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Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 8 - Sea Day

27 Nov 2022

The last day of our cruise is here, and being an 8-night cruise instead of a 7-night, it's like having a bonus to the cruise.

I set the alarm late so we could all sleep in on the last day. I figure it's good to get some extra sleep today when tomorrow we all have to get up early.

Once we did get up, we were able to take a quick run up to Solarium Bistro for breakfast.  On the way there, we saw it was another beautiful day.  Weather has been great all week, so I'm grateful for the pleasant weather.

Today was the Captain's Corner, where the Cruise Director and Captain answer questions from guests.

The questions were about topics such as how the ship works, crew member life, and background of the Captain.

Right after it was the entertainment Q&A event.  It was listed as for Top Tier Crown and Anchor members, but anyone could go.

We tried to go to Playmakers for lunch, but the combination of World Cup and College Football meant every table was full.  After waiting to see if anyone would leave, we relented and went to the Windjammer for lunch.

While I might have liked another order of nachos and burger, the variety of food in the Windjammer is a win with me.

We saw a family event in Adventure Ocean for kids to do a science experiment, where kids are given a rock and use water to uncover the fossil hidden inside.

My youngest enjoyed it, and it was something nice to do.

Back in the cabin, I wanted to sit out on the balcony, but it was warm. So I went up to the pool deck to enjoy an afternoon drink.

I went to the Lime & Coconut bar to try out the signature drink there named after the bar.  One of our writers here on RoyalCaribbeanBlog, Allie, loves this drink, so I wanted to give it a try.

After 3 of them, I can say it was a solid choice.

By this point in the afternoon, I was ready for a nap!

Just like yesterday, I woke up to a lovely sunset outside my balcony.

Dinner brought us back to Giovanni's Italian Kitchen.

Just like the other two times we ate here, the food was great and really hit the spot.

After dinner, we went to see The Effectors.

This is an original Royal Caribbean production, and while I've seen it before, my kids have not.  Plus, we're going to see Effectors 2 on Wonder of the Seas next month, so it was good to refresh my memory.

This is a great show and I think it might be the best show in Royal Caribbean's fleet right now.

After dinner, I went up to Playmakers for a drink.

We had a great time on Odyssey of the Seas and would love to sail on her again.

Thanks for following along in these live blogs!

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

26 Nov 2022

After four port days in a row, having a sea day feels great.

Odyssey of the Seas sea day

As Odyssey of the Seas makes her way back to Port Everglades, we have two sea days to enjoy and that means relaxing and doing any of the onboard activities we may have missed.

Once we got out of bed, we hit up Solarium Bistro for breakfast.

Just like on day two of this cruise, we like Solarium Bistro because it's relatively uncrowded and has a good selection of food.   My youngest likes it because it has doughnuts.

After breakfast we heard the Stowaway Piano player in one of the elevators, so we tracked him down and went for a few rides. Odyssey's elevators are air conditioned (most other Royal Caribbean ship elevators are not), so it was nice to get a few rides in.

Next up was a Quantum Class ship must-do: bumper cars!

The line looked long, but it took maybe 15 or 20 minutes before we got our turn.

I found a Perfect Day at CocoCay bumper car, so we went straight for that one.

For lunch, we went to Giovanni's Italian Kitchen.

Their lunch menu is slightly different from the dinner menu, and my kids really like this restaurant.

After lunch we headed to the Schooner Bar for Disney trivia and it was packed to the brim!

There are a few kinds of trivia that are always crazy popular on Royal Caribbean: Disney, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. I might be missing some others, but they really need to add more of these kinds of trivia given how popular they are.

By this point, I was ready for an afternoon nap and it felt great!

After waking up, I was greeted by a perfect sea day sunset.

For dinner, we had booked Izumi sushi.

On Odyssey, the sushi and hibachi parts of Izumi are separate restaurants.

The food was great, and I was happy with all the sushi options while my family ordered the non-sushi items.

I wanted to mix up our post-dinner plans a little, so I went to Boleros for a drink and music.

Boleros primarily plays Latin music, but in the early evening it has other performances here and it was perfect for sitting back and enjoying music without it being a party or super loud.

That evening, we watched the crew members put up the ship's Christmas tree.

It took them a couple hours, but before the end of the night, the tree was up.

Tomorrow is another sea day!

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Curacao

25 Nov 2022

The last port of call on our Odyssey of the Seas cruise takes us to Curacao.

Since the distance between our previous stop of Aruba and Curacao is quite short, the ship docked around 8am and we had a full day to enjoy the island.

We had no plans for the day other than not going to another beach.  After three beach days in a row, the family wanted something different. With that in mind, we decided to just wing it and see what happens.

Breakfast was in Cafe @ Two70 for how quick we can get in and out for time onshore.

Odyssey of the Seas docked a reasonable distance from downtown, with an easy walk from ship to shops.

The day started out cloudy and quite humid. As the day went on, we had an occasional light rain shower, but the clouds eventually cleared. The humidity, however, did not go away.

