Review of Enchantment of the Seas

In:
02Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Must be something in the water today because there's another cruise ship review that has been posted. Alex from a2zcasino.eu recently took a cruise aboard Enchantment of the Seas and he gives a good overview of everything you can find aboard the ship.  He also spells out what he did upon embarkation including the obligatory first buffet meal.

All passengers are instructed to head for the upper decks to dine at the buffet that is waiting for their arrival. Most cruise ships offer this as a way for their guests to kill an hour or so until the staterooms are ready. If you have be smart and skipped lunch before boarding the ship, you will enjoy this large offering of food. The selections are excellent. The staff stays obvious so that any questions that you may have can be resolved.

The article is a good read for anyone who has a cruise booked on Enchantment of the Seas and is looking for something to help get that cruise "fix".  It's too bad that the site, a casino guide, didn't spend more time detailing the casino options aboard Enchantment.  Oh well, there's always next cruise.

Review of Independence of the Seas

In:
02Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Stephen Sinfield of the Burton Mail Travel returned from another cruise aboard Independence of the Seas and to say he is impressed by his experiences on this ship would be an understatement.  Sinfield wrote a review of his time on the ship and more than anything else, it's the amenities and sheer size of the ship that continue to impress him the most.

What makes the ship so special is its size.
Because it is so huge, it has the space to offer 15 decks of activity, entertainment and accommodation.
These 15 decks include everything from an ice skating rink through to a rock climbing wall, surf simulator, miniature golf and full-size basketball court. Not forgetting the gym, swimming pools, whirlpools, three-tier theatre and casino.

If you're considering a cruise on Independence of the Seas, Sinfield writes a good overall review of the ship, outlining the various options available to the cruise guest from entertainment to food to what to do onboard.

The size of the Independence enables it to create an atmosphere suitable for everyone. Yes it has everything needed to create a high-energy fuel-filled adventure at sea, yet at the same time it can be relaxing and cultural.

It's not all positive as at the end of the article, Sinfield can only muster up enough criticism that there are bigger ships out there, such as Oasis of the Seas, and perhaps he needs to go on that ship next time.

Port of Malaga has 183,000 passengers pass through in 2010 thus far

In:
01Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

The port of Malaga in Spain is reporting that more than 183,000 cruise passengers have passed through their port so far this year, which is an increase of 3% over 2009 numbers.  Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas, between June and November, is expected to bring an additional 168,000 passengers.  This is the largest amount of passengers that one cruise ship is expected to bring to the port for the rest of the year.

Five tips for Freedom of the Seas

In:
01Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Andy Mayer posted some great tips from his recent experience aboard Freedom of the Seas and they are some good advice.  Here's a quick rundown of them.

  1. Buy Bottles of Wine Not Individual Glasses
  2. Try the Buffet for Dinner
  3. Get the Early Dining Seating for Dinner
  4. Get the Fountain Soda Package
  5. Prepare to be Disconnected

Here's one full tip is posted about the bottles of wine being a better deal than by the glass

My colleague Mike told me about this before we left, and he was right.  Glasses of wine in the dining room can be expensive – in the $15 range.  However, if you know that you want wine every night and don’t mind the same wine for two nights or more in a row, buy a bottle.  At the end of the meal, your waiter marks the cork with your table number, takes it away, and then brings it back the next night for you to finish.  Since we had only two drinkers (my wife and I), this worked better than the RC Wine Plan, where the fewest number of bottles you can buy is five.  The per bottle cost of the Wine Plan is less than we paid, but we couldn’t have possibly drunk five bottles in a week.

Travel Weekly reviews Oasis of the Seas

In:
01Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

A river cruise expert at Travel Weekly, Michelle Baran, wrote a review of her experience on Oasis of the Seas.  She had heard a lot about the newest Royal Caribbean ship and wanted to see what it was all about.

The Oasis of the Seas is a destination, it is a spectacle, it is a vacation unto itself -- but a very specific type of vacation. It's a floating, mostly inclusive (with plenty of opportunities to spend additional cash), family-friendly resort, with something for a lot of different people: people who enjoy food, active people, people who want to relax, people who want to be entertained.

Overall, Baran seemed to be impressed with the ship and a fan.  Her passion are river cruises and she makes a number of comparisons between the two varieties of cruises.  It's a good quick read about the different amenities offered on the ship, especially interesting to get a different perspective on the ship.

Matt's Pre-Trip Report on Oasis of the Seas

In:
01Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Later this month, I will embark upon a 7 night cruise aboard Oasis of the Seas and wanted to write a pre-trip report before the final trip report comes down.

Who

Me and my 4 month pregnant wife
My parents
My sisters (older than 18)

Earlier this year, my parents voiced their desire to go on a family cruise.  We have been veteran cruisers of the Caribbean, so we wanted to take a different itinerary than normal.  Originally, we were looking for a cruise to Alaska but my sisters, always looking to worship the sun gods, preferred an itinerary that was a little warmer.  The next idea was to cruise on Mariner of the Seas out of Los Angeles and do a Mexican Riviera cruise.  My wife and I planned that we would fly out a few days early and spend some time at Disneyland and all would be perfect.  

