A relaxing seven-day trip! Our trip began in Tallahassee on October 6th as we drove to Gainesville to attend the Florida/LSU football game (what a game!). After the game we drove to Orlando and stayed at the Marriott Fairfield inn near the Orlando airport (a 45-minute drive to the port). We arrived at the port around 11:00 am and, for the convenience, we parked in the port garage - $136 for the week. Security and Check-in were efficient and within 15 minutes we were in the waiting area to board the ship. We were in the waiting area about 15 minutes and were in the Windjammer having lunch by 12:00 noon. As always, the paella was excellent!
This was our fourth cruise on the Oasis class ships and our second on the Oasis of the Seas. The Oasis of the Seas is a beautiful ship and was clean and well maintained, although the ship is beginning to show wear on the carpets and furniture and on the pool deck. Since this was fall break for several southeastern states, there were a lot of families and kids on this cruise.
We stayed in cabin 10209, a veranda room overlooking Central Park. As part of the package for staying in a veranda room overlooking Central Park, we received a complimentary bottle of wine and a lunch in Giovanni’s. The lunch at Giovanni’s was excellent. The room was well maintained and outstanding service was provided by our Cabin Attendant (Debra Jack)! The only minor issues we had were that our luggage arrived after dinner and our safe would not open the first evening; we called to have this remedied and they addressed the issue within 20 minutes.
In the past, I have been critical of the food in the Main Dinning Room, but this time we found the food to be very good. The menus provided many desirable options. To increase efficiency, the bread is now in bowls on the table (not served to you) and when you place your order you select all courses, including dessert. Steven (waiter) and Alexander (asst. waiter) provided outstanding service. While the first couple of nights we were the only people at a table of six, two ladies joined us at the table later in the week. The highlight of our dining experience in the main dining room was the food and great conversation with our table mates. We did elect to purchase a speciality dinning package (three dinners for $85 plus gratuities per person). Two dinners at the Chops Grill were excellent (great food and service). The third night we went to Sabor and the food was very good, especially the guacamole.
The entertainment on the ship was very good. Our favorite shows were the Headliner Show featuring Earl Turner, the aerial show - Come Fly With Me, the aqua show - Oasis of Dreams, and the ice show - Frozen in Time. The Cats production show was disappointing as it was hard to follow and the too-loud background music made it hard to understand the singers.
Also disappointing was the sports channels that were offered on the ship, especially on Saturday when only two college football games were shown. Both ESPN channels featured European sports. Since most of the people on the ship were from the southeastern states, a lot of people were disappointed that no SEC football games were available
Below are a few of the things that we enjoyed the most and a few tips to use on the ship:
Favorite sweets: coconut cookies, oatmeal cookies, carrot cake, and the Austrian fruit breakfast bread.
Favorite places to enjoy the pool or escape the crowd to read or take a nap: on Deck 17 in the Solarium near the bar under the shade.
Favorite way to start the day: On the treadmill in the gym as the sun comes up or on the walking track on Deck 5. We also enjoy sitting in the chairs on the back of the ship on Deck 5 when the ship is leaving port.
Beverage Package: We purchased the soda package. The self-serve Coke machines provide endless drink options and the machines are located in the Windjammer (four), two on the Promenade, and a single machine on Deck 15 in the Arcade. Many passengers do not know about the machine on Deck 15, unless you go into the Arcade.
Best way to avoid the wait for elevators before dinner: Either take the stairs or come down early for dinner and have a drink in the many bars or food areas on Deck 5.
An excellent port. Easy to get to the port and ample parking on-site.
Our first stop was St. Maarten. Since we have been here many times before, we chose to take the water taxi ($7 round trip) into town to do some shopping. While the island has recovered from the hurricane, there were still numerous buildings needing repair. We walked down Front Street to shop at Regency near the old church. Prior to the storm they were located just passed the McDonalds, but after the storm the McDonalds did not reopen. We have been shopping at Regency for years and always enjoy talking to the owner. They also have great prices on cologne.
Since we were only inport a few hours, and had to return to the ship by 1:30 p.m., we opted to just walk around Old San Juan near the ship. We really enjoyed visiting with the local street artist along many of the streets near the port. While we were heading back to the ship and looking lost, a local person offered some advice, telling us that San Juan was built on a hill and that we just needed to walk down hill to the ship.
We have been to Labadee many times, so we elected to stay on the ship and enjoy a relaxing day on the pool deck. We basically had the ship to ourselves with most passengers going ashore to jet ski, zip line, parasail, and enjoy the beach.