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About KmomChicago

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    South Chicago Area
  • Interests
    travel, family, gardening
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Premier, remember them?
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Labadee, Haiti

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  1. This is a summary of our cruise March, 2018 on Oasis of the Seas –an all in one, text only synopsis in a single post. I think some people get fed up with scrolling through pages and pages of posts to follow a cruise review, so the gist of it all is here. Separate posts may follow with more detailed descriptions (for those who are gluttons for punishment) and photos (for those who are not). I can try to answer questions in follow up posts as well. This cruise was more than nine months ago, so I am writing it from memory, but perhaps will still be of value to someone considering this ship. Or maybe not. Up to you, really. Have a nice day, here goes: Arrived at Port Canaveral, FL on a Sunday for our cruise that covered the last week of March, 2018. We didn’t qualify for any kind of priority booking, and arrived somewhere on the early-middle side of the booking schedule. Things were in full swing but we did not have any extensive waits. There were a few checkpoints to navigate but all were well staffed and keeping up efficiently with the massive hoard of humanity. They obviously have done this before. (In light of the current norovirus outbreak on this ship, I must mention that hand sanitizers were very visible and copious in public areas all over. RC had experienced at least one outbreak on Independence of the Seas a couple of months earlier and they were on guard. People stood at the Windjammer buffet entrances offering squirts to everyone as they entered throughout the cruise.) Our first meal that Sunday was lunch in the Solarium Bistro and I fell instantly in love with the space. Throughout the cruise we had many breakfasts and lunches here, and one dinner. This is set up like a small buffet for most meals, and while it is a smaller selection than Windjammer due to this size, I liked the international flavors and fresh quality of this kind of cuisine. Enjoying meals next to the Solarium was prettier and calmer than in Windjammer as well. Muster for us was in, if memory serves, the Comedy Club. It was very crowded and mostly consisted of watching the video, which was funny and seemed to actually hold peoples’ attention better than the usual drill. Room was an inside guarantee, Deck 10 forward, 10452. This was very close to the elevator lobby, did not require a long walk down a hallway, and was very quiet. We found the room of adequate size and the design very thoughtfully made the best use of space, particularly storage throughout. Our suitcases fit under the bed and there were several small shelves that were quite handy. There was a backlit framed print on one of the walls which, when turned on at night, gave a nice soft glow to the room. This location was very convenient to go up to the pool deck or down to Central Park, the Promenade, and Entertainment Place. We did not have noisy neighbors or hear hallway noise. One of our bags was delayed and we later found out it was because my husband packed a new, full size bottle of Listerine which was suspected of being liquor, resulting in the bag being opened and the bottle being examined, but not unsealed. We ate only 2 or 3 meals in the main dining room during this cruise, one lunch and I think two dinners. My family does not like the experience of being waited on or the time spent, well, waiting to be waited on. Of course I understand other views on this. I do like the experience, but not with companions who are bored and annoyed. The food there was fine, but I cannot say it was any more to our liking than what we experienced in other venues such as the Windjammer, Park Café, or above mentioned Solarium Bistro, all of which we enjoyed very much. The Kummelweck called me back more than once to beautiful Central Park. We also visited the little snack bar in the spa (okay), the Dog House on the Boardwalk (good), the Wipe Out café (junky kid’s food but okay if you like that stuff), and had breakfast one morning at Johnny Rockets (meh). We pre-arranged show reservations as recommended and found that to be a good strategy. We booked the Aqua Show the very first night, and glad we did because many subsequent showings were cancelled for rough seas and so many others missed out. However, we also found a little spot near the rock climbing wall entrance, one deck above the theatre, where we could watch this with essentially the same view that the Aqua Suites people get. We enjoyed all the shows very, very much. Cats was performed at full London West End quality – the performers even used the original London-ish accent to be as true as possible to the original play. They were talented people. However, this is a long, nearly plotless show, and it’s easy to see why many people have had enough when intermission rolls around after 90 minutes or so. And the second half continues very much as the first, more and more of the same. Great news if you are loving it, time to move along if you’ve hit your limit. We also enjoyed the shorter, afternoon Aqua Theatre show on the last sea day, the ice arena show, the comedy show we watched – must reserve as this venue is very small, the Come Fly with Me show in the main theatre later in the cruise after they strike the Cats set. Our headliner show was good, another comedy thing. We squeezed in as stand by’s the night before our reservation, and then cancelled that so others could get in. By about halfway through the cruise, I noted on the room TV that hardly anything was left available for reservations. We went to an art auction, which I had not done in years, for the couple of glasses of free champagne and to cheer for people buying art I would never want. Lost a few buckaroos in the casino. Sat in a deck chair at one of the main pools for a little while. Napped blissfully in the sun on a round double padded lounger in the almost empty Solarium the morning of our Labadee stop before going ashore. Watched The Greatest Showman (meh) in the Aqua Theatre. We never paid a dime for extra food, though we did buy the beverage refreshment package just for my husband, as we thought he might enjoy the fancy coffees. Turned out the lattes and so forth on this package were available