ARRIVAL AND BOARDING
Flew in from the Northeast and arrived at ship at 12:45pm. This is the first time we have not arrived a day earlier and stayed a day later; we will be returning to that plan from here on out. Seamless boarding, minutes. No lines. The next thing we knew, we were on Deck 16 for a quick look see. Jaw dropping and at first a bit overwhelming. Walked around the deck really quite stunned. Walked into the Solarium - went OMG; three tiered from under the Bridge to the helipad. So many chair, cabana, pool, tub options; sun or shade; breeze or not. Walked to the back of the ship and up to the Windjammer.
Near all elevators, dining, etc. there a touch screens to select Dining, Shows, etc. You touch Dining and all the restaurants appear with "capacity filled currently status" and another touch for the menu! Same as for shore excursions, shows, what's happening now, etc. 100% A+ innovation. And, it is in your room on the TV too but you have to use the keyboard.
Windjammer Buffet - We are not big eaters; like taste and variety. Last year Celebrity Solstice Ocean Cafe was an 8 of 10 with the Bellagio in Vegas a 10. On Oasis, although we walked around three times looking for two seats, we couldn't help but wonder where the "rest of the food was." Never went there again. We then realized that this was not the Solstice, there must be other options to the buffet, and we found them throughout the week. Others that we met during the cruise had similar sentiments. Alternatives to Windjammer: First place, Park Place Cafe. Second place, Solarium cafe (although same food generally as Windjammer without the massive crush of people), Third place, all the free eat establishments on Deck 5 Promenade. Biggest disappointment in alternatives was the empty Boardwalk eateries (JR and Seafood Shack) looked great, but why the heck pay for burgers and fries or fried clams and coleslaw? No one did; what a shame; it can't be cheaper to feed people at the alternate complimentary dining. Huge mistake by RCL and money is not an issue with us. It was the concept. And it was dead empty all the time.
Main Dinning - This is the number one reason why the Windjammer is downscaled considerably; main dining/MTD is so much better than we expected and it was better than Solstice. Our waiter, Peter, and the crew in his area on level 5 dead left as you enter are not to be missed. You won't get him or that area if you don't book a MTD by mid-week. We did MTD and basically walked in at will; we eat later than most and spent 5-6pm in the Solarium almost all to ourselves - the best of the best secret with only a dozen other couples. The best part of everyday.
Specialty Dining - Chops was excellent, although it took an hour to tell us they didn't have the bottle of wine we ordered. Other than that (just bring another comparable we thought, or a glass while we waited) it was very good, service, food and ambiance. Giovanni's Table was "the best." We really had no idea how we could eat after having the anti-pasta appetizer; we've never had prosciutto that melted, salami variety, etc. even half as good as this was even in Little Italy when we visit Boston. They also knew we weren't big eaters (there are lots of them) and they slowed down our meal so we could relax. TOP SERVICE and treatment. Late dessert for my wife, tops.
Stand Up Comedy - A+, not to be missed so you better reserve. So many disappointed people all week that couldn't get in. Two HBO rated comedians with a host, 20min per; gut wrenching laughing the entire time. Bought their CD's after; they were even sold out by weeks end.
Frozen in Time - A, not to be missed so you better reserve. So many disappointed people all week that couldn't get in. Small ice rink, a lot going on and gets better and better. Early shows have less "falls" as the ice gets really cut and mushy. But great.
Come Fly With Me - A, Really well done.
Headliner Showtime - A+, Earl was great.
Oasis of Dreams - C, sorry. Great design, ambiance, everything but a "theme" to the show. Way too much sync-swimming. Could have used a "slapstick clown" or an entire makeover to more music, lights, etc. Really disappointed in show, but the theatre is ready for the right one. Bring a towed if you have nice clothes, depending on the wind during the day you need to sit on a towel or you will have soot-butt the rest of the night (be careful on formal night especially).
Hairspray - A-, really well done. For its age, very well done.
We had a Junior Suite on Deck 11 which is midship (and the ship is in 4 quarters versus 3 thirds sections). Since we spend so much time in the Solarium or Deck 15, 16 next to the Solarium we would probably move forward.
The room was great, clean, well attended. Hints, for every door everywhere when you think pull, push and vice versa; getting into the tub requires a high step big time; the vacu flush is directly in the middle of your lower back "behind" the lifted up seat (contortionist heaven); you can brush your teeth while "seated" so to speak; and finally, as you look up to the right of the door heading out of the bathroom it says WATCH YOUR STEP - then you trip on the 2 inch riser.
Your TV is your automated access to the status of everything on the ship, shore, dining, etc. Stunning for the technically savvy.
POOLS, HOT TUBS AND LOUNGING
If you can't find a pool you like, a hot tub you like, a theme you like, people you like, service you like on this ship - stay home, it's you! The Solarium from an hour prior to 1st dining to 7pm is "to die for."
Minigolf, basketball, etc. pretty simple. The FLOW RIDER IS ABSOLUTELY NOT TO BE MISSED - either to try or JUST TO WATCH. I tried three times with my wife filming every wipe out with such happiness and grin. I wish I had known about the lessons at the beginning of the week; I would have done one first and visited here daily for an hour or so. Hanging out on Deck 5 Promenade after dinner or in the evening was interesting people watching with musical entertainment and was almost an activity.
Labbadee, Haiti - Very nice improvement from what other RCL's told us. Could be stunning, but it is not. It is definitely OK, the zip line is great to do and watch from the beach, the mountain coaster has incredible views, but the feel of the Caribbean is missing and the condition / cleanliness of all of the chairs, etc. is unacceptable. Other than the Oasis crew, the local service is really really uninspiring. And who got the deal on the ORANGE PAINT and used it on EVERY BUILDING?
SUMMARY EXPECTATIONS - From Overwhelmed to Quite Comfortable
We went from thinking it was too big, the passengers to old and some of the rude people to often to being quite a home, enjoying all of the passengers and just avoiding the rude people (just walk away and move to another spot).
Wouldn't have got off if we didn't have to. Yep, looking at the fall itineraries for Southern or Eastern.