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  1. Hi everyone! My family and I are currently booked on a sailing on Oasis in April 2022 in a 2br grand suite. I need to move it to the fall and need help deciding. I want to go star class this time around because, well, why not. It's my wife and I and our 4 kids (9,7,4,4) sailing. Our options are: Oasis - 2BR Aquatheater suite (deck 9) Harmony - 2BR Aquatheater suite (deck 10) Both sailings hit Cococay and Labadee. Harmony is about $700 cheaper (but I'd get an extra $100 OBC for Oasis sailing and less transportation fees to and from Port for Oasis) Give me your opinions. I know there are a few different restaurants on ship and the decor in the room is a bit dated in Oasis. Any other major differences I should know? Kids club,splash pad, etc? This will be our first star class and first Oasis class. Blow this novice away with your expertise!
  2. Rather doing yet another trip blog since there have been a couple of really good ones already, I'm just going to do a photo dump in this thread to showcase the newly amplified Oasis of the Seas. I've got a couple of weeks of photo ops to gather my collection of pictures so over the next little while I'll update this post with different areas around the ship. I may bounce around a little but that's just the drink package effect. Without further delay, here is the new Oasis of the Seas fresh off a $165M makeover.
  3. Hi! We are looking at videos of Playmakers on Oasis and it looks like there is a VIP Owner's Box at Playmakers. Has anyone rented this before? We have a large party and are (hopefully) sailing in Fall 2021 and thought it would be fun to watch Monday night football and have a home base for everyone. Does anyone know the cost or how many people it fits?
  4. “Follow that STAR…Our Journey back to Oasis.” - March 15-22, 2020 Oasis… ” A fertile or green spot in the desert, a shelter from the storm, a moment of respite from the conditions of the desert…” We’re back with another blog and that line above pretty much sums up what this cruise means to us this time around. Our lives, since entering dry dock back in August 2019, has been work, work, and more work. To say that the last seven months have been busy is an understatement. However, all is going to be well soon as we are about to embark on not just another cruise, but another Star Class adventure! And full disclaimer! In fear of being blog shamed (I won't mention any names here lol), I debated waiting on this one until about a week out but then I would have to back track to outline the Star Class process. This is just easier. Oh, and I am excited too! Please note that this is only 5 weeks early. Let's begin...
  5. I was looking at March 2022 cruises on Oasis and the March 22, 2022 cruise is missing....does that mean it is already sold out or is it chartered? That was the date we wanted so curious if anyone knows.
  6. My wife and I sailing, doing 7 nights with 3 full sea days. 1. What all is included with the pass? 2. Is there anything included in the spa that is not an extra cost (excluding consultations and classes)? 3. Can you (or do you have to) make reservations to use it, or just show up? 4. Has any of the features/offerings changed since the ship went through Amp (I can only find one video post Amp). 5. If you don't/can't make reservations, how busy does it get? 6. CP price now is $119/person or $199/couple. Is this normal/high/low? 7. Is it ever cheaper to book once on board? 8. Do the passes ever sell out? 9. Is there anything else I should know about it?
  7. 1. Per @WAAAYTOOO's guide from a few years back, room should have bed by balcony. Can anyone confirm? (Hey @RBRSKI, did your Pictures of Staterooms thread ever take off? I searched for it and came up empty but I might be doing something wrong) 2. Any way to tell if the bed will be facing forward or aft?
  8. Hi everyone! First time cruiser here (unless you count a cruise when I was 14 yrs old having everything booked by family). Bf and I are going on Oasis in May 2020 to port Canaveral, coco cay and Nassau. I have a few questions that I’m hoping can be answered. Thanks in advance! a. How are the clubs on royal Caribbean ships? (Or oasis specifically) Do they get pretty packed? How late are they open and is the music good? I have nyc clubs to compare it to in my mind b. At the clubs if we wanted tequila shots with the unlimited drinking package, how often could we get them or is there a specific time period we’d have to wait between each shot? c. Why is it impossible to find a drink menu for oasis anywhere? I want to make sure drinks I would want are included in the unlimited package. For example how much is a frozen pina colada? (A drink I see myself having a lot of) margarita? mojito? d. How does it work if we do not want to pay gratuity in advance? Our travel agent says on the last night of the trip they will put tip envelopes for cash in our room, is that how it actually works or is there another way to self pay gratuity? e. How does making my time dining reservations go? As well as theater and aquatheater reservations? f. For people who have been to the water park at coco cay and Atlantis, which is better? g. Any first time cruiser advice that you think is absolutely necessary? h. How are speciality restaurants on oasis? Interested in the bbq place and playmakers bar thank you all!!
