Oasis of the Seas Live Blog

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - The Review

In:
30Nov2019

The last day on Oasis of the Seas is here, and that means our cruise vacation is coming to an end. Since today is another sea day, and the details of my afternoon nap are not that enticing, I wanted to share a look back at the changes to Oasis of the Seas and talk about what I liked, did not like, and everything in between.

Seeing as this is a review post, I feel I need to disclose yet again that I received a complimentary 2-night sailing on Oasis of the Seas last week, but paid for me and my family to cruise on Oasis of the Seas for a 7-night sailing this past week.

Favorites

Portside BBQ

Prior to this cruise, I never considered myself much of a barbecue fan, but our entire family could not get enough of the food served at Royal Caribbean's first foray into barbecue.

The food at Portside BBQ is excellent and for the price, represents an excellent value. The smoked turkey or beef brisket sandwiches will be the first food I crave within a few hours of being off the ship.

Little touches like the addition of a singer, creative decor, and the best darn dessert on Royal Caribbean in years (brookies) all make this a new favorite spot to dine.

Aqua 80s

Aquatheater shows have always been a great form of entertainment, but I feel the Aqua 80s show is a homerun.  Like a professional athlete that has a career year statistically, Aqua 80s hits all the high notes and really resonated with me. 

I think the fact the show features music of my youth, and more importantly, music I know all the words to, really made a difference. Of course, the performances by the cast members are top notch. 

It has become clear with every new Aquatheater show that Royal Caribbean produces, the experience becomes better and better, and I think Aqua 80s is the result of an entertainment team that is firing on all cylinders.

Spotlight Karaoke

If you are curious if Spotlight Karaoke works, or if a dedicated karaoke venue was needed, you simply need to walk by the Royal Promenade to know the answer.

The changeover of On Air Club to Spotlight Karaoke capitalized on a cruise activity that is very popular, and throughout the day, there are crowds enjoying the performances here. Kudos to whomever thought to include other musical themed events here, such as music trivia or Name That Tune.

Water slides

For years Royal Caribbean did not have water slides on its ships, but the addition of slides in recent years make you wonder how we ever managed without them.

Sure, these are the same slides we have seen on other ships, but the slides felt a bit faster and provided a smoother ride.

I am also including the Splashaway Bay slides in this category, because someone made the excellent decision to ditch height requirements for the small slides, and only have one height requirement for the new big slide. Simpler approach and makes more sense than before.

Escape room

Royal Caribbean's approach to its escape rooms is to put an incredible amount of detail into them, and Apollo 18 escape room is a prime example of this.

Royal Caribbean consulted with an actual NASA mission controller from the Apollo era to create this space, and the result is a must-do onboard experience. Every escape room has been a lot of fun, and I think if you are looking for something a bit different on a cruise to try, this is a good idea.

Adventure Ocean

I was a bit leery of the new change to Adventure Ocean that breaks away from the standard mold my family has enjoyed for years, but as they say, the proof is in the pudding. My kids loved going again and again every evening of the cruise.

While I have concerns that the new 6-12 year old group is a bit too large and tends to develop some serious check-in and check-out lines, the idea to merge the 6-8 and 9-12 groups together makes so much sense. On top of that, the new electronic registration and check-in/out is such a giant step forward for simplifying things.

I think the activities offered in Adventure Ocean jive a whole lot better with what dozens of kids may or may not want to do. It seems to do a great job at balancing the needs of the group with ensuring everyone has something to do. In the end, it is clear Royal Caribbean came up with something that keeps kids wanting to come back again and again, and as a parent, that is always welcome.

RFID door locks

I am a tech junkie, but I think the move from doors with magnetic stripe keys to RFID is a win for every guest. No more demagnetized cards and the option to use WOWbands or the Royal Caribbean app to open the door is lovely.

Skips

One Sky

The new stage show that replaced Come Fly With Me offers a musical revue of different songs, dances and performances that all center around different views of the dream to reach to the sky. While I thought the stage pieces were technically impressive, and the performers putting a ton of energy into their art, I would love to see a more coherent story that links each segment together.

