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SOLOasis redubbed YOLOasis Thanksgiving of the Seas Nov24, 2019 - Dec1, 2019


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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.
 

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I got off the elevator and decided that the least I could do was help guide him all the way to the act of this ship to Windjammer. I asked him if he minded me walking with him to the Windjammer and he

"You kids get off my blog!" 😂😂

Royal nailed everything here.  The sets and costumes were great.  All of the actors and actresses did a good job.  Singing and dancing was excellent.  It appears to be updated and modern. 

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Thanksgiving is an awesome time to cruise for me since it only requires taking off 3 days from work to fit in a 7 day cruise.  I'm already fortunate enough to live in Florida so all of the ports are drivable.  So it was all set..I had done Symphony and I was going to get to see how it all began on Oasis.  The newest and the oldest...but then in May I YOLO'd a 3 day Harmony sailing.  I mean, I'm only a 5 hour drive to Port Canaveral, so why not..easy to take a single day off work, blah, blah, blah.  But man..that meant the only Oasis class ship I was missing was Allure.  I looked at the schedule and prices and ended up at NextCruise booking Allure over Labor Day..so I was doing ALL FOUR OASIS CLASS SHIPS IN A YEAR (kinda...Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving).  So now I feel I can rightfully own the OASIS CLASS SHIRT.  Of course I didn't buy one before @Matt updated the design to include Wonder, foiling my plans.
 

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Enough of that..who cares, fast forward to this morning and doing some last minute packing along with a guilt trip from this guy:

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I picked up my mother to head to Miami.  We were driving 2.5 hours to Jacksonville to take a flight to Miami.  We live in Tallahassee.  Flight prices from there are ridiculous..look them up sometime and then look at the same flight from Jacksonville or Orlando.  We opted to drive and pay for parking.  Jacksonville is an awesome big little airport.  It never feels really large or busy and parking is cheap!  The economy lots cost $5/$6 a day and a shuttle runs every 8 minutes.  And I truly know this because I got to shuttle from the parking lot to the airport twice this morning.

Why? Because of a sentimental attachment to a teeny pink Swiss Army pocketknife.  My mother didn't have TSA Precheck and I did, so I offered to take her bags through with me so she didn't have to uproot her entire life to go through the scanner.  But props to TSA for saving us all from my mother and that 1.25" blade.  I got to walk the offending weapon back through the airport and onto the shuttle and back to the car.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is why you always get to the airport early.

We had about 30 minutes still before the incoming flight even arrived.  I wanted to go buy a Coke Zero but my mother convinced me to wait because I could just get one on the plane.  Yes, she will pay for STAR CLASS on a cruise, but not for an overpriced bottle of soda and also shamed me into not wasting my money.  Spoiler alert: They skipped my row during drink service and I did NOT get my complimentary soda.  

Flight went up..it went down.  We spent nearly equal amounts of time rolling on the runway as we did in the air.  But it was still too long when I realized I had forgotten my earbuds and had to turn closed-captioning on and experience my Netflix binging through subtitles.
 

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My mother chose to stay at the Doubletree Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay because she had points to use.  We took an Uber ($18.97) from the airport to the hotel because I wasn't going to make my mother traipse through public transit with luggage.  Well, there's a wedding going on here at the hotel that pretty much was beginning at the same time we got here.  Our 15 minute Uber ride spent 30 minutes in sight of the hotel backed up in that clusterF.  Note that this hotel shares a building with a condo complex where from the looks of it you must own a Maserati to be allowed into the parking garage.  Or you have to own a little yappy dog as there were lots of them in the lobby that I noticed throughout the evening.

My mother was informed via email she got downgraded to Silver status (whatever that means).  But HAH HILTON! Jokes on you..she still has whatever status is above that.  Apparently that was important to note since she told me and made a big deal out of it.  I guess I will take our two loyalty bottles of water onboard with me tomorrow to add to my C&A collection of loyalty bottles of water.  
 

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Insert obligatory live blog photos of accommodations:

We had room 955.

2 double beds and a pullout sleeper sofa.  

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Little minibar area with coffeemaker, fridge, and there's a microwave back there that you won't discover until after you go to the grocery store 🤷‍♀️

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Bathroom has a sink outside the shower and toilet area so you don't have to wait to stare at yourself in the mirror or brush your teeth.

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Nice shower for our one night stay with bonus foot soaking tub 😂😂

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The hotel is attached to a little indoor mall with some shops and eateries.  There were bakeries and coffee shops, a bar with bar-type food, fancy Italian, upscale Chinese, etc.  Didn't really have to leave the building.  There's a free trolley that runs around downtown Miami on Friday and Saturday evenings until 11pm, so that's a nice option for folks who want to get out and see and do things.  I was born in Miami..I no longer live in Miami.  Even though I was a little over a year old when my parents moved me away, I still have a feeling of been there done that when I come to Miami.  

Wasn't feeling any of the eateries (more so wasn't feeling the prices $$) so we opted to walk over to Publix.  It is walkable, even on the way back with bags of groceries.  Great to pick up things like toiletries or sunscreen, wine, etc.  They also have a deli and hot bar to get something quick and ready to eat.  Publix subs are a BIG Florida thing and well worth their reputation.  

