Ok, to start this review I'll tell you about the makeup of this party of four cruisers. Myself and my hubby are in our early 30s, with two toddlers (who stayed at their grandparents home for the duration of this cruise) and we're celebrating our 5yr wedding anniversary on this cruise. We sailed with my hubby's brother and his wife, who are newlyweds (ages: mid-to-late 20s) on their very first cruise. We sailed on the 03Nov -10 Nov Oasis of the Seas Eastern Itinerary.
Embarkation: Easy, no worries there. I will say that if you are renting a Budget car, know ahead of time where the turn-in point is at the cruise pier. We still have no idea where it was located, so we wound up having to use the airport location and grab a taxi since they do not have a shuttle from their airport location.
Day 1: Sea: After boarding the ship and gawking at the magnificence of this awesome ship, we ate at the Windjammer... crowds weren't too terrible, and it was about 1pm-ish when we boarded. The Windjammer wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be, considering the things I had read from other reviews. After the Honey Stung Chicken Burgers at the Windjammer, we split into gals vs. guys. I have no idea what the guys did, and when I asked my hubby at the end of the cruise, he claims he can't remember what he did the first day (go figure!). We ladies went to Guest Services to book the All-Access Tour and place a space-available announcement in the Cruise Compass for our Anniversary. My sister-in-law and I then proceeded to the 14th deck Card Room (Seven of Hearts/Internet Cafe) to reserve our iphone rental. At $30 per iphone, it was well worth the money, and not near as obnoxious as those much-debated walkie-talkies I saw people screeching into! The neat thing about the iphone is it has the day's Cruise Compass loaded into it, as well as many other numbers (the other iphones it's connected to, maintenance, room attendant, medical, specialty restaurants, etc). Oh, and there is a cool function for parents: you can view location of the other iphones (ie: your kids) as well as the history of where the phone has recently been -- so if you want to stalk your kids, you can! My kids were safely home with their grandparents, but I remember thinking how handy that will be when my boys get older. But, I digress. Ok, we check out the ship and do the sail-away wave on our Junior Suite balconies (with the divider and adjoining room door open, thanks to our suite attendant!
Later, we have a delicious dinner at 1830 at Giovanni's Table as part of our Central Park Dining package. At first, during the start of our meal at Giovanni's, there was confusion when we tried to order from our Platinum wine package as we didn't have a sticker on our Sea Pass Card since the MDR puts the sticker on your Sea Pass, and we hadn't been to the MDR yet. But, they figured it out eventually and we were well on our way to boozing it up! We had such a good time with the booze we decided to forgo our Hairspray reservations that night and just chill in our respective rooms. Good times!
Day 2: Nassau, Bahamas: We ordered room service by filing out the breakfast request card the night prior and hanging it out on our door, and ate breakfast in our bathrobes on the balcony. It was pretty good, and made it pretty easy to get ready for the day, eat fast, and get down to the pier by the required time for our excursion.
We chose the Blue Lagoon Sea Lion Encounter, and it was pretty special. We caught a 30min ferry ride to Blue Lagoon and had a blast getting to see and interact with Sea Lions. They do an informative spiel on Sea Lions prior to your interaction and then you get to see the Sea Lions do tricks such as kissing you, barking at the trainer, clapping, all kinds of fun stuff! I'd recommend this to anyone. Most people going to the Blue Lagoon chose the Dolphins, but I think the Sea Lion excursion was where it was at! Later that evening we ate at the MDR, and as other reviews have done such a good job with posting menus and food porn, I'm going to bypass that part of my review but I will suffice it to say that we NEVER had a bad experience with the yummy food available at ANY venue on this ship. It was really good, hot, and I didn't have to cook it or clean up afterwards, so it's a winner in my book. We decided to see the Oasis of Dreams show after dinner, and it was a really good show. Finding out all the behind-the-scenes of what's involved in producing such a show was really fun at the All-Access-Tour we had at day 7... it clarified some of the questions we had about what went on during the show. That night, between the food at the MDR and the Oasis of Dreams show, we somehow missed the Capt's Welcome Aboard Reception. But, throughout the week I noted that Oasis' Captain was a young (36yrs old -- youngest Captain ever when he sailed a Royal Caribbean ship at age 29), dynamic, charming and witty guy, and it says something, considering that he's risen in the ranks as fast as he has with Royal Caribbean.
Day 3: Sea: We began the morning with a breakfast in the Solarium Bistro. Yummy, and yet healthy. ? Then we scrambled over to the Flowrider for our lessons and met up with my hubby's brother and wife as they had lessons with us. It was lots of fun, and I'm proud to say my hubby was super-good at the Flowrider. I need some work, though!
