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Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sea Day

In:
28 Apr 2022

My last day on Oasis of the Seas is a sea day as we make our way back to Miami.

I started my morning in the Solarium to watch the sunrise. It was extra colorful this morning, and quite a few passengers were outside on the sundeck.

I then grabbed a banana, strawberry, blueberry, and peanut butter smoothie from Vitality Cafe. I'm definitely going to miss having made-to-order smoothies when sailing on non-Oasis Class ships!

This morning I had to catch up on some work for Royal Caribbean Blog, and as it was too early to head to my "wine office" at Vintages, I went to the Card Room.

The Card Room is a little bit of a hidden gem on Oasis of the Seas, with a few sets of tables and chairs and a fantastic view of the Boardwalk and aft. There are several board games and cards available to use free of charge as well, which many passengers took advantage of throughout the morning.

This area of the ship was replaced with Wonderland on Symphony, Harmony, and Wonder of the Seas.

Lunch and pool deck fun

I decided to try something new for lunch and went to Portside BBQ. This is the only barbecue restaurant in Royal Caribbean's fleet, serving up classic comfort food and a variety of meats. It's only available on Oasis of the Seas, so I figured I needed to try it before the cruise was over.

Portside BBQ is a casual, quick service restaurant, but it is not included in your cruise fare. Prices for a full meal range from $10-15, which includes a selection of meat and sides, ranging from pulled pork to brisket and turkey legs.

I am a pescetarian, so I admit I am the worst person to do a full review of a meat-centric barbecue restaurant. However, I still wanted to try Portside BBQ, so I ordered two sides and a dessert.

My sides (mac & cheese and grilled corn on the cob) were definitely tasty, although I thought the portions were a bit small considering each side was $3. The dessert, though, was phenomenal.

I ordered the Chocolate Brookie, a half-brownie, half-chocolate bar that was perfectly chewy, perfectly fudgy, and delightfully sweet. I am kicking myself for waiting until the last day of the cruise to order it! Luckily, each order came with two brookies.

The International Men's Belly Flop Competition was taking place after lunch, and since this is an activity that only recently returned to ships, I was excited to see what all the hype was about.

It may have been the most hilarious event I've seen on a cruise ship yet. A group of around 5 contestants jumped into the pool to try and make the most impressive (yet painful) bellyflop. The pool deck was packed with guests cheering on contestants. The winner was Tony from Mexico and I definitely agreed with the rest of the crowd that his belly flop was extremely impressive.

While on the pool deck, I decided to try a mocktail. I ordered the Lime & Coconut drink from the Lime & Coconut bar without rum, and it was really refreshing and tasty. We are planning to create a list of the top mocktails to try on a Royal Caribbean cruise, so be sure to share your suggestions with us!

Next I decided to use my $6 free play at the casino. I never gamble (I guess living 5 minutes away from dozens of casinos in Nevada does that to you!), but I always like to use my free play money. Unsurprisingly I lost the $6 in a matter of minutes, so unfortunately I didn't win big today.

Cats

Oasis of the Seas is the third Royal Caribbean ship I've been on with a Broadway show, so seeing Cats was definitely on my to-do list for this week. When I sailed on Independence of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas in January, the Broadway shows were modified/canceled due to omicron, so I did not get to watch Grease on either ship.

It turns out I couldn't see Cats today either due to injuries sustained by a few of the main cast members. Instead, a cabaret was performed by select cast members, with a combination of songs from the musical and songs picked by cast members themselves.

While it may not have been the Broadway show, I still really enjoyed the performance and the vocals may have been the best I've heard yet on a cruise. My next cruise on a ship with a Broadway show will be Anthem of the Seas this summer, so hopefully I'll be able to see We Will Rock You once onboard!

Relaxing evening

The show ended around 3:45, where I had a pre-dinner snack from Park Cafe and relaxed on the chairs at the back of the running track.

This is one of my favorite areas on Oasis of the Seas. While I like cruising on Oasis Class ships, I find that there are few places onboard aside from the pool deck where you can sit and enjoy an ocean view. Many venues, bars, and restaurants face inward, and with the lifeboats covering what would be the Promenade deck, it can be hard to find a quiet place to look out at the ocean if you don't have a balcony.

It still amazes me how powerful these cruise ships are and how vast the ocean is! I can easily sit and stare at the ocean for hours.

