Category Archives: Western Caribbean

Oasis of the Seas–First Impressions

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I was quite excited to set sail onboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas.  It is my first time sailing on on the largest cruise ship in the world.  I have to admit, I was a bit leery of sailing with 5400 other passengers and 2100 crew – that’s a lot of people on one cruise ship!  Plus it’s Royal Caribbean – an exciting product in the cruise industry.  The Oasis of the Seas and practically twin sister Allure of the Seas are the pride of their fleet, so my expectations were quite high.  It’s always one thing being docked along side one of these mega ships and totally different when you are pulling up to give your luggage to the porter.  My very first reaction was – that’s it?  I expected this colossal behemoth of a ship, but instead found an appealing large ship just beaconing for me to come on board.

We walked off the gangway and immediately onto the Promenade deck – a flurry of activity for many cruise ships.  This ship has several fun bars, smaller eateries and many shops on this level.  One of the favorites – the Rising Bar – which literally rises a few floors, has a fun vantage point while having a drink.  The staterooms were ready at 1 pm, so we decided to have a quick look before checking out the ship.

We normally love staying in a balcony with a view of the ocean – but we decided to check out one of the inner balconies for a change.  Our particular balcony overlooked the Boardwalk neighborhood of the ship.  We were on Deck 8 – the same as Central Park and several of the specialty dining restaurants.  Our room looked as comfortable as a cruise cabin can be.  The décor is neutral and contemporary.  The closet was rather large, and the bathroom worked well for one person and could accommodate two.  I’m not always in agreement with cruise lines in the amount of people who could occupy space.  I’ll be honest – this is a small space for any more than two people.  It’s one thing if the kids are small, but with teens – forget about it – get a second room if you spend any time in your stateroom other than sleeping, you’ll be happy you did.

William, our stateroom attendant from Nicaragua checked in with us during the afternoon.  He was extremely pleasant and quickly procured me a feather pillow upon request and asked if we needed anything in particular.  He was genuinely friendly and quite accommodating.  We set out to grab a little bite to eat in the Windjammer Marketplace on Deck 16.

We had 12 elevators to use in the aft part of the ship.  The nice part about the design and layout of the Oasis is that everything is pretty much in the middle part of the ship.  Very little is completely forward and nothing, except for the Aqua Theater and sports zone is completely in the open aft of the ship.  The down side to this, I quickly realized – I like to look out at the ocean, and all those cool common places do not have a view of the ocean anywhere.  They are all on the interior of the ship – with balcony staterooms on the outside.  So if you are like us, traveling in an inside balcony – your only views of the ocean are way up top or completely to the aft of the ship.  It’s a personal thing – for me – not a good thing.  I quickly realize that since I’m an ocean girl – this will be a challenge all week.

We make our way to the Windjammer Marketplace which features cuisine from several countries in a buffet format.  The plates and glasses are plastic (a pet peeve of mine), and the food is broken up into several smaller mini-buffets highlighting a type of food – Asian, Deli, Grill, etc…  The variety is good and the food is fresh. I personally am a bit of a food snob, so I give the food a solid B, since it tastes better than it looks.  Everything I tried was fresh, cooked perfectly, and flavorful.  What surprised me was how small this area was.  With 5400 and potentially at maximum 6296 passengers, this area was going to be a challenge with crowds throughout the cruise.

After a quick lunch, we decided to get our bearings and walked around the ship.  First off – selecting a wi-fi package so that we could work while away – yes, this is actually work for us!  We strolled through the middle of the ship on deck 8 – Central Park one of Oasis’ several neighborhoods.  We decided to sign up for a specialty dining restaurant package.  We chose the one from 150 Central Park – The Oasis of the Seas signature James Beard restaurant.  Rather than paying for just a few specialty restaurants, the package pretty much gave us one free – ours included 150 Central Park, Chops and Giovanni’s.  Packages were available for every restaurant – and I definitely recommend it on the first day (discounted).

We toured the Boardwalk neighborhood – where the Aqua Theater, Johnny Rockets, the Seafood Shack and several smaller eateries were.  We made our way back to our room in hopes that our luggage was there ready to unpack.  That’s where the waiting began – I’ll get back to that.  My husband is never at ease until the luggage has arrived.

It was time for the guest assembly drill, so we headed down to the main dining room which was our staging area.  We did not need life vests – those would be given to us there in an emergency.  That totally makes sense – why would you go somewhere – like your room if you did not need to in an emergency? We were checked in by seapass card – the cards you carry with you to charge and enter your room.  I was rather curious if these drills had changed much since the Costa disaster.  What differed was the attention span of the guests.  The last large ship we sailed on (4200 passengers) we were also in a lounge with a video drill – all the guests spoke during it and the crew did nothing to discourage it.  The difference – you could hear a pin drop onboard the Oasis – all eyes were attuned to the video drill.  Unfortunately, since our drill was in the dining room, I have no idea where our actual boat will be for our section in case of an emergency.

