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Familygoboston

Oasis LIVE (one month later!) Review

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EASTERN

As promised, I have all my ducks in order (Compasses are scanned and posted for linkage, photos processed and posted to a server for viewing, first several days written and edited) Wow, this is a boatload of work and I thank every one of you who has ever done this before, and wonder how in the world you do it "LIVE"?!? These LIVE folks are doing a true service, because they are sacrificing cruise time just so the rest of us can cruise along. I have to thank my DH, who is the technical guru at our house for assisting me with this project. If anything goes wrong its his fault.

 

Since I don't pay for Internet time, or use my vacation time posting on the Internet onboard, this is a LIVE ( one month later) review! I'm happy to help with questions, and will post links for the Cruise Compasses daily. I tend to ramble, speak (parenthetically), philosophize, speculate, make goofy jokes, analyze, and digress. This will be really long, and very detailed, so if all that makes you crazy...maybe another review is for you! If you are like me and enjoy a review where you can "cruise along" and one who is always sorry to see a long review end, you might like it...and I thank both of you very much!

 

My DH ( and technical guru) is the photographer ( Nikon D7000 with 10-24 and an 18-200 lenses as well as an AW100 for beach and water shots- I have no earthly idea what that means but can relay questions to him if you have them.) He is, in fact, still talking to me despite the fact that I booked 4 trips in this year. FYI, this is his " small kit", he's been known to use most of his baggage allowance on gear and pretty much wear the same pants for a week if necessary. He owns more camera bags than I have purses, so if you are a photographer, you understand how photographers are always seeking the holy grail of the right equipment in the right bag and still meet baggage allowances. ( ok, that was a digression) ( and that was me speaking parenthetically). Onto the review!

 

Pre Day Boston to FLL: Flying Carpets and We Make an Investment in the Best Ever Sand Chairs

Managed to hide the bags upstairs for several weeks, but today they had to come down the stairs. My downstairs confined dog ( we love her, but you, know allergies!) took one look and immediately gave me the sad , begging eyes..." please take me, take me...take ME!" Sorry, not this trip, this trip is our adult only get away, my DH turning 48 (on day 2 Bahamas), and I ( 29 days his senior). We are meeting my cousin and her DH ( also mid late 40s) on the ship tomorrow. They are also traveling sans kids to celebrate their wedding anniversary, a happy occasion we all marked together 15 years ago. (I love her because she honestly DID have a dress "you could wear again" for me, her MOH...but sadly, I was 4 months pregnant with my last child, so I never did. But wouldn't it have been a kick if we wore each others bridesmaids dresses to formal night! She would definitely get the worst of that deal, I was married in the 80s..think pink, and bows...I know, I know, I can't believe I picked them either!!)) Anyway, 5 kids and 8 years since our last vacation together ( DCL with the kids and grandparents in 2002) we are due for some undistracted grown up time. The kids took a look at Oasis on the web and all gave us those sad, begging eyes..."please take us, take us...take US!" Not this trip!

 

We flew from Boston into Miami, as DH flies American and has status that gets us free checked bags, early boarding, prebooking the exit row (did I mention he is 6 foot 6 inches tall?) and the very important use of the "red" carpet; not the "blue" one the regular folks use right smack next to it, the EXACT same size, but the very special "red" carpet for Priority flyers. Actually on this trip a bunch of very tired Priority guys heading home after a busy business week in Boston lined up on the "blue" carpet because it was closest to the gate agent and she actually made us all move around the tensator to line up on the special "red" priority carpet, even though of course the "blue" people couldn't board yet and no one was on the "blue". I'm sorry to report I'm not even kidding about that! I think she gets a bonus based on the number of "red" carpet guests ( I am kidding about that). Anyway, other than the flying carpet snafu, it was an uneventful flight.

 

We took a cab from Miami airport to Fort Lauderdale ($90 with tip for 2, took about 1/2 hour).