  9. Didn't want to put this in the ? What Will The Oasis Get During Dry Dock ? thread. Was thinking this might be better suited for a thread of its own. Left side is the new deck plan, right side old. White areas show a change. Click on the image to enlarge, much have to click again when the image pops up. If count was correct 60 new rooms added (D7-3, D9-1, D11-13, D12-13, D14-30). Updated 11/21/2019: Things have changed slightly since orginal post. Good example would be rooms no longer going where part of Diamond Club was. That space now I think a card room. BlogPost: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2019/07/01/deck-deck-drydock-changes-oasis-of-the-seas
  10. We are sailing in a Sky Class Suite on Oasis. I found the following menu and am hoping this is still true that I can get free beer/soda/wine/water from 11AM - 11PM. Does anyone who have sailed Oasis recently know if this is accurate?
  11. Hello all! My husband and I are trying to decide between the oasis and navigator, both being 4 nights in may. It will be our first time leaving our boys so its just us and it’s also my husbands first time cruising (& I haven’t gone in a decade and not with Royal) So I’ve done lots of research and the main things I can’t decide between is the navigator isn’t as big but is going to Cocoa Cay and Nassau and 1 sea day, while the Oasis is the oasis, but is only going to Cozumel with 2 sea days. Would love experienced royal fans to help and give any and all advice! thank you in advance! Alyssa
  12. Good Morning! Does anyone know if infants still in swim diapers are allowed in the oasis pool on CocoCay? Or do the same rules apply as on the ship? No pools until out of diapers? just a curious mom trying to plan with two infants thank you!
  13. Hi Everyone, Looking to make a reservation on Harmony. As much as I would love an ocean view balcony, its not in the budget. :angry: :( Has anyone stayed in boardwalk or central park balconies? Advantages? Dislikes? Recommendations? Looking forward to hearing from you! Thanks! Mel :)
  14. I promised Sabrina that I would do this, so here goes. First: I am the worst live blogger EVER since I hate to take pix. I DO realize that long, text review/live blogs are less effective b/c nobody wants to sit and read line after line of text. I hate it myself ! So I am going to TRY and be brief-er than usual and TRY and incorporate photos, which are 2 things I am not very good at (brevity and photography). Who: Dan and I (Raye) What: S2S cruises on Brilliance and Oasis. Where: Tampa then Miami When: 24 - 30 Nov (Brilliance out of Tampa) then 1 - 8 December (Oasis out of Miami) Why: Because we can...and this will be our first S2S At home, writing this but leaving for the airport (DCA) at 2PM. Uber, cost $81.56. We have to have an XL due to luggage. Honestly, it's not that far to the airport. We live about 20 miles south of DC so it's not more than 15-17 miles to the airport. Kinda high, IMO but still cheaper than parking the car in Long Term Parking for 15 days. We will pass some time at the American Airlines Admiral's Club prior to boarding and then fly First Class to Tampa. Flight is at 5:00, arriving TPA at ~7:30PM. Will Uber from airport to the hotel (Tampa Marriott Water Street); used rewards points for the hotel. We could have used airline miles for the air but we're saving those reward points for a yet-to-be scheduled Alaska trip !! One piece of luggage still missing as it is awaiting inevitable forgotten, last-minute items. So looking forward to Brilliance. #1, we have never sailed on Brilliance before and #2, it has been many years since we sailed on a Radiance class ship. PS. I am already having fits with just 1 pic. I don't know how the rest of you do it !! More, later from the Admiral's Club !!
