Aquatic Design & Engineering to create water slides for Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

In:
30Mar2015

Aquatic Design & Engineering will be the creative designer for the water slides on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas.

In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Aquatic Design & Engineering President Josh Martin commented on the firm's task in creating the slides, "These are the first real water slides on a Royal Caribbean ship. The goal was to make this a part of the ship's design, to really blend it with the style of the ship."

Martin also revealed Aquatic Design & Engineering had done concept work for Royal Caribbean before but Royal Caribbean had never opted to go with the ship slides.

ADE has designed water features for theme parks and resorts including Disney, and fountains around the world including for the sprawling presidential palace in Abu Dhabi.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
29Mar2015

I had placed the room service breakfast card out for 7:30AM delivery and it arrived ontime.  I requesting orange juice to surprise my girlfriend with mimosas on our balcony, but we got apple juice – well it’s the thought that counts right?

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By now it was getting close the 8AM and I wanted to head up to the pool deck because I know how the pool gets on the first sea day, well any sea day really.  And sure enough we were already beat by all the chair hogs.  We found a seat, just not front row center, cruise life problems.  

Checking Out Pool Towels

Royal Caribbean recently changed the process for getting pool towels, where you no longer have to scan your sea pass card to check out a towel.  Well I guess they forgot about Lady O, because guess what - I had to provide my seapass card and check out a pool towel.  I’m not sure if they are bringing to program back or they just forgot to change it on Oasis.  This is really annoying because you have to stand in a line to return the towels, or to simply get fresh towels. 

I’m currently writing this from the Beach Pool with my feet in the water, and the sun’s starting to come up.  Today should be a great day, I look forward to sharing my day with you on the next post!  

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
28Mar2015

Royal Caribbean Blog contributor Michael Poole is on Oasis of the Seas this week.

I have been counting down to this day and it’s finally here!

My plan was to sleep in since I had such a full day on board, but who can sleep in when they are going on a cruise?

Woke up around 6am and looked at the webcam of the Oasis already dock and watched her sisters, Liberty and Independence pull up. To say the excitement level was up is an understatement. We found a nice local diner for breakfast and cruised around town to kill an hour.

As we were pulling up to the terminal I saw a Walgreens right at the light, so we stopped in there for some last minute items.

10:00AM – Headed to the pier.

Usually I arrive around 11:30AM and walk right on, but we wanted to rent a cabana in Labadee so early we went. Once we arrive to the pier there was very little traffic, so maybe this 10AM stuff is not so bad.

They were not boarding yet so we all sat in the Diamond section. This is one Crown and Anchor perk they allow you to bring non-diamond members with you. At 11:40AM they started boarding suite guest, and down the C&A tiers.

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Finally Onboard

We are finally onboard, now what? Well we headed to the excursion desk and didn’t have much luck there booking a cabana, “suite only” Oh well.

I decided to head up to central park for lunch at Park Café. I was going to have lunch at Sabor, but I was not that hungry so we all had a small salad. After which we headed over to check out the menu for 150 Central Park – Guess what they are doing ½ off the first night, that’s right dinner for $15pp! We are dining tonight at 8pm, so review on dinner tomorrow night.

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Overall thoughts so far on Oasis. The ship looks great, I can tell the flooring on the boardwalk looks very fresh, and the dining room is ready for dynamic dining. My cabin is on deck six right by the boardwalk, so it’s nice to run out there for a cocktail. Also, my cabin is 6274 D8 Balcony on the port side, very nice cabin and I’m so sorry for not taking pictures, but I will.

This evening we are having dinner at 150 Central Park and then headed to the Aqua show, which is my favorite show all week.

Drink Prices 

There are four of us in my group and three purchased the unlimited drink package at $49 per day, totally $404 each. I feel like Royal might be pushing more people to this package, because the cost of cocktail A la Carte have gone up. My girlfriend Courtney ordered a Stella Beer it was $6 + 18% = $7.44, also a Mojito was $12.

So if you are on the fence about the drink package, this might push you over the “value” mark.

PS. I thought you should know I currently at the pub writing this… Let me know what you what to know about Lady O!

For the sailaway we met new friends for the at the wipeout bar.  This is a great place to enjoy the sailaway on the Oasis.  The views of south Florida as you sail into the gulf are quite amazing.  After spending an hour or so we decided to get ready for our dinner at 150 Central Park. 