at the Promenade Café, which is open 24 hours (except during debarkation!!). There he was served such drinks a few times per day by a really courteous and kindly man who we dubbed “the sad barista.” He was not really sad, but maybe a bit grave as he took his job very seriously and it showed, and he concentrated and got things done fast and right. Early in the cruise we asked how early each day my husband could get these drinks (wanted his first around 4:30 am each morning), and were told the overnight guy was not too great at this; however, by the 3rd morning that had changed as the sad barista had retrained the overnight guy, just for us. Wow, we thought. This is awesome. So some extra tips made their way to the Promenade Café team at the end of the cruise. They were also generous about giving him a bottle of water with each coffee drink. Our daughter spent a lot of time up in the teen living room and found a nice little group to hang out with. We very much enjoyed the massive scale of this ship and everything it offered, never got bored, never felt we had gotten our fill of the thing. We played some trivia, because we like that sort of thing, and we had to laugh at the dried out pens and highlighters which were the only prizes. A far cry from the silly but adorable gold ship-on-a-stick trophies on Carnival. Hurricane damage was still visible in St. Maarten and San Juan, though as many have mentioned in other reviews, they were grateful the ships were back with their money-spending visitors to help boost the economy. I was unsure about Labadee (pronounced like two words, Lah Bahdee with the accent on dee. This is a privately operated port out on an edge of Haiti. It is stunning, and I am glad we visited. I am sure there are political issues with operating a port in cooperation with the government of a long-troubled nation, but I feel Royal Caribbean is doing the local people a service by being there. It creates a lot of jobs and they have also invested heavily in the infrastructure of the nearby town where most of their employees live. We were told by one of them that people come from all over the country to this area hoping to get a job at Labadee, that it is one of the best opportunities for a better life in the entire nation. We missed the hub app that we use when on Carnival to stay in touch with our kiddo as RC did not have an equivalent at that time, though there had been talk of something being rolled out soon, and I missed having a self-serve laundry. It’s not that I love doing chores on vacation. I love packing half as much stuff. We did the fill a bag thing toward the end of the cruise but I found it expensive for what we got and hard on the clothes. If these were the only things I really disliked about this cruise (and they were), then it was a pretty successful cruise. And I can’t remember anything else I marginally disliked, even the stupid highlighters, which means, by default, I loved everything else. I tend to do that. We never got our info about the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle, though a review I am reading about sister ship Allure OTS by one Mr. Winks suggests that was no great loss. Our room steward was nice and we had no problems. Service was good throughout. We found the cruise director and his staff got the job done well enough but lacked some of the exuberance of Carnival’s Fun Squad. The sad barista was our favorite crew member. We joined the line for disembarkation pretty early and it was disorganized in the promenade. A Crew member came up and asked people to make a barricade with their luggage and divert people but no one did so and control was quickly lost, with people cutting in front of others or trying to break through the snaking line. However, once they cut us loose we were off quickly, moved through customs quickly as well, and back on terra firma near the former home of the Space Shuttle ahead of our scheduled pickup. We found this newer, bigger ship stuff works out really great for my family. We just loved Oasis of the Seas. The ship was almost 10 years old but looked brand new to me. Full of stunning rooms and interesting features. If they had a laundromat I might not have left at all. I would love to go on the others in this class; I would also like to try Quantum Class. We thought we wanted to try a Carnival Vista or Dream class ship but I think we may just wait for the larger Mardi Gras instead. The differences between the two lines are not significant enough for us to choose one over the other and instead we will probably choose by schedules, ports, and ship features in the future. So that’s the short version (HA!) of our story. I feel much of this has been said before as I was fortunate to read a lot of other good reviews of Oasis of the Seas and other Oasis class ships before we sailed, which was very helpful to us. So if I am just repeating old info or simply boring you to death with my drivel, I apologize. As my Cruise Critic role model harryfat1 says, you can always submit a complaint and demand a full refund of your annual subscription. As always I wish bon voyage and happy travels to all. Have a nice day!
  2. Well, everyone, your kindness is being rewarded, or maybe punished, right now. Because of your responses, I decided to put up a short-ish, one post (for now, ha) review of our Oasis cruise from last March. It's just facts, and it's not very snarky or funny or nothing. I will look around for my old Cruise Compasses and other propaganda and photos and see if there's more to add, but it's going up on a new post.
  3. I really don't care that they really don't care, but I have to agree that the fun squad or whatever RC calls them was a lot lower energy/less smiley than the Carnival equivalent. Carnival trivia gives away these ridiculous but adorable and highly coveted little plastic gold ship on a stick trophies. On the Oasis we competed for dried out RC highlighters and pens. The whole cruise. I would presume that room with the zipline landing gets booked either by people who don't know any better, or as you note, perhaps there is a discount in the form of offering it via a "neighborhood guarantee" or a "Boardwalk guarantee" category for somebody too cheap to pay a few hundred dollars more to pick a much better neighborhood cabin, say one over in Central Park. I can think of some people who could easily be fooled into such an offer.
  4. Interesting-after noon. Wonder if they are doing extra cleaning between cruises on all the ships.
  5. KmomChicago