Well, then my father decided he wanted to cruise on something bigger than Mariner (seriously) and we mentioned that it doesn't get much bigger than Oasis of the Seas.  After looking into it, we all agreed on taking Oasis of the Seas, departing Fort Lauderdale on July 24, 2010.  

Cabins

We have booked 3 cabins for this cruise.  My wife and I have a cabin that overlooks Central Park (as do my sisters), while my parents have a veranda balcony over the ocean.  My wife and I are usually fine with inside cabins (we'd rather spend the money elsewhere) but the Central Park cabin gives us a balcony to sit on and people watch, which will be fun.  

Itinerary

Our cruise will stop at 3 islands, Labadee, Costa Maya and Cozumel.

Labadee: Our plan will be a beach day here.  Everyone has been to Labadee before and we will find a spot on the beach somewhere.  Currently, Barefoot beach seems like a good choice and so we're going to go there.  I'm particularly happy that the ship can now dock at Labadee, as I've always found tenders to be incredibly slow and inefficient.

Costa Maya: Plans for this stop are still very much up in the air.  My sisters will likely opt for the beach but my dad really wants to check out the Mayan ruins.  His plan is to do this at Cozumel but I've heard good things about the Mayan Ruins at Costa Maya and so I'd like to take a tour here instead since I'm not keen on spending all day at the beach.  One excursion to the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins sounds pretty interesting so we will need to discuss this stop some more.

Cozumel: I love Cozumel and my wife and I could spend days here.  Our plan is to spend the morning in the city of Cozumel doing shopping and having lunch.  Last time we were here, we went to Pancho's Backyard for lunch, which was good but it didn't feel very authentic. This time, I'm looking for some real Mexican food for lunch, so we will need to do some more research.  After lunch, we're going to take a taxi over to Paradise Beach to spend some time enjoying the beach there.  We had a great time last time at Paradise Beach and looking forward to it once more.  Not sure what the rest of my family is planning for Cozumel. I'm hoping to change my dad's plan for Mayan Ruins to Costa Maya (as previously mentioned) so we will see what they have in mind, but I kind of like the idea of spending this day with just my wife.

Ship Plans

Needless to say, Oasis of the Seas is one big ship.  Given that we are only making 3 stops, the emphasis of this cruise is spending time on the ship.  My wife is a show junky, and so she plans to go to every show on every evening.  Like a good husband, I will likely go to them as well.  The Broadway musical "Hairspray" is playing and I'm looking forward to seeing that (we have tickets for it already).  The rest of the shows don't do as much for me but we will see.

While my wife loves shows, I love the restaurants and I can't wait to check them all out.  We have a reservation already for Giovanni's Table already but I'm hoping to be able to stop at Izumi, the sushi restaurant.  I love sushi and could eat it every day so I really want to go here at least once.  The other restaurants are less intriguing for us, but we're going to leave it up in the air.  We are fans of the main dining room, so getting to know our servers and that whole experience is important to us.

Aside from that, our plans for the ship aren't laid out.  There's going to be a lot of exploring and a lot of time spent at the pools.  We're about 3 weeks away from our cruise and I can't wait!

Explorer of the Seas Bar Menu

In:
01Jul2010
By: Matt Hochberg

A guest who just got off a cruise aboard Explorer of the Seas took some time to scan in the bar menu that was in each of the bars on Explorer of the Seas, as of last week.

Oasis of the Seas skips Costa Maya due to Hurricane Alex

In:
30Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Just a quick note that Oasis of the Seas has skipped the port of Costa Maya due to high winds and waves from Hurricane Alex.  Cruisers aboard Oasis of the Seas mentioned the change in itinerary on Cruise Critic. The ship's captain informed guests that the ship will not be stopping at Costa Maya as previously planned and the ship will instead have a sea day.

Royal Caribbean Names Michele Nadeem Vice President, Global Corporate Communications

In:
30Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has announced that Michele Nadeem will be their new Vice President of Global Corporate Communications.  As the VP of Global Corporate Communications, Nadeem will be responsible for "leading Royal Caribbean's overall global communication strategies and community relations efforts throughout all of its brands". She will report directly to the company's chairman and CEO, Richard D. Fain.

Before joining Royal Caribbean, Nadeem was the vice president of Corporate Communications, Public Affairs, Corporate Social Responsibility, Media and Industry Analyst Relations for DHL Express.

"We are delighted to have Michele join our team," said Fain. "We feel Michele's extensive international and domestic accomplishments and experience in corporate communications leadership roles will make her invaluable when the company needs to deliver clear and consistent messages across the organization and to the public."

Video of the Day: Wipeout!

In:
30Jun2010
By: Matt Hochberg

Ah, the flowrider.  It's one of the newest innovations on Royal Caribbean ships and it does look like a lot of fun but inevitably, people will wipe out trying to surf on it.  Here's a fun compellation of some them.

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