Before you can get to the real part of downtown, you have to go over a pontoon bridge. This bridge will sometimes move to make way for boat traffic, which is a neat sight to see.

Once downtown, we started meandering to look for souvenirs and anything else interesting. We had no agenda, just see where the streets would take us until the kids complained too much.

We ran across Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue , which is the oldest surviving synagogue in the Americas.

We had visited it a few years ago as part of a Royal Caribbean shore excursion, but the kids are older, so we decided to poke our heads in again.

At first, I just wanted to give the synagogue a couple of dollars to see the inside of the temple and take another glimpse.

The first synagogue building was purchased in 1674, and the current building dates from 1730.

Something else unique about this building are the sand-covered floors.

There's also a small museum that tells the story of Jewish community in Curacaco, dating back to the late 15th century.

We continued our walk around town and get to the main square, where the kids took an ice cream break.

We did some more shopping before stopping for lunch at a restaurant along the water.

The food was nothing special, but the views of the water were nice.

At this point, the humidity was a bit too much, so we decided to head back to the ship.

We rested up for the evening, as it was Thanksgiving.

The ship didn't do a ton for Thanksgiving, but it covered the basics. There is a special menu in the main dining room and a few Thanksgiving activities in the Cruise Compass.

Prior to dinner, we took the kids to get a drink from the Bionic Bar.  

They loved watching the robots make the drinks. I find the drinks too sweet for my taste, but they loved it.

Next was dinner in the main dining room. We were on My Time Dining because when you book the Unlimited Dining Package, you automatically get moved to My Time to free up a table in traditional dining.

The earliest time you can book is 6:45, but we wanted to dine with our friends in the first seating of dinner at 5:30.

We got downstairs at 5:30 and asked and they said to come back at 6 once they knew who the no-shows were.  Sure enough, we were seated at a table right next to them at 6pm.

It's hard not to appreciate the beauty of the main dining room on Odyssey of the Seas because it's a different look than dining rooms across the fleet.

There's the normal main dining room menu, along with a special Thanksgiving menu.

I had to get turkey, along with the butternut squash soup.  My wife opted for the honey baked ham.

After dinner, we went to the Schooner Bar for "Name That Tune: Thanksgiving songs".  If you're like me, you can't think of any inherently Thanksgiving songs.

Sure enough, the idea was song titles that could double as Thanksgiving references, as opposed to songs synonymous with the holiday.

We weren't sure where to go next, so we headed up to Playmakers to watch the evening NFL football game between the Patriots and Vikings.

We didn't intend to stay for the whole game, but had a good time so did so anyway.

I rounded out my evening with some time in the casino before heading to bed.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Aruba

24 Nov 2022

It's kind of amazing that we were in the Dominican Republic yesterday and we'll make it down to the Southern Caribbean the next day.

RIU Palace in Aruba

Aruba is the next port of call, but we weren't due in until 1:30pm.  So today was half sea day, and half port day.

Since we had a sea day start to the day, we took things easy and slept in. My wife had a spa massage booked for the morning, but the girls and I slept in a bit.

Eventually we made it to the Windjammer for breakfast.

After eating, I took the kids up the SeaPlex to try out a Royal Caribbean original video game where you have to move your body to move the character.

Like other arcade games, it costs money, but it was a fun thing to try out.

As Odyssey of the Seas approached Aruba, we got ourselves ready to go once we docked.

We booked day passes to the RIU Palace resort through, which includes admission to the resort and is all-inclusive.  This means we can use the pool and beach, as well as enjoy unlimited drinks and food at a couple restaurants.

Walking off the ship was super easy.  In fact, we've had no lines at all walking off or coming back onboard the ship.  Maybe we're just getting lucky with times, but the process has been handled well.

Our time in Aruba was from 1:30pm to 11:30pm, giving us an afternoon and evening in port.

There were taxis waiting as we walked off the ship and took the short 10 minute ride to the resort. 

We checked in at the resort lobby and got wristbands for the day and cards to get towels. It's always so much easier if we don't have to schlep towels back and forth from the ship, especially when the towels are wet at the end of the day.

The pool is large, with various depths and features. The pool was so large there was no issue with it being overcrowded at all.

We were able to easily get chairs at the pool, and the hotel buildings provided shade for where we wanted to sit.

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are included, and there is a large swim up bar in the pool, as well as a dry bar on the other side. There are also waiters that walk around periodically to take orders, but I found the waiters to be quite infrequent.

The resort is situated on Palm Beach, and the walk from pool to beach is just a few steps.

All the beaches in Aruba are public access, but the chairs and palapas are reserved for hotel guests.  

Palm beach is lovely, and it did not disappoint with white sand that felt very soft. Water was warm and as you can see in these photos, quite beautiful.

As afternoon turned to evening, we got to enjoy a beautiful sunset right on the beach.  While I generally prefer pools to beaches, I spent a lot of time at the beach, especially when the sun started to set.