Afterwards, both couples split up to do our own thing; it was mine and my hubby's anniversary, after all! We ate lunch at the MDR, which is like having dinner at the MDR in the quality of food and level of service. We decided afterwards to make up for that lost Hairspray show we didn't see the first night, and waited for 20 mins in the no-reservation line for the show. We were allowed in right when the show was about 5mins from starting and still managed to get good seats. After that show, we checked out Frozen in Time, for which we had reservations. It was just as good as everyone makes it out to be, and the sand artists were also my favorite! After completing the show, we came back to the room to dress for our Anniversary dinner at 150 Central Park to find our stateroom decorated in Valentine Cupid "Celebrate Love" decorations ... for our Anniversary Package. No "Happy Anniversary" to be found anywhere. Ok. Whatever. Shrug and go on with life. Our champagne and heart flowers are there, so that's nice. We were missing the cupcakes, and we had to call and ask for them when they still never showed up a couple of days later. And, the last night of the cruise, I had to fight with the Focus photo people to get my freebie keepsake portrait, and got it only after TWO visits to Guest Services. Ugh. I don't recommend bothering with a darn package -- too much trouble for the amount of money you spend on it. Just not worth it to me.
Now, onto dinner at 150 CP. 150 was delicious. I didn't realize (since no reviews specified it on CC that I could see) that the Royal Pairing price $75 per person was IN ADDITION to the $40 cover charge, and so I was expecting since we had the Central Park Package, we would just get billed $35 extra. Not so. Learned this the hard way and felt like an A$$ for questioning the final bill. But, hey -- live and learn... and next time we'll go without the Royal Pairing and just stick to our wine package. But, we got REALLY sloshed from all that wine, and we found out we REALLY love the Elk Cove Pinot Gris. Gotta find some more of that stuff, and buy it by the case! ;) We went to the Love and Marriage Game Show and I'm quite sure we had even more fun and laughter since we were still hammered from the wine pairing at dinner. Yay! Then we fell into bed and I remember waking up with a slight hangover, lol!
Day 4: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas: Best. Excursion. EVER. Yes, it was epic. What was it, you say... Royal Caribbean calls it Schooner Sail to Christmas and Honeymoon Cove... I call it RUM PUNCH PAINKILLER GOODNESS!!! We sailed on the Silent Lady with our Capt Dave, Gabe, and Christy. They were funny, engaging, and energetic. They started out by telling us all the safety measures in place for the vessel and why they don't start serving Rum punch till AFTER the snorkeling is done (drunk people see double, and it's not fair to see more turtles and stingrays than the rest of us!). On the way over to the cove, we were pleased to have some groovy beach-inspired relaxing tunes piped through the speakers on the Silent Lady. You feel like you're really on vacation! Closer to the cove, Gabe passed out the complimentary snorkeling gear (dive masks, snorkel tube, fins, and a life jacket) that was included in the excursion price and sanitized prior to our use. The first cove they took us to was Christmas Cove, which they've nicknamed Turtle Cove due to all the juvenile sea turtles hanging out, eating the grass on the seabed. We weren't lacking for scenery and Christy was great at guiding us around the cove to show us the reef and turtles.
After the allotted snorkeling time was complete, we began our sail to the other cove which had our beachside BBQ waiting for our arrival! And, out comes the bottomless Rum Punch. Apparently, it only counts as one drink if you never get to the bottom, and Christy made it her personal mission to see that nobody met with the bottom of their plastic cup! Now, with some alcohol in our systems, we were a big time partying crowd! Once we got to the beach, we dropped anchor and had an interesting (if zig-zagged) swim to shore. But, with the delicious scent of tantalizing barbeque we made record time in getting to the shore. We were richly rewarded with BBQ chicken wings, ribs, baked beans, potato and macaroni salads, coleslaw and breads. And beer. Can't go wrong there. For those not wanting to partake of the libations, various sodas and bottled water was available.
After the beer and BBQ there was beach volleyball, swimming and laying out on the beach. Gabe played football by tossing cans of beer into waving hands, and those who were uncoordinated enough as to be unsuccessful at interceptions had to fish their beer can out of the ocean next to them. Salty beer - No biggie.
Now all good things must come to an end, and this excursion was no different. On our sail back to the Oasis, the Silent Lady left her mark in the form of a temporary tattoo of a Jolly Roger pirate flag. You could tell how much beer and/or rum punch a person had by where they chose to apply their temporary tattoo. One gentleman had them placed on his nipples like little Pirate Flag pasties. Another guy had several of them lined up in a row on his bald head, making for a killer Pirate mohawk of sorts. A creative bunch, that's for sure! Anytime we'd see someone walking around with these, we'd all holler greetings at each other. Those temporary tattoos take weeks to remove unless you scrub your skin red and raw with alcohol pads!
