, which is lined with a few cafes and surcharge restaurants. With so few common areas along the sides of the ship to enjoy the sea, this is where people tend to stroll, especially at night.
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Jamie's Italian, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
One of the surcharged restaurants is Jamie's Italian, a seagoing outpost of Jamie Oliver's U.K.-based chain. 
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Solarium Bistro, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
The Solarium Bistro, a relatively small place to eat, is up on Deck 15 with the adult-pleasing Solarium, and it serves mostly healthy choices. All told there are 20 places to eat, even if some of them are only for small choices like pizza or sandwiches. Eight of them are deemed "speciality," which means you pay more to eat there (and you'd better make a reservation early or be shut out).
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Bionic Bar, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
One of the stranger features to arise out of the Cruise Ship Wars is robot bartenders: You enter your order on a pad and the machines scurry to prepare it. Royal Caribbean started the trend with the Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, and now the Oasis-class Harmony of the Seas is in on the gimmick.
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Cafe Promenade, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
The indoor areas of the lower decks are linked by the Promenade, where you'll find a pizza place, a pub, a Latin-themed nightspot, and the Rising Tide bar, which slowly levitates or descends between decks while you drink. (That, too, has been on the other Oasis-class ships before Harmony.)
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Kids' climbing wall, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
It often feels like the entire ship was designed to please young minds: a carousel, an ice rink, swimming stunt shows in the rear-facing Aqua Theater with two 10m/33ft diving boards, a zip line high over the Boardwalk—and this whimsical climbing wall for kids.
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Splashaway Bay, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
Unlike others in the fleet, the Harmony has a soak park for kids, Splashaway Bay, where you'll find a drench bucket, mini slides, and water cannon in the shape of sea creatures.
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Puzzle Break escape room, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
Like the smaller Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas also has an escape room—which, if you don't know, is a family-friendly set packed with clues that you're supposed to decphier to figure out a code. You don't have to pre-book; look for it in the daily newsletter, Cruise Compass, and join others to form a group effort.
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Grease, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
The Broadway-style show is a little bit of a backslide from prior innovations. Other recent Royal Caribbean ships have tried presenting recent hits such as Hairspray, but the Harmony of the Seas offers only standard fare: The umpteenth production of Grease you've seen. (No slight to the talented performers—it's just not groundbreaking.)
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Harmony of the Seas, Boardwalk-facing staterooms Royal Caribbean
This is what one of the more affordable stateroom categories looks like. It's a Boardwalk-facing stateroom with balcony.
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Family Ocean View Stateroom, Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean
Some family rooms come with built-in bunks (like this one from a lower deck that doesn't come with an oceanfront balcony). After all, Royal Caribbean is, first and foremost, a cruise line for families with kids. Nearly every decision the company made in assembling this mighty floating hotel was built around that idea.
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