Oasis of the Seas

Oasis of the Seas makes Top 10 cruise ship list

In:
30Aug2010

Cruise1st, a cruise booking specialist, has compiled a list of what it believes are the top ten cruise ships and Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas has made the list.

  1. Celebrity Century
  2. Pacific Jewel
  3. MS Panorama
  4. Queen Mary 2
  5. MSC Fantasia
  6. Oasis of the Seas
  7. Celebrity Solstice
  8. Ruby Princess
  9. MV Orion
  10. MV True North

The world's largest cruise ship ever, costing over $1 billion, is divided into seven different neighborhoods. Onboard activities include a zip-line, carousel, rock-climbing walls, a 750-seat AquaTheatre amphitheatre hosting water ballet and dinner shows with the option of 25 different restaurants.

Hurricane Earl affecting Royal Caribbean ships

In:
30Aug2010

Hurricane Earl is starting to affect some Royal Caribbean ships due to weather in the regions that have scheduled port of call stops.

Enchantment of the Seas is skipping St. Thomas today and instead will stop in Samana, Dominican Republic.  Then on Tuesday, Enchanted of the Seas will stop at Labadee, Haiti. followed by sea days on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before she returns to Baltimore on Saturday as scheduled.

Oasis of the Seas had a schedule that called for stops in St. Thomas and St Maarten in the Eastern Caribbean but will instead change to a Western Caribbean itinerary and stop in Costa Maya on Wednesday and Cozumel on Thursday.

Upgrades coming to some Royal Caribbean ships

In:
18Aug2010

The very successful debut of the Oasis of the Seas also came with some new amenities and entertainment options that were never seen on the Royal Caribbean fleet and now Royal Caribbean is set to copy some of those new innovations to existing ships.

Starting in early 2011, passengers will soon enjoy new dining opportunities, entertainment, children’s programming and other enhancements on select Royal Caribbean ships already in service.  These vessels include Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.

Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas will receive...

  • Broadway show (yet to be named and Liberty of the Seas only)
  • Royal Babies and Tots Nursery
  • Large 18.5-foot video screen overlooking family pool area
  • LCD wayfinder system
  • Cupcake Cupboard restaurant
  • Vintages lounge will be redone

Royal Caribbean announces updates to Crown & Anchor, Oasis of the Seas, restaurants and more

In:
16Aug2010

In a post from the Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein, a few updates were announced for policies all around Royal Cariibean

  • Complimentary Internet access for the purpose of allowing guests to enroll in the Crown and Anchor Society via iCafe while they are onboard so they can be eligible to book onboard and take advantage of the onboard booking discount.
  • On European cruises, those who wish to remain onboard longer on departure day may sign up in advance of the cruise for Late Departure Program. Sign up online under Shore and Land Excursions for the port of call where the cruise terminates.
  • Oasis of the Seas is testing a an Extended Stay program that allows the Oasis guests to store their luggage and enjoy a day in Hollywood, FL in and around the boardwalk. This opportunity encompasses shopping, dining, going to the beach, riding the trolley and/or relaxing at our hospitality center. This opportunity is also available as a shore excursion under the port of call, Ft. Lauderdale, for all guests sailing onboard Oasis of the Seas.
  • Royal Caribbean now accepts bookings at specialty restaurants for parties of 10 or fewer guests. Previously they only accepted bookings for parties of 6 or fewer. 

New Falmouth port in Jamaica to open by November

In:
16Aug2010

The new cruise port in Falmouth, Jamaica now has a tentative opening date of November 2 according to E Pihl & Son Project Manager Jes Olsen. Olsen says the first two ships to use the historic port will be arriving on November 2.

Despite the port welcoming in ships by then, construction work will not be complete by then yet and at that time, "it will be a construction site", Olsen said.  Visitors who do dock in November will be taking buses to nearby Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.

The goal is to have the port fully operational by March 13, 2011 when Oasis of the Seas will dock there.

Olsen would not say how much of a dent the overrun will put in the budget, but he noted that the longer the work takes, the more costly the project becomes.   According to Olsen, the delaying factors include soft soil at a spot where all the utilities are to be run, as well as coral which has had to be removed.

Royal Caribbean has a vested interest in the port opening, as The Port Authority of Jamaica is responsible for the port infrastructure, while Royal Caribbean committed $102 million to the land structures, such as the shops and restaurants.