  15. So I debated starting this, but I'm sitting in my hotel room in Miami, it's 10:45pm and I can't sleep. Why?? BECAUSE TOMORROW IS CRUISE DAY!!!! And here we go...I will try to keep this going as I'm spending the next 7 nights on Oasis of the Seas for my 2nd Thanksgiving in a row at sea. I managed to snag surf & stream VOOM for $11.99/day which I thought was reasonable enough, so I will be connected on the ship. Sprint also has cell service at the ports (Labadee, San Juan, St. Thomas) which is included in my cell phone plan, so I won't be forced to disconnect at all. That means I can talk about, read about, and write about cruise stuff while I'm doing cruise stuff!!! Last year I spent Thanksgiving on Symphony of the Seas (which also left from Miami) as part of the Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise. It was my first group cruise and I got to meet so many awesome folks from the different social media channels involved with the group. I also spent that cruise in a category A1 room (Spacious 2-BR AquaTheater Suite with Large Balcony) which was absolutely my favorite cabin I've ever been in. Symphony was also my first Oasis class ship. It was Star Class and then combined with it also being the group cruise I felt like every single moment of that cruise was scheduled for me. This time around I feel like I'm slumming it in an oceanview balcony room. But I paid a pretty awesome price for it as a solo cruiser as they weren't charging the solo supplement. I originally had a CP double balcony room (cabin numbers ending in 229 and 629) but the price dropped so much after final payment (we're talking as low as $650 all-in solo with Diamond discount and FL resident discount) that the oceanview balconies ended up being cheaper than I had paid. My terrific MEI travel agent said they wouldn't give me any money back but she got me moved into an oceanview balcony at no extra cost, cabin 8594. So that means I'm by myself in the room, I get double points, and I get to make my own schedule, right? WRONG...my mother decided to invite herself along. Of course she's also after the extra points, so she went and booked her own cabin so I will have a little bit of space and solo-ness still.
  16. By FlowBro Ty Hi All Want To Get Every One's Idea What The Oasis Class Will Get During Dry Dock. Here's What I Think. Laser Tag At Studio B Playmaker's A Upgraded Mini Golf Jamie Italian Here I Want To Join The Ship. The Ultimate Abess Slide The Prefect Storm Slides Let Me Know What You Guess What The Oasis Will Get. Thanks
  17. Hello, I am searching for the Oasis of the seas and Voyager of the seas ship models. If anyone has any of these or are planning to go on board these ships please get in contact with me as I am willing to pay for the model, and cover shipping while paying you a little extra. I've been searching for these since I didn't pick them up upon my previous voyages, thank you.
  18. Thanks to @Wilson for tipping me off to this! Today's Galveston Daily News is reporting that the Port is near a deal with Royal Caribbean to bring an Oasis Class ship to Galveston in late 2020. The Port says Royal Caribbean would build the terminal on land leased from the Port of Galveston. The full article from the Galveston Daily News requires a subscription, but here is the full text: GALVESTON - July 15, 2018 Port of Galveston officials are nearing an agreement with Royal Caribbean to build a third cruise terminal at the Port of Galveston that could cost $85 million and bring the world’s largest passenger ship to the island in 2020. “We’re working toward a really good agreement,” said Ted O’Rourke, chairman of the port’s governing board. “It’s a great opportunity if we are able to put it together.” Port Director Rodger Rees in March announced that Royal Caribbean wanted to bring an Oasis-class ship to the island, but that doing so would require a new cruise terminal. The port already is home to two cruise terminals at piers 25 and 27, but the size of the Oasis-class ships requires additional support, officials said. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, of which there are four with more planned, are more than 1,180 feet long and capable of carrying more than 6,200 passengers. Officials are discussing putting the third cruise terminal at Pier 10, next to the Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and BMW vehicle processing plant, Rees said. “Right now, the talk is about having Royal Caribbean come in and build the terminal themselves, then we’d have them lease the land from the port, sharing in revenues with them. We’d control the parking aspect of it,” Rees said. Royal Caribbean officials did not respond to a request for comment by deadline Friday. The proposed facility would have to be about 155,000 square feet, port officials said. The BMW facility would not have to move under current plans, Rees said. The benefit of having Royal Caribbean build the cruise terminal would be that the port wouldn’t have to take on substantial debt and would, instead, be able to focus on its substantial infrastructure needs, Rees said. Ever since the Carnival Celebration made its first voyage from the island in September 2000, the port has come to depend more and more on the cruise business for revenues. The port depends heavily on revenues from cruise ships. Port officials anticipate about 55 percent of revenue budgeted for 2018 will be cruise related. Port officials are projecting operating revenues of about $37.4 million in 2018 against operating expenditures of $37.2 million, according to documents. “This doesn’t use up our borrowing power to build a new terminal,” Rees said. Addressing dilapidated facilities at the island’s public docks could cost as much as $250 million, a problem exacerbated by the fact the port is projected to bring in only about $250,000 in net income in 2018, port officials said. For a third cruise terminal to be ready to host an Oasis-class ship in the fall of 2020, officials will need a project planned and designed by about November, Rees said in a previous interview with The Daily News. There is not yet a final agreement with Royal Caribbean, and all details of the proposed third cruise terminal could still change, Rees said. The Wharves Board of Trustees must approve whatever agreement is eventually reached with the cruise line, Trustee Elizabeth Beeton said. The Port of Galveston is a landlord port, which generates much of its income from lease agreements with maritime tenants and fees related to ship calls. The port is home to three year-round Carnival Cruise Line ships, one year-round Royal Caribbean ship, one seasonal Royal Caribbean ship and a seasonal Disney Cruise Lines ship. The Carnival Vista, the cruise line’s newest and biggest ship, will arrive at Galveston’s docks Sept. 23.
