Cruise aboard Oasis of the Seas, 16th October 2010 - Western Caribbean.
This is an account of our 2010 holiday, when in October we spent 16 wonderful days, split between 7 days in Kissimmee in a wonderful Villa, owned by our friend Mike Davies, and then 7 nights aboard the amazing Oasis of the Seas on a Western Caribbean Itinerary, followed by a post cruise stay in Fort Lauderdale.
Ever since my wife Karen, and I, experienced our very first cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas way back in November 2004, we were hooked for good.
It was not a holiday that we had ever dreamed or thought of doing, but we were walking past the travel agent's in our home town looking for something a little bit different, when we saw this holiday advertised for 7 nights doing the Med, visiting a different place every day for a sum of £594 per person full board, including RCCL Flights from Glasgow, (knowing what I know now, they must have been throwing it out the door at cost even then) Bargain! We thought so we went ahead and booked it!
Even then the Splendour of the Seas, sitting at no more than 70,000 G.T. was gigantic and a sight to behold, and once we embarked couldn't believe our eyes! This ship had everything, 2 pools, (one indoor), endless entertainment, free flowing food and four star attention to detail.
At the Captain's address on formal night, he welcomed us to his ship and amongst other things disgustedly informed us that Royal Caribbean's Flagship Voyager Class ship, once the largest cruise ship in the world, got its accolade ripped from them by the audacity of Cunard building of the 150,000 G.T. Queen Mary 2. he then said with cheeky grin that not to worry because Royal Caribbean had an ace up it's sleeve with commencement of a 160,000 G.T. cruise ship build for completion in mid 2006, and maybe expect a project of mind blowing proportions further into the future, of course at this time this meant nothing to us.
Combine that with visiting a different port and 3 countries during our 7 day adventure and it was a holiday made in heaven as we don't like staying put in the one place.
But the memory that will stay with me forever was the disembarkation morning, during breakfast and when everyone was mulling around waiting to get off, you could see genuine sadness every person's eyes. Nobody wanted the holiday to end and everyone was reluctant to go home. This is when it struck me how good cruising was, and how I wanted to find out more about it.
But it wasn't until 2007 that we experienced cruising again. This was the year that we got married and decided that this was how we wanted to spend our honeymoon, and this time it was Navigator of the Seas. I am a bit of a techno geek and I wanted to try a bigger ship and heard that this 138,000 G.T. monster somehow had a street running through the middle of it! "How the hell can that happen?" I thought to myself.
We had our cruise later on in the year in October from Southampton doing the Canaries and flew down from Glasgow. As we approached the dock this, 'Titanic piece of engineering' came into our range of vision and everyone on the coach just 'gasped'.
There was no sinking feeling though as we boarded the ship. My first memory was embarking, and going up the aft lifts to Deck 8. I got out and was just taking everything in when I looked to my left I just stopped in my tracks. Before me was the Royal Promenade and it was massive and just something that should not be present on a ship! I just stood there gobsmacked and said "WOW!"
So, it was these 2 instances that got me interested in Cruise Ships and in particular large and innovative ships at that. When on the Navigator we heard talk from the likes of the Dining Room Waiters and various other staff on the ship buzzing about this brand new and amazing massive ship that Royal Caribbean had in the pipelines.
I came off that cruise excited about everything cruising and want to find out much, much more about different cruise lines, what their ships had to offer and sample as many as I could.
Not long after that, the first publicity photo's appeared of this "Oasis of the Seas" 225,000 G.T. of ship with an open area down the middle of the ship with INSIDE Balconies and a Real Park growing in it. I couldn't hold my excitement and proclaimed there and then that we would be on that ship,' one day...
After it got launched in December 2008, I kept an eye out on the fares hoping that I would get even an inside stateroom at the right price, but combined with the flights, it was an absolute fortune.
It wasn't until July of 2009 that I found a C1 Inside Balcony Stateroom, looking over Central Park for a steal - it worked out around £550 per person, cruise only. Better than a mediocre Inside Cabin, so we snapped it up.
This was for cruise only, so I had to package my own flights and accommodation. By this time I had coaxed 3 other friends to come with us to share this experience. To make this the best holiday ever for the 6 of us, I had an idea where to spend the first week in Orlando to visit Disney and Universal Theme Parks, then drive down to Fort Lauderdale to join the Oasis on the second week of our holiday, and this is exactly what we done.