Dinner at 150 Central Park

As I mentioned earlier, they were doing a half off price to dine here for the first evening, so only $15pp cover charge.  The Oasis was in for a dry dock in November and 150 had some changes.  Previously they had a six course tasting menu, which is actually how it still is on the Allure.  However, now 150 Central Park is a full meal, with four courses, with much larger portions. 

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I’m going to be honest I was not really excited about coming back here, because last time I didn’t enjoy the tasting menu, but boy am I glad I did!  This meal for $!5 is the best value and quite frankly maybe the best meal I’ll have all week.  The service was top notch and yes they try to sell you a cookbook, a kitchen tour, bottles of wine – but I just say no thank you. 

Since my girlfriend did not have the drink package I brought a bottle of wine to dinner, no problem and Royal no longer has the cork fee.  Now I was sipping on the cucumber Martini, which is only serve at 150 and it’s the best martini I’ve ever had.  I usually don’t enjoy Martini’s because how strong they are, but you couldn’t even taste the alcohol.   We had a fresh salad, veal pasta, filet (I asked for two cuts of meat), and chocolate pie.   My brother does not like chocolate, I know who doesn’t like chocolate, but they ran over to chops for a blueberry cheesecake for him. 

For the value, quality, and service you can’t go wrong dining here. 

Post Dinner - Aqua Show

After dinner we changed and headed to the boardwalk for the aqua show.  I don’t make it to all the shows, but this is one I don’t miss.  In fact, I might even try to go see it again! 

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I like the show so much because you can’t find something like this on any other royal ship, well maybe you can on the Allure.  The show only last 40 minutes, but you need to arrive at least 30 minutes early for a seat.  After the show we wanted to do a little dancing, but most everyone had called it a night, so we followed and got a greats night sleep. 

Quantum of the Seas Live Blog - Day 8 - Sea Day

In:
28Mar2015

It's our last day onboard Quantum of the Seas and so it's time to squeeze in as much fun as Royal Caribbean can throw at us!

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I woke up at about 9am this morning.  The ship was definitely feeling the motion still and continued to feel the motion all morning long.  It wasn't enough to make you sick, but it made walking a little more involved an activity.

I went up to the Windjammer for breakfast and as I got to deck 14, I could feel the cold wind blowing in from the pool deck. We're not in the Caribbean anymore!  The high today is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

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I had a quick bite to eat and went on my way down to the Royal Esplanade for the last day t-shirt sale.  Every Royal Caribbean cruise, Royal Caribbean has a selection of t-shirts for $10 each.  I picked up one for me, my wife and my daughter.  We will be able to wear it in July when we go on Freedom of the Seas!

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I then headed back up to the pool deck to see how warm (or not so warm) it was in the indoor pool.  I was wearing jeans a t-shirt and it was warm enough to be comfortable in there but there was barely anyone in the pool or around it.

With the motion of the ocean, the pools became wave pools and everyone inside them did not seem to mind.

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Next up was a Q&A session in Two70 with entertainers from the ship's shows, like Starwater, Sonic Odyssey and Mamma Mia!.  Guests asked all sorts of questions about work, time off and life on a cruise ship.  Pretty interesting stuff!

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For lunch, I wanted to try the burger from Devinly Decadence so I went back up to deck 14 to eat there.  

For lunch, Devninly Decadence is served buffet style but I was disappointed nearly all the food from last night's dinner was what was being offered for lunch.  

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I did manage to get my burger, although it was create it yourself, which I'm quite terrible at.  The burger tasted good enough but I was hoping for it be different than the burgers from the Windjammer (if they are different, I cannot tell).

I wanted to see if any brave souls were trying the FlowRider but the high winds forced Royal Caribbean to close off the top pool deck and the sports decks around it.  

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Given the cold weather, there were limited things to do so I went back to my stateroom to pack.  It's the least fun thing you will do at any point on your cruise but it has to be done and I figured if I had a little time now to do it, then may as well get it taken care of.

After packing, I decided to take it easy and I turned on the TV for perhaps the first time to actually watch TV on this cruise.  I managed to catch Guardians of the Galaxy and I enjoyed watching this movie again.

At 4pm, I went down to the Royal Esplanade to meet up with the folks from the group cruise one last time.  We had drinks at Michael's and then wandered over to Boleros for mojitos. 