  19. Time arrived , another half YOLO cruise will start soon , YOLO since we booked it only at April. This is the 5th time we are doing the same cruise (Two times on Symphony, one time on Harmony and one time on Liberty) but there are always something new to do in each one of the Med ports Here is our plans : Day -1 – Barcelona/ Brussels - our flight is planned via brussels as it was the cheapest option , the only issue is that it comes with a very long stopover, the plan is to try and take an earlier fight from brussels , if not we will take the train to the city and eat fresh fries and maybe some famous Belgium chocolates. Day 1 – Barcelona. Day 2 – Palma de Mallorca, we have some excursion planned to the north part of the island. Day 3 - Marseilles , take the buss to the city and walkaround until I will need to catch a conference call , work related (the things I am doing to be able and cruise more). Day 4 - Florence/Pisa (La Spezia) – I might have something special for this port , a trip to Milan airport to retrieve what I left there yesterday , more about it later. Day 5 –Rome (Civitavecchia) – I booked a train trip to Rome , directly with the railway company , ¼ of the price the ship offers , to be on the safe side we are planning to catch the 4 PM train back which should bring us 3 hours before all aboard. Day 6- Naples (Capri) – No plans yet , we might take the bicycle tour if the weather will be nice or rent a car or just go off the ship and tour the city. Day 7 – be sad the cruise is over maybe overcome it with the Chef table. Day 8 – catch a 9:30 am flight back home (yes , we are walking over the edge this) time , still trying to see if I can find a direct flight in a decent price , if not it will be a very early day for us. As you can see we are traveling a day before the cruise and leaving on the same day coming back , I wanted to add at least one more day in Barcelona but I just could not make it happened, this time its really hard to navigate between work and vacation. So, why I consider to drive to Milan during the cruise ? , very simple , I was on a business trip few days ago, making sure I will be back on time for the cruise (meaning running away one day earlier than usual). I went to the airport , passed check in , security and border control enough time ahead to seat and relax in the airline lounge. I was drifted away working , trying to complete some tasks so I will have less things on my mind during the vacation when I heard the call for boarding. I packed very quickly, boarded the aircraft, went to my seat then reaching for my cellphone just to realize its gone, TA, TA , TA (dramatic music please) , my worst nightmare (naa , not really , my rea nightmare is to be late boarding RCL cruise ship ). Quickly I went to the front of the aircraft (was not upgraded this time , poor me) to notify the flight attended about the crises , she escorted me back to the gate , passing some un happy security people , were one of the ground team went to try and find my cellphone in the lounge. After five minutes I asked if I can go by myself , apparently it was Ok , went to the lounge just to hear that they did found it , but they were supper efficient and sent it to the lost and found …. , yes this is the first time they were really efficient. Now I had two options, one go out and fetch the cellphone from the lost and found , but it means I will need to do security and boarder control again, in other words I will loose my flight, which can risk the cruise … I had chosen the other option , leave my communication center , my camera , my VPN authentication device , my two phone numbers (the local one and the roaming T Mobile which is very useful for cruises) , my restaurant guide , my taxi and many other things , amazing how much of our lives is relying on one device. I did run back to the aircraft as they were waiting just for me. So here I was seating at my chair doing plans how to recover from the situation in the day or two I still had before the cruise. We landed at early morning and after a short taxi ride I was back home , finding that beside the cellphone I left behind also my keys … ops, lucky for me I have spare keys, what a ride . To be continued , need to pack For now , here is some last minute Caprese salad I prepared today to get ready for the trip
  20. We are going on Oasis in 18 days and we are in the aqua suite? Do you have any advice for us when we are on the boat? Thanks for allowing me to join. We have 2 cruise book for this year.
