Podcast Cruise 6.0!!! Official Info

Discussion in 'Podcast Cruises' started by WebmasterJohn, Apr 11, 2015.

  1. WebmasterMaryJo

    WebmasterMaryJo Techarita Administrator

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    All four of us really enjoyed the cruise. We shared a cabin with an ocean view balcony, and it worked well for us for the most part.

    Onboarding
    We got to the cruise around 1:30pm, so the line wasn't outrageous for us. We saw Ryno and Eli in line, then saw Julianne and Troy, then Patti, and that was fun for us as it was a taste of the fun we would have on the ship. Check-in was relatively easy, though the person checking us in was kind of slow. We got through okay, and went into the ship. Although it's fun to be announced on the Disney ships, it was okay that we weren't on this ship. Everything was so new we were just looking around and trying to get our bearings.

    Our stateroom
    We had room 9276, which is located midship/aft, right by Dazzles, and near the elevators. We loved our location. It was easy to get to Windjammers and down to the main dining room, and we only got turned around a few times. Although we were close to Dazzles we never heard any noise. In fact, the only time we heard noise was when we opened our balcony door. We also smelled some 'funny' smoke after our trip to Jamaica, so someone was really enjoying their Jamaican purchases. Our room was set up so the bed was first, then the couch, and that worked better for us. There really isn't enough storage for four people, so Nick & Yasmin basically lived out of their suitcases. I was right next to the closet, so took advantage of it. We put our big suitcases under the bed, but not all of them fit, so Nick & Yasmin basically just set theirs on the sides. We made it work. The pull-out couch was too firm, so on the third day we asked for more padding, and it was better. I slept in the bed and found it to be very comfortable, and pillows were fine for me. The Compass was appreciated each night, and we probably didn't use the tv services as much as we could have. We did change our dining reservation for the last night, so that worked out for us. I prefer the split bathrooms on the Disney Cruise Line, but we made it work. We had plenty of towels and used our own soaps and shampoos, so I don't think any of us used the dispenser. The shower was small, but it was sufficient for us. We thought it was funny to have a circular shower. We made use of the small shelves near the sink. I agree that the counter was small, but it worked. We also liked the loops on the towels so we could hang them on the hooks. I missed the clothes liner that we use in the DCL bathroom, but we just hung our wet clothes on the balcony to dry them off.

    The Ship
    I really liked the ship. I liked that there were so many lounges to go to and places like the library and card room, though I only used the library once. The central park was nice in concept, but I didn't find myself going through there except the first day and the one time we ate in one of the restaurants there (the one rainy day). I really liked the boardwalk. I didn't spend any time in the shops, but Nick & Yasmin did, and he took advantage of one of the sales to get her a watch that she just loves. I think the fact that we were right by the aft elevators helped in navigating. I didn't use the stairs like I had intended, though. I also liked the interactive maps that helped us to get where we were going and that advertised the different shows each night. Nick took advantage of the fitness center on the sea days and really liked the gym. He said that the equipment was great, and he was pretty much the only young person there. Of course, he was there at 5:45am to work out. He and Yasmin took advantage of some of the healthy offerings, like body scans, etc., and he was pleased with the services.

    Service
    Service was fine. Our cabin steward did a great job. She made sure to learn my name and would greet me whenever she saw me. She did a great job cleaning up after the four of us (not that we are high maintenance), and when we asked for extra padding she had it for us each night. She also added four wine glasses to our room when she noticed all the wine bottles we had (we had brought them for dinner). Service from the restaurants was also fine, as was any interaction we had on the ship. We had no issues, but there were no stand-outs either, other than our cabin steward, who also left towel animals each night for us.