I have to mention again what a great group we had for this cruise and I can't wait for our next group cruise adventure (details on that forthcoming)!

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I had lofty aspirations for dinner at a restaurant but between having to pack and just feeling like I was in a mood to take it easy, I ended up eating in the Windjammer for dinner.  They had a great Mongolian stir fry that I really enjoyed.

After dinner, it was over to the Royal Theater for Sonic Odyssey.

Sonic Odyssey is a mix of percussions, string instruments and singing with each element infused with a ton of energy.  Someone described it as being similar to the show Stomp.

I enjoyed it and felt Sonic Odyssey was a good change of pace. Certainly not something I've ever seen before and the earth harp is really impressive.

And so, my live blog for this Royal Caribbean cruise comes to an end. I had so much fun sharing my adventures with all of you.  

I tip my hat to the wonderful crew on Quantum of the Seas.  I know so many people had a great time and the crew clearly worked hard to make our vacations so much fun.

Thank you for all the wonderful comments, tweets, messages and questions.  It made writing the blog all worth it!

Stray Observations

  • A friend mentioned the gym got progressively less and less crowded as the crew went on. Her flywheel class for the last day had next to no one in it. Seems folks lose interest/motivation to continue as the cruise goes on.
  • The chopiness never really subsided much.  I think we all got used to the motion but the Captain did a wonderful job and the ship can handle these seas quite well.
  • We have heard all guests, including back to back cruisers, will be forced to leave the ship for a ship-wide sanitzing before next sailing's guests are let on.
  • If anyone wants a very quiet inside stateroom, 12231 is a keeper!
  • Speaking of staterooms, I liked being on deck 12 for access to Windjammer and pool deck but I think I'd prefer a lower deck stateroom because I felt like going down to decks 3, 4 or 5 was a hike.
  • Will someone make me dinner tomorrow? Or pick up my towels from the ground at home? I can't go back to real life "cold turkey"!

Quantum of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

In:
27Mar2015

I think everyone on Quantum of the Seas woke up this morning with one thing on their mind: the storm.

Since late yesterday, the Captain indicated we would run into a low pressure system that will bring with it high winds and rough seas.  Today, the news was more of the same and the worst of the storm would begin around 8pm tonight and last until some point tomorrow morning. 

I slept in today until about 9:30 and slowly made my way out of the room, managing to lock myself out of my stateroom again.  Thankfully my stateroom attendent (Peter) is usually around the hallway somewhere and was able to let me back in.

My first stop this morning was the pool deck to get some fresh air.  I was feeling a little sleepy still and just enough energy to get upstairs and enjoy the sun.  

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Despite the impending storm, it was a sunny day outside.

After a little fun in the sun, I went downstairs to record a live podcast episode with some of the folks in our group.  It was a fun discussion of our time onboard and you can look for that episode (and others I've recorded while onboard) to come out in the coming weeks.

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I have to say, the people I've cruised with this week have been so much fun to hang out with.  It's been great having friends everywhere I go around the ship!

Right around this time the Captain made another announcement about the weather.  He said we could expect swells up to 30 feet and the storm to begin at 8pm, be at its worst around 2pm and by 2pm tomorow it should be much smoother. 

We've been re-assured many times not to worry and to take things easy and use the handrails where possible to brace yourself.  For the crew, this isn't a big deal but I think us passengers are a little worried.  

After the podcast recording I grabbed a quick lunch from Two70.  I had to get more of those wonderful roast beef sandwiches!  

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I took my lunch back into Two70 for the Captain's Corner.  This is a wonderful impromptu Q&A session with the captain, cruise director, head engineer, head of food and beverage and more.  

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The questions asked where all over the place, although many of the initial questions were about the storm.  The captain indicated this ship can easily handle a category 3 hurricane and something like what we will run into is not a big deal. 

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I really enjoyed the insight into the operations of the ship based on the questions asked and it was well worth my time.

I didn't go anywhere after the show because Two70 had another Roboshow to see and I did not want to miss it.  

The Roboshow is undeniably cool and really impressive from an artistic and technological standpoint.

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I think the roast beef sandwiches calmed my nerves because I went upstairs to the pool deck and quickly found myself dozing off.  I tried mightily to stay awake but the ocean breeze, warm air and music playing did me in.