 

We booked the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port hotel. They were not allowing the use of reward points for this night, and I think they probably don't accept them on Friday and Saturday nights, when the port is quite busy (see- there is the speculation on my part). We beat this system by using our credit card rewards to get Marriott gift cards, which they happily accepted. The hotel is on the corner of SE 17 th and Eisenhower and has a view of the port, but the rooms are perpendicular to 17th so you are either looking up one end or the other of 17, and you can't really see the ships along the water on Eisenhower, unless you go the balcony at the end of the hallway, which we did to see Oasis docked in the morning. (Photo of view from Marriott) 140588018.jpg140588020.jpg

We were in room 809, we requested extra feather pillows, which were not provided, we had to call when we arrived. The AC system whined like a jet engine when it turned on, not that loud, but that pitch that hurts your ears. We turned it way up overnight so we wouldn't have to listen to the sound while sleeping. The included buffet breakfast had a cooked to order omelet station, fruit, hot and cold cereal, pastry and a hot section with scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage and breakfast potatoes. Internet access was 12.95 for the day. This hotel is very well located, with safe and easy walking to Walgreens, Starbucks, and several shopping plazas. We noticed quite a few cruisers wandering around enjoying the night air. It's a very high vehicle traffic area, and doesn't feel like a resort, but it's a nicely close to the port to stay and stock up on things you might not be able to travel with or if your luggage doesn't make it.

 

The Walgreens was very well stocked with anything a cruiser could want or need...

sunglass, beach hats, a rounder of unmentionables ( in case you left your undies at home - aww, there I went and mentioned it!) beach chairs ( about $20) , all kinds of toiletries and sun lotions, beach towels, flip flops, beach shoes, beach toys, floaties for the kids and a rather large snack and convenience food section. Nothing was priced with " specials " the way it might be at home at your local Walgreens, they seem to know their market will pay full price! We bought a pair of sand chairs to use on the beaches and on our larger D1 balcony since we heard we may not have been able to get a lounger for the balcony.

 

Over the course of the week we fell in love with those chairs, you will hear more about them later for sure. But we just slapped a couple of luggage tags on them, checked them in with our bags and they arrived easy-peasy with our luggage.

 

I promise to post Day 1 tomorrow...and please be kind, it's my first time attempting this type of review!

Edited by Familygoboston

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Happy New Year! :D Thank you so much for the review and photos along with the ones that will be coming. It sounds like a lot of work and I really appreciate the time it takes for you to do this! :) Looking forward to the next installment!!

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I too am subscribing! So far so good and I love the details and parenthetical jokes :)

 

Thanks for doing this, we cruise next weekend on Oasis to E. Carib so I will definitely be tuning in!

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Thanks everyone, I see from your signatures, that you all are planning to Cruise Oasis...think you will love it! I really loved reading reviews before our crusie, and I got so many good ideas and really " learned" the ship. Hope it's the same for you!

Bogos, we did do excursions, and we have more photos of those than other things, so I will definately be posting them! More tomorrow after work!

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Day 1 Sat Dec 3 Embarkation: is as Advertised and a Vigorous Defense of the "Outlet"

After our nice Marriott breakfast, we checked out the stairway balcony to see that Oasis had arrived. So around 10 AM we headed out to see what we could do about transport to the port. The Marriott has a shuttle for a price of $6 per person. We opted for the cab after the front desk said it would cost $12-15 for the cab. If you have more than 2 people this is a no brainer, you are much better off in the cab. We arrived at the pier within moments ( you could walk if you wanted to drag your luggage) we had to show photo id to the officer through the cab window, and the taxi fare did get up to the $12 range because of the wait for the taxi to make its way around to the drop location. We gave him $15 and left our luggage right at the pier. Interesting C & A note- our luggage was tagged with our Emerald status (but no red carpet!) and the rep told us to expect it in 2 hours (it was 11 AM at this time). My cousin who is a new RCI cruiser (but we got 'em hooked NOW!) was told not to expect bags for 4 hours, as were other cruisers around us. I was not aware of expedited luggage delivery for C&A members, but there was a difference in both what the told us and the actual delivery times as compared to my cousin!

 

Embarkation was as advertised...we were grinning like total goof balls as all those happy people just kept waving us around to the next step...Step one, show your id; step 2 get your hand luggage scanned; step 3 they take your "welcome aboard" photo against an Oasis back drop and that is the photo that allows them to do the face detection to match your photos with your folio in the photo shop. All your photos end up in your folio, so you don't have to search walls of "early dining" or "Bahamas pirates" looking for your photos. You folio number is written on your seapass...you find the rounder with your # on it and then the folio number on that rounder and all your photos will be in there...this is an ingenious system!