The first week we spent the week at the lovely Mike and Lesley Davies's beautiful Villa in Kissimmee. This was a perfect villa and a great way to enhance our holiday, because between the six of us, we got an extra week of our Florida holiday for around £160* pp, and that included car rental for the week. This I would recommend to anyone who would like to cruise from Florida in the future.
The first week was amazing, but the second week was what I had been waiting for, for about 2 years, and all my expectations were about to be realised.......
SHIP VISIT / CRUISE - OASIS OF THE SEAS,
7NT WESTERN CARIBBEAN DEP 16TH October 2010 Labadee Haiti, Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico
When we drove near the ship, the first thing we could see was the AFT, with the open area where you could see the inside balconies and part of the Aqua Theater.
I was immediately wowed, and bearing in mind that our three friends were all first time cruisers, you could imagine the sense of excitement in the car. Of course, my wife Karen's first comment about the ship was, "It doesnae look that big! I thought it would have been bigger than that!" it really does take a lot to exceed her expectations, but once she boarded i'm sure she changed her mind!
The purpose built embarkation building at Port Everglades was amazing, and it lived up to its boast that it could check you in and have you boarded within 15 minutes - and bearing in mind there were 5701 passengers sailing on this cruise, that is quite some feat!
Then it was time to board the ship! Where do I start to describe this amazing feat of engineering?
Well, let's try and start from the bottom and make our way up to the top!
Deck 3 is where the innovations start with the Studio B Ice Rink, and following the lead from the Voyager and Freedom Class, Royal Caribbean Ships being the only ships at sea that can offer this. Again wonderful productions were offered and revered by everyone.
As we go up a deck to 4, to Entertainment Place, we have exciting venues such as the largest Casino I have ever seen at sea, Blaze, the nightclub for us young ones to dance away to the wee sma' hours, Jazz on 4, which as the name suggests offers the very best of Jazz Music, and then we have, Comedy Live, this is Royal Caribbean's new venture to bring 'well known' American comedians on board for a laugh a minute entertainment.
Unfortunately, unless you are American, I very much doubt that you will find any of the comedians funny. American humour just isn't the same as anyone from the UK. Myself, Stuart and Tam went here as a prelude for a "boys night out", but we failed to generate a laugh from the comedians the whole time we were there. Some of the other passengers however, were a scream! There was one woman sitting not far from us absolutely peeing herself and slapping her hand on the table. Obviously she was American..
Deck 5 now, and the Royal Promenade, wider and more expansive than ever. In here you will find the usual features, such as Guest Relations, the English Globe and Atlas Pub (where you are allowed to smoke in and is very smelly), Champagne Bar and a host of other familiar venues. New venues such as the On Air Sports Bar, which has an abundance of Plasma Screens with major Sporting Viewings on, and at night it turns into a Karaoke Mecca for all those budding singers!
Also in Deck 5 is the amazing Rising Tide Bar. this breathtaking innovation is a bar that slowly rises from Deck 5, up 3 Decks to 8 and into Central Park, which is simply mind-boggling in itself that it is in a ship in the first place, but I will get to this a little bit later on after I take you to ANOTHER amazing part of the ship, which is the Boardwalk
I am mindful that I have used the word, 'amazing' quite a lot in this account of the ship, but believe me, there is no other expletive to describe this simply unbelievable piece of engineering.
Deck 6 Aft, and again, the Boardwalk is another 'WOW' in this tour of the Oasis of the Seas. This area represents a traditional olde style seaside style boardwalk, complete with a Seafood Shack, Ice Cream Parlour, Johnny Rockets™ Burger Bar, Sweetie and Candy Floss shop and Smile photo shop where you can dress up in hundreds of different costumes and the photo is finished in the old fashioned Sepia or Black and White formats. Really good fun! There is also another first at sea, Carousel Ride to which I do admit to having a shot of, much to the embarrassment of my companions.
Also on this Deck we have Royal Caribbean's Signature Rock Climbing Walls, but of course, on the Oasis there are 2 and are considerably higher than any of the other ship classes in the fleet. But if you tilt your head skywards there is another 'At Sea' first - the Zip Line. From Deck 15 you can fly diagonally over the Boardwalk with nothing below you except fresh air. Totally unbelievable!