When Columbus, The Musical came to Harmony of the Seas, it seemed like Royal Caribbean was finally moving towards creating its own production shows with original characters, story and songs, it seems with the original production shows on Symphony and now Oasis are back to putting together original choreography to different songs. 

Perhaps cruise ship entertainment is a different animal compared to its land-based counterpart, but I thought One Sky felt a bit too disconnected for my taste to keep me invested in the overall show.

Lime & Coconut

When Royal Caribbean re-designed the pool deck on Navigator of the Seas, they replaced part of the pool deck to create a new multi-deck experience that sought to redefine the day and night pool party vibe and I thought it was a homerun.  The Lime and Coconut on Oasis of the Seas is essentially just a new paint job for the old pool bars.

I like the addition of the vibrant colors and new seating, but at night 3 out of 4 of the bars shut down and the one Lime and Coconut Bar that does remain open, is in the smoking area. More importantly, it lacks that roof top bar scene that was such an integral part on Navigator of the Seas.

During the day time, the Lime and Coconut motif works just fine and I doubt anyone will mind. I think it just failed to surpass the new standard set by Navigator.

Bionic Bar

There must be a reason Royal Caribbean keeps adding Bionic Bars to its ships, and I have to think it is because it makes money for them, so more power to the cruise line for that. 

Personally, I did not step foot inside and the primary reason is while the robots are undeniably cool to watch, they make terrible drinks.

Shout outs

If you are familiar with the full list of changes Royal Caribbean made to Oasis of the Seas, you know there are other big changes made to the ship.  I wanted to quickly mention these venues and changes and what I thought.

El Loco Fresh: Fantastic addition that was very popular with guests every day.

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcarde: I will dearly miss Sabor, but I can appreciate the popularity of Playmakers and the role it serves in providing the perfect venue for any sporting event.  I chose not to dine at Playmakers due to the Thanksgiving-week football games drawing giant crowds, but I will always applaud any venue that serves up craft beer!

Ultimate Abyss: Worth going down once or twice on every ship that has it. It is fun and not nearly as scary as it looks.

Music Hall: I love the change to add Music Hall and think it will do quite well. Every guest I spoke with loved the performances here too. I freely admit I have become an old man and find it too loud for my taste, but this is the place to rock out onboard.

Thanks to everyone for following along on this live blog. I really loved sharing the cruise with you, and I hope I answered all the questions people had about the changes to Oasis of the Seas. 

Main Dining Room: They restored the look to one unified theme, instead of a different theme depending on each deck. Huzzah!

Our next live blog will kick off in a few weeks, when we board Freedom of the Seas for New Years Eve!

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Sea Day

In:
29Nov2019

I often say that sea day live blogs tend to be a little light on details because of all the relaxing that goes on, and today is no different.

I actually woke up earlier than I expected.  I thought I might sleep in, given that it is a sea day, but I decided I could sleep when I get home and I wanted to have a great day.

I grabbed my laptop and spent some time up on the pool deck working on blog posts. It seems the ship remains pretty quiet until about 9:30am or so.

Eventually, I wanted to grab a bite to eat and headed down to Park Cafe for a bagel and schmear.

We ran into some friends and chatted a bit before taking my oldest daughter on a ride down the Ultimate Abyss.

For lunch, we headed back to Portside BBQ.  I cannot say enough nice words about the quality of the food in Portside BBQ. Once again, I went with the smoked turkey sammie and it did not disappoint.

Going into lunch, I swore to myself I would not take a nap.  Well, after the sandwich, cornbread and dessert, I could not resist the calls to nap and enjoyed another great cruise ship nap!

When I awoke, I took my oldest daughter down to Blaze on deck 4 for bingo. It has been a number of years since I played bingo on a Royal Caribbean ship, but I think she really enjoyed the challenge of keeping track of a half dozen bingo cards during each game.

