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I invite you to come and sail with us on Aboard The Jaw-Dropping Oasis of the Seas!!!
Well, hello everyone and welcome to another Gambee review. I have been waiting for this for quite a while. Last year was a lackluster year for me as far as cruising goes. I only had the one cruise aboard the Carnival Victory. That is why I promised myself that this year I would make up for it the best I could.
The planning for this cruise started back in October. I was looking for cruises that would match my new calendar. Originally I had an Alaska cruise planned, but those plans were canceled when I found out that I got into my grad school of choice. Unfortunately, the starting day of my program was to close to the cruise and it would leave me no room to write the review prior starting school.
It was then that I started looking for a cruise during spring break. Spring Break is usually a good week for mom and I, because our schedules match and we are able to take off from our obligations. Once I knew the exact days, I started looking for a cruise that would fix our withdrawals.
Of course, I was considering Norwegian Escape as this was a brand new ship that I would love to cruise on. The prices during that week were not bad, but I wanted a great deal. And since Escape is a brand new ship, the prices were still unpredictable. Norwegian Escape was also in my back yard all year around, and I could try it any time that I found some free time. As I kept on looking I found a unique cruise and one that caught my attention immediately.
The cruise was a 9 day Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Oasis of the seas. This cruise was particularly intriguing to me, mainly because I have always said that if I was to ever do TA crossing it would be aboard one of the Oasis sisters. Not only that but, more importantly, the Allure of the Seas stands as my favorite cruise of all time! I am aware that I rated the Disney Dream higher, but the overall experience was superior on the Allure. There is just so much that this class of ships offer that it is very hard to ignore. And now that I think about it, there was so much that I never got to do onboard the Allure of the Seas. You truly need more than one sailing to experience it all.
The other contenders were Regal Princess, NCL Escape, and HAL Eurodam. But who was I kidding, there was really no competition. It was clear that the Oasis was way superior as far as I was concerned.
I also got incredibly lucky while booking this cruise. For some odd reason, I booked exactly in the two weeks that the cruise was at its lowest ever! As a matter of fact, the cruise went up about $1,500 in a few weeks after I booked. I saved, even more money by booking with a travel site that I had never used before, and I ended up getting a killer deal. This was all welcome news to me, as I was the one fully financing this cruise. It was mom’s Christmas gift, so any savings that I could get were greatly appreciated .
Just a quick note, this cruise was a mom and son cruise. The reason why I only went on one cruise last year was because I was tied to others budget issues and my time constraints. That is why this year I decided to take my priorities over others and make sure that I got a sailing that I would truly love. Well, or at the very least hoped I loved. My mom was in accordance, as she missed sailing in the shiniest and largest ships at sea.
It is actually hard to believe that 9 cruises later and this is just my second Royal Caribbean cruise. I am finding nearly impossible to build loyalty status on any cruise line since all I do is jump from cruise line to cruise line. I wonder when I will sail enough to really garner enough points on a particular line for them to really be useful.
In a way, this cruise felt like a reunion from our Allure cruise.
OMG, the itinerary was to die for, and it was one of the main reasons that I was obsessed with booking this cruise. While we had visited some of the ports already, it was the amount of ports that really did it for me. Here are the ports; Labadee, San Juan, St Thomas (new for us), St Marteen, and St. Kitts (new for us).
With 9 days aboard the ship, it was crucial for us to get a nice balcony to ensure that we had some nice quiet outdoor space. After we gave it much thought we decided on an ocean view balcony. I was really considering getting one of the boardwalk balconies. But in the end, we decided to get a pure ocean view was the way to go.
I will not bore you with the balcony selection. But let it be said that I think my travel agent wanted to kill me. I think I switched cabins about 5 times.
This is the criteria that I had:
- Located near elevators. (With such a large ship, I wanted to minimize walking)
- Clear view straight down to the water.
- Aft of the ship
- lower balcony levels, which in a way works perfectly since they are the cheaper ones
I know it is horrible, but in my defense, I had a valid reason for all the moves. In the end, I kept a rather odd cabin for us. Near to the staircase, and I have to admit I was kind of worried. But given that the elevators were far from the room, I thought it would be a good deal. It was a small risk for a centrally located room.