I had another quick dinner at the Windjammer. To avoid the monotony of another picture of Indian curry, here is a photo of tonight's fabulous dessert selection.

The self service buffet isn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I make sure to use hand sanitizer once I have finished touching the serving spoons and tongs. However, I did see a family avoid washing their hands altogether after one of the sinks wasn't working, so I still don't trust that the self service buffet is totally sanitary...

After dinner, I walked a couple laps on the running track, went to the thermal spa, and went back to the running track to watch tonight's sunset.

Sadly it was time to call it a night and get my bags packed for disembarkation tomorrow. I enjoyed my time on Oasis of the Seas over the past four days as we journeyed through the Caribbean and visited Costa Maya, Mexico. It's rare to see a 4-night cruise on an Oasis Class ship, so it was nice to take advantage of all that this ship has to offer in a short amount of time!

Luckily I don't have long to wait until my next cruise, though, as I will be boarding Freedom of the Seas in just two days!

Stray observations

All over Oasis of the Seas are the "Small Wonders", which are small portholes that reveal a hidden image once inside. For whatever reason, it brings me great joy to find these around the ship and peek at the artwork inside! It's a nice touch onboard Oasis.

I went to Guest Services to ask a question, and when we were talking I mentioned I was going on Freedom of the Seas this Friday. The representative gave me an at-home Covid test free of charge without me even asking! If you are cruising on another Royal Caribbean ship within the next two days of your first cruise, they should provide you with an Abbot BinaxNow Ag Card Home Test.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Costa Maya

In:
27 Apr 2022

Today Oasis of the Seas docked in Costa Maya, Mexico for the only port day of our 4-night cruise. From beaches to cycling and eating mouth watering Mexican food, it was a day well spent.

The gangway opened around 8AM, and I disembarked Oasis of the Seas right away so I could start my day before it got too warm. We were docked next to Jewel of the Seas.

I hoped to rent a bicycle, but I was wary of booking in advance because the weather forecast showed thunderstorms. However, the weather appeared sunny with partial clouds in the morning, so I took the chance at a bike ride.

The best day I've ever had in port thus far was when I rented an e-bike in St. Maarten and looped the entire island in one day. Being on a bicycle is so freeing, as there is no need to wait for taxis or worry about how you will get from place to place, so I was looking forward to discovering Mexico by bike.

I rented a bike for the day from a tour operator located adjacent to the Mayan pyramid replica in Costa Maya, located just outside the port. The total cost for a day rental was 300 MXP, or around $15 USD. I was given a pink beach cruiser, and while it wasn't as fancy as the hybrid e-bike I had in St. Maarten, it was perfect for exploring the coastline of Costa Maya.

The only other time I was in Costa Maya, I visited the Chacchoben Mayan ruins, and while it was an awesome day, the tour did not leave any extra time to explore Costa Maya. Therefore, today's plan was to discover the culture and lifestyle of Mahahual, the town next to the Costa Maya cruise port.

Related: Excursion Focus: Chacchoben ruins in Costa Maya

I started with a short ride to the Faro de Mahahual, a lighthouse with a nice view of the port. From there begins a 1/2 mile stretch of a car-free boardwalk lined with shops, restaurants, cafes, and beach clubs. Called a malecón in Spanish, this is a hub of activity and the perfect place to get a glimpse of Mexican culture.

I rode the length of the boardwalk and continued on, which turned into a gravel road followed by a stretch of sandy road surrounded by both ocean and rainforest. I rode about 6 miles each way on the quiet road, passing popular beach resorts like Maya Chan before turning back to cycle toward the malecón.

I'm lucky I turned around when I did, because as soon as I got back to the boardwalk it started to rain! I sought refuge in the La Dolce Vita cafe, where I had one of the best smoothies ever, made with mango, maracuya (passion fruit), and banana.

Next up was lunch, and I was hoping to taste authentic, non-touristy Mexican food. I decided on La Curvita, a small restaurant on the corner just two blocks off the malecón, where I had a delicious meal of chilaquiles rojos.

If you're looking to have a great meal in port, my top tip is to leave the main tourist street and find a small, hole in the wall restaurant filled with locals. Additionally, if the menu is small and not in English, this is a good sign the food will be authentic and at local prices.