In addition to Oasis of the Seas, other Royal Caribbean ships are scheduled to stop at the port.  Navigator of the Seas has a visit scheduled as well as Freedom of the Seas a bit later.

Guest blog entry: What’s New with Royal Caribbean?

In:
12Aug2010

Friend of the blog, Melissa DiCato of Possible Vacations has graciously taken some time to write this guest blog entry!  Today, she looks at what Royal Caribbean is doing to keep things new and fresh across their fleet of ships.  Take it away Melissa!

Royal Caribbean is doing all they can to ensure all of their clients’ needs are being well taken care of.  Oasis of the Seas has been such a huge success for Royal, they are starting to take the ideas that were only implemented on Oasis of the Seas and place them on the rest of their fleet.  Below you will find a breakdown of what you can soon find onboard Royal Caribbean Ships.

Liberty & Freedom of Seas

  • Broadway Shows
  • Nursery
  • Outdoor Screens
  • Cupcake Cupboard
  • Vintages
  • Way Finder (currently only on the Oasis of the Seas, this device is located next to all elevators to help clients find their way around the ship)

Fleetwide

  • Family Library
  • Royal Bedtime stories
  • Sitters @ Sea (Sitters will come to your stateroom and watch your children while you enjoy the night with your loved one)
  • Nintendo Wii

Family programming – Royal Babies & Royal Kids

  • Fisher-Price toy lending program
  • Crayola beginning workshops
  • Babies 2 Go! (pre-order service for parent to order baby food and diapers)
  • Stroll & Roll

Dinning

  • My time dinning
  • Exclusive food experiences
  • My family time dining (for family with children ages 3-17)
  • Expedited service
  • Adventure Ocean pick-up (youth counselors will come and pick up your children and take them to their kids clubs)
  • Leisure dinner for parents

Suite Enhancements (Grand Suites & Higher)

  • Distinct Seapass cards
  • Luggage Valet
  • Complimentary Dry Cleaning
  • Cocktail Reception in Captains Quarter
  • Reserved seating in shows
  • Upgraded suite amenities
  • Breakfast & Lunch in specialty restaurants

If you are looking to take a Royal Caribbean Cruise, these enhancements will be sure to delight any family at sea.  Every cruise ship will offer you something a little unique and different which is why people cruise time and time again.  Most families enjoy taking cruises because they can just sit back and relax while everything around them is taken care of, including their most precious cargo…their children.  Something to consider is taking a Royal Caribbean themed cruise such as Romance, Music, Cruise4Haiti amongst many others.

Thanks again to Melissa for her great blog entry.  You can find Melissa on Twitter as well as on her own blog, Possible Vacations: Friends sharing travel stories.

Restaurant Review: Giovanni's Table

In:
09Aug2010

For those looking for Italian food on their next Oasis of the Seas cruise, Giovanni's Table offers family-style Italian in the Central Park area of the ship.  Today, we review this Mediterranean enclave.

Interesting note about Giovanni's Table, prior to our cruise, we tried to get a reservation online but couldn't get one for the time and day we wanted.  We decided to wait until we boarded the ship and try to go to the restaurant on the first day of the ship and get a reservation.  Sure enough, we showed up on the first day and got the day and time we wanted without a problem.  Might be worth trying this idea out if you are in a similar situation.

Atmosphere

Giovanni's Table is situated in Central Park and features a very quaint and somewhat romantic setting.  It kind of looks like that restaurant from Lady and the Tramp meets chic restaurant downtown.  Inside the restaurant, you will find the place small enough to have some charm while big enough to handle a lot of hungry customers.  There are tables that have a window to Central Park as well as seating outside to choose from.  Further inside the restaurant are more tables that can accommodate larger groups.

Giovanni's is meant to remind you of a restaurant in the Tuscany region of Italy along the coast.  With it's northern Italy influences, Giovanni's Table certainly exudes the atmosphere one would expect from an Italian restaurant that serves traditional Italian dishes.  Serving to help sell the idea of a real Italian restaurant is the fresh meat slicer that frequently is used by the wait staff to slice fresh prosciutto ham in razor-thin slices.  The smell fills the room each time and it adds to the charm of the restaurant.

Eats

For dinner, Giovanni's Table offers a fairly large selection of Italian food.  There are three main courses, appetizers and salads, pastas and entrees.  The appetizers, salads and pastas are all served family style, meaning large plates are brought out of each item with the understand that you will share the items between the members of your party.  In most cases, there was enough food on each family style dish to easily satisfy two people and more than likely could be enough for 3-4 people.