The added bonus was being on the same deck as the Boardwalk, two decks below central park and one deck above the promenade.
The worst part of all is that after all that balcony planning… Only for it to be for nothing due to some issues with our neighbors. More on that later.
Oasis of the Seas
Like I said, this cruise felt like I was reuniting with an old friend. Even though I had never set foot on her before, the similarities between the two sisters are vast. Mom was particularly looking forward to go on this cruise, she has always insisted that there is no ship that can even come close the Allure of the Seas. As you know these ladies stand in a league of their own.
I was very excited that after more than 3 years I was once again sailing in one of RCCL’s best.
Welcome aboard the Oasis of the Seas!
It is quite interesting how your priorities tend to change as time goes by, and you learn more about cruising. While writing this section, I went back and looked at my Allure of the Seas planning section. OMG, I really went overboard and planned nearly every second of that cruise. Funny enough, I rarely kept up with the plans.
This time around the planning was much more relaxed, I knew which restaurants I wanted to try, but I made no reservations. The only thing that I did pre-booked were the shows since they tend to be overbooked.
I usually get some kind of internet plan to stay in touch with family and blog a little. I was interested in trying Royal Caribbean’s Voom internet service, and comparing it to Carnival’s inexpensive wifi service. FYI for our sailing they offered two prices, the slower one for $10 a day and the faster one for $20. We got the slower one, and was faster than any cruise internet I have ever used.
Gratuities aboard a Royal Caribbean ship will run you $12.95 per person per day. This is a little higher than Carnival, but at the same price of Norwegian. One thing to account is that this was a 9-day cruise vs a 7-day cruise, so the expenses are a little more. I usually tip more on drinks and food, as I know how hard the crew works at making the cruise a perfect vacation for everyone.
NOTE: RCCL recently increased gratuities after our cruise.
I guess I had to cut costs somewhere, this was still a longer cruise and with that, there are added expenses. For the most part, we planned on hitting the beach and just walking around. It is a good thing that mom’s favorite shore excursion is going to the beach .
When I buy trip insurance for my cruises I go to Insure My Trip and shop around for a travel insurance. Here is the thing. The last time when we were on MSC Divina my mom slipped on the pool deck and landed really hard on her wrist. We had insurance for that cruise, but we did not use it (for more on that, read that MSC Divina review). Anyway, after that incident, I learned that most travel insurance companies deny claims if you have any sort of alcohol in your system. We tend to have some drinks on our cruises, so now I am at toss on what to do… Please note, mom did not fall because of drinks, she fell because Divina’s lido deck is incredibly slippery, be careful.
For Fort Lauderdale parking we use Park ’N Go. My ex’s father actually works there, but it is not like I get any discounts or anything. Well, actually I did get a discount last time, but this time around we paid full price. Now that I think about think about, maybe it was not the best thing to park there lol, . All jokes aside, it is just an overall good parking business, with good prices (if you pre-book) and free shuttle service to the port. We prepaid on the internet and saved a little more, it came out to $88 for the 9-days.
The months prior the cruise were bittersweet months for us. It was quite clear that after the stress that we endured during those months, both mom and I needed a cruise more than anything else in the world.
I guess I can start with the bitter part. Most of you already know my crazy traveling uncle, fun guy right? Well, I guess his health took a bit of a downturn towards the end of 2015, and he has been undergoing exams to figure out the cause of his illness. As you can imagine my mom has been on edge for most of 2016 while we awaited the news. Fortunately, the issues have been addressed, and he has already undergone one surgery to take care of one, and he should go through another minor surgery to address the others. Hopefully, soon he will once again in good shape to go on a fun cruise with us. If you could please keep him in your prayers, it would be greatly appreciated
The second bitter part was the sudden death of my mom’s aunt. This happened about 27 days before the cruise. She had been fighting cancer for some time, and while she gave it her all, it was not enough. As any death, it was particularly hard for my mom as they were close. I guess it is the way life goes, but you’re just never ready for it.
Seems odd to just turn the sweet moments after typing those 2 paragraphs, but I am unsure of how to make the jump.