For dinner, we had access to either the sports bar or the buffet restaurant.  It's worth noting you need to be dry and not have sleeveless clothing to go into the buffet. It's not listed in the day pass buying process, but I saw someone else mention it in a review, so we packed clothes to change into.

The buffet restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating and is quite expansive with tons of choices. Even the pickiest eaters will find something here.

We had a great time at the RIU Palace, and while not cheap, delivered on the fun we were hoping for.

We took a taxi ride back to the ship and showered once back onboard.

Still in port, we decided to go up to Playmakers for a drink and a bite to eat. One nice thing about having the unlimited dining package is you can stop in for just a bite since we weren't going to eat at Playmakers otherwise today.

We ran into one of our favorite waiters, Jessica, working in Playmakers.  It's always a pleasure when you can reconnect with crew members you had a good rapport with in the past.

Tomorrow we will be in Curacao.

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - La Romana, Dominican Republic

23 Nov 2022

Today we visited the Dominican Republic for the first time, which makes it a nice change of pace.

I've had many cruises with scheduled stops to a port in the Dominican Republic, but they always ended up being cancelled.

Today, we are visiting La Romana, which is on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic.

Odyssey of the Seas wasn't due in until about 10am, so we took our time in the morning and grabbed breakfast at Cafe @ Two70.

As the ship pulled into La Romana, the mountainous countryside stood out immediately.

Prior to the cruise, I booked a private boat charter through a website called GetMyBoat. It's a third-party listing of boats you can charter, and this one sounded like a perfect fit.  It was 3 hours of having the boat to ourselves, and it comes with a crew, lunch, and a few stops along the way.

The boat left from Punta Cana, which is about a 45 minute car ride away.  The company that chartered the boat arranged for an additional cost transportation to and from the port. Carlos was waiting when we disembarked and met us in the taxi lot.

I believe we docked a little early, so we were able to walk off the ship earlier than I anticipated. There is a small port area with lots of shops you can browse as you walk out (or back in as you return).

We met Carlos who had a large passenger van and he got us on our way.  The kids loved when he hooked up his phone to the Bluetooth and played their favorite songs.

I didn't realize Punta Cana was as close as it is to La Romana, primarily via highway. 

Once we got to the beach, Carlos dropped us off at the main building for the company that owns the boats they charter.  We signed the necessary paperwork and were taken right away to the beach to board our boat.

We had booked a 60 foot long boat that has 2 levels, 2 bathrooms, and even a water slide off the back of the boat.

Our visit would take us to a snorkeling spot and a swimming spot to enjoy. Along the way we would also visit a dolphin park. All the stops are at various areas just off the coast, so there's no long commute times on the water.

Since it was reserved just for us, the boat felt very large with tons of space.  And since it was our own charter, as soon as we were ready to go, the captain pulled up anchor and we were on our way.

Our first stop was a snorkeling area, where the boat provided all the equipment.  You could optionally just hop in the water for a swim without snorkel gear if you preferred to just be in the water.

One of the crew members escorted us around the water and helped the kids.  There was a strong current, so there was a lot of swimming required.

After we got back onboard, it was time for lunch.  I paid extra to get an upgraded lunch option for the kids, so we had burgers, chicken kabobs, and fruit.  Later we were served chips and salsa.

Also included were soft drinks and rum punch and rum and cokes. We had the option to BYOB as well, with a stop at a liquor stand before boarding the boat.

We passed by a dolphin park, which meant we could see dolphins swimming around in their enclosure from our boat.  We didn't go in or anything, so it's merely a quick minute long stop to glance.

Next up was our swimming stop, where we could get in the water that was about 4 or 5 feet deep. 

This proved to be best time of the day, because the kids loved going down the water slide over and over again and we all got time to relax in the water.

After the swim, we started heading back to shore.

I loved our time because it delivered exactly what was promised. We got back to La Romana with 2 and a half hours to spare, which is always my primary concern when doing a tour on my own far from the port.

The crew were great, and having the boat to ourselves was fantastic. It felt special and I only wish we had more time during the tour. In case you're wondering, the boat cost $688, and then it was an additional $300 for the roundtrip transportation and upgraded lunch.

Carlos drove us back and we browsed a few shops at the port before getting back on the ship.

After showering, it was time for dinner at Wonderland.

My kids wanted to eat at Wonderland because they've never dined there and thought the whimsical nature of the restaurant sounded fun. I have to admit I would have preferred dining elsewhere.

As it turned out, the kids loved the experience.  The kids menu was a homerun, and the main menu items ended up being really good.  Plus, the kids loved the schtick more than I thought they would.

I even found the food better than I remembered, and I don't think anyone regretted going to Wonderland.

After dinner, my wife and I did a little window shopping around the Royal Esplanade before hitting up the casino for a bit.

Tomorrow we will be in Aruba.

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Labadee

22 Nov 2022

The first port of call for our Odyssey of the Seas cruise brings us to Labadee.

Labadee a private destination for Royal Caribbean (it's not an island, rather, a peninsula) and it's a usually a beautiful stop for beach fun.