For those wondering, bingo costs $39 for 6 cards or $49 for 9 cards, plus $3 if you need a marker.

Dinner was back in the main dining room, and I finally got to try the 50th Anniversary cake!

For my evening entertainment, we enjoyed Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble hits in the Schooner Bar with Billy Pando.

Tomorrow is our last day on Oasis, and it is another sea day.

Stray Observations

In all my cruises, I have always gotten one final bill and it was delivered on the last night of the cruise. This morning, we all awoke to a "mid cruise bill" that was delivered to our room. Certainly odd in that there is a mid-sailing bill delivered to the rooms, and it was not delivered in the middle of the cruise.

A bit more movement in the ocean today.  Nothing crazy, but more noticable sensation from time to time.

I could be wrong, but I do not recall seeing any movies shown anywhere on the ship this sailing. Oasis does not have a poolside screen, but other Oasis Class ships usually show movies in the AquaTheater during the day.

 

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - St. Thomas

In:
28Nov2019

Today's plans did not go at all as I planned. More on that later.

Today's port of call is our last, and it brings us to St. Thomas. Our morning began regular enough, with us getting ready and heading to Solarium Bistro for breakfast.

Our plan was to go take the ferry to nearby St. John and enjoy a day at one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever visited. In order to visit St. John, you have to take the ferry from an area of St. Thomas known as Red Hook. Red Hook is not really near any popular beaches, so it is not exactly the most popular destinations out there.

We went to the taxi stand and asked to go to Red Hook.  In St. Thomas, taxis in the form of a sedan are nearly nonexistent.  Or at least, not in the port area at Crown Bay. Each taxi driver passed us on to someone else, as they were unwilling to drive us there.  For some strange reason, the taxis in St. Thomas are primarily these converted pickup truck buses, and the taxi operators all want to maximize every seat in the vehicle.

So after 30-40 minutes of literally standing around to go, we were told to board one of these buses to go to Red Hook.  Except the bus was not going to Red Hook. We asked the people onboard where they were headed, and were told some other beach on the island.  So clearly the plan was to take these folks somewhere, and drop us off later.  Then we sat on the bus without moving for a solid 10 minutes because the driver waited to fill up an extra couple seats.  At that point, I had enough and got off the bus.  I was so irritated at the situation, that I decided I would rather spend my day back on the ship than deal with the taxi consortium.

Before heading back to the ship, I grabbed a few drinks at a nearby bar in the port area to help decompress a bit.

Back onboard the ship, we had a nice lunch in the Windjammer and then I enjoyed a fantastic afternoon nap.

After waking up, I grabbed coffee...

...and then headed up to the pool deck for a beautiful day.

I also took this extra time onboard as an opportunity to record a new podcast episode, so feel free to check it out too!

Of course, today is Thanksgiving and we headed back to the room to get ready for dinner.

Prior to dinner, we enjoyed drinks in the Diamond Lounge area.

For dinner, we headed to the main dining room to enjoy a special Thanksgiving menu. Turkey, ham, stuffing and even pumpkin pie were on the menu tonight.

To help walk off the enormous Thanksgiving feast, we enjoyed some time up on the pool deck.

Our evening entertainment brought us to the AquaTheater for a brand new show on Oasis of the Seas, Aqua 80s.

The show is a tribute to the music of the 1980s, and it is a trip through over 100 sampled 80s tunes.  Anyone who loves 80s music will absolutely love this show. Music aside, the performances, from diving to dancing, it is another compelling creation by Royal Caribbean's entertainment team.

I think I have a new favorite AquaTheater show.

Tomorrow, we get to enjoy a sea day on Oasis.

Stray Observations

A reader asked for photos of Vintages, so here you go!

Laser tag was offered in Studio B. Wish I had a pair of closed toe shoes on at the time!

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - San Juan

In:
27Nov2019

Our second port stop visits San Juan, Puerto Rico, but not off the bat. We did not dock until 1pm, so our morning was effectively a sea day.