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I didn't sleep that long, perhaps 45 minutes, and got up to see what else was happening around the ship.

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Right around 3 or 4pm, the captain provided a new forcast on channel 18 in our staterooms and he indicated the new weather models looked much better.  We'd still hit a storm, but waves shouldn't be more than 15-20 feet and it would be done earlier than we thought.

I felt greatly relieved, so much so that I went down to the Cafe Promenade to indulge in a favorite Royal Caribbean tradition, those little sandwiches at Cafe Promenade.  And also a few slices of pizza from Sorentos.  Ahhh, the cruise life!

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Following my late afternoon snack, I gambled the last $10 I had allocated for gambling in the casino. At first I doubled it and then like any good gambler, I lost it all. Oh well.

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Vistarama was being shown in Two70 so I headed there to check it out and met up with some folks from the blog group cruise and enjoyed the show while having drinks.  My new favorite drink might be the blue ed.  Very tasty!

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Dinner tonight was at Devinly Decadence, the former specialty restaurant and now complimentary restaurant on deck 14 near the Solarium.

The restaurant has an interesting set up.  You get a menu of just entrees with an appetizer and dessert bar at the rear of the restaurant.  It's certainly an interesting concept.

I ordered the enchiladas and ahi tuna tacos but the star of the meal for me was the Morrocan tomato soup appetizer.  I may have had multiple refills of it.  

I will be going back tomorow for lunch because their lunch menu features a Big Mac clone they claim is less than 500 calories. Now we're talking!

After dinner it was 9:30pm and the ship was moving no worse than earlier, so I decided to ignore my mother's advice of not swimming after eating and go for a night swim.  The pools were empty and I had barely swam this trip so I figured why not.

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I spent a little time in the pool and then some more time in the hot tub. Time well spent!

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Tomorrow is our last day of the cruise and yet another sea day.  Should be rather smooth sailing tomorrow and I have a few plans already to get done.

Stray observations

  • I freely admit I let the weather forcast get me too nervous to enjoy my day.  I eventually made peace with the news but as it turned out, it was nothing to worry about.
  • The pools, North Star, casino and many other otherwise extremely popular public areas are virtually empty during dinner hours.  
  • The crew has been sanitizing the ship non-stop for this Norovirus problem. I give them a huge amount of credit for constantly cleaning everything.
  • Others have noticed it's quite difficult to get water onboard.  Meaning, geting a cup of water does not seem to be as easy to get to as on other Royal Caribbean ships.  

Royal Caribbean launches Weekend WOW Deals cruise sale

In:
27Mar2015

Royal Caribbean is kicking off a new Weekend WOW deal that offers a deal on cruises booked this weekend.

Royal Caribbean is offering BOGO50 Offer (50% off the second guest + 50% their beverage package + 50% off your deposit) + Onboard Credit:

  • $25 Interior/Oceanview Staterooms
  • $50 Balconies/Suite staterooms

The deal is valid on all 2015 sailings made between March 27 - 29, 2015, excluding Quantum of the Seas. 

Quantum of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Labadee

In:
26Mar2015

When you talk about my favorite places to visit in the Caribbean, one of them will always be Royal Caribbean's private island of Labadee and today we're stopping at Labadee to indulge in a little paradise.

The ship docked at 8am, which actually woke me up.  For some reason when the ship goes to dock or leave port, the jitters a lot.  Very odd but I knew we were pulling in.

Just like San Juan, I decided to hang back a little bit and get off the ship a bit later.  I got off the ship at 9am and there was no line or anything.  

In Labadee we dock at the pier and then it's a short walk to the beach.  

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Today, my friends at MEI-Travel reserved a cabana for our use and I made my way to Nellie's Beach.

Labadee has two cabana areas: Barefoot Beach Club and Nellie's Beach. Barefoot Beach Club has its own private beach for cabana guests as well as suite guests.  At Nellie's Beach, cabana guests share the beach with other guests.

We had an over water cabana, which at Nellie's was a real advantage.  We had direct access to the ocean via a private walkway and ladder.  

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The cabana experience is a great way to spend the day in Labadee and I was quite happy to do it.  I think when I return next with my family I will reserve one again.

At about 11am, we had our next group cruise meet, which was the Labadooze Appreciation Society meet.  I bought everyone in attendance the first round of Labadoozies and it was as good as I remember.  