  21. Day -2 - Pre-cruise As I looked out this morning, the weather in beautiful St. Louis, MO confirmed that it is indeed time for a cruise. Nothing like a dreary day with the first flurry of snow for the year covering the roof tops to remind you that it's been 364 days of dry dock, time to start the live-blog, and offer a miserable picture to test out how to insert them into the blog and have them sized correctly. Sailings We will being a pseudo-side to side on Oasis and Enchantment out of Port Canaveral. Oasis will be a 7-night Western Caribbean starting November 11 through November 18. One night spent in Port Canaveral, then a 4-night Bahamas sailing on Enchantment from November 19 through November 23. Itinerary Day 1 - Port Canaveral, FL Day 2 - Sea Day Day 3 - Labadee Day 4 - Falmouth Day 5 - Sea Day Day 6 - Cozumel Day 7 - Sea Day Day 8 & 9 - Port Canaveral Day 10 - CocoCay Day 11 - Nassau Day 12 - Sea Day Day 13 - Port Canaveral We have a beach bungalow booked for Labadee. Falmouth we will probably stay in the cruise terminal. Cozumel we will be going to Nachi Cocom, then heading downtown to Coz Coffee and Chocolateria Isla Bella. CocoCay we have a Cabana booked, and then probably the cruise terminal again in Nassau. Who is Sailing: It will be my wife, Abby, our 4 year old daughter, and I on this sailing. I cruised once when I was a kid on the Big Red Boat. My next cruise was last year with Abby on Majesty of the Seas, and went to Grand Bahama and CocoCay (which we missed due to weather.) I get cruise incentives from my land-based casino, so we booked that cruise after final payment date on a whim. It was right before we left on the sailing that I found RCBlog, and now I am fully indoctrinated. This will be our daughter's first cruise, and she's been counting down the number of "sleeps" left since we were at 20. She can't wait to meet new friends in Adventure Ocean, and has been trying to convince us that all of her friends from school can come with us. So while this is our second RC cruise, it will be our first 7-nighter, first Oasis Class, and first just about everything else including first time in each of these ports. Other logistics Packing has been ongoing for about a week. Hoping to get it all finalized tonight. We fly out tomorrow from STL to MCO via Southwest. Tomorrow night will be in the Country Inn & Suites near the port. We will have a rental car from MCO to the hotel, returning it at the port. For the night in between cruises, we had the same hotel booked, choosing it originally due to the on-site laundry facilities. After @Matt posted the blog about the Holiday Inn Beach Club, we changed our stay there, due to in-room laundry, as well as everything else on property. Possibly even taking the rental car to Publix to cook dinner for ourselves. After we debark Enchantment, we are taking a shuttle from PC to MCO for our flight back. Cabins On Oasis we have a JS on deck 6 booked. The location should be great for it's location, and we envision Johnny Rockets for breakfast most mornings. On Enchantment, I've done the best I can do to ensure that my daughter will become a full on suite snob by booking a GS. The pricing was great for the upgrade, plus we got a great deal on the Oasis sailing by booking during a WOW sale last year with KSF and free gratuities. (Although I feel like I'm probably heading to #suitesnob status as well. Looking at booking Oasis again in Feb of 2020, and my eye is on a Crown Loft Suite...) Other thoughts -We will be #TeamNoDX. I had weight loss surgery in February and can't really drink much (down 200 lbs in about a year). My last drink was 2 weeks before surgery, but I imagine I may have to have at least a sip or two while on the ship or at Nachi. -We have the 3 night dining package booked on Oasis. We plan on being #TeamCK (more influence from our favorite Stubborn Canadian (wouldn't let me tag @lovetocruise2002 for some reason). If we can't do CK, we may opt for Solarium Bistro. On Enchantment we don't have any specialty dining booked. We'll either see if there are deals available, or take advantage of the MDR service in our room, especially on Thanksgiving Day. -Pictures will be with my iPhone 8 and the moment lenses. I'm opting not to bring my DSLR this trip, just so I can enjoy the journey, and work on shot selection vs. shot quality. Once I get a better idea of what shots to take on a cruise, and how to frame them, I move to bringing my DSLR. -We are excited for our daughter's first cruise. This will be her second time flying, but the first was with Grandma and Grandpa, so we're looking forward to that also. We are doing the Dreamworks Breakfast on Oasis, and the girls will be doing the Cupcake class on Enchantment. Finally, I'm hoping to do the live blog justice. Lots of great influences on the site, and I hope I hold a candle to some of them. We do have VOOM, so I'll try to be as interactive as possible. If there are questions, I'll try to get them answered. Now it's off to iron my best shorts and t-shirt for formal night and finish packing. -Lance