    Which Boat Would Float my Boat

    Keep in mind that on Carnival or Royal Caribbean (maybe others but I would not know), tap water is free in the dining rooms and other eating venues. So is basic coffee and they both almost always have some kind of fruity punch drink or flavored waters. The ship's water from your bathroom sink is safe to drink and tastes fine. Both of these lines have decent ships sailing out of Port Canaveral. If you want more drinks than that, there are soda-only packages, upgraded soft drink packages with more juices and coffees, or alcohol packages. We usually don't bother with any of it and just pay a la carte if we do want a beverage. We don't drink enough of anything for the packages to be a bargain. There is no single "right" ship. They all offer somewhat similar experiences. There are things I appreciate about both Carnival and Royal, and have appreciated about the other cruises I took long in the past (Disney, Celebrity) but overall they are more similar than different. You will have to decide your budget and which ship looks good based on your preferred dates and ports.
  6. KmomChicago

    Worried about Cabin

    I looked at Majesty once and passed because of the room size; in other words, all the rooms are small. We would have had a 3rd person in the room, our kiddo. My husband and I would be okay in the space but a family would be very tight. Unless you upgraded to a suite it wouldn't matter much where the room is, as I believe that size is consistent across the whole ship. While you might have machinery noise in that location when entering or leaving a port, you should have almost no loud fellow passengers, whether drunken party types or screaming kids, running past your door.
  7. KmomChicago

    Bonine or Dramamine for seasickness

    Bonine is better. You only take it once per day. Best to take it at night as it can make you drowsy, though typically not nearly as much as Dramamine which also has to be taken several times per day. If I take it at bedtime I have very minimal if any drowsiness the next day. I bring it but I do NOT take it until bedtime on embarkation day unless I start to feel bad, because I don't want to be sluggish while embarking. Some people say you should take it as soon as you board and before the ship sails to avoid any risk. If you know you are prone to seasickness this is probably a good idea. Ginger root capsules do work for some people. It is very mild and does not have any drowsy side effects, but it can take longer to work and not everyone finds it effective. If you try that route I would still bring Bonine in case you need something stronger.
  8. KmomChicago

    "Your stateroom will be assigned". ??