Step 4 step up to the counter (this time they waved us up to the "regular" rep because the C&A rep for Platinum and Emerald was waaaaay done the other end and it would be silly to go down there when there was NOBODY in line! We briefly considered suggesting they do a training program for American Airlines reps, but... not our job!). More idiotic smiling on our part, photos taken for the Seapass identification, picking up the weekly planner and getting our Seapasses at the counter. Then we were waved (more idiotic smiling on our part) through to the Platinum/Emerald waiting area. The waiting areas are also divided by C&A status. A big cushy roped off area with real furniture for suite guests, regular airline style waiting seats for the D +/Pinnacle area and Diamond area just in front of us. Took us 15 minute to get from curb to lounge and it would take you 10 minutes to physically walk it anyway.

 

At 11:30 AM the suite folks were invited to board, followed by the Pinnacle/D+ and then Diamond, then the Platinum/Emeralds. This was probably 200 people in total so the regular boarding would have commenced within 15 minutes after that. After boarding, I had no sense of people being treated differently based on C&A status, other than the Diamond lounge access, some special events for repeaters, and whatever in cabin amenities you are entitled to. I was glad about this...after our embarrassing red carpet issue!

 

Once on board, you enter right into the Promenade, there is lots more goofy smiling on the part of everyone...its tough to be jaded when seeing this incredible space for the first time, even if you have achieved kryptonite C& A status! (photos of Prom)

 

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There was a big sign at the Guest Services desk that the ship was full, no upgrades available...so if you don't see it, go for it if that's what you want. We headed straight to the Box Office, which is a couple of cruise staff with laptops set up in Studio B. We needed to switch our and (DC's) Comedy show reservations in order to accommodate Quest (can't let the newbies miss Quest!) This was painless because we were the 3rd party in line. We made the quick change on the itinerary and I was feeling ready to check out the spectacular ship! I like to do a bit a of planning, (you can see my planning tips on my earlier tips review at this link

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1530368 We went to the Boardwalk...rode the carousel (wheee!) and relaxed in the Adirondack chairs in front of the Seafood Shack. A quick text from my cousin and her husband who were up on the pool deck, so we met them up there and relaxed and enjoyed being away together on this beautiful ship!

 

At 1 PM we went to our cabin, Deck 10 194, a D1 balcony, with the bed by the balcony. (photo of cabin) 140588079.jpg

 

Amazingly, our cruise never went down in price (which I hear is typical for Oasis and Allure) so we paid about the same price a year ago for that D1 balcony as my DC did for her cat. N interior cabin booked 6 months later. SO the lesson for me is, the sooner the better for booking Allure and Oasis (and where else in the travel world can you go back and get the new lower price after you've booked??!??) Our room is the same size as every other balcony cabin, but the cabin is on the hump and 80 sq feet vs 50 sq feet for the other cat D balconies. It was our first hump cabin (again something I never would have considered had I not joined Cruise Critic!) and we loved the panoramic view from the hump, the larger space for our sand chairs (remember the chairs?) and the regular chairs and the regular height table, not the dinky ones that are tough to have breakfast on in other ships. It seemed all the balcony cabins had tables this height based on a survey of the CP and Boardwalk balconies we saw. We thought the deeper balcony provided more privacy from the other balconies nearby. We did notice that it heated up very quickly if it was on the sunny side of the ship in port, which made it uncomfortable to sit out. But it was more protected from the wind when and warmer when we were underway.

 

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We found the size and amenities of the cabin were just perfect for us. We are not large people (other than the tall thing) and the goal on this cruise wasn't to stay out of each others way! The bath was a much better set up than other ships; love the bar in the shower and the "star trek" (shhhup... open...shuuup... closed) shower door

 

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It comes with a shampoo dispenser, but our attendant also added a little bottle of shampoo, conditioner and hand cream each day. Either that or they were multiplying like yeast on the counter top over night. In any event, those were the toiletries provided, I think largely so after the cruise Donald could pass them out to his friends and save a trip to the expensive Walgreens in FLL. (more speculation on my part!). The bath lacked the clothes line, but honestly I had more "hanging" room with 2 hooks right next to the sink, 2 in the shower, and 2 on the door, plus two right by the door outside the bath. There were also several little cubbies and a teeny, tiny drawer (honestly it was sooo cute!) by the sink. So we found loads of space for our stuff. The sink is low and very shallow (we built kitchen height counters in our house- remember the tall thing again?) so even I (only 5 foot 6) found it a long giraffe-like stretch down to the sink.