We returned to our room and still had no luggage.  William let us know that it could take up to 8 pm which would be a challenge for us since we had a dinner reservation at 150 Central Park at 7:30.  We decided to check out guest services and security just in case our luggage was there.  Security had all the bags for guests who brought liquor, beverages and irons in their suitcases.  Ours were not there, nor were they in Guest Services.  William and his supervisor let us know that our luggage was onboard, they just were not sure where.  We did not want to go to the most upscale specialty restaurant in our day clothes, so they graciously changed our reservation for us last minute and we decided to grab dinner in Johnny Rockets – not wanting to go into the main dining room either in flip flops.  Our meal was tasty, as expected and had the added ambiance of everyone milling about the boardwalk.  We walked around the promenade after dinner and decided to see if we finally had clothes for the rest of our trip.  Success!  William finally found found our luggage by searching deck to deck a little before nine.  It was on deck 11.  Now Michael could finally sleep.

Our room had been turned down and after catching a little of the Oasis Dreams High Diving show in the Aqua Theater from our balcony, we decided to turn in and get ready for a busy first day at sea.

Overall, my first impressions of the world’s largest cruise ship were good.  It certainly didn’t feel like 5400 passengers were sailing with me, but the rest of the week would let me know if that would remain the consensus.  The elevators seemed to always be full, and the open areas were busy at all times.  I am looking forward to trying out several activities and getting to know this beautiful cruise ship a bit better.

Are you interested in seeing lots of pictures of the various areas onboard the Oasis of the Seas?  Click here to see our Facebook Page and check out our Photo Galleries.  Be sure to like us too!

All photos taken by Ingrid Blackburn. 

Interested in setting sail onboard the worlds largest cruise ship – the Oasis of the Seas or sister ship Allure of the Seas?  Click here to contact us.  We would be happy to help you plan your trip onboard Royal Caribbean’s pride of their fleet.

5 Reasons to Cruise Aboard … Allure of the Seas

Aerial Allure of the Seas

I love sailing on a cruise ship.  There’s just something peaceful and inspiring about being out on the open water.  Cruising today is not what it once was.  With mega ships like Royal Caribbean’s Allure and Oasis of the Seas, NCL’s Epic, and so many more – cruising today offers everything you would want and more than you can possibly take in while afloat.

The Allure of the Seas weighs in at 225,000 tons, has 2,706 staterooms and 2,176 staff members cater to the needs of up to 6,318 guests weekly.  Allure’s 16 decks and 24 elevators whisk guests all over the ship.  You would think you could easily get lost, but not so thanks to the interactive touch screen maps found on the walls.  Although the Allure is a sister ship to the previous Oasis of the Seas, several improvements in entertainment and dining do set them apart.

Royal Caribbean has truly mastered the art of mega cruising.  That being said, here are 5 things that I absolutely love about the Allure of the Seas.

Adventure

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The Allure of the Seas has it all.  There is no shortage of activity aboard this ship.  What I love the most is that I can find plenty of nooks to sit with a glass of wine and read a book or if I want to go zip-lining (yes, you read that correctly), I can!  We all know that you can rock climb aboard all RCCL ships, but what about surfing?  Other activities include ice skating, miniature golf, basketball, and ping pong.

This is definitely the ship for teens and active families.  But what I love about it is that it caters truly to every personality.

 

Aqua Theater and FlowRiders

Neighborhoods

When mega ships began putting in promenades, malls and parks – I thought, really?  But having been on several different ships that feature these great spaces, I have definitely become a fan.  Probably one of the best things to come from spaces like these are interior balconies.  This ship has 70% balconies, largely in part to the newest type of interior staterooms.  If you are a people watcher – than this is for you.

RCI_Allure_ParkCafe_Multigen_034 Allure of the Seas Central Park

Allure of the Seas features seven different neighborhoods, but by far my favorite is Central Park.  What makes this section so great on the Allure is that I often miss the green of land, and Royal Caribbean has done a great job at capturing that spirit.  Lined by five decks of balcony staterooms, Central Park is open to the sky, has numerous trees, vines and flowering plants arranged along winding paths.  It’s the perfect space to bring a book and sit among the flowers, go shopping at several stores, or grab a bite to eat.  You can dine ‘al fresco’ at Giovanni’s Table ($15 charge) or for an upscale dining option, try Central Park ($35 charge).

Dining

With 26 restaurants and 24 hour room service to choose from, there is definitely no shortage of dining options aboard the Allure.  Of course, there’s the 3,000 person dining room, but those experiences for the most part are always fun.  What really separates cruise lines and ships from each other are the smaller establishments, many of which are an additional $25 – $35 per person.  I love dining in the specialty restaurants.