  22. We got off Lady O last Sunday (it was a fabulous cruise) and I took two of the 3 available martini classes that were held by Patrick in the Champagne Bar. The first class was on departure day and I didn't know about it but the two I did take were a lot of fun and quite the learning experience. I love mixed drinks but basically suck at creating them; this was my first time with actual teaching. Patrick was smart and engaging, and got nearly everyone to participate with making drinks. I highly recommend it. There is a $15 cost per class if you don't have a drink package and $10 if you do. I've been making them all weekend! Here is one of my best so far - the Toblerone Martini:
  23. I am still new to this board but have read and learned so much over the past few months. Thank you all. Right now I am laying in bed on the 2nd day of an Eastern Caribbean itinerary. I have sailed Voyager and Freedom class before and was excited but worried about the size of this class. My verdict is in, Oasis class gets two thumbs up. Here are my observations from the first two days: - it's all about the width. The extra space creates venues that are not just larger but not pass throughs to other parts of the ship. Boleros and the Schooner bar are two examples much more self contained and pleasing. - Where are those crowds? The ship seems less crowded than the other two classes I have sailed. Using advice from you all, embarkation lunch at the solarium, Park Cafe for snacks, first night at a specialty restaurant and even using the Coke machine in the arcade all were great suggestions! - Entertainment... I liked Cats. The talent was top notch. Oasis of Dreams was terrific unique. Spent an enjoyable hour in the Schooner bar listening to the piano player. - Having the solarium in front of the forward elevators makes the whole area more peaceful. Again less through traffic compared to other classes. - Had a couples massage right at sail away from Port Canaveral. Got to say it was a great way to leave the stress at the Port. The one thing I can confirm crowding were the pools for a few hours. They seemed more like hot tubs with so many people in them. Tomorrow is the first sea day so I am looking forward to exploring more and trying out some other RCBlog tips. Feel free to share more!
  24. Sorry to say... I'm back again ready to provide another quality LIVEish! This time around I'll be on the Oasis of the Seas for Halloween. For those that want to get an idea of what I'll be posting look back at my last journey on board Also, keep an eye on Twitter/Periscope for any material not posted here. Twitter/Periscope: @CGTLH
  25. @Matt - Thanks for suggesting on your last podcast that we reproduce this cruise review email in the discussion boards. Yeah, it's lengthy, but we hope some newbies, or others who have not tried Oasis-class ships, will find some helpful suggestions from our first cruise on this wonderful, ginormous vessel... My wife and I have greatly enjoyed your podcast and the awesome website as we got back into cruising earlier this year. Your advice and advice from others on the message boards greatly enhanced our cruise experience. We provide our key takeaways at the end. Prior to our eastern Caribbean cruise on Oasis this February-March, we had only experienced Monarch of the Seas as chaperones for a local high school group trip in early 2010. We were quite impressed with that ship--the biggest/best from 1990--when we sailed her almost a decade ago. But we could not fully anticipate the staggering hugeness of Oasis when we first walked up to and boarded her. You can view all the videos and see all the photos you want, but that can't replicate the visceral impact seeing this beautiful behemoth in person. We flew to Orlando the day before embarkation at Port Canaveral and took a van from a travel company from the airport to our hotel in Cocoa Beach--cost was equivalent to Uber and we were the only riders. Yes, heed the advice of many and arrive in town the day before if you can't drive to the port. Peace of mind for making your cruise on time without a panic-filled dash is worth much more than a night's hotel stay! Although Royal notified us to arrive at the terminal for boarding between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m., we took your advice and arrived early at the terminal, by 10:00 a.m., and were quickly processed and received our Sea Pass cards. RC staff want to get passengers processed efficiently and did not ask about our scheduled time-slot for boarding as we thought they might. We received a Gold C&A member boarding card (labelled "Gold-3" to be exact) and did not have to wait long in the main room for the boarding process to begin, starting with Suite guests and working down the C&A ladder from Pinnacle to Gold. It took maybe 30 minutes at most to get to gold member boarding. Being pretty geeked out by now, we got our photo taken while boarding and were on the ship by about 11:15 a.m. Entering the ship on the Deck 5 Royal Promenade--a cool, glitzy