I'm not sure what time we docked, but I know the "all clear" announcement woke me up. We weren't planning to be the first one's off the ship, but we also didn't want to sleep away the day.

Before heading off the ship, we went down to Cafe @ Two70 to get a quick bite to eat and coffee.

Cafe @ Two70 is similar to Park Cafe, and it offers specialty coffees, bagel bar, and some hot breakfast sandwiches. It's also complimentary.

The great thing about getting food in this spot is you can walk right out to Two70 and have a great view with your drink and food.

After getting some food and caffeine, we walked off the ship.

The weather was great and substantially less humid and hot than our previous visit in July.

We booked a over the water cabana at Barefoot Beach. I really like the convenient location, as well as the buffet area reserved just for guests here.

I was surprised to see a few new water features added to Barefoot Beach, including an inflatable "Aquabana". They also added floats, which the kids liked for islands to take a breather.

I've seen the floats at Perfect Day at CocoCay, but I've never seen the Aquabana before. Fun addition!

We spent the day relaxing at the beach and the water and air temperature was absolutely perfect. It was warm enough to be outdoors and swim without being uncomfortably hot.

All aboard was 3:30pm, so we eventually headed back to the ship to shower and change.

I also took this opportunity to sneak in a quick nap before dinner.

Dinner was at Teppanyaki, and it's my favorite hibachi of the entire fleet simply for the views.

Our chef, Ryan, was excellent and put on a great show. And the food was great too!

After dinner I ran into the stowaway piano player in the elevator and enjoyed a show during my ride!

After dinner I went back to the cabin to do a live video on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog YouTube channel.  The connection dropped twice, but so far Odyssey's internet has performed much better than Starlink on Independence or Allure of the Seas.

We went to Two70 to see the "Two70 Experience", which is a technical demonstration of all the cool things the technology in this space can do.

Hosted by the Cruise Director (Anna), she showed off the Vistarama and Robo screen technology.

It went through several vignettes and was really interesting to see how great everything looks.

After the show, it was back to the pub for some music before bed.

Tomorrow we will be in La Romana, Dominican Republic.

Stray Observation

The pepperoni at Sorrento's Pizza looks very different than on other ships. It's really large.

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

21 Nov 2022

While the typical Royal Caribbean television commercial shows off all the amazing things you can do on a cruise ship, my favorite activity on a cruise is doing a lot of nothing.

Sea day on Odyssey of the seas

Today is our first sea day and we decided not to set an alarm. That meant we ended up sleeping in a lot more than I thought. The curtains on Odyssey do a great job of blocking out the sun.

When we did get up, we decided to head to breakfast at the Solarium Bistro.

Solarium Bistro is one of my favorite tips about eating on Odyssey of the Seas because it's a lesser-known place for breakfast. It's less crowded than the Windjammer and it has an omelette station.

The best part of the omelette station is they deliver the omelette when its ready back to your table instead of you waiting for it.

After breakfast, I went out to the pool deck to enjoy some fresh air. I think a lot of other people had slept in because things were not too busy by mid-morning.

Later we went down to the main dining room to book a time for dinner.  While we have the unlimited dining package for this cruise, I want to eat in the dining room on Thanksgiving so I can get the traditional Thanksgiving menu offering.

I had no issue getting a reservation for 6:45 on Thanksgiving, which I was pleasantly surprised to get because I thought it would be close to booked up.

By now I needed coffee, so we went to Cafe @ Two70 to get a macchiato (included with my drink package).

I then sipped the coffee in Two70 with a great view of the aft.

We spent a fair amount of time in Two70 just enjoying the views and comfortable seating.

Eventually, we went back to the cabin and I thought a nap sounded like a great idea. Naps on a sea day are everything I love about cruising.

After a quick nap, it was up to the Windjammer for lunch. 

Since this was a late lunch and we had dinner early, I just had something to tide me over.

I forgot on Odyssey of the Seas, there is no outdoor seating at the back of the Windjammer like there is on other Quantum Class ships. Still a great view.

Back in the room, I was playing with the Royal Caribbean app and noticed the fun options it has on Odyssey, like the ability to open your cabin door with your app or control the television with the app.

The kids wanted to hit the pool, so it was back up to the pool deck for some aquatic fun.

The kids had a good time swimming and going in the hot tub while I kept an eye on them from a lounge chair in the shade.

Dinner tonight was at Chops and it's formal night.

We had dinner with a group of friends on the ship with us, so it was a large seating and the staff handled it flawlessly.

Service was great and the food was as good as I remember. 

After dinner, my wife took the kids to see Showgirl. We saw the show the last time we were on Odyssey, but my kids wanted to see the show.

We met up at the 80's party in Music Hall. I greatly prefer the parties that would have otherwise taken up the Royal Promenade on other ships be relegated to the Music Hall.

When the band took a break, we went to the Schooner Bar to check out the piano player and it ended up becoming a game for the kids of "do you know this song". It's amazing how they know some random old songs but can also not know more modern music.