Using these tips, whether in Rome, Thailand, the Bahamas, or Mexico, will usually always result in a fantastic meal.

It rained lightly on and off throughout the rest of the afternoon, but as the humidity was so high it actually felt quite nice! Today was a good reminder to never put too much thought into the weather forecast when cruising to tropical destinations. I expected a day of heavy rain and thunderstorms, but this was not the case at all.

I cycled a bit more around the boardwalk and in the town of Mahahual itself, grabbed an espresso and pastry from La Tartaleta Panadería, dropped off my bicycle, and headed back to Oasis of the Seas.

Just like I expected, renting a bike resulted in an unforgettable day exploring Costa Maya and Mahahual. I was surprised to see just how bike friendly the town is, and I would recommend to anyone interested in a slightly active day to rent a bike!

Once back onboard, I spent some time decompressing in the thermal suite and in my stateroom.

It was Indian night at the Windjammer for dinner and it was super delicious! After dinner, I spent the rest of the evening relaxing in Central Park with an espresso martini while listening to live piano music.

Overall it was a wonderful day in port and onboard. Latin America has always been my favorite region of the world, so I absolutely love cruising to Mexico. Mahahual exceeded my expectations, and I found all the locals to be extremely friendly!

Tomorrow is the last day of our cruise, which will be spent at sea.

Stray observations

I'm not usually a fan of port areas, and the Costa Maya port feels a bit like a Mexico-themed Disneyland. The pool is nice and there are plenty of shops and restaurants to enjoy, but it definitely does not feel like you're in Mexico while there. I recommend leaving the port and visiting the malecón in Mahahual instead!

The seaweed in Costa Maya seemed a lot worse than I remembered it being when I briefly visited in September 2021.

If traveling with kids, I would recommend taking a taxi to the malecón and renting a bicycle from there instead of near the cruise port so that you can avoid cycling on roads with cars.

I still really want to try a day at Maya Chan, so I will definitely do this the next time I'm in Costa Maya!

Also, shout out to my stateroom attendant, Mustofa, for being a Royal Caribbean Blog reader!

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

In:
26 Apr 2022

The second day of my 4-night cruise on Oasis of the Seas is a sea day as we make our way to Costa Maya, Mexico. The weather today was perfect, with near total sunshine and a slight breeze, making for a beautiful day to spend onboard a beautiful ship.

I headed to Central Park as the sun was rising around 7AM and had a quick, casual breakfast at Park Cafe. I was happy to see a specialty coffee station within Park Cafe, as I did not have to brave the Cafe Promenade line for my latte.

Early morning on a cruise ship is my favorite time of day. The ship feels nearly empty before guests wake up, there are no lines anywhere, and a sunrise walk on the pool deck is always wonderful.

The majority of my day was spent filming our upcoming full ship tour of Oasis of the Seas on the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel, which will premiere in the next few weeks. As a result, I walked up, down, and around the ship today to explore every nook and cranny onboard.

First up was the Solarium. I love the Solarium's layout on Oasis of the Seas! Not only is it filled with jacuzzis, comfy seating, and a pool, but there is a huge outdoor sundeck area to enjoy.

Solarium Bistro is not open for dinner on this sailing, instead offering a combo breakfast and lunch. Today's hours were from 9:30 to 1PM, so I had a casual buffet lunch there. By lunch time, the Solarium was packed with people.

In fact, it felt as if every person on the cruise headed to the pool deck at the same time! Because I had never cruised prior to last year, I was used to cruising with capacities from around 30-60%. Being on a cruise closer to full capacity is a bit of a shock (there's a line for food?), but it also gives a fun energy and atmosphere to the cruise that wasn't as possible with so few guests.

Puzzle Break Center

Today I also had the opportunity to try the Puzzle Break Center onboard. This is the first cruise I have been on where the escape room was open, so I was excited to try it out as I had never done an escape room before on neither land nor sea. The escape room comes at an extra cost of $20 per person.

Mission Control: Apollo 18 is the Puzzle Break Center on Oasis of the Seas, and players must solve puzzles and challenges to send their rocket off to space before time is up. The room is set up with six launching stations, each of which has three sets of challenges to solve.

There were around twelve passengers in the room and we all worked together to try and break out in time. From finding hidden keys to figuring out interactive patterns and puzzles, it ended up being a lot more fun than I initially thought it would be. Plus, our group solved the escape room with just 4 minutes to spare!