The first one is as I stated above, I got accepted into my grad school of choice. I will be pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. I am very excited about this move. Am I nervous? You bet. This will be the first time that I will be going without working since ever! Not to mention that I will rack up over 100K in student loans. But this is all for the greater good, and so I am better able to take care of mom for the years to come
Lastly, I am now a US Citizen!!! Yayyyyyyyyyyy, many years in the making. I guess there is no real way to explain the joy of this moment, other that I was likely the only man crying when I received my naturalization certificate in a group of 155 people. It’s been an arduous trek, but with great challenges come even greater rewards.
All-in-all mom and I were both so ready for this cruise. It would be our first cruise longer than 7 days, and over a year that we went on a larger newer vessel. I was so very happy that with my hard work and the help of God, I was able to provide my beautiful mom with this amazing escape from our daily grind
About 25 days prior the cruise I started a countdown on my status bar on the computer. This is something that I have never done before, but I plan on doing from now on. It is a pretty neat way of keeping an exact count right there for you to get excited.
I also a set a little calendar reminder that my mom gave me as a gift for the citizenship to the ship sailing date.
I guess it was a good thing that I was working nearly 60 hours a week prior to the cruise. It kept me busy, and not going crazy over the wait for the cruise, LoL.
As stated above, it had been a long time since I had so much anticipation for a cruise. Like the say, planning and the anticipation are half the fun, and we were both enjoying the heck out of it!
Since the start we knew that the show reservations would be a little different since the cruise was a 9-day one. What we did not expect is that RCCL completely screwed everyone with their current reservations. The reservation system took some time to open up, I forgot what the normal amount of days is, but in our case I think they opened up at a little under 2 months before the cruise. No big deal there, I was still able to make the reservations and everything was fine. What was odd was that they had no shows on the last 2 days, it seemed like they simply used a 7-day show schedule. While some on CC showed discontent for that, I really couldn’t care less. You all know that I don’t cruise for shows, but mom does enjoy them. I did however have an interest in a few of the shows, I loved some of the Allure’s shows and I wanted to see how they compared.
The real problems started about 9 days before the cruise when everyone on CC started receiving emails about shows rescheduling. I must have fixed my reservation 3 times within 2 days, they just kept moving things around, and double booking shows for same hour slots. Let it be it said that it was not ideal. In the end when I tried to make my final reservations Cats was not even available to make online. It said to do it on-board. I could only wonder how they would handle 6k people trying to make reservations because they messed everything up.
Here is how they double booked the same time slot.
As stated above, I was not particularly irritated by this. But it did leave a sour taste, especially when considering that I made my reservations the day they opened up. Luckily, Cats was the show that I least interested in. But that could not be said for everyone in our sailing. One couple was sailing on Oasis only to see their son perform on Cats, I can only imagine their frustration with that. And there were others who said that they would not cruise RCCL again.
As you can see some people were more upset than others.
We woke up early as usual, for some reason I can never get the rest I need the night before the cruise. I still had some packing to do since I had been working non-stop during that week.
We had initially planned to leave the house around 9am, and just wait at the port. But the day before RCCL sent out a bunch of SPAM messages/calls/emails stating the ship would be late and not to arrive our stated time. Apparently something with ship leaving Falmouth around 8pm, and they would be late arriving to FT. Remember this is a 9 day cruise, the cruise before ours was a chartered 5 day cruise. The funny thing is that ship docked really early, if anything, it was delayed by less than 1 hour.
My stated time was at 12:30, but there was no way that I was going to wait that long at home. I would much rather leave, park the car and just wait in the waiting area. At least there the vacation had started already.
We finished packing, and left the house around 10:20
Did I mention that we way over packed!!! Everything was so heavy!
We arrived to our parking destination, and quickly got transferred to the port. Like I said, we ended up paying $10 per day for the parking. It is much better than the rates that the port offers.
And there she is!!!
Would you believe me if I told you that this was my fastest boarding ever. It was simply unbelievable. I think that RCCL is taking a gamble with those spam messages and hoping to dilute the crowds a little, and I guess in a way it does work. Well, not in our case since we decided to just go anyway, but I imagine that many folks listen to the messages and go at their corresponding time.
Either way, there was no one there.
Just look at that! No line whatsoever!
After we checked in, we walked right into the ship. No waiting or anything. We boarded a little before 11:30am.