I got up early this morning and grabbed my laptop to write up a few blog posts (did you see the interview with Royal Caribbean's head of digital?) at Cafe Promenade.

After dropping the kids off at Adventure Ocean, my wife and I headed to the NextCruise office to book a few cruises for next year. With the Black Friday sale beginning today, I felt like this would be the perfect excuse to book a cruise (like I really need one)!

For lunch today, we grabbed a bite to eat at Portside BBQ. I went with the smoked turkey sandwich today, which was excellent.

Right around lunch, we pulled into San Juan harbor and we got a good look at the various landmarks.

Our plans today were to use a daypass to visit the Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino for a day of pool and beach. I did not realize we were docking so late when I booked it. While the website listed the hours for a day pass being only 9am - 5pm, the resort said we could hang out at the pool until 11pm.  So needless to say, no problem.

To my pleasant surprise, disembarkation was extremely smooth. No lines at all despite the late arrival time.

We took a taxi ride (maybe 5 minutes) to the Marriott and quickly found plenty of chairs in the shade near the pool.

The resort looked great, and provided access to the pool and beach area. 

 

The day pass cost $60 per adult, and included a $20 per adult food and beverage credit. For the afternoon we spent at the resort, this turned out to be a great value.

As the sun started to set, we got changed and took a taxi back to Old San Juan for a dinner in town.

Before dinner, we took a walk around the Paseo de la Princesa, which was decorated for Christmas already.

We ended up at the same restaurant we dined at back in July, partially because many of the other restaurants were all slammed for dinner, and partially because this place had plenty of air conditioning.

I went with my go-to choice, which is mofongo.

The ship was in port until 11pm, but we headed back to the ship around 7pm as we were all pretty tired.

For our evening entertainment, we decided to enjoy drinks and a bite to eat at Playmakers on the Boardwalk.

Tomorrow is our last port visit, and it will be St. Thomas.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Labadee

In:
26Nov2019

Our first port of call brings us to Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee.

I tried mightily to snag a cabana or bungalow, but all my efforts failed, so we opted to let the kids play at Splashaway Bay on the ship. It felt a bit sacrilegious to stay onboard, so I got off the ship alone and walked around a bit to get some time in Labadee.

I have always wanted to try the walking trails in Labadee, which offer some nice views of the area around.  Basically, when you get off the pier, there are a few walking trails to your left, and it provides some nice views around Labadee.

I explored the trails, and then walked up Adrenaline Beach to see what was going on. It was quite warm today, with a high in the mid to upper 80's, so I sought refuge at one of the bars.  When the breeze went by, it felt glorious.

I got back on the ship a smidge before lunch, and took my oldest daughter on the Perfect Storm water slides.  I did the racer slides and the champagne bowl slide.  The champagne bowl slide was quite fast, and I really liked that one.

For lunch, we headed to the Windjammer for a wide array of options.

After lunch, it was time for my favorite activity of this cruise: taking a nap!

Oasis left Labadee right at 3:30pm to head to our next port of call.

Dinner this evening took us back to the main dining room, and then it was back to the Globe & Atlas pub for some evening drinks with friends.

We spent a little bit of time in the casino, where my wife won a fair amount of money that was equally offset by everything I lost.

Tomorrow, we will be in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Stray Observations

I noticed these speakers on the pier at Labadee playing music. I cannot recall seeing these before.

These beach beds are complimentary, and there are about four of them. If you get one early enough, you can get a pretty nice spot for the day.

The workshop in Adventure Ocean offers families on-demand arts and crafts to enjoy.

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

In:
25Nov2019

We started off our second day on Oasis of the Seas by following a time-honored sea day on a cruise tradition by sleeping in! We thought the kids would wake up early enough, but we ended up waking them up.

After rolling out of bed, we enjoyed breakfast brunch at Park Cafe. Had we gotten up earlier, I would have gone to Solarium Bistro, but we had slept half the morning anyway, so we needed something quick.