Relaxation and entertainment

Next up was my daily smoothie at Vitality Cafe, this time strawberry banana with peanut butter! I also relaxed a bit in the spa's thermal suite and took an afternoon walk on the pool deck.

I had reservations to see the matinee show of Cats, but when I went down to the theater I was informed the show got changed to the fourth day of the cruise. Instead, I decided to enjoy a glass of wine at Vintages, the wine bar onboard Oasis of the Seas.

Vintages is never very crowded and always has comfy seating, so it's a nice place to go onboard to get away from the crowds. Plus, the venue has a tapas menu and does wine tastings!

I opted for an early dinner at Park Cafe and enjoyed soup and salad, followed by a well-deserved nap in my stateroom. The biggest perk of staying in an interior cabin is definitely how well you sleep when in a room with no windows!

Prior to the ice skating show, I made my first ever visit to the Diamond Club. I did not realize there are complimentary appetizers in the evening in the Diamond Club (I thought only breakfast was served), so this was a nice surprise!

Tonight's ice skating show was Frozen in Time. Ice skating shows are one of my favorite entertainment options on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and while I did not fully grasp the storyline of the show, I was impressed with the talent and set design in Studio B. The costumes at ice skating shows never fail to make me laugh, especially tonight's full body duck costumes worn by the cast!

I watched the sunset from the "secret" chairs at the aft of the running track. As there are only a few chairs there and not many guests know about the area, it was a peaceful way to end a sea day onboard Oasis of the Seas.

The rest of the evening was spent listening to bossa nova and jazz music at Jazz on 4 before calling it a night to get ready for a port day in Costa Maya tomorrow.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation

In:
25 Apr 2022

Today is the first day of my Western Caribbean cruise on Oasis of the Seas, and I’m live blogging this week to showcase all that this Oasis Class cruise ship has to offer. This is a 4-night cruise with two sea days and one port day in Costa Maya, Mexico.

Oasis of the Seas marks my first time sailing out of Miami and my first cruise as a Diamond member in the Crown & Anchor Society!

While I don’t have any set plans for the week, I’m hoping to experience the activities and venues that make Oasis of the Seas unique, such as Portside BBQ and CATS the Musical.

Embarkation

I arrived in Miami late last night and spent the night at the Holiday Inn & Suites Miami Airport East. Located just across the street from the airport, the Holiday Inn was convenient, clean, and affordable. While not the most exciting location in Miami, it worked well for a 10PM arrival.

The hotel offered a shuttle to the cruise terminal, but I opted to take a Lyft, which came out to be around $22. Upon arrival at the terminal, I was pleased to see relatively few lines. The check-in procedure took around 20 minutes in total.

I did not feel like going to the Windjammer, which was likely packed with people, so I enjoyed a quick lunch at El Loco Fresh while waiting for my cabin to be ready.

Staterooms were ready at 1PM, and I am staying in an inside cabin for this sailing. While the decor looks a bit dated when compared to my cruise last month on Wonder of the Seas, I was pleased to find the room comfortable and quite spacious.

Thermal spa

First up on my agenda today was to use my first Diamond drink voucher. Up until this point, most of the extra money I spent on cruises had been on drinks, and I never enjoyed paying $15 for one cocktail. Therefore, to celebrate achieving Diamond status, I enjoyed my first complimentary drink: a mango banana smoothie from Vitality Cafe.

I had quite a bit of onboard credit, so I decided to try out something new for this cruise: a thermal suite pass at the Vitality Spa. I booked the 4-day pass at the spa’s front desk for $59 (plus 18% gratuity).

The thermal spa, located on Oasis and Quantum Class ships, is a thermal suite featuring hot stone loungers, steam chambers, a dry heat chamber, and rainforest showers. Vitality Spa sells passes that last the entire cruise and there is no limit on how many times you can enjoy the thermal spa, which is open from 8AM to 8:30PM.

After purchasing my pass, I changed into a bathing suite and tested out the thermal spa. I tried all three sauna rooms: the steam room, aromatic steam room, and dry heat chamber. All were fantastic, but my favorite was the aromatic steam room.

I also tested out the rainforest shower, which has four options: rainforest, thunderstorm, waterfall, and ice fog. Each shower type disperses water differently, from the mist of the ice fog shower to the rapid stream of a waterfall.