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Lunch was the usual island BBQ and I went with the burgers.  Simple, yet effective.

After lunch I headed back to the ship to drop off my stuff so I wouldn't be saddled with it when it was time to go on the zip line.

Back on the ship, it was not very crowded and I took the opportunity since I was kind of hot anyway from the walk back to hop in the pool.  For those keeping score at home, that would be my first time in the pool this cruise.  It was so empty I just couldn't resist!

After a quick swim, I headed back to the room to unload my stuff, went down to the gangway and back onto the pier to head to Labadee.  Until I realized I forgot to change into sneakers for the zip line.

I ran back up the pier, through security and upstairs to change and then reversed it all, again.  Luckily, I still made it to the check in area for the zip line early.

I apologize in advance for not having photos of my zip line adventure.  The literature indicated no camers except ones that are attached to you.  In reality, you can bring anything you can hold onto or stuff in your pocket.  Lesson learned for next time.

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It's a three step process to doing the zip line.  First, you get your harness and watch a primer video.  Nothing too exciting yet.

Next, you walk about two minutes away to a practice zip line course, where you try the techniques from the video out before doing it on the real thing.  Evidently a 20 foot drop is less lethan than a 500 foot drop. 

Because of high winds, we all had to position ourselves to go as slow as possible.  That means it looks like we are sitting in a chair with our arms up and not like an Olympic luge competitor.

The first training course was simple enough, although 3 people chickened out at this point.  I was worried about my form but seemed to be doing things correctly so we were off for the real thing!

We hopped in a truck and went up a very steep and winding road.  It was bumpy and I had read others saying this was the scariest part of the excursion but I did not think it was that bad.

Once at the top of the mountain, we got ready to go.  I was more apprehensive than I was scared because I just wanted to get it over with.  I'll admit once seated and ready to go at the top, you definitely have a moment of "woa".  Thankfully they initiate the process and off you go!

It's an amazing view and we had great weather, so we saw a lot of the island and after a few seconds of jitters, I enjoyed it.  Like so many others have said, it's a great experience but on the expensive side ($99 per person).  

Back on the ship, I showered and changed and got ready for this evening's activities. I'm worried just because news like that makes me worried about sea sickness.  I do have Bonine, which I will be taking in advance of the storm to prepare but mentally it's alarming.  Hoping for the best!

First up was the top-tier Crown and Anchor Society party for platinum and above members.  There was not a whole lot that was different than what we saw and heard in the first Crown and Anchor party.

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The Captain did tell us we were heading into some bad weather.  Like, close the pool decks and take some medicine bad weather. 

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By now I was actually pretty hungry and my dinner was still a few hours off so I decided to go up to the Windjammer for a pre-dinner snack.  As I walked to it, I passed by the suites-only restaurant Coastal Kitchen and thought to myself I should ask if I can eat there because I have nothing to lose. Sure enough, the crew member at the door let me in!

Coastal Kitchen is a California-inspired restaurant that is on deck 14 right outside the Windjammer.  Because I was eating a full meal later, I decided to stick with a few appetizers to keep it light.

Everything I got (including the breads everyone gets) were really good.  I liked the takes Coastal Kitchen had on some established dishes and would definitely go back to eat there again. If I was staying in a suite.  

I wandered onto the pool deck after eating at Coastal Kitchen and saw literally two people in line for North Star.  I quickly jumped on the line and the crew member told us this would be the last ride of the day.  Besides the fact I was ecstatic I walked onto North Star, the sun was setting and it would give us a great vantage point.

I should point out it was really windy and as soon as North Star engaged, we were rocking quite a bit in there. At first, I was nervous about it but you get used to it and I spoke to the crew member inside who said it's not a big deal.  He said as long as the ship isn't rocking too badly, they can handle most any winds.

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I wandered around the ship a bit more and then finally it was time or my dinner at Jamie's Italian.

I had heard lots of good things about Jamie's and I think the reputation held up..  Everything we ordered was good or great and their focus on fresh ingredients that are also quality ingredients really shows.  In fact, they make their own pasta everyday.

Our table of 4 ordered a little of everything and we were stuffed.  I loved the arincini balls, eggplant parmesan and epic homemade brownie.

Tomorrow is a sea day!

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Preamble

In:
26Mar2015

Royal Caribbean Blog contributor Michael Poole is about to go on Oasis of the Seas this weekend  and here's his preview of his cruise!