I rounded out the evening in the casino, where we had a friendly group of people. Shoutout to Greg for his "method" and casino dealer Matteo for reading the blog.

Tomorrow is our first port stop in Labadee.

Stray Observations

I found the stowaway piano player!

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation

20 Nov 2022

We're back with a new live blog and this time it's on Odyssey of the Seas for an 8-night Southern Caribbean cruise.

With the Thanksgiving holiday being a week off of school for my kids, it's all to tempting a time to book a cruise. We've done Thanksgiving cruises in the past, and decided to once again give it a go this year.

Our cruise visits:

  • Labadee
  • La Romana, Dominican Republic
  • Aruba
  • Curacao

Odyssey sails from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, so we drove down from Orlando the night before and stayed in an Airbnb prior to boarding today.

Arriving at Port Everglades, Odyssey was docked at Terminal 18, but parking is at Terminal 19. I dropped the kids, wife, and luggage off first at the port, and then drove to the parking lot. It's a very short walk back.

Check-in might have been the fastest check-in I've had in Port Everglades ever. We got through the check-in process in minutes with no wait at all.

We waited perhaps 10 minutes and then boarding began.

Once onboard, we headed up to Teppanyaki to make dining reservations. Any specialty restaurant can book any other specialty restaurant.

We have the unlimited dining package for this sailing, so with any dining package, you must wait to make a reservation until once you get onboard.

I picked Teppanyaki as the restaurant to go to for making reservations for two reasons:

  1. The hibachi reservation system always seems more contrived than others, so being in the restaurant helps
  2. It's on deck 14, which meant it would not be as busy as the specialty restaurants closer to the boarding area.

Sure enough, there was no one there and I was able to book dining reservations for every day of the cruise with plenty of seating times available.  If you have a dining package, it's important to make reservations as soon as you board the ship for optimal times.

Next up was lunch, and the kids wanted to go to Playmakers.

Since it was early, we were among the first people there and had no trouble getting a table. 

Food was great, and we were able to cover our meal with the $20 per adult dining credit my wife and I had.

After lunch, I saw there was badminton in the SeaPlex, so I took my youngest daughter to play. She needs lots more practice, but it was fun to hit a few volleys.

The cabins were ready right around 1pm, so we headed there next.

For this cruise, we have connecting balcony cabins on deck 11. Connecting rooms are always our choice for cruising with kids because we get separation from the kids and the extra bathroom makes a huge difference.

After doing a few cruises on older ships, it's so nice to be back in a cabin that has lots of storage space and plenty of outlets.

Our next stop was Adventure Ocean to register the kids. My oldest daughter has begun to feel she's "aged out" of Adventure Ocean, but even she admits the new Adventure Ocean on the new ships is interesting.

We then took the opportunity to go up to the pool deck to get some fresh air and a cocktail. While cloudy, the air temperature was very comfortable so it made for the perfect feel for being outdoors and not sweating profusely, which is a rare occurrence in Florida.

Sail away wasn't until 5pm, so we went back to the room to unpack. Luckily, all of our luggage was waiting by the door.

Dinner was at Giovanni's Italian Kitchen, which is the updated version of the specialty restaurant. This means it not only has a different look than other restaurants, but it features a new menu as well.

My kids really liked this version when we sailed on Wonder of the Seas, so they were excited to go back.

The food did not disappoint, and we ran into the same waiter I had at Giovanni's on both Wonder and Odyssey inaugural sailings. It's great when you see crew members that you remember from past cruises and they remember you.

I enjoy the combination of pizzas, pastas, and various entrees to choose from on this menu. Having all these choices makes it a better experience.

After dinner, my wife and I went down to the casino for a little bit before meeting up with friends for evening drinks.

We started off in the Diamond Lounge and then migrated to the pub to see the guitarist this week. 

I didn't recognize the guitarist from other sailings, so we'll see what his style is like performing.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Stray Observations

Our complimentary water for being Diamond Plus guests is clearly leftover water supply from Europe.

No Starlink yet on Odyssey, but it had the faster Voom to begin with, so no major loss either.

Captain told us we would be delayed about 30 minutes leaving Port Everglade due to additional time needed to take on provisions and luggage.

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 12 - Sea Day

31 Oct 2022

Just as they say, all good things come to an end. Today is the last day of our 12-night cruise; we are making our way back to Rome with one final sea day.

I’m always shocked how quickly time flies when I’m on vacation. I wish the work week could go by this quickly!

We gained back 2 (much needed) hours of sleep last night thanks to a combination of European daylight savings and losing an hour last week when we made our way to Israel.

I’ll take an extra hour of cruising any day! Although, it was confusing when I woke up and looked at my phone's time since I didn’t know whether it had updated for the time change.

Fortunately, I had no place to be today so it didn’t really matter the time.

Captain’s Corner and Breakfast

Angie and I worked our way out of bed around 10am, which was really noon for our body’s time. We’ve either been getting up early and spending all day exploring or we’ve been sleeping until noon on sea days, there hasn’t been much of an in between!