I spent most of my time in the thermal spa on the hot stone lounger wondering why it took me so long to purchase a thermal spa pass!

Needless to say, I will likely be spending a lot of my time in the thermal spa on this cruise. In fact, laying in the hot stone lounger with my laptop might become my new blogging office…

Dinner and sailaway

I spent the rest of the afternoon onboard relaxing, first on the pool deck and later in my stateroom.

Dinner tonight was at the Windjammer. I am not a huge fan of the Windjammer location on Oasis Class ships, as the area usually feels cramped. I think this is one of the biggest improvements made on Wonder of the Seas, which has the biggest Windjammer in the fleet.

Despite the crowds, though, the Indian curry I had at the Windjammer tonight may have been the best I’ve ever tried on a Royal Caribbean cruise! My dessert did not disappoint either.

As I started cruising last August, this is my first cruise with a self-service buffet. While it is nice being able to pick exactly what you want from the buffet, I definitely prefer the crew serving guests. The stations quickly got messy and it seemed a lot slower than what I was used to.

Sailaway was delayed an hour to 6:30 PM. As this was right in the middle of dinnertime, there were virtually no crowds outside for sailaway and I was able to grab a great spot on the back of the sports deck!

Sailing out of Miami was gorgeous, with the sunset creating a silhouette of downtown and giving the perfect glow to Miami Beach. I had heard great things about sailing out of Miami, and this was certainly one of the most beautiful sailaways I’ve seen yet.

Read moreThe best spot for sailaway on every Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Evening activities

I reserved a spot to see Aqua80s in the AquaTheater tonight. I had heard great things about this AquaTheater show, so excitement was high. Originally I was going to book the show on day 3, but as the AquaTheater performances can often be canceled due to weather conditions, I figured I should try it on the first day just in case.

Plus, even though this is my third cruise on an Oasis Class ship, I had yet to see a full AquaTheater show. I sailed on Harmony of the Seas during the peak of omicron and Wonder of the Seas when the AquaTheater show was not fully ready, so I was definitely eager to see a full AquaTheater performance.

I ended up really enjoying the show, which had a high-energy and upbeat atmosphere. The performers put full effort into the show with diving, slacklining, acrobatics, dancing, and aerialists, and it was a lot of fun to watch.

I called it a night after the AquaTheater show to get well rested for a fun-filled sea day tomorrow while on our way to Mexico.

Stray observations

Because I started cruising right when the industry restarted after the coronavirus shutdown, my experience of cruises has been quite different from what was once considered “normal”. Thus, one thing that confuses me are the amount of chairs and lounging areas in the cruise terminals. Did people sit in these at one point waiting to board the ship? I cannot think of a time when you would ever need to sit in these waiting areas now with the staggered boarding times!

The plants in Central Park seem bigger on Oasis compared to what I saw on Harmony and Wonder. I feel like I am in a park more on this ship than the others.

I’m surprised there are no chairs of any kind on the back of the sports deck by the Ultimate Abyss (outside of the seating at Wipe Out Bar).

I had a 12PM arrival time at the terminal, but no one was checking times when I arrived.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Perfect Day at CocoCay

In:
10 Apr 2022

Our last day on Oasis of the Seas ends on a high note with a visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Coco Beach Club infinity pool

I was ready for some fun on land today, and it turned out to be a very temperate day.  A weak cold front went through the area last night and the result was mild temperatures and low humidity.

We got off the ship at 9am and took the tram to the Coco Beach Club.

I booked a beach cabana at the Coco Beach Club for this visit. While I had stayed in the floating cabanas a few times, I've never done the beach cabanas.

We had cabana 25 for the day, and there was more living space than I was expecting, including a hammock to use.

I was concerned about it being too warm in the cabana, but the breeze was perfect.

Usually they serve you lunch in the cabana, but because the seagulls that stalk your meal are too annoying for my preference, I opted to dine at the Coco Beach Club restaurant for lunch.

The Mediterranean appetizers are vastly underrated, especially the hummus.

I had the filet mignon because of how good it has been on previous trips, and it was just as good this time around too.

After lunch, I wanted to get in the water so we went to the infinity pool.

About 3 weeks ago they installed heaters so the infinity pool is now heated to around 82-84 degrees Fahrenheit. Just warm enough to feel refreshing, but not too warm to feel like a bath.