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class ships, which the first debut in 2009, are still one of their flagship vessels in their fleet. They are 225,000 tons, holding 5,400 passengers and 2,300 crew-members, which make them the largest cruise ships at sea. There are currently two Oasis class ships: Oasis of The Seas and Allure of The Seas. Oasis came out first in 2009 and sister Allure followed shortly after in 2010. These two cruise ships offer something unique that you can’t find on any other cruise ship.

What makes Oasis Class so unique?

The Oasis Class was a game changer for Royal Caribbean and for the cruising industry. In fact, they have seven unique neighborhoods that really create a wow factor. One of my favorite neighborhoods is central park; yes real living plants at sea! You can find hundreds of plants, intimate dining experience, and who can go without a little shopping. If a romantic evening is not your style, you can venture off to the boardwalk. This is generally for the kids with wooden carousel, but who says the adults can’t have fun too! At the end of the boardwalk you can find an open-air aqua theater, which is my favorite show at sea. The aqua show features dancers and high divers into a small pool with choreographed music, and did I mention this was on a cruise ship?

I’m Cruising on Oasis of The Seas - Western Caribbean

Now that we have briefly discussed the Oasis Class and what they have to offer, I’m excited to say I’m sailing on her tomorrow! That’s right I’m headed out to sea for a seven day Western Caribbean cruise and plan on bringing you with me, well at least virtually. Joining me on this cruise will be my girlfriend, my bother, and his partner. This will be my third time on an Oasis Class ships, but it’s been a few years, so I’m very excited needless to say!

Some of the topics I’ll be blogging about, but certainly not limited to are: Ports of call (Labadee, Falmouth, Cozumel) dining experiences (Chops, Sabors, Giovanni’s Table) and who knows maybe 150 Central Park. I’m also purchasing the unlimited alcohol package, so I’ll be able to provide feedback on the package. We are planning on going to all the shows, but I’m known to be a beach bum and often refuse to leave the pool deck until the sun goes down.

My girlfriend and I are driving down early Friday morning, since I live in South Georgia. This will be her third cruise, I've taken her on Enchantment and Liberty recently, and so this is her first Oasis Class cruise. We plan on spending the afternoon on the beach and having dinner in Fort. Lauderdale. My brother is flying in via red-eye, so we will pick them up at 10pm.

Feel free to post any questions about Lady O.

Quantum of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Sea Day

In:
26Mar2015

Back at it today with another sea day but that didn't mean I slept in.  I set my alarm bright and early (bright and early for me is anything before 8am) so I could get on the North Star.

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I got in line for North Star at 7:50, knowing it would open at 8am and I was the last person for the first group on.  The key to pretty much anything popular on Quantum of the Seas is to arrive before it opens to avoid the longer lines. I would say when my ride ended, the end of the line probably already had a 15-20 minute wait or so.

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I had been on North Star back in November but this was my first time doing North Star at sea, which meant we got to go over the side of the ship.  There's no doubt North Star is an amazing experience and the photos never disappoint.  

After getting my North Star fix, I was off to breakfast and then I did something I've never done on this sailing yet. I went to the pool and relaxed.  

I found a nice lounge chair in the indoor pool area, put my headphones on and zoned out for much of the morning.  I mentioned this earlier, but when it's warm enough, Royal Caribbean will open the roof of the indoor pool and it really makes it quite lovely in there.

Pretty much everyone else decided to do a pool day too because it was packed on the pool deck.  It was really hot too (around 86 degrees) and everyone had the idea to go to the pool.

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For lunch today, I went to American Icon Grill.  I hadn't been there at all yet on this cruise, so I decided to check it out for lunch.

American Icon Grill is a lot like the main dining room on other Royal Caribbean ships.  It offers a little of something and today it was generally American food. The menu was actually surprisingly short (just 3 entrees). I went with the minestrone soup and reuben.

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Both were good but I was reminded by a fact of pretty much any Royal Caribbean ship, that it is nearly impossible to get hot food.  What I mean is, food that is hot enough in termperature that you need to let it cool down. Everything comes at either warm or luke-warm and I'm not sure why or if that's even a bad thing.

After lunch I had just enough time to catch the Roboshow in Two70.  Roboshow is essentially a spectacle of the robototic screens that demonstrate just how amazing these robots are.  I would definitely call this a wow moment.