 

Our luggage had already arrived by 1 PM as promised curbside. The cabin storage flummoxed us a bit at first. Usually our standard plan is DH gets all the closet shelves and I work with all the vanity/desk drawers. Unfortunately, there are not too many drawers in the vanity/desk, and they are pretty shallow. The shelves are fairly deep, so his lawyers met with my lawyers and after some negotiation we settled on me using the really low shelves and DH using the really high shelves (Tall?...yeah, you know now!). This worked out well for us because we tend to bag pack things, for instance I keep all my workout gear in a 2 1/2 gallon clear bag so the whole bag can go in the drawer or on the shelf, same for bathing suits and foundation garments, costume jewelry etc.

 

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There are also a set of cubbies alongside the mirror in the vanity, these are perfect for holding lady things, and my toiletry bag is built as four clear approx 1 quart velcro pouches, so the pouches fit perfectly on the shelves of the vanity.

 

More Day 1 to come!

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Another issue is the much discussed "outlet". Many have complained long and hard, far and wide about the "outlet". It's reputation as the single biggest design flaw on Oasis is the stuff of legend. It is located under the vanity/desk, just to the left. I must weigh in in vigorous defense of the "outlet" location...I know, I know, it's controversial and ground breaking, but here goes: I liked that I could plug in the hair dryer all week and leave it in the low cubby just to the left, it was really too low for any other practical use ( the one below it at foot level was even less practical, so we used this for all our seapass receipts, where they could be safely ignored until the bill arrives). This meant that I could keep the dryer at the ready, and like a gun slinger, grab the cord and be ready to fire whenever I needed to, without the cords being all over the vanity counter. Being a righty, I liked that the outlet was to the left, when we used the other plug to charge the phone or batteries, we could put these on one of the low cubbies and off the desk top too. I do agree that some families may have needs for more outlets, so this is where the power strip would be useful, although we had no need for one.

 

Donald, our cabin attendant introduced himself,

 

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we gave him a little something ( so he would know we will take care of him above and beyond the pre paid tips) and asked for extra pillows, the mini bar emptied, and ice daily. (we are not usually mixing cocktails daily, but we use ice for a million little things...pour the cold water out for taking pills, icing down Flowrider bruises -more on that later) etc, etc. We put off unpacking, and just freshened up a bit as we had 1:30 PM reservations at Giovanni's for lunch.

 

This was a marvelous idea, ( thank you, CC reviewers for this tip!) we sat outside on Central Park, under a pergola, at a lovely out of the way table and enjoyed quiet, refined service while everyone else was battling at the Windjammer or Park cafe for seats. It was our only specialty restaurant of the week.

 

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We thought the food was good, better than the average chain Italian place, but not quite like the North End in Boston. Was it worth the extra $30 for 2 ? (Actually, in our case $60- DH hadn't realized we already paid the fee and we were double charged, but didn't notice till the last day and I'm still working on it with customer service since I didn't want to spend my last day in the GS line. See what I mean about the parenthesis? ) Yes, it was worth it especially for the experience of relaxing with a bottle of wine in an out of the way place on a very busy embarkation day. The idea is for the salads, pastas and mains to come out and be shared family style. This never works for us because I'm a vegetarian who loves seafood, and my DH is a meat eater who doesn't eat seafood. So we just went ahead and ate as much as we could of the plates we liked. The desserts were also a sampler and we tried them all... canoli, tiramisu, a couple of different custards and some other kind of cake...all excellent. You will notice that through out our review we won't have photos of the menu or the food. Frankly, the menu is out there already and like the shows, it only changes every 3-5 years. My husband doesn't shoot food porn, just because it's not fun for him, and he gets cranky when he's hungry.

 

After lunch we went back to the cabin to unpack and have a nap until the muster drill. The muster drill was very easy, walk to your meeting location (it's listed on the back of the door and the number is on your seapass), scan your seapass, have a seat, watch the video and then the captain dismisses. It could not be any easier...I remember back in the day...life vests, sunny decks, standing directly behind some hairy backed monster for an hour...Blah, blah, blah. It's a huge improvement!