    We saved money by choosing an inside guarantee for Oasis of the Seas. We were not upgraded, but we ended up in a really excellent location, deck 10 forward just a couple of steps from the elevator. I realize there is risk but we almost couldn't have chosen a better room. It was very easy for my then-tween to find her way to this room, it was very quiet, very easy to get up to the Solarium or down to Central Park or the Promenade. It would have cost several hundred more to choose our cabin on that particular sailing. As the OP notes, the savings does not always apply, so you would want to choose in that case of course. They have various formulas to fill up whatever cabins are not moving on any particular date. I have seen cruises where it lets you choose your room and there is literally only the one room left to "choose."
  9. No problems on or off Oasis of the Seas last March; granted that was RC terminal rather than Carnival. Lots of traffic of course but it moved without any serious issues or delays.
  10. Thank you Tinkr2. You, along with others, have convinced me there is sufficient reason to post, even if only for my enjoyment. I appreciate the conversations - especially about the notes features since I'll have my iPad. I will definitely focus on the 3 ports (Bar Harbour, Maine; Saint John, New Brunswick; and Halifax, Nova Scotia) rather than on the ship based on potential interest. I was considering staying onboard during at least one stop, so that's out the window now, thankyouverymuch. Investigative reporters gotta do their job, right? It's okay, DH and DD are already on about wanting to do some kind of fishing, and so far I can't find them anything better than one of those lobster boats. And the one RC is offering does not feed you any actual lobster! So that's not going to happen. The first time we took our now-13 year old to Red Lobster, when she was about 3 or 4 years old, she pointed right at the tank and announced she wanted to "kill and eat one of those." Aww, isn't that just the sweetest thing? Yeah, I wasn't sure how to react either. Completely dialed in as a shameless, perhaps brutal carnivore. But then, that IS what the tank is for. Intuitive genius who quickly understood the rules of this adult world around her. Yes, both of those things. Thanks, God, for sending her to us. We'll manage best we can. Aboard I will look for odd or seemingly minor details that nobody else ever mentions. Some photo of some hidden corner or some delightful surprise. I never disclosed the apparently secret, free, suite-quality Aqua Theater viewing we discovered aboard Oasis of the Seas, due to the lack of reviewing that cruise at all, and I have never seen anyone else mention it until this very moment. There is always some unique feature that has gone mostly unnoticed by others. Thank you all again.
  11. Gosh darnit, Winks, you've got me wondering at my disdain of Nassau. In spite of good experiences at Ardastra Gardens, Atlantis resort back when they would let anyone in to drop a few quarters into their casino (even renowned ruffian Kmom), and much more recently at Fort Charlotte, the Pirate Museum, and the Pompey Museum, I keep saying I'm through with that place. It's really just because of that aggravating initial gauntlet upon debarking. Nobody ever tries to hurt me! But then, you know, some tourists give off that don't-try-it-sucka vibe. No doubt people with names like Winks. Had to learn it myself some time back, in order to wander the notorious urban jungle nearest to my home. Even still, deeply grateful you survived to tell your tale of braving the meanest of mean streets. Not to mention your snooty pants helipad exclu-suite-ivity-ness or whatever we are watching you all do down there. I like that show schedule grid too. I don't remember anything like that on Oasis, and since we were there largely for such entertainment, had to figure it out using paper, pencils, and stick figures.
  12. Thank you for the very supportive responses. Obviously I will go ahead and put something together; thank you all for not flaming me. Per Sparks, one of the greatest benefits of my Sensation review (to myself) was photos. I took very few on the previous cruise on Carnival Triumph, and likewise afterward on Oasis. But I took 80 bajillion on Sensation, because I knew I would need them for the review. After the cruise, the photos basically wrote the review for me. "Oh, yeah, that was the xyz in Nassau. I've never seen a pic of that here, better post and explain why we liked it." Remembered so many little things that I had enjoyed and then shared. I do not like that one bit either and I think we have all experienced this. Terrible! Just when I was starting to like you, off you go! I do like writing, to a point, and I also like to finish what I start. I know exactly what you mean! And yes, we are the limited mobility reversing rapids people from that other post where many kind Canadian people helped me figure out what to do about it. She is renting a narrow scooter since our room is not handicap accessible and I am a bit worried that it has only a tub and not a walk in shower. She may be riding her scooter to the gym to shower there! So I will definitely be able to discuss that, for the ports and aboard ship as well. :) I really like Harryfat1, and he was may main role model in how I tried to write the Carnival Sensation review. But I have to admit, I only have read one of his all the way to the end, and it took a long time. After my own long review was done, I found myself annoyed that it was many dozens of posts over several pages. I didn't have nearly the number of reader responses that he gets, but it still ended up being a lot to go through for someone who was trying to get useful cruise information. If I do that again I will plan and edit differently. Wow, that's a lot of pressure. I can assure you I do take my comments and advice pretty seriously and strive to give info that is factual and would help people make decisions that are good for their own preferences; even if it's something I don't mind but I can see it would probably bother others, I try to (nicely) warn about it.
  13. Thanks, Sue, you are probably wittier than you realize. If nothing else, you are kind and encouraging and the world needs a lot more of that! Yes, Champagne, I do go on and on once I get started. However I could certainly start with a synopsis page (I also sometimes tire of scrolling through hundreds of posts from admiring fans, and multiple pages to see what happened to some lovely poster on day 4 of an 8 day cruise). If energy permits the many follow up posts can provide pics and more detail. Thank you. Thanks Sparks. I have enjoyed your posts and agree with the general objective and strategy, which will likely win the day in the end. It won't take a whole lot of encouragement to seal this deal. Valid, Milwaukee. However you are clearly a substantially more rational person than myself. Why obsess in 7 months when I can start obsessing RIGHT NOW???? Thank you. Thank you, Catfish. There are lots of great reviews about this ship, but I don't find so many describing the northerly experience of these ports, which we chose because my 3 companions don't like the Caribbean heat in the summertime. Might discover some good info along the way.
  14. KmomChicago