We enjoyed breakfast in Cafe 270 right as Captain’s Corner started. I’ve never attended this event, so it was nice to tune in as I sipped on my boozy Irish coffee.

Last day of vacation means you have to go out with a bang, right?!

We watched a little behind the scenes video about the crew’s living quarters. The captain also answered questions from passengers in the audience. It was a nice event, although Angie and I don’t seem to remember too much of what was discussed.

One interesting point the captain made was regarding last night’s medical emergency. Around 1am there was an alpha call. The captain said today that we sailed faster through the night to get to the Straight of Messina quicker for the passenger to be evacuated by coast guard.

The captain said our medical facility onboard was a better option for the passenger to be stabilized rather than having them evacuated by helicopter, as the helicopter doesn’t have as much medical care available during transport.

Galley Tour

During this time, mom was enjoying bottomless mimosas during her tour of the galley!

Last night, our head waiter asked if anyone was interested and mom said she actually would enjoy a tour like that!

She said when arriving in the dining room, everyone was required to wear a mask and sign a waiver. The tour started with an explanation of the chef scarf colors and how they indicate how long the chef has been onboard and different specialties; for example, a red scarf means the chef understands dietary restrictions while yellow scarves are reserved for new people in training.

Mom told us they serve 6,000 dinner rolls per service per day! That’s about 2 rolls per person per meal. The kitchen has a ‘magic machine’ that transforms dough into perfectly sized balls to bake in seconds.

Apparently, the pastry and bakery shifts are 24 hours each. The chef also explained how shorter cruises have all the fresh produce needed for the entire cruise while longer ones, like ours, need to restock for fresh produce at some point during the cruise.

Mom said the kitchen was absolutely spotless with the stainless steel shining everywhere she looked.

Straight of Messina

After Angie and I listened to the captain speak in Cafe 270, we met up with dad in the Solarium to watch our ship sail through the Straight of Messina. We sailed through the Straight in the early morning during our sailing to Israel, so none of us witnessed the passing.

The Solarium filled up quickly with other people wanting to watch us sail the Straight. We had spots right against the window, which was perfect! I used this time to finalize my blog from the night before.

We watched as the pilot came on to guide us through the Straight. There was also a moment when the ship halted for a coast guard ship to sail alongside and take off the sick passenger.

About this time, we decided to have another round of cocktails. I enjoyed a mudslide, which was creamy and delicious.

Angie decided to switch it up and tried a smoothie from the Solarium bar. We were surprised to find smoothie and juice options at the Solarium Bar. There were also protein drinks available.

I had one last visit to El Loco Fresh for a final cheesy chicken quesadilla. The pork meat looked tasty as well, so I gave that a try. The last day of a cruise always inflicts this sense of urgency that I need to do it all and try everything since it’s your last chance.

My quesadilla tasted extra delicious. I’ve honestly probably had more quesadillas in the last 12 days than I’ve had in the last decade!

Mom and dad played a round of cribbage during the passage sailing. We also heard all about mom’s galley experience and tour during the time!

After lounging in the Solarium for a while, it was time to pick out our 4 free pictures that we get with our Diamond Plus benefits. This is a nice perk that we always take advantage of.

I have never seen on-demand printing stations on a cruise ship before! It’s nice that you can order your picture and then within a few minutes, the kiosk prints your picture.

NextCruise Experience and Packing

By this time, I was about ready to head to NextCruise for my 3:30pm appointment. My husband and I are planning a trip for next June on Jewel of the Seas from Amsterdam to Iceland.

I never used to take advantage of NextCruise since I didn’t fully understand the perks. Having a reduced deposit of only $200 is a win for me, as my husband’s schedule is very unpredictable with the military. You can take advantage of any current promotional pricing and get onboard credit.

Although I had an appointment, I still had to wait about 25 minutes to meet with a consultant. It was pretty busy, to say the least. Once I was able to met with one of the consultants, we had the reservation booked within 15 minutes.

I was also eager to book after seeing Royal Caribbean Blog's post about the American Express offer for spend $1,000 and earn 25k reward points - which I had on a few of our cards.

Iceland, here we come! Having another exciting cruise booked in the future always helps ease the post-cruise depression. This was especially necessary as I went back to our stateroom to start packing.

We don’t fly out tomorrow from Rome, which makes packing a little bit easier. I wasn’t concerned about weight or liquids, so it was really just a scramble to pack things away as quickly as possible so I could get back to enjoying my final day.

Last Evening Onboard

Before our last dinner in the dining room, we went to have one last cocktail at Lime & Coconut Bar to see our favorite bartender. The sun had just set in the distance.

Since we were the only ones there, we asked Dwayne (‘Dwa’) about tipping; for example, we figured our Diamond drink vouchers would provide the bartender with an automatic gratuity in the same way as if we purchased a drink.

Dwayne explained that the free drink vouchers do not provide any gratuity unless the passenger provides an additional tip on the receipt or gives a cash tip.