 

We joined our Roll Call group on the public deck on 11 aft (see my pre review for the list of secret SHH! public places) for a pre meet at sail away. Moira and Brittany from Australia were hanging onto their Australian flag for dear life for the webcam, and we met Jeff and Rene's daughter, and a FL couple who were very nice, but their names are escaping me right now!

The FLL sail away is fun, there are lots of condos, and the folks blow air horns wave and cheer from their balconies as we go by (hey, its Saturday, they are blowing off some steam!). Then there are the folks on the point and the beach all waving, the pilot boat was using the PA to say "Oasis, make some noise". No kidding, who knew our Coast Guard were cheerleaders!?

Then you pass many seaside estates, which are something to see. Be sure to check out the house with the Flowrider in the side yard, really, he had a full size regulation Flowrider, which he was surfing on as we went by (he probably saw it on the passing ship one day and just ordered it from the Billionaire Catalogue, but that's speculation on my part)

 

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While everyone else was dining, we took time to explore the ship, just wandered around and took it all in. We went to the Promenade where my husband got a slice at Sorrentos, and then up to the Windjammer where I had a little salad and the strawberry pavlova...which I love! We met our cousins on the Boardwalk in hopes of seeing the Oasis of Dreams show, but it had to be cancelled due to high winds and we were rolling pretty good! It was rescheduled for 2:15 the next day. This was announced on the big screens, so as people arrived they could see it and find other activities.

 

We decided to go check out the sing a long with Chris McCann in the Globe and Atlas on the Promenade. We enjoyed the sing a long aspect, but were not thrilled with the idea that she had two tambourines and she forces the patrons to come up and join her banging the tambourines while she plays and sings. We were good sports, because we liked the song, Brown Eyed Girl, when the tambourines were foisted onto us by the previous victims. But then she started a whole bunch of "take a drink, take a drink" songs and we noticed people were leaving before the tambourine could make it to their table. With just 3 or 4 couples, some others were glued to the tvs watching college football, it seemed we were going to be the nights entertainment. I guess if people want to participate that's fine, but she was very pushy, and we left after a song or two so the tambourine wouldn't make its way back to us! We were tired so we hit the hay!

 

Day 1 Compass

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Thanks for the review and especially the pictures! I was wondering how the D balcony ( non hump) compares to other lines like Holland America, Princess, Carnival or NCL?

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Thanks for posting. Your post of Day 1 was very accurate from my experience on a cruise on Oasis in September of 2011. We enjoyed it greatly and are going back again at the end of January. Particularly interested in how the new cruise director Amy is working out - as they changed cruise directors since we've been on the ship. Will look forward to your daily reviews. We had a Central Park View room on Deck 9 (just room with a window) but otherwise it was laid out pretty much as the room you had. This time we have a Boardwalk Balcony room so that will be interesting, also on Deck 9, closer to the elevator end rather then the Aqua Pool end.

 

I also noticed at the smaller nightclubs, it was very easy to get "volunteered" for something you did not necessarily want to do unless you hid way back in the crowd! I'm not one for really wanting to get up on the stage to do crazy things, but will have to admit it sort of was fun, but was a very reluctant volunteer for sure! I know they are just trying to see that everyone has a fun time though!

 

I'll post Day 2 tomorrow...and after work today can answer any questions!
Edited by fred20155

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Going on the Western in a couple of weeks--schedule is similar.

Thank you.

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Thanks for the review and especially the pictures! I was wondering how the D balcony ( non hump) compares to other lines like Holland America, Princess, Carnival or NCL?

 

Thanks Seawatch! I think overall the overall cabins in RCI are smaller than the other mass market lines. And I found the Oasis cabins a smidge smaller than the other RCI ships. Unfortunately, I haven't been on any of the other lines "newer" ships, so I cant really compare balcony sizes. I just knew for us we really wanted a balcony we could stretch out on. I would have loved a lounger, but actually the sand chair is better for my back so I didn't bother to ask about one.

 

Particularly interested in how the new cruise director Amy is working out - as they changed cruise directors since we've been on the ship.