I prefer to drink my bread (beer) so I decided to get something hot to eat and since there wasn't anyone paying attention to me at the hot food case (where they had mojo pork, wings, smoked chicken!!) I meandered over to seafood where I had them steam some big 'ol shrimp with Old Bay seasoning for me..$4 for something that Joe's Crab Shack probably would have expected me to pay $25.  I laughed when the seafood lady told me that the shrimp hadn't been cleaned yet when I asked her to steam them..I mean that just means more flavor!
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We got back to the room and ate and I surfed all the various cruise nerd sites and Facebook groups were buzzing about Oasis getting close to the port so I checked the tracker on cruisemapper and saw it was right at the entrance to the channel.  We had seen what we thought were other ships when we first got to the room but weren't able to tell what ships they were.  They weren't there when we got back from Publix.  I think one was MSC Seaside as they one wasn't scheduled to leave until 7pm and the other was likely NCL because it looked like a floating brick.

My had mom flexed her loyalty status and got us a water view so we went out to the balcony and got to watch Oasis come in.  At first I wasn't sure if it was even a ship since it barely was moving, but then it got bigger and bigger and closer and closer.  I excitedly geeked out a bit and rubbed it in my brother's face somewhat (since he turned down this adventure on a quest for fancy paperweight/doorstops) and took some wonderful shots demonstrating how dirty my cellphone camera lens is and how little I know how to hold a phone steady or use my camera at all.  So enjoy! 
 

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Here are the unknown not Royal ships still in port around 6:30pm.

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And here comes Oasis.

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We watched her get closer and closer and then turn around and go back the other way to dock at Crown of Miami Terminal A where she currently sits tall enough I can still see her.

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Now my mom is "not sleeping" with her eyes closed and her Kindle dangerously close to meeting its fate on a tile floor and I'm still pumped and excited.  And I finally got my Coke Zero (thanks Publix).

So what else is in store this week?  

We bought the ultimate dining package.  I want to push its visit multiple venues every day limits.  I'm not much of a fan of the multi course meals.  I love the idea of popping in and eating one dish and leaving..or asking for it to go if possible.  We will see how all that shakes out.  If anything, there's always Izumi sushi and the new Portside BBQ or even Johnny Rockets to meet my needs.  

No drink package this time around.  This is not a social cruise, so I do not expect to consume beverages at the same level as I would on any cruise @Matt is on.  Oh wait...he's not #teamDX this cruise either though.  This will, however, be my first official cruise at Diamond status.  I will have access to unlimited Coke Zero in the Diamond Lounge for a few hours every evening.  That's a lie..they will run out.  They always run out.

I am going to try the Escape Room.  It was $19.99/person and just showed up in the Cruise Planner.  So I booked it and I am going to hope that we can manage to get out in time without the help of that trusty pink Swiss Army knife.

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For ports, we are visiting San Juan, Labadee, and St. Thomas.  

For Labadee, I bought the unlimited coaster pass and travel insurance in case it breaks me.  This will be my first time at Labadee.  I expect water and sand.  I live in Florida.  We have water and sand.  I avoid said water and sand outside of social situations.  Again, this is not a social cruise so probably going to ride the roller coaster until some body part cries mercy and then go back to the ship and eat all the things at all the places that cost money but are included with the dining package just so I make the most of it.

I honestly have no clue what I am doing in St. Thomas.  My prior couple of visits have included renting a Jeep and touring the entire island on my own and then a rainy day spent in the shopping areas. Pretty much saw and did all the things that I've read are the things to do.  Not really looking to beach it up, so will probably decide based on how appealing where we dock looks relative to anything nearby if I bother to leave the ship.  I can walk around the ship while it's emptier and explore.

Puerto Rico is a later visit as we aren't scheduled to arrive until 1pm and then we leave at night.  I enjoy evening sailaways.  I am doing on the Royal Caribbean Blog Freedom Group Cruise over New Years which is in a couple of weeks.  The cruise leaves from San Juan, so I will be right back there again in about a month with a whole day before the cruise to explore.  Therefore there's nothing really pressing to accomplish this visit.  I will probably get off the ship at some point in the afternoon once the sun has started to go down, walk around San Juan a little, complain about it being too hot and returning to the ship vowing to come back at night when it is cooler.  Spoiler alert: Not going to happen.

 

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That about wraps up pre-cruise (read: I've finally become bored enough with my own drivel to sleep).  Tomorrow will be a day of decisions...do we take the extra Hilton Honors points or free breakfast? do we Uber or Lyft to the port? what is going to be the first food item I put in my face onboard Oasis?  I almost can't stand the suspense.

As everyone else that tries to do LIVE blogs, I will try to keep up and post random nonsense of what's going on.  I don't usually experience things behind a camera lens, I often come back from trips with tons of memories but very little photos captured.  Hoping this blog will force me to do a little bit more of that so I can relive the memories in the future.

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PRO-TIP: Before settling in to sleep at a hotel, check to make sure the prior hotel patrons have not set the desk clock alarm to go off at a way, way too early time.

I mean it's still CRUISE DAY and all..but it's still early!

Guess I might as well make sure the ship is still there 😂😂

It is..and it has been joined by another Royal ship, Explorer of the Seas as you.can obviously tell here and not have to look up on the port schedule website.

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For those following along closely, #currentkindlestatus:

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