Where are the masses?
Just look at that, this is a first time for me.
Let the VACATION START!!!
We walked in and went to a little information desk that they had right there to inquire about our cancelled show reservations. She told us to go to Studio B and they would have them available there. To be honest, I was not really worried about it. Like I said the only one we were missing was Cats, and I had little to no desire to check it out. I was basically doing it for mom.
Some kind of odd happened there. She had a bunch of dailies there, and when we asked for one she said that they would be in the room, then why are these ones here? Decoration? She did in the end give us one.
They had soda packages and drink packages everywhere that day.
We decided to wait a little and go eat first, I was eager to have one of those delicious roast beef sandwiches from park cafe.
I could not tell you how handy this signs came in. Specially on a 9 day cruise. I completely lost track of time and days by day 3.
Central park was EMPTY! I reminded myself of how busy it was the last time on the Allure and told mom about it. It was truly amazing to see it so empty, I was quite happy about it . Thank you RCCL for Spamming everyone into coming in late. Wait, wait, wait, now everyone will read this and I am at a loss again, crap
I love those chairs, although I am not sure how comfy they are.
I think this is one of my favorite areas of the ship, it is so nice and peaceful there. Well, not always , but quite often it is.
Just look at that, I could not believe it. The time before we basically had to wait for a table.
Another soda stand right over there. The ironic part is that I never asked about the price of the soda package. Last I heard you had to buy 3 sodas a day for the package to pay for itself, is that true? That said plenty of people purchased it. Beacause everywhere I turned people had the soda cups.
We headed inside and ordered 2 roast beef sandwiches.
They had soups??? Where? I never saw them, dammit, LoL. Oh well, I will have to book another cruise.
Never mind, there they are, how is it that I never saw them there. Selective vision, and by that I mean roast beef sandwich?
It was nice and cold in there.
Mom waiting in line, waiting for a salad.
And there you have it, in all its glory.
By the way, I thought the coffee was quite good. And this coming from a Colombian. Then again, I dislike Starbucks coffee. So I have a bit of an odd palate. I like my coffee with a strong kick and non of those fancy calories
Something to note is that this is the only ice machine that I saw on the entire ship. With the soda machines in place, I guess they removed the ice machines. It was a little of a bummer for me, because I am an ice addict. Let’s say when having lunch in the Solarium, your only option is to ask for ice and then they have to go get it for you. Just inconvenient if you ask me. But yeah, if you know of another one let me know. Because I sure did look for them.
Like I said, mom got herself a tasty salad and some fruits. I saw some people brining cups of fruit to port for lunch, they also brought some of the sandwiches that are wrapped up. Good idea if you’re trying to save money. I might try on our next cruise, which by the way is really soon 😉
How was it you asked? Amazing unlike the one I had on the Allure. The difference you asked? I figured out that my ex told to put relish in it, I hate that stuff. But this one was delish, I enjoyed it very much
Please tell me how is that on the Allure cruise I only had one of these, and it was made by my ex
Shame on you Gambee
I went back in to get some napkins, and silverware for mom.
After we enjoyed our lunch, and mom sent 1,000 pictures to the family, we went to Chops to make our reservation for our free dinner from our cruise agent. They told me that I could make the reservation but that he could not yet see the credit. I told to go ahead and do it anyway, and I would check on that the next day.
We left Chops and headed down to studio B to make the reservations for Cats for mom.
Once we got there we noticed that Studio B was closed. I figured I would wait and make the reservations through the TV system. And if anything she could just sneak into after all the reservations got in.
We still walked around a little, and took some pictures. Everything was very familiar to us already.
How cool is that?
Very neat little area, Love it!
We walked a little more, I think mom wanted a picture of her in front of a slots machine to send to the family
Well, if it is not my best friend Max =)
I remember this picture in particular. As I was taking it, a couple was walking by us. And she made a comment along the lines “Why is he taking pictures of a wall? As if they never left their house”. For some reason I did notice more of this similar behavior than I have experienced in my past cruise. I simply responded because I want and I can. Once they figure I spoke English, that’s when it all ended. Ehhh, whatever, we moved on.
Now that I think about it, why did I take a picture? Muahahahahahah