We immediately headed over to Studio B for the Crown & Anchor Society Top Tier welcome back party. This is an event for guests who are at least Platinum in Crown and Anchor Society.

They served complimentary cocktails, and featured the ice cast doing a few stunts for us all. I try to make a point of going to these Crown and Anchor events because it means a lot to me as a customer that the company wants to show they appreciate our business.

For lunch, we headed to the main dining room for a sea day lunch. They had the choice of an a la carte lunch, or buffet. Truth is, you can do both.

There was a pasta station, as well as hot buffet items including lobster tails.  Yes, unlimited lobster tails for no additional cost. 

After lunch, the kids went up to Adventure Ocean for an afternoon session. I had grandiose plans for a great day without the kids, but ended up taking a nap. Sleeping in and taking a nap a few hours later...cruise mode is fully engaged!

As evening arrived, we got dressed up for formal night and headed to the main dining room for early dinner seating.

Our assigned table is in one of the annexes, which is off the side. Essentially, you turn almost as soon as you enter the dining room and there is additional seating in this area. We have a great table right by the window.

Dinner began at 5:30pm and at 6:40pm a representative of Adventure Ocean came down to pick up our kids from the entrance to the dining room. Quick and convenient, and it left my wife and I to enjoy our desserts with just the two of us.

After dinner, we went to the casino to spend our "mystery free play", where they give you a few (non-refundable) dollars to play in the slots. I had $2 waiting for me, while my wife had $5. Regardless, we both lost it all quite quickly.

We waited in the standby line at Blaze to attend the first adult comedy show of the evening. I was concerned we would not get in, given the length of the line, but had no issues. The comic that hosts the comedy shows, Simeon, is extremely entertaining and we go to the comedy shows just to see his act. The other comics are an added bonus.

After the comedy show, it was time to see one of the new production shows onboard, One Sky.

One Sky is an original Royal Caribbean production that features a variety of songs performed alongside plenty of dancing, set changes, and colorful costumes.

I did not recognize all the songs in the show, but the cast did a great job managing to sing, dance, and fly around the stage.

Following the show, it was time to grab the kids and head to bed.

Tomorrow, we will visit our first port of Labadee.

Stray Observations

One of the stores in the Royal Promenade offers a variety of "cruise family" clothing, including matching outfits.

Tiffany & Co. on Oasis of the Seas had a complimentary brunch set up in the store.

In case you are wondering, the Spotlight Karoake venue is extremely popular each evening with guests.

 

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

In:
24Nov2019

My temporary exile from Oasis of the Seas is over, and I am back onboard for an all-new adventure!

We stayed the night between cruises at the Cambria Suites in Dania Beach, which is near the Fort Lauderdale airport. Reasonably priced, and provided a room with enough room for our family. We stayed in this exact hotel about 10 years ago when we first sailed on Oasis of the Seas. It felt a little old, but room was clean and just fine for one night.

The drive to PortMiami on Sunday was quite easy, and we ended up getting to Miami so early that we opted to grab breakfast in Miami Beach at Big Pink diner.

After breakfast, we headed to the port and got in right around 10am.  When parking at the terminal, be sure to stop to drop luggage off with porters inside the parking garage, and then park the car. It saves time and makes your life easier.

Check-in was super easy, especially since I had expedited arrival.

Boarding began right around 10:35am, and we got onboard quickly with Diamond Plus being the first group called.

We went right to our rooms first, since the rooms were ready following 24 hours without any guests. It felt great going right to the room instead of dragging our carry-on stuff around.

We have connecting oceanview balcony rooms on this cruise, and it appears some elements of the room were updated in the amplification.  New capreting, new couch and art around the room.

We got changed and went up to Splashaway Bay for the kids to enjoy.  This Splashaway Bay is significantly larger than other Splashaway Bays on other ships, and features quite a large water slide.

Speaking of water slides, the minimum height for this new slide is 42 inches, whereas the other smaller slides in Splashaway Bay have no minimum height.  