 

I also noticed at the smaller nightclubs, it was very easy to get "volunteered" for something you did not necessarily want to do unless you hid way back in the crowd! I'm not one for really wanting to get up on the stage to do crazy things, but will have to admit it sort of was fun, but was a very reluctant volunteer for sure! I know they are just trying to see that everyone has a fun time though!

 

Fred- I thought Amy was fine...I gave a little defense of Amy in my brief review which I linked above. I really liked that she didn't spend so much time "selling"; I never felt captive after a show the way I have on other ships. I think she's enthusiastic but not as comically funny as others, but I loved her chemistry with Ken. I felt he was the comic/instigator to her "straight man", and he would come up with the one liners and then her reaction had you laughing. Will give you the full review of her Quest later too!

We had never been conscripted for entertainment on a Royal ship before:eek:. I was surprised. It was clear to all that the tambourine was causing stress and pained looks, I just thought an entertainer would have been more "aware" or what was working with her audience. I'm all for interactive...but it should be voluntary!

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Even though we sailed on Oasis in October, I have to subscribe so I can re-live my cruise through your review. We were on deck 8, cabin 198 also on the hump. Great location and great view. Can't wait to read your next entry (and I love your details!)

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Awesome review so far! Can't wait for the rest!
Thanks Will! Hows the project coming?

 

Even though we sailed on Oasis in October, I have to subscribe so I can re-live my cruise through your review. We were on deck 8, cabin 198 also on the hump. Great location and great view. Can't wait to read your next entry (and I love your details!)

Thanks! I do the same thing;) I love reading reviews and I've always loved looking at other peoples vacation photos...I guess CC was made for us!

 

Well aren't you beautiful and you look so happy. :)

.

You are very kind! I almost didn't post it; felt too up close and personal, but I thought Donald looked so great I wanted to show him!

 

Im ready to post more!

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Day 2 Sunday Dec 4 Bahamas: Who is Supposed to be Getting Wet in this Show Anyway?

 

Docked in the Bahamas early this morning. It's very windy and a little overcast, showers are threatened. We have room service on the balcony. All week room service was right on time, and very good, except for one afternoon when I ordered snacks for a balcony party with my DC and her DH before dinner on formal night. They apologized for the 1/2 hour delay with chocolate covered strawberries. You can get a limited selection of breakfast food including scrambled eggs and bacon, toast, pastries, cereals, fruit and yogurt, and of course coffee and juice. If you have a nice balcony this is a lovely way to start the day on an early port day.

 

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We slather on the SPF and head out the door at 8:45 for our Rainbow Reef Snorkel tour. There is a really strong wind whipping and some high clouds, a few of which appear they could shower, but nothing heavy. The tour operator tells us the seas are a bit choppy, safe to navigate, but they may be a bit strong for new or weak swimmers. He offers a full refund if anyone chooses to bail. My cousin and her DH bail, thinking it might not be fun, they have Snuba later in the week, so they'll get another chance to swim with the fish!

 

But my DH and I decide its warm enough and we are used to Maine seas, so we go for it! I'm glad we did, with about 30 others. It would have been a full 50 if everyone had stayed, a big group for snorkeling, but we had a pretty large area. The catamaran handled the chop very smoothly and there were some waves at the site, but not enough to wash over your snorkel, which is when it starts getting miserable!

 

(photo of boat-That's actually DH...I took this one!)

 

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They give you all your gear and the instructions on the way out so you are good to go as soon as you arrive at the site. The snorkeling was pretty good, visibility was a little compromised because of the wave action on the silt, but there were several schools of fish, and coral formations to see.

 

(look, the "Sea is Calling" in this one!)

 

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Did we absolutely love this excursion? No, it was not the greatest snorkel experience we have had. But there are not a whole lot of options in this part of the Bahamas. (I wish I could have found someone who could have taken us to see the wild flamingos, but we were not in port long enough!) The reef they took us to did not have a lot of coral formations, there were quite a few sandy places where there wasn't much to see and we couldn't get too close to the reef at the shore because of the waves. In an effort to stay safe they kept everyone pretty close together. Had we had a full boat, it would have been crowded. I would say this is the one downside to the large ship...on other RCI ships if we chose an active excursion, they are usually pretty small groups. On this excursion, it was both Monarch and Oasis pax, and had it been full it would have been a big group.