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In the afternoon, some of the people on the group cruise with me had a cabin crawl, where we showed off each other's stateroom categories.  

It's always neat to see what other categories of staterooms offer and I think we all found different aspects of each room we really liked.

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Category D something balcony

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Category L large interior stateroom with virtual balcony (my room)

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Studio inside stateroom

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All of us inside a Category SJS Spa Junior Suite

Then I spent much of the afternoon at the NextCruise office to take advantage of the last day of the WOW sale.  Unfortunately, a lot of other guests did too.  

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I think we waited in line for about an hour and a half.  Appointments for the rest of the cruise were booked solid so it was standby only.  I know lots of guests were getting frustrated with the long waits and it seems like the process was easier on other ships.  If you just wanted an open cruise booking, you still had to speak to someone because there were no forms readily available to grab and drop off like on other ships.  

As the afternoon turned to dusk, I knew I had to run up to see if I could get photos of the sunset.  As I got up to the pool deck, I noticed the ship was at a dead stop.  Right in front of the ship was a beautiful sunset about to unfold and the Captain decided to make sure the ship did not miss it.

Dinner tonight was at a favorite of mine, Chops Grill.  What I love about Chops is it is consistantly quite good and tonight was no exception.

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The food was wonderful during the entire meal.  The service was on the slow side, but the restaurant was busy tonight and we still managed to get in and out in just 90 minutes, so that's not bad for a dinner on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Following dinner we headed back to Two70 to see Starwater.  Starwater is a mash up of music, dance and roboscreens.  It's hard to describe in words or even in the photos you see but it's a wonderful spectacle that I think you have to see to appreciate.

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Tomorrow, we're in paradise, better known as Labadee!

Stray observations

  • My stateroom attendant (or at least I assume it's him) has brought me a plate of cheese and a plate of fruit and left it in my room. It's a lovely gesture but I'm not going to eat it.  I feel like a terrible person for not enjoying this gift.
  • For what it's worth, a crew member in the Windjammer mentioned about 60 guests have gotten Norovirus this cruise.
  • I booked the zip line for tomorrow in a moment of craziness. I'm excited and a little frightened at the same time.
  • The bartenders at Two70 make a mean bloody mary

Royal Caribbean is sending Ovation of the Seas to China

In:
25Mar2015

Royal Caribbean will send its third Quantum-class cruise ship, Ovation of the Seas, to China when she debuts in April 2016.

Ovation of the Seas will be home ported in Tianjin, China, 70 miles southeast of Beijing.

Sister ship Quantum of the Seas will be heading to China later this summer and together with Ovation of the Seas and three other Royal Caribbean ships, Royal Caribbean is poised for a monster offering in this new cruising market.

 Once launched, Ovation of the Seas’ maiden sailings will include a 52-night Global Odyssey from Southampton, U.K. to Tianjin. Vacationers can be among the first to experience the new ship on the 2016 Ovation Global Odyssey, which will open for sale on Thursday, March 26, 2015. Five itineraries will take guests to some of the world’s most iconic cities:

  • A seven-night England to Barcelona cruise, departing May 3, 2016 from Southampton
  • 16-night Barcelona to Dubai cruise, via the Suez Canal, departing May 10
  • 14-night India and Southeast Asia cruise, departing May 26 from Dubai to Singapore
  • Three-night Malaysia cruise, departing June 9 on a roundtrip sailing from Singapore
  • And 12-night Exotic Asia cruise, from Singapore to Tianjin.

Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley made the announcement earlier today, “Cruising has become very popular for Chinese consumers and Royal Caribbean is already capturing their imaginations with our industry-leading cruise ships,” said Bayley. “We are furthering our commitment by bringing two of the world’s newest and most advanced Quantum-class cruise ships to the region. In addition, we are significantly expanding our investment in the training and employment of Chinese talent so they can join us in delivering our amazing and distinctive vacations to Chinese travelers.”

The five ships Royal Caribbean will base in China will be homeporting in four metropolitan Chinese cities – Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Xiamen – and primarily sailing three- to 12-night itineraries to destinations in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. Royal Caribbean’s summer 2016 Asia adventures will open for booking in August 2015.

The news Ovation of the Seas will be based in China confirms an earlier report we posted that the new mega ship was indeed heading there.

 

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