You think that is all that there is to be said about the Boardwalk? Then think again, because I haven't got to the Showcase Feature, (well on this deck anyway), the Aqua Theater.
The 700-seat Aqua Theater is found on deck 6, at the aft end of the ship. The Aqua Theater has both a daytime water show called "Splish Splash", and a night time show called "Oasis of Dreams". Its 17-foot, 9-inch deep pool. Three pool lifts, lighting, and underwater cameras enhance the shows. The divers use 3 different locations--the 3 meter springboards and two spots on the huge towers--one at 10 meters and the other at 18 meters. Guests can watch the show live and on its two huge video screens. This is one of the best and awe-inspiring performances that I have ever seen at sea, and anywhere else for that matter!
In addition to the water shows, the Aqua Theater has dancing fountains with four types of nozzles, including one nicknamed "gargoyle" that shoots high enough to hit the Crown & Anchor RCI logo over the pool. It also hosts the famous 'Belly Flop' Competition, and if you can imagine in excess of 700 people watching ordinary cruisers fight for the coveted title, it really is a hilarious sight to behold!
Moving on now to Deck 8 any yet another amazing Royal Caribbean and Cruise Line first - Central Park. The Central Park neighbourhood is a beautiful outdoor park area. Flanked on both sides by 324 inward-facing balcony staterooms overlooking the park, shady Central Park features winding pathways, flower gardens, quiet seating, and tropical trees.
On our cruise, as we were leaving Haiti, a massive thunderstorm of biblical proportions was occurring, and it was just surreal that we were in our balcony, overlooking the Inside the ship, with rain pouring down onto a tropical park, 3 decks down.
In addition to the excitement of the park, it was also a place to relax and dine, with speciality restaurants such as Chops Grille, 150 Central Park and Giovanni's Table. But also there are bars to just kick back and relax like the Trellis Bar, Park Cafe and Vintages. And if you are in a buying mood, the Central Park is also the location of the Parkside Gallery, full of fine arts, and also for the discerning lady, the famous COACH Brand has a shop full of the latest fashions.
The next major feature of Oasis of the Seas is the Pool Areas of Deck 15, which boasts 4 different Poolside and relaxing experiences.
Firstly we have the Main Pool, which is pretty much a standard looking area, and to what you would recognise on any RCCL ship.
Then we have the Beach Pool, which is quirky in the way that one side of the pool elevates up from the pool edge to the deckchair area, effectively submerging the first 2 rows chair legs in water for the 'beach effect', and it did look pretty cool.
The third pool area was the, 'Sports Pool'. Here was where entertainment such as water volleyball, basketball etc, and water aerobics were held for the health freaks, and was enjoyed by many on our cruise. Again another very clever option.
Lastly, the H2O Zone, where with our 3 year old we spent the most time. Calum absolutely loved playing here, and we were here at least a couple of hours every day where he had a number of water features to play with, including a large whirlpool where water jets propelled the occupants around for hours on end, and also water guns to where I was terrorised frequently with him, and other children spraying me with water. Of course I had to join in the fun and retaliate, and I didn't get escorted from the premises so that was a bonus!
But in addition to all that at the Aft of the ship, we had not 1 but 2 Flowriders! This was the first time I had been on a ship with such apparatus and it was great fun. Being a novice at both surfing and boogie boarding I was regularly unceremoniously thrown off the boards into the surf, but it really was the best fun I have ever had on a cruise ship!
As there are a lot of positives about this amazing cruise ship, but it has to be said that for a ship of this size there are bound to be some negatives. And the main one for me is the fact that you have to pre-book every headline show on the ship. Everything from "Hairspray" to the Ice Show or even down to the Comedy Club, everything has to be booked via the booking dashboard on RCCL's website. Which in theory is a good idea, but when you have booked to watch Hairspray at 1430hrs on a Sea Day when the sun is splitting the sky and you are relaxed at the pool, this gives you no motivation to get packed up, dressed and make your way down to a dark theatre to watch even a show as spectacular as this showpiece. In my opinion these shows should be shown at traditional times at night when you are ready to see such a production.
At this point I am going to end my ship review. There are surely a raft of other things that I have not mentioned or even brushed upon the subject. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any further information. But in the meantime I have taken many pictures to give you visual appreciation of this wonderful ship to complement the review of above. Please take a look and I will be happy to hear your feedback!
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