We took this opportunity to provide Dwayne with a tip for taking care of us for the sailing and wished him well.

For the last supper, we enjoyed a variety of pot pie, chicken tikka marsala and prime rib. Mom went out with a bang ordering 3 servings of crispy coconut shrimp and escargot. She was pleased to see the escargot improvement after talking with the head waiter. 

Angie and I enjoyed both the dark chocolate brownie and pavlova for dessert, which are two of our favorites.

There wasn’t much entertainment for the final evening, as we still needed to finish packing and make sure our suitcases were out in the hallway on time.

It’s always a sad feeling to see the suitcases line the hallway - you know the end is near.

The biggest commotion of the evening was when mom couldn’t find her Seapass card; that’s a first for all of us! She had to spend about 30 minutes in line at Guest Services to get a replacement card.

As the night came to a close, we all reflected on our favorite memories from the cruise. Of course, Israel was the highlight for all of us. There was an overarching gratitude from everyone that we all stayed healthy and had such positive experiences.

That's a wrap on our 12-night Holy Land cruise. It's crazy when you plan and look forward to a cruise for so long (years in our case), and it finally happens. Time always seems to go too quickly. We are thankful for the opportunity to spend this quality time together experiencing such rich and diverse history. 

Thanks to everyone for following along during our cruise - it's been so rewarding sharing our experiences with all of you and reading your comments!

Stray Observations

As I mentioned, there are a lot of people doing back-to-back cruises with this sailing. Approximately 30% of the people on this sailing are staying on the ship for the transatlantic! The next sailing will return to Fort Lauderdale with stops in Italy, Spain and Portugal before crossing the Atlantic. These cruisers found out not too long ago that they needed to take a test, although it’s complimentary of Royal Caribbean.

There’s certainly been a noticeable increase in coughing within the last few days, but I have only heard of one person testing positive on this cruise.

It seems like there’s other illnesses circulating, as we’ve all come down with some sort of cold during this cruise. We were relieved to see all of our home tests be negative.

Service onboard has been incredibly attentive across the board. Additionally, the ship is impeccably clean. There was never one moment where the hand sanitizers were empty.

Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 11 - Crete, Greece

30 Oct 2022

And just like that, today was our last port stop during this incredible 12-night sailing on Odyssey of the Seas!

Today, we were docked in the island of Crete, Greece from 7am to 3pm. This was our shortest port stop and we did not have an excursion booked. Instead, we chose to get off the ship on our own so we could have some flexibility. We knew we would be tired today after all the long days we've had, and didn't want to take a 7am excursion!

Since all aboard was 2:30, we decided to get up at 8:30 so we could explore Chania.

The last time I was in Crete was on my honeymoon cruise and the last time my parents were here was on our first Mediterranean cruise about a decade ago. Both times, we went to the beach so we decided today to spend time in Chania, as I heard from fellow RCB writer Jenna that the town was very charming!

Shuttle to Town

Angie and I had breakfast at Cafe @ 270, where we both enjoyed breakfast sandwiches and coffee to start the day. Mom and dad dined in the Solarium Bistro and had omelets to order.

We were off the ship by 10am and chose to take the shuttle into town that was provided conveniently at the port. Jenna said this summer that the shuttle was complimentary but times must be tough because they were charging $6 per person round trip.

We didn’t mind paying the $6 for direct transport into the city, although we saw a couple get on the bus and yell that they refused to pay. The driver looked like he didn’t feel like picking a fight so he just rolled his eyes. Makes me laugh that someone would spend all this money to do a cruise but then scuff about spending $6 each to take the shuttle!

Driving through Crete, we were a little less than impressed. It felt more run down than the other ports we’ve visited.

The shuttle dropped us off in Chania in the city center. We started walking towards the Venetian Harbor, passing through many shops on the way.

Since we’ve all done a little bit too much shopping, we were on the hunt for some cheap suitcases.

Normally, I bring a small duffle in my checked luggage to bring back all my new treasures while traveling without paying for overweight luggage. I didn’t anticipate shopping as much I did during this cruise, so it’s pretty necessary for me to get another bag.

Lots of Shopping

Whoops - don’t tell my husband back home!

Since I’d already come to terms with the fact that I’d need another suitcase, I let myself go and did even more shopping.

Mom, Angie and I enjoyed shopping in a local leather store where we all got matching pairs of sandals. Dad sat outside on a bench checking football scores while we tried on a myriad of shoes. 

We enjoyed walking around the side streets in the old town, taking in the sights. We saw plenty of other cruisers enjoying the old town as well.

This area was much nicer than the port area and the streets that we drove through to get to the city centre. Based on the view from the ship in the morning, we didn't have super high expectations - especially in comparison to Rhodes and Santorini, which were beautiful port areas.

I also found plenty of other lovely shops to support during our walk to the harbor. We’ve been certainly helping the Greek economy the last few days with our shopping.