 

I thought the "tour" of the celebrities homes on the way back was a little canned and not particularly interesting to us. I'm not even holding it against the tour operator that it was cool and a little murky due to the weather. I never blame an operator for weather or wildlife...they have no control over those things! I should say that they did everything to keep us safe and were able to answer my questions about which fish I had seen. (I've had other ships tour operators who could not identify even the most basic wildlife or flora for us!) And of course they had offered to refund anyone ahead of time, but we went and we had fun, although I wouldn't do this tour again.

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The tour guide narrated a little tour of the celebrity homes on Paradise Island on the way back, the boat trip was about 30+ minutes each way and we snorkeled for a good hour. The water is cool this time of year and I found myself getting chilled even with my surf shirt, but I stuck it out because I was enjoying the fish. But even though the air was warm back on the boat, my core temp was down and I shivered on the way back. There is only one known cure for this and we indulged immediately after returning...ahhh...Solarium hot tub!

 

(photo of Salarium Hot tub)

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After the warm up we headed to the Park Cafe for lunch. This place is also as advertised in prior reviews. The paninis, salads, quesadillas and even the prepared salads are all very good. I didn't have the roast beef, but everyone else seemed to be enjoying them. The lines move very quickly in the Park Cafe, and you don't wait long to be served. They give you a number if they have to deliver a hot sandwich to you, but finding searing can be tricky. The cafe itself has several small tables both inside and out, and there are 2 areas with very large living room style chairs and tables, so there is seating for only 8-10 people in each of those areas despite the amount of space. I imagine eventually they might turn that into more bistro style seating during the day (but that's just speculation on my part!) We saw many people taking salads or the RB sandwiches to another area of the ship where there is plenty of seating. If you are waiting for a hot sandwich, you don't have much choice but to perch on a wall or bench and hope a table opens before your sandwich comes. We were almost always to get a table after some searching, so it's not impossible, but it's not a bad idea to check the video board to see how crowded it is before heading there.

 

(photo of daytime Central Park)

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(view of CP from above)

 

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Off to see the rescheduled 2:15 show of the Oasis of Dreams. It was still quite windy, but it was deemed safe (it helped that we were still in port). We found good seats right behind the reserved section, but again, all are great seats (though the chair style seating is more comfortable than the bench style seating, if that matters to you, get there early) and there are two huge video boards so you don't miss anything. Another great view can be had from the "secret decks" on 11,12 and 14 aft (walk all the way through the cabin hallway to the end, and there is a door; we think that these are here largely as a smoking area for those in Boardwalk cabins as smoking is not allowed on those balconies because we saw ash collector thingys out there, although rarely saw smokers- but again this is just...wait for it...speculation on my part!).

 

Here is a view of the two Aqua Theater Family suites, aft on 9 and 10 and the public balcony on 11. See what a lovely view these have?

 

(photo of aft balconies)

 

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Others have suggested if you have an interior room on 11. 12 or 14, it's like having your own balcony, and I would say that is an excellent way to squeeze a nickel and still enjoy a "balcony" even if its not private!

 

The Oasis of Dreams show was very interesting. (parenthetical note: I don't post many photos of shows because I like to be surprised and not see all the details of a show, so my review photos will just have the barest hint of what goes on at shows, so you can enjoy them from a fresh prospective when you get to see them!) It was the least "plotted: of all the shows, but the talent was amazing. World class divers, acrobats and synchronized swimmers...its an absolute marvel that anyone could dive or flip around on a moving ship...but they do! My DC has teens involved in competitive cheerleading and she was wowed by what they were doing (without a net!!!).

 

(photo of diver at Aqua Theater)

 

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We enjoyed the show till about the last 2 acts and then it started to sprinkle. Well, then it started to pour, everyone headed for the covered areas under those aft balconies to watch the rest of the show. We were nearly as wet as the cast before it was over.

 

More Day 2 later...have to get some work done!

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Loving the review and your writing style:D

 

I'm reliving my trip vicariously through you...I sailed the week after you in a D1 hump (14602) and agree completely about the extra balcony space! Our cabin attendant was able to snag a lounge chair; nothing like having coffee in the morning watching the world go by in a comfy lounger:)

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