As it got closer to the sail date, I was lucky enough to get invited to a 2 night sailing pre pre inaugural sailing now turning my cruise into 13 nights.
As with the Oasis of the Seas, the boarding process is a breeze. It took all over 10 minutes to go through security, check in, get the room key, take your embarkation picture and get on the ship. You do not want to miss the embarkation picture, as this ship has facial recognition and you can get your photo snapped anywhere on the ship and it will end up in your own photo album easily located for you to view or purchase.
We were handed a welcome glass of champagne as soon as we boarded and were in awe of the beauty and design of the ship. At each elevator around the ship, there is a flat panel touch screen which has a room finder, things to do around the ship, restaurant guide, etc. If you type in your cabin number, it will give you directions with a map giving you the shortest route back to the cabin.
There are many dining venues around the ship all with beautiful preparation and display. The staff has been extremely friendly and helpful in getting us acclimated to the ship.
We went to the ice show called "How to train your dragon" and you are up close and personal with the skaters. My recommendation is always get to any of the shows about ½ hour prior to the start of the show to get your choice of seats. You are allowed to prebook your shows on line. 10 minutes before the start of the show, they open the seating up to the general public to let anyone that didn't make a reservation come in. You are only allowed to prebook the show once to give everyone a chance to see all the shows.
Food in the dining room has been excellent. The chicken in the chicken Marsala was as moist as it could be and the fillet of beef was like butter.
One afternoon we decided to eat a "Johnny Rockets" and there is a $4.95 cover charge which was well worth it. It is a typical old fashion diner with mouth watering burgers and the best onion rings I have ever tasted. When you first walk into the diner you are greeted with a shout out from all the waiters. While you are eating, the waiters breakout in a song production. Do not miss this.
Tonight we decided to eat at one of the specialty restaurants called 150 Central Park. There is a surcharge of $35.00 per person. I did not realize that it was a fixed menu and there are no choices to be made. However it is a 6 course meal and it is displayed magnificently. I opted to have one of the specialty martinis which I saw Kathy Lee and Hoda have on their show. This is the only restaurant on board the ship that has this particular martini. It has basil, sour mix, cucumber and grey goose vodka. The drink was delicious but I should have asked the price as it was $15.00. Most martinis's cost around $7 to 8.
The bread is served with sweet butter and 6 different types of saIt and I ended up eating too much bread. One of the salts taste like bar-b-que, one tasted like eggs, one tasted like sage. It was the first time I ever ate flavored salt and each course was delectable and the blend of flavoring was beyond belief. The courses were unusual with a sweet potato veloute soup, duck egg roll, sea bass and short ribs of beef with filet of beef and Swiss chard. The last course was a chocolate raspberry mouse, served with a caramel ice cream. I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and the food however; my husband and our friends were not thrilled. Although they appreciated the tastes and the preparation, they thought it was over priced and they would have preferred to make their own choices. The bill for 4 people and 2 rounds of drinks was over $200.00. You really don't expect to get a bill that high on a cruise ship. I am glad that I went but I don't know that I would go back.
During the week there is a parade called "Move it". The show is through the Royal Promenade. We did not get here early and although we were standing, we didn't have the best view in the house. However, since we are on this ship for 3 different sailings back to back, the 2nd time they did the show, I went about 1 hr 15 minutes early, got myself a table by Sorrento's Pizzeria, brought my book, had some coffee and had an up front and person view. The "street got crowded" but I had prime viewing. During the hour it is a fantastic time to people watch and this is the only time it felt crowded on the ship, as 5000 people want to see the parade. Dreamworks does it right and there were all the dreamworks characters including Shrek and Fiona. Fiona is the Godmother of this ship. You cannot even believe you are aboard a ship with the production of this parade. People young and old love this parade and were cheering. At the end there is confetti flying.
One night we ate at Chops Grill specialty restaurant and athough my fillet mignon was delicious and tender my friends had a veal chop that was full of fat. They had many waiters however our drinks were slow in getting to us and the waiter didn't bring back the right drinks. They never put bread on the table and although we prepaid the meal($25.00 per person) we had to pay for our drinks. When we received the bill we were charged an extra $12.00. We had been drinking the same round of drinks every night and after 10 days of being on the ship, we knew what it should cost. I told the waiter the price was wrong and he insisted that it was correct. I was more upset at principal then at the price and I took it up with Customer relations who took the $12.00 off the charge. When we ordered 2 vodka martinis the waiter rang it up as two martinis and 2 shots of vodka. Chalk it up to getting the kinks worked out on the maiden voyage.
The day that we were in Labadee,Haiti (Royal Caribbean's private island) we walked around and rented a float for $12 for the day and just bobbed around the water. Royal Caribbean puts on a bar-b-que for their passengers and not only did they have the standard franks and hamburgers, but they had lobster tails for 5,000 people. This was a real treat. On this Island you can ride a roller coaster or go zip lining ($90) and take a tram around the island. There is a little flea market area and the locals sell their crafts. Royal Caribbean is still brining in supplies to Haiti and takes up a collection on the ship to help the local economy.
Due to the fact that we were on the inaugural sailing and maiden voyage, ever night we got back to our room when got a present. One night we got inaugural sailing towels, one night tote bags, one night baseball caps, one night a cookbook, just to name a few. We loved going back to our room at night to see what treat was on our bed. Speaking of bedding, the European bedding was so lush and luxurious; I never wanted to get out of bed. I loved getting into the bed at night. The mattress was like sleeping on clouds.
The location of our cabin was near the rear elevator. This turned out to be a great location as the boardwalk and dining room is towards the rear of the ship as well as the sports deck. We were easily able to get to Central Park and the Royal Promenade so I definitely think cabins located near the rear elevator are much better than being midship. The spa, gym and adults only pool are located at the front. Although I did go to the gym and the spa I went to the dining room to eat a lot more.
One of the very cool things to do on this ship is send a video postcard. They have a recording studio where you can go in and record yourself and send it to about 6 people. There is no charge and I recommend that you send yourself a copy and this way you can forward it to whoever you want to. I must have gone in there about 7 times.
I was too chicken to go zip lining but thoroughly enjoyed watching other people do it. There was a 90 year old man who did it and I almost got the courage after seeing him do it, but I can't take the initial 1st step off with a drop of 10 floors.
By the boardwalk area there is a full size carousel and a couple of times during the week they do a family festival for the kids, with clowns, balloons, face painting and all kinds of activities for the kids.
Our friends who traveled with us have been on over 25 Princess cruises and the last time why had gone on Royal Caribbean was 13 years ago on the Nordic Empress. I finally got them to go on this ship and they were truly in awe of this ship. It is like nothing you have ever seen aboard a cruise ship.
Every night in Central Park they had a musician playing and you can actually stroll through the park and sit on a bench with birds chirping. They just thought of everything.
Several times during the week they had 3 D movies along with the usually things aboard a ship like a men's belly flop contest, trivia, name that tune, line dancing, salsa lessons, etc.
The disembarkation process was so well organized that we were off the ship by 7:30am. You are assigned an area to wait in, and the flat panel screen tells you the actual time within 15 minutes that you will be called. It was very efficient.
In closing, I would not hesitate to take the whole family on board this ship. It is a great ship for multi generations and I can't wait to go on this ship again.