Old Venetian Harbor

Upon arriving at the harbor, I was stunned by how beautiful it was! I hadn’t done a ton of research for this port since most of our energy went into planning for Israel, so I was really surprised by the beauty.

We enjoyed walking all along the harbor and snapping pictures while doing so. We decided to walk along the shore, lined with shops and restaurants.

To nobody’s surprise, I did a little more shopping to get all the final gifts and souvenirs that I had been holding off on getting. I grabbed a few little olive oil presents for friends and family back home, along with my obligatory magnet for every place I travel.

I love coming home from big adventures and adding my new magnets to the fridge; seeing the collection grow warms my heart!

As we walked along the harbor, we found incredible views of the lighthouse across the bay. The waves were crashing along the harbor and even getting the walkway wet a few times.

The views were simply too beautiful not to take a ton of pictures, especially as dad spent about 15 minutes trying to find a nearby bathroom to use. The lighting was perfect with the backdrop of the lighthouse in the distance. We even saw a fisherman catch his biggest fish of the day!

Getting Lost in Town

When I first did research on Chania (admittedly, this morning during breakfast), I punched in 'Venetian Harbor' on my Apple maps and tagged the location for us to visit later. I told the family we had to go to my pinned location after wandering around the water and taking pictures with the lighthouse.

My lack of research was showing, as we were unknowingly at the Old Venetian Harbor; yet, my map was showing there to be another nearby location with the same name. Since we don't mind a little walking, we made our way to the pinned location I had on my phone. 

Well, we ultimately ended up on some side streets away from the main attractions. Everyone was questioning my navigation skills, in which I insisted the map showed another location of interest for us to see. We arrived to a corner on a side street with nothing that appeared like Venice but rather a residential area with no other tourists around. 

Either way, I led us astray and into the side streets. A quick Google search of 'Old Venetian Harbor Chania' revealed that we had been actually walking around the harbor just before - hence why it was so beautiful! 

We were just a few blocks away, so we made our way back to the harbor area and into the shopping streets once more. This was our last chance to get souvenirs!

Since we didn’t get started too early in the morning, we opted to work our way back to the ship so we didn’t feel rushed with all aboard time. We found a deal on 2 hardshell suitcases so my parents could have an additional suitcase and I will have one too.

The shuttle was packed with people heading back to the ship since we only had about an hour until the last shuttle would depart for the day.

Back Onboard

Back on the ship, we went to the Windjammer for a bite to eat. We actually have not had lunch in the Windjammer until today! There was a nice selection of food, although it was very busy because everyone must have had the same idea.

We opted to find an outdoor spot on the top deck; there’s a nice set of chairs tucked away on the top deck by the SeaPlex. We had the sun shining while still being in the shade so it was a lovely spot to sit.

I was up very late last night working on the live blog and had way too many pictures from Santorini to sort through and edit. We enjoyed the autumn breeze and watched the ship pull away and start our journey back to Rome.

Angie, dad and our new friend Brice decided to take a whirl at the bumper cars. They did 2 rounds and Angie said she was much more cautious this time! Mom and I had too much trauma from our first day when we left bruised, so we opted to head back and get ready for formal night.

While getting ready for dinner, Angie was getting dressed and turned around in a black dress. I told her not to wear my dress tonight, as I was planning to wear it for formal. She insisted that it was her dress, yet I knew that I was planning to wear the exact same dress.

Low and behold, we have the exact same dress that we planned to wear tonight so we chose to embrace the twinning moment. Mom smiled when she saw and said she hadn’t seen us in matching dresses since Christmas when we were little girls.

Dinner and The Effectors

We walked into dinner to find the ship rocking and rolling. All of us were shocked to see how big the waves looked from the table, as the dining room is on Deck 3. Luckily, the movement subsided as the night went on.

Dinner tonight was excellent with beef tenderloin, lobster and baked Alaska. We enjoyed talking with the table next to us and mom was convinced to join the galley tour tomorrow on our sea day.

Mom and I sported our new sandals from Chania for the evening - such a fun souvenir!

Our evening wrapped with an evening show in the Royal Theatre called The Effectors. The superhero-themed show used some really impressive digital effects, including choreographed drones. I really liked the show, as it had a nice variety of music that included some recent pop songs.

We all agreed the show was excellent, from the costumes to the music to the overall stage production! This was my first time seeing this show. This show really leans into utilizing technology in its entertainment performances - and I think it really elevates the experience.

Was there a clear-cut storyline for us to follow along? Not necessarily. Most of the show involved each member of The Effectors showing off their superpowers with the help of the stage technology.

Either way, it was quite entertaining and definitely showed off the technology capabilities of Odyssey of the Seas.

Tomorrow, we have one final day sea day before we arrive back to Rome. We will need to certainly spend some time packing since we’ve gotten very comfortable in our cabin at this point! I also have an appointment at NextCruise to potentially book an upcoming cruise next summer to Iceland from Amsterdam.

We are blessed with 2 extra hours of sleep tonight, as we gain back the hour we lost last week AND we get an extra hour due to daylight savings occurring in Europe!

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