I wish I could tell you the Headliner (who I heard was a comedian) Show for which we had reservartions was great or that the Battle of the Sexes Game Show was epic... but, we were full from dinner and still buzzed from the copious amounts of liquor coursing through our systems that everyone stumbled back to their respective rooms to do boring things that married couples do such as read the next day's Cruise Compass. ;) Next up: The Harley Ride from Hell... oh, I mean -- "Harley in Paradise".
Day 5: Philipsburg, St. Maarten: Worst. Excursion. EVER! This one was epic, too -- but not for the same reasons as the Pirate Ship Sailing. Just to give you a little background on the group's riding history: My husband and his brother have been riding dirtbikes and other various motorcycles since they were 6 years old. This is not an exaggeration; I have seen the videos. We have ALL taken the MSF (Motorcycle Foundation Safety Course) both the beginners and advanced courses. Heck, my hubby was offered an instructor position during the course at one of the bases he and I were stationed at!
I, myself, am an intermediate motorcycle rider with several years under my belt, and I used to ride a sportbike (2005 Yamaha R6) prior to having kids. I had the kids and gave up my own motorcycle in favor of occasionally riding the back of my hubby's bike on the rare occasions that we have a babysitter. My hubby traded his R1 sportbike for a cruiser -- a Victory Vegas, after we had our kids. My brother-in-law rides an R1 (with his wife on the back, bless her adventurous soul). So, we're not all a bunch of newbies.
You should have seen us- we were the only ones getting off the cruise ship in full length jeans, Harley shirts (ok, none of us owns a Harley, but our family members do!), and helmets. Ok, I was the one who didn't have a helmet in my hand as I failed to borrow one from my mother-in-law since mine is in storage right now (long story). I figured I would just use a loaner helmet. Ugh. Unwise decision -- those things have seen lots of wrecks; I was impressed there weren't still blood stains on them. So, we get off the ship, meet with the excursion greeter who has us sign release forms (to include our credit card info should we wreck and they have to claim a $2,000 deductible on the damage, and on the back of the form is the incident card where they list the info on the wreck. Hmmm... had a lot of wrecks, have they? Interesting...)
As the forms are finalized, we meet with the tour leader who drives us to the location of the bikes. He tells us about the history of the island and shows us various points of interest along the way, which was nice. We could barely understand his thick island accent, but he seemed pleasant at first. Then we see the bikes. They are in very questionable states of repair, or should I say disrepair. My hubby wanted me to choose the bike we'd be riding, and I told him that since he has to operate the thing, it's HIS choice. Lol. He picks the one with the passenger seat hanging on by a rusty bolt. I remember the infamous shirt "If you can read this, the B*tch fell off". I held onto my hubby for dear life, because my butt would sway with the slide of the seat if I didn't! My brother-in-law unknowingly picked the motorcycle that later in the ride started stalling out in mid-ride. He had to keep over-revving the engine to keep it from dying. The tour leader was left with the bike that had a problem with acceleration too fast for a group ride, talking on cell phones while riding, lane-splitting, and riding down paths with construction, dangerous traffic jams, potholes, and tons of unmarked speed bumps. Of course, the bike is not to blame for these faults, it's the rider. Yep. The leader was doing all this during the ride, making for a very unsafe group ride. I almost wondered if the leader was TRYING to get us to wreck based on the dangerous riding conditions he was intentionally putting his group in. Judging by the battle scars on each and every one of the loaner helmets I had to choose from, he was successful with previous tour groups at collecting that $2,000 deductible. We decided on one of the frequent market stops the tour guide took us to that we were tired of such risky riding, and we ended the ride 2hrs early. On a good note, I decided to follow up at Guest Services about the dubious riding conditions on this tour in the hopes of saving future riders from this same experience and they told me they would forward the info to the Miami hdqtrs and do an investigation into the tour operator. As an unexpected bonus, RCI told me I would get refunded the money spent on this excursion.