three-deck-high space running up the middle of about half of the ship--we noticed the Globe and Atlas Pub, which called to us to baptize our pre-purchased ultimate drink package. Based on RC blog advice, we headed first to a specialty restaurant in Central Park on Deck 8 to make dining reservations for the cruise--this was much quicker than waiting in line at one of the restaurant reservation desks temporarily set up in the Royal Promenade. We pre-purchased the 3-night specialty dining package and had already scheduled 150 Central Park for dinner on day 2. We had no line at the desk at Giovanni's and booked a dinner there and at Chop's for times later in the cruise that would work well with our show reservations. From there we strolled across Central Park and had lunch at Park Cafe with only a 10 minute wait -- yes, those roast beef sandwiches at Park Cafe are fabulous! We then went up top and regaled in the views from the solarium, and areas for the main pools and wave runners on Decks 15 & 16. Our stateroom was open around 1:15 p.m. We had reserved a balcony room (14204) at the start of the bump in the middle of the port side on Deck 14. On our previous cruise, we stayed on Deck 3 in a small stateroom with a small window. A balcony 14 decks up provides an awesome vantage point—almost vertigo-inducing! My wife's luggage had arrived by then -- not at our stateroom door, but a ways down the corridor with a group of other luggage. Mine was not yet available. We met our room steward who told us it might take until 6:00 p.m. for all luggage to be delivered, which seemed odd as our luggage was on the same cart to begin with and I had intentionally avoided bringing in any items I knew were forbidden by RC (more on that later). After we checked out our stateroom, we headed to the main dining room on Deck 4 to see if we could switch from My Time dining to traditional dining at the earlier seating (5:30 PM), because this would work better with the shows we had reserved, and from our perception through some podcasts that My Time dining could take a bit longer than traditional. We spoke to a head waiter at the desk near the entrance to the dining room and he had no problem assigning us to fill out an eight-person table for traditional dining, which worked well for us and gave us a good opportunity to meet some other cruisers. After a bit more exploring and checking for my luggage – still had not arrived yet – we attended the muster drill and caught some of the sail-away festivities from the Deck 14 forward wing viewing area (another Oasis tip we learned from the RC Blog website). One last check for my luggage before we headed down to traditional dining. After a nice meal, we headed back to the room before we were to go to our first show of the cruise, Cats in the Opal Theater at 8:30 PM. When we arrived at our stateroom door, I saw the dreaded notice that I had to go down to the security baggage checking area on Deck 2 before 8 PM to get my luggage and it was already 7:45 PM by this time. I dashed down to Deck 2 and was instructed to open my bag and learned, to my surprise, that a short three-outlet extension cord was the contraband item. I was well aware that any liquor (besides two bottles of wine) or any appliance that created heat or a power strip were forbidden. RC staff calmly put up with my dumbfounded protestations and showed me the fine print where it did indeed state that extension cords are not allowed. Mental note made and not soon to be forgotten. Back to the fun stuff! My wife and I were both intrigued by the entertainment offerings described in Cruise Planner and the large number and types of entertainment venues provided on such a huge ship-- traditional Broadway-type theater, various nightclubs, ice-skating rink, Aqua theater, jazz club, and casino, along with many interesting watering holes. Being theater buffs, we made reservations for all of the shows available in Cruise Planner. The first show we saw, Cats, did not disappoint, even though the length of this unabridged show and perhaps its lack of a single main storyline caused quite a few folks to leave the theater at intermission. We were greatly impressed by the high caliber of the performers at this show, and most other shows on board. It was rather refreshing to see the show again after about 20 years. We enjoyed opportunities to talk with actors from Cats after their performances at other venues during the cruise (Dazzles and Jazz on 4). We enjoyed all of the shows, and none of them were, in our view, mediocre or worse. The ice-skating show portrayed the story of Hans Christian Anderson and many of his fictional characters. Although the ice-skating rink was not large by any means, the skaters still reached high speed and did several spinning leaps (sorry – can't tell my sow-kow from a toe loop). The divers in the aqua show were great. We spent a few enjoyable evenings in Jazz on 4 and got to know the performers, including at the Prohibition Event, which was fun but a bit blurry in my recollection. Good turnout for this event