To start with, appetizers are the first course and there's a lot to choose from.  For just me and my wife, we found three options that we both wanted to try before we even got to the soups.

For our starters, we chose fresh mozzarella and tomato, caesar salad and focaccia alla Giovanni.  The mozzarella and tomato was good, much like any other time we've had this dish before.  The ingredients were fresh and we chose to add olive oil and vinegar to give the dish a little something extra.  The caesar salad wasn't anything special and tasted perhaps a tad bit better than the caesar salad we had elsewhere on the ship and wasn't something I'd feel obligated to get again.  The foccaccia alla Giovanni can best be described as cheese bread with a little potato between the cheese and the bread that comes with the option of dipping the bread in a pesto sauce along with other accompaniments such as green and black olives.  This was surprisingly good and was the best choice we had among the appetizers.

Next up is pasta and we decided to share one dish, the gnocchi, which are small potato filled pastas in a white sauce.  Gnocchi isn't by any means a favorite pasta of mine, but it seemed like a decent choice.  While the gnocchi was good, we both felt after a few each that the pasta "got old".  As in, it was still good, but we couldn't eat a lot of it at once.  More than likely going to pass on this for our next visit.

By the time we got to our entrees, we were both feeling a little stuffed.  To Giovanni's Table's credit, they give you a lot of food and you're best served to try bites of each even though we felt guilty leaving any of the food on the dish to be thrown out.  For my entree, I opted for the tuna dish, which was kind of like an Italian version of ahi tuna.  A lightly cooked tuna that is rare on the inside (warm on the inside, unlike ahi which can be cold).  This was really good and was easily the best thing I ate that evening.  The sauce was light, which is key because the fish should be the focal point of the taste, not an overbearing sauce and with the baked tomatoes and potatoes along side, it was enough to stimulate my appetite to want to eat it all.

My wife opted for the filetto di Manzo alla griglia, a grilled 8oz beef filet tenderloin.  It was a good cut of beef and definitely better than the steaks we had in the Main Dining Room.  It also wasn't the best steak we've ever had but it certainly was something we could enjoy and I had a bite of it as well. We both thought it was good and were satisfied with the option.

Overall

In terms of pricing, we found Giovanni's Table to be a good option at $15 for dinner per person and $10 for lunch.  We opted to eat here on "lobster night" (neither of us eat lobster) so a night at Giovanni's Table may be best for a night where the menu doesn't look very good in the main dining room.  The wide selection of food and mostly tasty options really left us happy that we stopped by.  I think we both felt like it was worth the extra cost for a nice evening out and found the service better than the food.  

The Italian food is mostly traditional Italian food that many Americans love to enjoy.  The food here wasn't as good as the Italian food we had previously tried at the specialty restaurant Palo on the Disney Wonder, but felt it was still a good meal overall.  We did not try lunch, although we did notice that the lunch menu offers less options than the dinner menu.

Giovanni's Table is open for lunch 11:30am to 3:30pm and open for dinner 6:00pm to 10:00pm.

And I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve been here! What did you order? Any suggestions or favorite items? Let me know in the comments below!

Veteran cruiser reviews Oasis of the Seas

In:
06Aug2010

Nanu, a Nepalese woman and her sister Rita, took a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and compiled a rather lengthy review of their trip, documenting much of it. 

To celebrate my sister’s birthday this month, we – just the two of us – embarked on a seven-day cruise on the world’s largest, biggest, hugest cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas. We left behind one husband, six children, 9 assorted grandchildren, and 1 ½ great grand babies (the half represents one due in December).

Nanu gives a good report on the ship, which for those who haven't been on Oasis, may find interesting. She documents much of the ship and includes a lot of Oasis of the Seas trivia and facts. She also mixes in her own experiences, like the food on the ship, which she found to be more than plentiful for her. 

The entertainment on Day Seven in the Opal Theater was also unusual and unique. It was entitled “Come Fly with Me,” and consisted of performances by gymnasts and dancers using trapezes, cables, wires, trampolines and even, I kid you not, lengths of cloth. Dynamic and unbelievable artistry.

If you enjoy in-depth trip reports, you'll be sure to give her report a read over.  

Photo of the Day: Central Park at night

In:
05Aug2010

Restaurant Review: Seafood Shack

In:
05Aug2010

Tucked away on the Boardwalk area of Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas is the Seafood Shack, one of nine specialty restaurants found aboard the world's largest cruise ship.  For those who need a seafood kick, this is your place to go.