    Dining
    This was the first time we had My Time Dining, and I liked it because entertainment was all over the place with the times, so being able to adjust our times to accommodate the entertainment and shore excursions was nice. The food was okay, but I think DCL has better quality for the mass dining rooms. We had different servers each night, so didn't develop any relationships with anyone, and some were definitely better than others. There was one who teased/joked too much, and it was a little annoying, but nothing major. Our first waiter was the best out of all of them. She ran into us a couple of days later and still remembered what we ordered and remembered us. I should have requested her for the rest of the cruise, but I'm terrible at remembering names (I should have written it down). Crumbs were only brushed off the table once, and though it's a small thing, I noticed. What I missed in My Time Dining was the camaraderie that we get when we choose main or late dining and eat with other DISers. We enjoyed each meal, but I think we all enjoyed our meals better with DIS friends. It made things better. We did experience some other dining and these nights were highlights for us: Night 3 at the Solarium with about 30 DISers - We loved that meal with everyone, and wish there were more. Kudos and thank you to Evelyn for arranging for all of us to eat at the Solarium together. It was wonderful. The last night we at at Chops, and the meal was delicious. The quality of the food was really good, and we enjoyed everything. My advice for dining here is to watch it on the bread and appetizers because the meat is too good to let go to waste, and we were so full we couldn't finish our dinner. It was expensive for us at $42/pp, but worth it for that one meal, and was a great last dinner on the cruise for us. I would recommend. We also ate at the Chef's Table one day, and that was the culinary highlight for us (despite my mishap :o ). Everything was delicious, and the lobster was some of the best I've ever had. We also had lunch at the Taquería on the Boardwalk on our last sea day with Michael, Carol, and Beth. It was fun - partly because of the tequila flights that Nick & I had, but mostly because of the shared experience. I like that they have these other restaurants available for lunch and dinner. Some of these places were an extra cost, but there were other places included, like Sorrentos Pizza, and the Park Place Cafe, even though I never tried that one.

    My advice for dining is that if you go with a group make arrangements early to eat together because time gets snapped up and you might not be able to make reservations at the time you want.

    Excursions
    We packed our trip with excursions, and enjoyed them all
    • Haiti - Cruise excursions: We did the coaster run down the mountain, and our only regret was that we didn't get the unlimited rides. It was fun and beautiful, and you get this wonderful view of the beach below and the ship beyond - loved it. We took the historical walking tour, and though it wasn't what I expected, we really enjoyed it. I got an appreciation for Haiti and its people that I didn't have before, and how Royal Caribbean is really helping the island with the revenue (they built a school that three towns use). I also learned that I need to get a Neem tree for my back yard. We also learned about Columbus's relationship with Haiti - very interesting. We also did the jet skis, and they were not what I expected. We went on a tour, and had to follow the leader. I think that if I was driving instead of being a passenger I would have been okay, but I really didn't enjoy it. Nick, Kelly, and Yasmin loved it, though, and we met a couple that ended up being our excursion buddies because we ran into them on various excursions and activities the rest of the cruise. We rated our day at Haiti a 10. My only advice is to make sure you schedule lunchtime. We barely had time to eat leftovers because they were closing up by the time we got to them. When you get off the ship they have fresh coconuts with coconut water, and then they open it for the meat when you've finished drinking the water, and pineapples with juice (liquor optional). Yasmin got the coconut and Kelly got the pineapple -with liquor. They really enjoyed it. The only thing we didn't get and wish we did was the ziplining. We had plenty of time to do it, but it was too expensive on the island. Instead, we went to one of the beaches and got in the water and shared a kayak - just beautiful. Everything was basically walking distance from the ship, though we did take advantage of the tram ride there.
    • Jamaica - Cruise excursion: VIP beach and Dunn River Falls excursion. 10am - 5:45pm This day it rained a little bit and the excursion could have been better. I ended up with a huge sinus headache so didn't enjoy the beach part. I loved climbing up the waterfall, even with all of the people there. The water was refreshing and not too deep. It's not as hurried as I thought it might be, and with the pools we walked through, or could fall into, pictures with water pouring on us - it was so much fun. My only regrets were that Nick & Yasmin couldn't join Kelly and me, and that I didn't have a waterproof digital camera (next time). I got a waterproof camera, but now have to take a bunch of pictures so we can develop the film. After the waterfall climb we went to a beach, and though it was cloudy, the water was refreshing, not cold. They served us drinks and food. The food was okay, but a little tough. I enjoyed my meal at Scotchies a few years ago, more. Also, we ran over and couldn't stop at the store to buy souvenirs, though we were able to get some at the controlled port stores. I would say that this day was probably a 7 for us.
    • Cozumel - Cruise excursion: Horseback riding among Mayan ruins. 8am - 12noon We all enjoyed this excursion. I think the kids more than me, though I enjoy horseback riding. The ruins were small icons, and some were copies, but it was still cool riding. The ranch is about a half hour from the cruise ship. We rode for about an hour or so, then had an opportunity to buy some souvenirs or drinks. The souvenirs were similar to the ones you could find in town, but there were some things that were unique. Also, we could only pay with cash. Afterwards we went to a kind of remote beach with limestone formations. It was really beautiful there, but you could only purchase liquor, food, refreshments and some souvenirs with cash. I had only counted on tips, so didn't buy anything else. We ran into a guy with a big iguana named Mescal, but had no money for pics. Instead we chatted with him about his iguana, and Kelly told him about her animals. He let us pet Mescal. No pics, though. As we ended the cruise we ran in to Ryno, Oliver, et al, and took a taxi to a restaurant called La Candela, where we met up with about 20 DISers who were already eating. The food (including guacamole) and conversation was great. After lunch we meandered back towards the ship, going through the gift shops and getting souvenirs. We still had a half hour in pretty hot sun to go, so I got a taxi for the four of us. None of us had cash, so he took us to an ATM (short walk from the ships and way cheaper service fee than the ATM on the ship or the one at the port), and I got cash, then he took us to the ship. We were so grateful to sit in an air conditioned taxi.
    Lessons learned from the excursions: Take more cash for tips than expected. I know I way overtipped our guides, but we live pretty well (hey, we can afford a cruise), so I didn't begrudge overtipping them. Take more cash for souvenirs. Not everyone takes credit cards. Also, not everyone accepts American Express, and I found that out at the La Candela restaurant, where we could pay for our meal with the credit card, but they only accepted cash for tips. Also, be sure to schedule lunchtime in those trips, compare cruise sponsored and private tours, take lots of pictures (I missed out on some I wish I had taken), and don't be afraid to go out and explore. There is a lot of beauty out there and very interesting people to meet.