Next up, we headed to Adventure Ocean to register the kids. Registration is now done via a tablet. The staff scans your SeaPass card, you answer a few questions and you are all set. It is so much faster than the old method of filling out a form.

After seeing the updated look to Adventure Ocean, the kids were super excited to go there later in the evening.

We walked around and explored the ship in the afternoon. I also managed to doze off at one point back in the room, while the kids watched television.

Following muster drill, we were treated to a special fireworks display in Miami harbor to commemorate the launch of Oasis of the Seas. I watched the display from my balcony and it was the perfect vantage point!

With the fireworks being in the early evening, it conflicted with our early seating in the main dining room. We opted to skip dinner in the main dining room and enjoy dinner in the Solarium Bistro.

After dropping the kids off at Adventure Ocean, we headed to the Diamond Lounge for evening beverages. I do not have a drink package on this sailing, so we are taking full advantage of our Diamond Crown and Anchor Society benefits.

For dinner, Solarium Bistro is served at a table, where you order your entrees from the waiter, but your appetizers and desserts are offered up buffet style.

I ordered the chicken kabob and mahi mahi, while my wife opted for the steak.  

My fish was overcooked for my taste, but the kebab was excellent. My wife enjoyed her steak quite a bit.

After dinner, we took in some drinks and evening entertainment in the pub.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Stray Observations

Upon walking onto the ship, they were giving away champagne and rum punch in celebration of the ship's launch.

The ship's wifi has been much better today compared to last sailing. 

I could not help myself and bought a WOWband for me and my daughters.

 

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Nassau

In:
23Nov2019

My second day on Oasis of the Seas was filled with plenty going on, and as you might imagine, the excitement of being onboard had me up early.

I took a walk around the pool deck on a beautiful sunny day.  The ship was not quite yet at Nassau, so we were moving at a slow speed on arrival into Nassau.

I headed to Solarium Bistro to have breakfast.  It is a fabulous alternative to the Windjammer for breakfast, and they offer a traditional American breakfast, along with an omelette station.

After finishing breakfast, the ship began its docking procedure in Nassau.

I did not have any plans on shore, but I did take a few minutes to walk off the ship to take a few photos of the ship while docked.

Back onboard, one of the areas that has also changed on Oasis of the Seas is the Main Dining Room. The decor has reverted back to a "traditional" look, after being converted to separate motifs for each deck.

Another change on Oasis is the Central Park Library, located near Park Cafe.

By mid afternoon, I was starting to fade, so I decided to take a short nap.  

Another new space on Oasis of the Seas is Sugar Beach, which is the candy and ice cream shop.

Dinner this evening took us to Giovanni's Table.

I ordered my go-to Italian entree, eggplant parmigiana, and was not disappointed.

After dinner, I took in a set at the Pub.

I wandered around the ship for a bit to see the night life around the ship. Sometimes it is nice to meander and see what is happening.

I wrapped up my evening with the midnight balloon drop on the Royal Promenade.

That wraps up my two-night shakedown cruise.  Fear not, this live blog will continue in about 24 hours when we get back onboard Oasis of the Seas for a 7-night eastern cruise!

Stray Observations

I spotted the new Coca-Cola flavor available in the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.

The internet speeds on Oasis was quite spotty.  Sometimes it would work very well, and other times it was quite slow.  On this sailing, they gave everyone complimentary internet access so perhaps that is part of the issue. I will be interested to see how it performs when we get back on this weekend.

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

In:
21Nov2019

We are finally on Oasis of the Seas today! The first of many days onboard begins, and today we are boarding Oasis of the Seas as part of a employee shakedown cruise.  This is a sailing in which everyone onboard is a Royal Caribbean employee, and I was lucky enough to be invited by the cruise line to be a part of the fun.

I drove down the night before and stayed with a friend in the area, and then drove to Port Everglades bright and early this morning.

I arrived to Terminal 18 at Port Everglades at 10am and to my amazement, was allowed to board immediately.