    Triumph ! Question

    Have fun getting in that last hurrah with this old gal before she undergoes her final massive round of plastic surgery and emerges as a debutante.
  15. Be warned, this is not your average question. I need to decide whether to review our upcoming August 2019, six night cruise on Adventure of the Seas from Cape Liberty, NJ to Canada and Bar Harbour, Maine. Last year I did a long review on Carnival Sensation, because I saw that the poor good vessel was not receiving very much attention any longer and thought that even my worthless observations might have some value to others. Also, due to the shock of losing a friend to cancer at the age of 37 (nearly 15 years ago now), I have this really, really annoying tendency to enjoy, and be grateful for, nearly every minute of my life, facing even adversity with a lot of optimism. So an old ship in the polarizing Fantasy class received (mostly) a lot of love from one Kmom. I have little patience for complainers, the entitled, and the hopelessly selfish, unless they at least have a sense of humor about it. I rarely get annoyed with service workers, having worked at various such jobs during my 16 years in the Orlando, Florida area. I am mostly interested in my travelling companions getting what they want out of vacations, again, since I will enjoy almost anything they choose, see cancer note above. I specifically opted out of doing a review on my subsequent voyage on Oasis of the Seas, because plenty of people are already throwing their two cents in on it. Of course I loved that ship and that cruise, but everything I need to say about it has been said by somebody else, so I held back, for once. For this August cruise, my mother is treating us - I will be sharing a Jr. Suite "on the hump" with her, and DH and DD will be in the one next door. We already have a rental car booked so I can drive Mom over to see the reversing rapids in Saint John, but otherwise haven't finalized port plans. I feel sort of compelled to do the review, because so many others went to the trouble here on Cruise Critic (it's not easy) and those facts have been enormously helpful to me. On the other hand, time is money, and all that, and would this time be, um, money well spent? Can't decide.