    Internet
    Kelly and I got the single item surf + stream packages, and they worked out great. Since we could use any device, but only one at a time we shared the service in our cabin. I thought the Internet was so much better than what we got on the Jewel of the Seas (RC Alaska trip).

    Ship Paid Activities
    We did the wine tasting event with Michael, Carol, Kevin, and Patti, and really enjoyed it. Nick's criticism is that he wished that the person hosting would give us a chance to talk about the wine after we tasted it. We did talk quite a bit, so didn't hear everything. Still, we enjoyed it. The other activity we did was the Prohibition Event, which was basically listening to jazz music in a jazz lounge during the prohibition era. So, the host and hostess were in character. A lot of alcohol, I mean, "tea" was served, and they also served some appetizers/finger foods. Most people were really dressed up like in the prohibition era. We didn't know what to expect, so we didn't dress up. It's not something I would do again, but I'm glad we experienced it.

    Sea Days
    One of the things I really like during sea days are the games they have during the day, especially trivia. This time I only played trivia on the very last sea day. I was just busy doing "stuff" so missed out. I was never bored, though, and really enjoyed doing 'stuff.' I visited with friends on the first sea day, did zip lining on the second sea day, and got together with other DISers playing Cards Against Humanity (along with my daughter, who reminded me that I once banned that game from our house). We had so much fun with the camaraderie on that last sea day playing trivia and cards. Also, we went to the taqueria bar with Michael, Carol, and Beth and had some guacamole, tequila flights, and Mex food. It was such an enjoyable time.

    Night Life
    Big thanks to the guys, especially Corey and Craig, for spearheading our night-time get-togethers. I don't think that we would have met up with so many people and made new friends if hadn't been for those 'pub crawls.' This was one of the highlights of the cruise with all of the fun that we had. I think I went out almost every night (except the night before the 8am Cozumel excursion). Kelly was out more than me, and got back later - she had a blast.

    Entertainment
    We only saw one night show, and that was the first night when we saw the aqua show. It was entertaining, and we liked it. Although I had reserved shows on the other nights we never made it to any of them, yet didn't feel like we were missing out. We were busy doing other things we enjoyed. We did go to two shows, though. We went to Love and Marriage with Linda and Phyllis. Actually, Kelly and I did, and it was very entertaining. We also went to the Quest. It was played differently than it is on the DCL ships or Jewel of the Seas, and that could be because the ship is so big and so many people go. There were three rows of DISers, though they split us up. I think we would have won had we been together. Wesley and Kelly were our runners, and we had so much fun. I initially intended to just watch, but got caught up in the game. Kudos to our fellow DISers for working as a team, especially Kevin, who really took one for the team - it was hilarious.

    Communication
    I am really glad that we got the internet package because we had a group message going where we would let each other know if we were going to an event (like trivia) or something. I wish I had used it more and earlier in the cruise because it was a great way to keep in touch. For those that didn't have Internet we called each others' rooms. For future reference I think it would be beneficial to plan on a stateroom for communication (white board on the outside door) or agree to use a central spot like the Guest Services Community Board. I noticed it on one of the last days of the cruise, and if I had known of it earlier, I would have suggested using it. I heard that there were DISers that wondered where others were.