My goal for today was to see everything new and different onboard. My hope is to take advantage of this two-night sailing and get a lot of the footwork in now, so that I can take it back a notch when my family joins me on Sunday for our 7-night sailing.

Walking onto the ship, I immediately noticed Spotlight Karaoke venue.  Looks beautiful, and it even has private karaoke rooms you can rent in the back ($20 per person).

I should note that I compiled a look at all the changes I have noticed in one blog post, so if you are looking for an absurd amount of photos that show off the changes, be sure to read that post.  

It made sense to start things off on the pool deck, as there are quite a few changes there. New water slides, Lime and Coconut area and a giant Splashaway Bay.

I was pleasantly surprised by how large Splashaway Bay is on Oasis. Compared to other Splashaway Bays, this is significantly larger and the water slides longer and taller. I know my kids will love it.

Another surprise was the addition of a rather large sun deck at the Solarium. With the addition of new rooms a deck below, there was a lot of concern the observation deck would be removed, but it is there, along with a ton of space.

For lunch, I just had to sample the new Portside BBQ restaurant.

I have to admit, I am not a barbecue connoisseur and I am not from a southern state that prides itself on barbecue.  So I was not sure what to expect exactly.

Lunch is served with a smaller menu, where you select one meat and a couple sides.  At dinner, the menu greatly expands.

I opted for the beef brisket sandwich, along with mac & cheese, beans, cornbread and a brownie/cookie combo.

The brisket was very, very tender and I really liked the brioche bun and coleslaw it was served on. 

The mac and cheese was the perfect type of comfort food, and cornbread is such a guilty pleasure. Very moist.

By far my favorite thing was that "brookie".  It was so soft and moist!

I will have to try them for dinner, but I really like the venue and what they have done with the seating.  Prices are quite reasonable, and there is indoor and outdoor seating. There is even space for a live singer!

For those wondering, the meat is cooked every day with an electric smoker. They have special wood chips that they use in a specialized smoker to cooker that fills the entire restaurant with absolutely amazing smells. A return visit for me is in the works.

After lunch, I spent a great deal of time exploring the ship.  Again, please check out my ridiculously long photo update post for plenty of photos.

My stateroom for this sailing is a Central Park balcony room.

All the stateroom doors have been updated to RFID readers, so you can use your SeaPass card, WOWband or even Royal Caribbean app.

The room itself does not appear to be updated.

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Muster drill was quite late (5:30), but after that I got ready for dinner.  I figured I had to visit one of my absolutely favorite spots on any Royal Caribbean ship: Izumi!

I absolutely love sushi, and was enjoyed quite an array of sushi. The albacore was especially good this evening.

I decided to leave the shows for when my wife arrives, so that we can see the shows together. Instead, I opted for evening entertainment in the pub and with the comedian.

Tomorrow we will be in Nassau, and should be another full day of exploring!

 

Live Blogging from Oasis of the Seas - Preamble

In:
18Nov2019

Welcome to my live blogging adventure on Royal Caribbean's newly amplified Oasis of the Seas. This is an opportunity to take you on a virtual cruise with us, as we strive to share the cruising experience.

This time around, I will be going on the first sailings of Oasis of the Seas following a $165 million amplification.  While this is not my first time sailing on Oasis, it will be an opportunity to see first-hand all the new upgrades and enhancements the cruise line has made to this ship.

Why we chose this cruise

Cruising over Thanksgiving has become a new tradition for our family, having experienced Thanksgiving on Brilliance of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, and Symphony of the Seas. The great thing about a Thanksgiving cruise is my kids have the entire week off of school, and it tends to be a very inexpensive time of year to cruise.

Originally, we were booked on Harmony of the Seas for this week, but opted to change to Oasis of the Seas for two reasons: Oasis would cost us less, and allow us to see all the changes to the ship post-refurb.

I also need to mention in the interest of full disclosure that I will be on two sailings, the November 24 7-night sailing, as well as a 2-night "employee shakedown" cruise that Royal Caribbean invited me on. I paid for the 7-night sailing on my own, but the 2-night cruise was provided to me by Royal Caribbean as an opportunity to see Oasis’ new features.