After that disappointing endeavor, we went back onto the ship to change into shorts and tshirts, as the riding gear was very hot and uncomfortable! We decided we'd seen enough of the town earlier, and stuck to the shops lining the port. Our hubbies treated us gals to some nice jewelry purchases, so the port went from being a bust to being freakin' fantastic! Lol! We checked out the not-to-be-missed "Belgian Chocolate Box", which sold yummy chocolates. We also discovered they sold more than just your dark chocolate covered pralines or cherries... on the top shelf (out of sight of the little kiddos) are blocks of chocolate that are imprinted with various karma-sutra-esque images. Yep, adult novelty chocolates are sold there, folks. I'm not making that up. I didn't remember that mentioned in any Cruise Critic reviews I read, so now it's documented for posterity (unless the forum moderators edit me!).
Our plans later that night were to see the Comedy Live show, and our comedians were AJ Jamal and Joe Yanetti. AJ Jamal was first up, and he was my favorite. He had me in stitches; he was awesome! The second comedian did more of the insult comedy, and I felt bad for the little 17yr old chick (and her mom) sitting in the front row that he was badmouthing. I still laughed at the jokes, as did the 17yr old and her mom, as we were all drinking (even the 17yr old) and everyone knows things are way funnier after you've had a few mojitos. Never made it to the disco inferno... as me and the hubby had better things to do around 11pm, so we missed a lot of those types of things. I'm sure it was fun for those party-goers.
Day 6: Sea: If my failing memory serves me correctly, this is the day we decided to try the MDR for breakfast. It was pretty good. I was seriously missing my babies by this point and my hubby was rolling his eyes at me wistfully cooing to the baby at the table next to us. I might have been one of the few people speedwalking off the ship at debarkation because I was so eager to see my children... nothing like a vacation from your kids to make you appreciate them! ? That day, we played mini-golf on the ship. Ok, I cheated a little, and STILL lost to my husband. That's ok -- I bought him lunch at Johnny Rockets with my SeaPass connected to his credit card. ;) Also, I did have the chance to check out the medical facilities on the ship, and since I haven't read anyone's review detailing their experience I will tell you mine. Ok, I'm allergic to hazelnuts. Don't worry -- I didn't eat any that I knew of (despite 3 near-misses at Giovanni's Table, 150 Central Park, and Chops on the last night), but I broke out in hives somehow anyway. They were quickly alleviated with a super-sized shot of some kind of cortisol/steroid junk in my arm. It was good stuff, because by dinner the spots had disappeared! I can tell you right now, the ship doesn't take your insurance - even if it's Aetna. They charge at least $162 for a simple office visit like mine. My visit totaled $170, which means they gave me the shot and pills for a bargain.
It was worth it, because I got to see the Come Fly With Me show that night. Nice show, and not to be missed. JJ's brother and sister missed it, since they are newlyweds... they spent a lot of time during the cruise in their stateroom reading the Cruise Compass! ;) Even though we had reservations, we made the mistake of showing up only 15mins prior to the show (which is too late for good seats) and we got great seats with a premium view of a fat pole. Ugh. So, we were the goofballs leaning left and right to get a look at the stage during the show. Oh well. Too bad I didn't take a picture of how spectacular our view wasn't. Sorry, guys. "Epic fail", as my 3yr old would say.
Day 7: Sea: We began the day by eating breakfast at Johnny Rockets. Buyer beware: Orange juice at this venue is not free for breakfast, despite the Windjammer and MDR offering it up for free (I think I remember it being free at those venues in the morning -- correct me if I'm wrong). After eating, we met at the Aqua Theater with our brother and sister-in-law for our All-Access Tour. Like in other reviews, I will say this was well worth the moolah, and try it if you feel it is something you would like to do on vacation. What other time will you get to hang out on the bridge of the world's largest cruise ship? It's not for everyone, so skip it if you feel it would not be your thing. The ship was rocking a bit during our tour, and my sister-in-law got a bit sea sick and retired to her room afterwards with a Dramamine. Hubby, his brother, and I all tried Izumi for lunch, and it was fairly good. They do an abbreviated menu for lunch, consisting of the sushi/nigiri and we each had two rolls. My crispy shrimp and rainbow rolls were wonderful. I can certainly recommend this venue. But, if you try the edamame, eat just the little peas inside, not the shell on the outside. Brother-in-law and I learned this the hard way, while my hubby (who'd been stationed in Korea and had extensive knowledge of Asian food of all varieties) cackled evilly at us chewing and chewing and chewing!
After lunch, I checked out the Captains Corner and my hubby went to blow all $900 he was up on black at the roulette table. It hit red... way to go. My hubby and I spent some time together in the solarium pool while his brother went to check on his wife. We later turned in our iphones and made sure we got any other end-of-cruise business settled. Later, my sister-in-law was feeling better in time for us all to enjoy a scrumptious steak at Chops. The filets were wonderful, and the last bottle in the wine packages was good to the last drop!