with a full venue and everyone decked-out in crazy 20s fashions. This was my wife's favorite night of the cruise and the photos taken by RC photographers around the Royal Promenade from that evening are the nicest keepsakes from the cruise. Based on recommendations from the podcast, we sampled specialty restaurants by pre-purchasing the 3-night package. We ate at 150 Central Park, Giovanni’s, and Chops – all very good and worth the upcharge. But we ended up re-jiggering our dining schedule due to a fortuitous encounter with our main dining room waiter when he was working at Johnny Rockets over lunch the second day of our cruise. He spotted us as we looking around the Boardwalk and called us over to ask about our dining choices for the cruise – we had mentioned to him at dinner on the first night of the cruise we had purchased a 3-night specialty dining package. As it turns out, the nights we picked for specialty dining coincided with the two formal nights and the last night of the cruise – in other words, all the dinners when they have the best meal options in the main dining room including lobster night. At his urging, we went back up to Giovanni’s and were able to reschedule our specialty dining for other nights so we could experience the best the main dining room has to offer on the two formal nights and the last night of the cruise. Couple notes on our ports: St Maarten For our excursion on St Maarten we also heeded the advice of many and took a cab tour around the island. Matt, thanks for the tip about your friend Leroy Brown. We were able to reserve his cab for our tour and enjoyed his island banter and stories about different areas and beaches. He did focus quite a bit on the devastation from the hurricanes last year, including taking us by some damaged resorts and boats/harbors. Although Maho Beach at the end of the runway and the bar restaurant next to it were back up and running, the north side of the island was hit pretty bad. Nevertheless, we stopped at a lolo in Grand Case-Cynthia's Talk of the Town--and had a great lunch of chicken and ribs...more food than we bargained for, but we got to sample the grilling style on the French side of the island. San Juan We honestly were not expecting much for our short stop in San Juan (8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) and were originally thinking we might stay on board. But we were glad we ventured out -- the old town was a short walk from the pier and we strolled through the old Spanish colonial-style narrow streets with their brightly-painted buildings. Electrical power was spotty as the power cut out occasionally while we were in some shops, but was on a few doors down on the same block. We sampled mufungo at Cafe Manolin, a Puerto Rican fried plantain dish that was hearty and tasty. Labadee As first-timers at Labadee, we threw caution to the wind and road the Dragon's Breath, the huge zip line over Adrenaline Beach. Some have commented on the uneasy feeling on truck the ride up the hill and while waiting on the platform for the zipline. We did not have a bad experience in the truck ride up or while waiting on the platform. The ride itself was very smooth and the spring-cushioned stop at the end was not as jolting as we thought it might be. Our zip-line ride was scheduled at the beginning of the cook-out lunch buffet, and that was perhaps not ideal. By the time we returned from the ride, the lines were pretty long at the buffet, so we waited until near the end of lunchtime to go through the buffet line. Some Key Takeaways: Arrive in or near your departure port the day before you cruise. Reserve entertainment before the cruise—no cost for this! Check RC’s current policy on forbidden items--no more innocuous-looking extension cords for us!. Try specialty dining, but check out the main dining room on formal nights to sample some of the best food included in your cruise fare. Take a few minutes to get to know your main dining room waiter and room steward on the first day of your cruise. They helped us optimize our dining and entertainment schedules to get more out of our cruise. Get your picture taken at least a couple times by the RC photographers. Consider buying a drink package on a cruise that has several sea days plus a day at an RC resort. If we had had a more port-intensive itinerary with no stop at an RC resort where the drink package is included, we probably would not have bought the full package. But it was fun to sample a broad range of drinks, including several tasty dessert martinis at the Champagne Bar (just not all on the same night!). Use self-disembarkation for a couple or small group. Although we had to line up early in the morning, once the line started moving we were off the ship in a few minutes and to the rental car counter before the big crowds. Keep up the great work on the podcast and thanks to all members who contribute to the informative message boards at the RC Blog website! Roger & Carol Finally Thawed (And Now Baking) Tundra, WI
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