Our plans onboard

My last time on Oasis of the Seas was all the way back in 2009, so it has been quite a while since we sailed on her.  However, we have sailed on her sister Oasis Class ships extensively over the years.

Of course, the ship underwent a massive upgrade, so there is going to be plenty new and different to see onboard.

For the two-night sailing, I'm in a Central Park Balcony stateroom.  That is plenty of space for just myself, and I have always loved the Central Park balcony rooms for the ample space and ambiance they provide.

When my family joins me on the 7-night sailing, we will move to connecting ocean balcony rooms.  Getting two rooms, instead of one larger room, is one of my favorite family cruising tips, because it provides enough space for everyone, an extra bathroom, and is quite often less expensive than a single larger room.

Oasis of the Seas is one of the largest cruise ships in the world, and that means a seemingly never-ending list of activities and things to do onboard.  Combined with lots of new enhancements onboard, I think we are going to have plenty to keep us busy.

Our plans on shore

We will visit three ports of call during our week-long cruise. Departing from PortMiami, we will visit:

  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
  • Labadee

Usually when we visit San Juan, we simply walk around Old San Juan and meander around.  This time, we will change things up because we are going to spend two days in San Juan, Puerto Rico prior to our RoyalCaribbeanBlog Group Cruise on Freedom of the Seas in December 2019. Since we will ample time to explore San Juan at that point, we opted to book a day pass to the Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. 

Based on photos and some reviews online, it looks like it could be a very fun day for the family and appears to be a good value. It is not a full all-inclusive, but I think we are more interested in a fun place to spend the day splashing around.

When we visit St. Thomas, our plan is to visit nearby St. John.  We absolutely loved St. John the last time we went, so my wife and I are excited to head back.  I have not decided yet if we will book with Royal Caribbean or do it on our own.  Royal Caribbean has an excursion it offers, but it looks like we only have 2 hours at the beach, which is quite limited.  My plan is to speak to the shore excursion staff once onboard the ship to inquire if we can stay longer.  Worst case scenario, we take the ferry on our own.

In Labadee, we have no formal plans.  I took too long to book a cabana, so my plan is to ask to be put on a waitlist for one once on the ship.  If that fails to work, I think we will just head to Columbus Cove or Nelie's Beach to enjoy some time on the beach sans-cabana. 

Three things I am excited to try

3. My Family Time Dining

Ever since my first child was born, we always fed our kids dinner in the Windjammer, dropped them off at Adventure Ocean, and then enjoyed second seating traditional dinner in the main dining room with just my wife and I.

This time around, we are trying My Family Time Dining, which is offered in the first seating time in the main dining room. The kids are served right away, and after about 45 minutes, Adventure Ocean staff comes to pick the kids up and take them to Adventure Ocean.

We wanted to try this because my kids are old enough now that eating dinner with them makes more sense, and dining earlier frees up our evening a bit more. Depending on how well it works, this may or may not be the way we dine on Royal Caribbean going forward!

2. Portside BBQ

To me, going on a cruise is all about eating and Oasis of the Seas is getting a few new dining choices, including Portside BBQ.

Royal Caribbean's first-ever barbecue restaurant is coming to Oasis, and will offer, "an authentic, meat-packed menu inspired by the best-in-class barbecue across the United States."  I'm hungry already!

1. Reimagined pool deck

One of the best changes Royal Caribbean made to Navigator of the Seas during her 2019 amplification was the radical transformation of its pool deck, and Oasis of the Seas will receive something similar.

The new Caribbean-style pool deck will feature comfy casitas, daybeds, hammocks and swing seats, new whirlpools on the top deck, and a refreshed Solarium for the adults. I am certain there will be a few water slide rides in my future as well!

What's next

Our Oasis of the Seas cruise begins on Thursday, November 21, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Periscope for live updates throughout the day.

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have.  I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

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