    DIS Events
    We missed the first meet-up due to me not reading my notes right before getting on the ship, but we did go to the two get-togethers. It was so nice meeting up with everyone, even though you cannot talk to everyone with the time allotted. I also participated in the Blackjack tournament. That was fun, so thanks to those of you that encouraged me to join in. I was really bummed that the weather didn't allow the live podcast as that is a highlight for me, but I was glad to join everyone in Dazzles. I also really enjoyed the zipline time we had. Thank you, Dreams for setting that time aside for all of us. It was really nice to see the team out there and go on the zipline. It was fun hearing the cheers as each person went down the line.

    Suggestion for getting together in future
    On other cruises we had a couple of games, like bunco and bingo, and I think that we missed out on not putting together some activities ourselves. I had a lot of fun on the last day with some DISers, and even though we don't know the schedule ahead of time, maybe we can figure out a way to organize getting together. This cruise ship was new to me, so it took time for me to get to know it and understand the schedule. I found it a little challenging with the different show times and dining times, but think that it's worth it to work out for the next podcast cruise.

    Dreams Touches
    We LOVED the touches from Dreams Unlimited and would like to thank those in charge for such wonderful treats. We loved our gift bag with goodies, and used them all. We used the white board to leave each other messages, and to leave messages for our cabin attendant. We used the magnet clips to hang our lanyards and clip appointments, etc. Since the walls are magnetic, we were able to place them in different areas of the room. The towel was great, and the message included with it. The strawberries and chocolates were also very good. Thank you so much for these touches. They sure were nice.

    Debarkation
    We took advantage of the luggage valet and loved that service. We didn't have to worry about getting our luggage or checking it in at the airport. We left it out on the night before and saw again at LAX.

    I know that this is long, but wanted to get it out there. I and my family loved this cruise. I think the only thing I'd change would be to spend more time with old and new friends. :goodvibes
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
    kuzco-like, Jobie, bobbiwoz and 5 others like this.
  2. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    Nice review MaryJo. Was great seeing you guys on board!!
     
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  3. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    Great review, @WebmasterMaryJo . Of course, you left out the real highlight of the trip - getting to meet me ;).
     
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  5. WebmasterJohn

    WebmasterJohn Genius Administrator

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    Just an FYI - we will be moving this thread into the Podcast Cruise sub forum.

    This cruise is over and we need to make room for new info that needs to be posted :ssst:
     
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  6. SorcererHeidi

    SorcererHeidi Sorcerer please cast forever love spell for me

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    Awesome trip report with SO much detail and info for others to enjoy reading, a nd take advantage of on future cruises, @WebmasterMaryJo !! Thanx so much for taking the time to do all that. I enjoyed watching the video of the ziplining (and your running commentary) :), and enjoyed the cruise vicariously, which I am still doing through these trip reports. I am hoping that one day it WON'T just be vicariously, and I can meet some wonderful fellow DIS'ers, like yourself! :)
     
  7. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    Ok. I've been working on my review for almost a week and I think I'm done. So here it is. I'm sure I forgot something but I can always go back and edit it. It is quite long but there's a lot to cover.

    Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas
    12/4-12/11/16 from Port Canaveral
    Me (52) and Wife (52)
    Western Caribbean: Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico

    This was our 5th cruise and our 1st on RCCL.
    We drove down to Cape Canaveral and arrived on 12/1. We stayed 3 nights at the Country Inn and Suites which is the first hotel you come to as you drive off of 528 onto the Cape. It was just fine. They have a stay and park package for cruising which allows you to leave your car there for the duration of your cruise and it is cheaper than the port parking lot. Very convenient. The front desk clerk was extremely helpful and gave me a wealth of information when I checked in about how everything works and when it's best to be everywhere to avoid the crowds. The hotel serves breakfast daily which is included. Typical hotel breakfast offerings. And the shuttle to and from the port is also included (about a 3-minute drive). The only sort of negative comment I'd make is that the hallways are painted a dark gray which makes the whole place feel old, dark, and dingy. A simple paint job to a lighter, warmer color would totally transform the feel of the place.

    On to the cruise. We did stuff in Florida the 3 days prior but this is a cruise review. I will just mention that it is a one-hour drive from the hotel to Disney World for anyone who is interested.

    Anyway, 12/4 we headed down to the hotel shuttle waiting area. That was a tiny bit disorganized as there was nobody from the hotel present until about 15 minutes after we got there so nobody was quite sure what to do. Once the shuttle driver came, he checked everybody in and then called a list of names that would be on his shuttle (they run several). However, he failed to actually make sure the people getting on were among those he called, so there was a problem because someone (who didn't speak English) got on and wasn't supposed to so that delayed us a few minutes until he straightened it out and got their luggage out of the trailer.