Atmosphere

The Seafood Shack is located in the Boardwalk area of the Oasis of the Seas and fits right in.  In fact, it probably is the best themed element to the Boardwalk motif, as it does feel like the sort of restaurant you would find along an ocean front boardwalk.  The restaurant is decorated with a lot of surf items, from surf boards to water buoys, it's all about the ocean here.  

In fact, the menu you get is designed to look like a kickboard and is made of a hard wood.  These little elements really help establish one of the better decorated restaurants found aboard Oasis of the Seas.

The Seafood Shack is an open air restaurant, meaning it's not air conditioned and subject to the outside temperature.  Eating here in the middle of July for lunch, it wasn't terrible as it's shaded from direct sunlight and there are fans overhead to keep the air moving.

Eats

Before we jump into the food, we need to discuss the ordering system here.  The Seafood Shack has a cover charge you must pay per person, similar to other specialty restaurants.  However, the Seafood Shack differs from the other specialty restaurants in that your cover charge does not allow you to order as much as you like.  Rather, you can order one appetizer, one entree and one dessert.  You can order extra food on top of that for an additional fee per item ($3.95).

At first, I thought this would be a problem as the staple of any restaurant on a cruise ship is ordering as much as you like.  Once I tried it out, I found there to be plenty of food between the three courses you are allowed and it should be more than enough food for most people, especially once you start sharing some food around the table.

The menu at the Seafood Shack features, yes, a lot of sea food.  From fish to crab to shrimp, there's a lot to choose from. I was actually surprised by the amount of non-seafood on the menu as well.  Lots of chicken, beef and pork can be found to choose from, which is good for picky eaters or those who aren't keen on just eating seafood for the entire meal.

Be sure to ask before you order your meal what the fresh catch of the day is.  The fresh catch routinely changes from day to day and if you enjoy fish, you know whatever is freshest is often the best choice.  On the day I ate here, a butter fish was fresh and I opted to give it a try.  But before we get there, let's start with the appetizers.

I had the New England clam chowder, which came in a large sourdough bread bowl.  The soup was good, but the bread bowl was better.  There's just something about the combo that really made it so good and I had to forcibly stop myself from eating the bread bowl because I didn't want to fill up on that before the rest of the food came.  My wife opted to have the cajun potato wedges, which were your typical good tasting large french fries.  In both cases, we found there to be an abundance of food and we barely dented my wife's potato wedges.

Most of the appetizers that aren't soups are served wrapped in faux newspaper to look like the sort of thing you might find in England.  I've only seen this previously with fish and chips, but other appetizers came in this fashion which seemed to give people a kick.

Back to the entrees, my butter fish arrived grilled along topped with a fruit salsa and served with mashed potato and some other veggies.  The fish itself was okay, but I found the salsa on top of it to be really tasty and combining the two really made it a good meal.    My wife opted to get the Bermuda onion burger (can you tell which of us likes seafood?) and found it to be an above average burger.  Not great, but better than the usual burger you find around.

By the time we got to dessert, we were both pretty stuffed.  My wife got the cookies and cream ice cream sundae while I just got a regular ice cream sundae.  The great thing about ice cream is it's nearly impossible to screw up so as you might imagine, it was quite good.

If you have kids (or adults who like to behave like kids), every so often there's a song and dance the staff do for the children.  Basically, they parade around the restaurant singing a song (yes, it's a sea shanty) and the kids that we saw seemed to really enjoy it, so be ready to jump into the parade should it occur.

Overall

The Seafood Shack is an interesting restaurant offering a wide enough selection of food to be able to cater to most taste pallets.  If you can, avoid this restaurant around times when there's something in the nearby Aqua Theater as it seems whenever a show or event ends there, there's a bee line made for the Seafood Shack and Johnny Rockets.  It's best to check out the Seafood Shack for lunch, as it seems to be the least crowded then.

Considering there is no cover charge for kids under the age of 13, if you have young kids, this may be a good option among the specialty restaurants to check out.

Cost:

  • Lunch: $7.95 per guest fee
  • Dinner: $9.95 per guest fee
  • There is no cover fee for kids under the age of 13

Seafood Shack is open for lunch from 11:30am to 3:30pm and dinner from 5:30pm to 10:00pm

And I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve been here! What did you order? Any suggestions or favorite items? Let me know in the comments below!

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