I thought we might spend just a little while in the pool, but ended up spending the rest of the afternoon there because it was so relaxing.

All aboard was 4:30pm and we made it back to the ship at 4pm in order to take full advantage of our time at the beach club.

Back onboard, I showered and changed for dinner.

We had reservations for Giovanni's Table but a full day of CocoCay fun wore us out, so it was a casual meal in the Windjammer for dinner.

After dinner we played a little bit in the casino and then enjoyed jazz music in Jazz on 4.

Overall, it was a nice getaway cruise.  Certainly being at 92% capacity, the ship was not empty. Short cruises always have a different dynamic than longer sailings, but it just felt like the lines were just a bit longer than usual.  Perhaps I'm still adjusting mentally away from limited capacity sailings.

I thought Oasis really holds up well with her amplification, especially seeing Aqua80s again. And based on the guests on the pool deck, I think the pool deck overhaul there really was a hit with passengers.

Thanks for following along on this trip.  We've got two more live blogs coming in April, with other writers sharing experiences on Mariner of the Seas and then back again on Oasis.

My next cruise will be on Serenade of the Seas to Alaska in late May.

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

In:
09 Apr 2022

Our first full day on Oasis of the Seas is a sea day, which means time to check out the ship and relax.

Oasis of the Seas pool deck

When you're on an Oasis Class ship for just three nights, it leaves little time to try to see everything, but then again, a cruise is better than no cruise!

We started off our morning with breakfast in Coastal Kitchen, which is the complimentary restaurant for suite guests.

Our cabin is on Deck 17, which is the same deck as Coastal Kitchen and the Suite Lounge. It's very convenient to have our cabin so close, especially after being in an AquaTheater suite on a different deck and at the aft of the ship while we were on Wonder of the Seas.

One thing I quickly notice when we cruise without the kids is just how much more free time we have to take things easy. My kids always want to know what the next thing to do is, so this time around it's nice to take it down a notch.

We headed to the pool deck to enjoy some time outside with the ocean breeze.  The weather today was warm (high of 83 degrees fahrenheit), but the sea breeze kept things comfortable.

I walked around the Suite Sun Deck, which is an area reserved just for suite guests. There's not only ample seating that wraps around the elevated deck, but "cabanas" available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Next up was the Top Tier Crown and Anchor Society event in the AquaTheater.

It's unusual to have a top tier event on a 3-night cruise, but I guess it's easier to keep it going since Oasis mostly does 7-night cruises than stop for one sailing.

Before the event began, I met Miles from Manchester, UK.  He loves to cruise and started cruising when he was six months and one day old.  

Since then he's been on 33 cruises already, and has a goal of making Pinnacle Club status as soon as he can.  It's great meeting cruisers like Miles who love going on a ship so much.

After the top tier event, we walked down to the jogging track to see one of my favorite Oasis of the Seas hidden secrets: the aft facing chairs.

For lunch, we booked Izumi hibachi.

While dinner reservations booked up quickly before the cruise began for Izumi hibachi, lunch is usually available on sea days and not bookable online.

It was another great meal, and the food did not disappoint.

After lunch we went back to our suite to relax a bit. My wife enjoys going out on the balcony and reading her book.

I did a little bit of work from the suite, and then headed to Portside BBQ to check out the live guitarist.

Nate performs in Portside BBQ, and he was the guitarist in the pub on Mariner of the Seas back in 2019. It was great seeing him perform again on a ship.

I then headed to the back of the ship to enjoy the breeze at the Wipeout Bar.

As afternoon turned to evening, I headed back to the room to get ready for dinner.

On short sailings, Royal Caribbean doesn't call it formal night. Instead, they refer to it as dress your best.  "What's the difference", you ask? If you ask me, it's the same difference. Essentially, wear something nicer than you do the other nights.

It was time for dinner at 150 Central Park this evening.

Whenever we dine at 150 Central Park, it's an excuse to eat primarily the garlic bread they bring out at the beginning of the meal and the fried cheesecake for dessert.

Our after dinner drinks took us to Playmakers, since the temperatures had cooled down and it was pleasant being on the Boardwalk.

Tomorrow we will be at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Stray Observations

When your cruise doesn't have very far to go, the Captain will take the ship in some interesting patterns.