RCI_Oasis_CENTPARK_Dinner_GroupAllure of the Seas has several options that are included as well as for an additional charge.  I always look forward to dining with my husband at one of these special restaurants.  Allure offers restaurants from the casual Johnny Rockets($4.95), Izumi ($4.95) and Rita’s Cantina ($7.95) to the Samba Grille($25), Giovanni’s ($15) and Chops Grille ($25).  The most upscale restaurant is 150 Central Park ($35), which offers six courses which is in vogue in Italy.  Needless to say, not a single meal at any of these establishments will disappoint.

Loft Suites

The Allure features some of the best accommodations afloat, especially the two floor lofts.  With so many staterooms, this ship has the ability to offer several different options for suites.  My favorite are the expansive modern lofts that do not feel like you are in cruise ship stateroom.

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While the Allure has many various room types to choose from, no room can compete with the open feeling of the loft floor plan.  You can choose from three types of Loft Suites – Crown (504 sq ft), Sky (725+ sq1 ft) and Royal (1600 sq ft).  Each has a contemporary urban feel to it and has expansive 2 story windows in addition to a balcony.  You will get all the perks of being in a suite, with an unparalleled view.

Entertainment

Now I am not famous for going to all the shows onboard a cruise.  But the Allure has a level of entertainment un-matched in the cruise industry today that makes a fan even out of me.  Their Broadway like production of Chicago is spectacular.  The breathtaking high-diving feats in the Aqua Theater are mind boggling on land, let alone a cruise ship.  And of course, not to be outdone, you can attend beautifully choreographed shows on ice in Studio B as well.  This is in addition to 3D movies, breathtaking views from several bars and vistas, Jazz and Disco clubs and a comedy club.  What I love the most – entertainment to suit everyone!

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Adventures aboard Royal Caribbean’s new ship: Allure of the Seas

Cruising has changed from what you thought it was.  This month marks the second Royal Caribbean Oasis Class mega ship to arrive in Florida from the Nation of Why Not.  Besting its sister ship the Oasis of the Seas by a few millimeters, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship in its fleet, the Allure of the Seas, is now the world’s largest cruise ship.  The Allure of the Seas is 1,185 feet long, weighs 225,000 tons and 2,176 staff members will cater to the adventures of 5,400 guests each week.

You might ask what is so special about this particular cruise ship.  Well, apart from being the biggest on the seas – everything!  The Allure of the Seas has all the things you have come to expect from Royal Caribbean – great food, service, and an adventure for every individual taste and style.

For the adventurous: take in the ship from its very own zip line – a view you’ll never forget, catch a wave surfing in one of the two Flow Rider® pools,  play miniature golf on the Dunes course overlooking the ocean, go figure skating on the Center Ice Rink, climb the rock climbing wall, or take one of the several classes like kickboxing, yoga, pilates or spinning available in the state of the art Vitality Sea Spa and Fitness Center.

For those who want to be entertained: Take in a show in the 1,380 seat theater like the Broadway-style musical Chicago or Blue Planet – the aerial acrobatic theatrical performance.  Enjoy spectacular water shows and aerial acrobatics in the 750 person outside Aqua Theater (or from your own private balcony if you have one of those fantastic Aqua suites) including part of the Dreamworks experience The Madagascar Aqua Show – Let me entertain you – featuring characters, high divers, swimmers, acrobatics and more.  Or catch the Dreamworks Experience How to Train your Dragon Ice Show at Center Ice Rink with ice skating professionals.

For those who enjoy Leisure: enjoy several treatments in the Vitality Sea Spa and Fitness Center, take in the Street Spectacular “Move it Move it”, or a stroll through the Royal Promenade – enjoying retail therapy in several shops like the first ever Guess Accessories Boutique at sea, , or the first ever Romero Britto store at sea – featuring several varieties of affordable art and collectibles including two original pieces created by the artist and available only to Royal Caribbean guests.  Take a ride on the carousel, take in a movie in the new 3D Movie Theater, or perhaps a latte or cup of Joe in the first ever Starbucks at sea (I’m personally quite excited about this)!

Newest Dining Additions include: the exclusive Samba grill where you will dine in a Brazilian style steakhouse while enjoying lively Brazilian music and atmosphere ($25 additional charge), the Boardwalk Hot dog house – featuring a variety of hot dogs, toppings and sausages, and Rita’s Cantina which features authentic Mexican fare along with house-made margaritas ($7.95 additional charge) – a sure fire staff rival to the Johnny Rockets on board.

December 1, 2010 will mark the Allure of the Seas maiden voyage.  Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has outdone itself again. The Allure of the seas will be based out of Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale Florida and will begin with Eastern and Western Caribbean week long sailings.  The only question left is when do you want to go? We’ll help you plan this fun-filled vacation for you and the family – after all, don’t ask why…rather why not?!!  For cruise ship availability, itineraries and pricing – call us at 407-877-7414, 800-939-7414 or contact us from our Elite Travel Planners website.