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

In:
08 Apr 2022

It's time to hop aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas for a quick 3-night cruise!

Oasis of the Seas boardwalk

I haven't been on Oasis of the Seas since late 2019, and when I saw a short cruise offering listed, I decided to book it and enjoy a weekend escape.

For this cruise, it will be just me and my wife sailing.  My parents flew in to stay with the kids, which means 3-nights of cruising fun for me, and 3-nights of my kids seeing how much they can get out of grandma spoiling them.

Oasis of the Seas sails from PortMiami, so I drove down the day before and stayed at the Hyatt Centric Las Olas hotel in Fort Lauderdale.  I stayed in Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami to help break up the drive from Orlando.

The morning of the cruise, we drove to Miami. With traffic, Google estimated it would take about 55 minutes.

For this cruise we booked a Category L1 Crown Loft Suite. I had originally booked a balcony, but then spotted a reasonable price to move up to a suite and thought why not try it.

Our check-in time was noon, but the concierge email a few weeks before the cruise indicated we could arrive an hour early than whatever time we had for check-in.

Sailing from Terminal A in PortMiami, we parked at the garage and were able to go right in to check-in.

Once onboard the ship, our first stop of the day was the Windjammer for lunch. 

This was our first time in the Windjammer since Royal Caribbean reverted back to allowing passengers to serve themselves, instead of the crew.

While I preferred crew members serving guests, serving ourselves is how the Windjammer was every time before the pandemic and I never thought twice about it then.

Our next stop was the Suite Lounge to meet the concierge.

Nadia welcomed us in and helped book all of our shows. While this is just a 3-night cruise, they are performing Cats, Aqua80s, and Frozen in Time.  

We booked reservations for Aqua80s and Frozen in Time, which the concierge took care of for us.

Nadia had booked specialty dining reservations before the cruise a few weeks ago when she sent a welcome email. The only restaurant she couldn't book was Izumi Hibachi, so we made a stop there to get a reservation for lunch on day two.

We spent the early afternoon relaxing on the pool deck. It was a warm day, but there was just enough of a breeze to keep it comfortable.

The cabins were ready at 1:30pm, so we went to drop our stuff off and check out the suite.

This is my second time staying in a Crown Loft Suite, although it was on Harmony of the Seas.

In terms of layout, the room looked the same on Oasis.  The split level design is a neat change from traditional cruise ship cabins, and the views you have from either level of the ocean from the giant glass windows is fantastic.

There are two bathrooms (one on each level) and a giant balcony.

Our next stop was to take a ride on the Rising Tide bar, which is an Oasis Class signature venue where the bar slowly moves between the Royal Promenade on deck 5 and Central Park on deck 8.

This was not only my first drink of the cruise, but my first time trying the new biodegradable straws. 

Compared to the paper straws that this replaced, it felt much better and did not degrade at all in my drink.

Friends of mine made it onboard and we went to check out Portside BBQ.

One of the best changes to Oasis from her Royal Amplification in 2019 was the addition of a new restaurant concept in Portside BBQ.

While I had eaten lunch already, I just couldn't resist having a plate of smoked turkey and cornbread.

I would also be remiss if I didn't talk about how great the brookie dessert is, which is half cookie and half brownie.

Next up was welcome aboard trivia in the Schooner Bar.  Trivia is always such a fun activity, and I learned how many presidents Bosnia & Herzegovina has had (3).

We sailed away from Miami around 5pm.

Dinner this evening was at Chops Grille.

Our evening entertainment was Aqua80s in the AquaTheater, which is a show set to the music of the 1980s.

I love this show the most of any AquaTheater show simply because I know all the songs and I think the energy level here matches the music perfectly.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Stray Observations

I purchased Royal Caribbean's chat feature to try it out again.

I activated it first on my phone and was able to send messages to my wife and she receive them without paying for the feature on her phone yet. This would be a good scenario for kids to buy it for them so they could send one-way messages potentially.

I also tested out the chat notifications and got push notifications when the phone was not actively being used, and even to my wife's Apple Watch.

There were a lot of reminders for passengers to do the muster drill via the public address system. Certainly more than I recall hearing on one sailing, and most were in Spanish.

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - The Review

In:
30 Nov 2019

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:
29 Nov 2019

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:
28 Nov 2019

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!

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