    We drove over to the port and he unloaded our luggage for the porters to handle from there and we headed into the building to check in. The security line was very long but was constantly moving. They do a phenomenal job getting everyone through security quickly and efficiently. Once we were through security, we took the escalator upstairs to actually check in for the cruise. Again, very quick and efficient. We waited under a minute before we were directed to one of the dozens of agents who took our photos, gave us our key cards and some other paperwork, and sent us on our way. We just had to walk across the room and board the ship. The entire process was fantastic. They've really got their act together. I guess you have to when you're loading 6,000 people every time.

    You step onto the ship on deck 5 in the Royal Promenade. That's the indoor shopping/dining district. It really does look like an upscale mall. Very pretty and tasteful. Even the holiday decorations were nice but simple. Nothing gaudy or overdone. We boarded around 12:30 and there was a sign that cabins wouldn't be available until after 1:00 so we wandered around a bit. We found our way to Central Park and had lunch at the Park Cafe, home of the famous roast beef sliders. They were definitely good, though a little heavy on the bread. From there we got our first drinks of the trip at the Trellis Bar nearby. By then, it was time to get into our cabin.

    Cabin: We were in 9686 (starboard, aft), an oceanview balcony. We thought the cabin was very nice. Plenty of space, not cramped at all. A good amount of storage both in the room and in the bathroom, though if there were more than 2 of us, I think it would have been tight. Plenty of light and great controls for the lights from various spots in the room, including from the bed which was very nice. The bathroom is fine though the shower stall is a bit tight but that's not unusual on cruises. Our room steward, Lucy, was very good - friendly and efficient. The room was always clean and stocked. We did have a problem when we first got in, though. There was a hangar hanging from one of the light fixtures and the drawer in the bathroom contained some dental floss single use things and something else. That stuff somehow got missed when the room got made up.

    Dining: Always everyone's biggest question. We had early seating for dinner (5:30). That works out perfectly for us and how we like to travel and dine. We are not fans of the "eat when you want" style. The main dining room is nice though at times we found it to be uncomfortably loud. We were in Grande on deck 4 (the dining room spans 3, 4, and 5). We were at a table for 10 and sometimes it was challenging to talk to the people across the table due to the ambient noise. That was mainly a problem the first night. On later nights, people probably filtered out to other locations so the noise level was better.

    Our servers were good though sometimes seemed overwhelmed. For example, some nights one or more of us ordered coffee and either it took a long time to come or it never came at all. Bar service in the dining room was also very slow. I ordered a drink when we sat down and I was done my appetizer and into my entree before it came.

    The food in the main dining room was fine. I can't say I had anything that was bad. Most of it was just fine. A few items were particularly good. My wife did have an issue with overcooked steaks on 2 occasions. Don't bother asking how we want the steak if you're just going to serve them all well done anyway.

    We didn't go to any of the specialty restaurants as we don't believe in spending all the money for the cruise and then paying extra to eat. The only dinner we didn't have in the main dining room was the one night that friends took us to Coastal Kitchen which is only for suite guests. The hostess there was not very friendly but the waiter was excellent and the food was very good, a step above the main dining room. It isn't something I would have paid extra for, though. There wasn't that much of a difference.

    For breakfast, we generally did the Windjammer buffet. My wife didn't like it because it gets crowded and a little crazy. I was fine with it. That stuff doesn't bother me. Plenty of selection and everything we had was good. The hashbrowns are excellent. One morning we did the Solarium Bistro for breakfast and didn't care for that at all. Much smaller selection and a very cramped buffet line (not stations like at Windjammer). Also, several things were cold and/or hard, like pancakes. We wouldn't go back there.

    For lunch, we did Windjammer a couple of times and it was very good. Lots of selection and really a wide variety - American, Italian, Asian, Indian, etc. One day we had lunch in the main dining room (American Icon, Deck 3). They have both a menu and a buffet. We ordered from the menu. That was the only meal all week that I was disappointed with and didn't eat. I got a grilled cheese and not only was it pretty tasteless but only one side of the sandwich was grilled. The other side was soft which made eating it awkward as it was kind of floppy. They have a great salad bar, though, and the appetizers and desserts were good.

    We ate at the Wipeout Cafe a few times for snacks or a light lunch. Burgers, hot dogs, fries, soft serve. It was fine though my wife said the burgers were cold. I wish they had longer hours, though, as it would be nice to be able to get a snack there - like soft serve - in the evening. A couple of nights I would have liked it after dinner or when we were hanging out at night but it closes early. The only way to get ice cream at night is to buy it.

    Sorrento's pizza was fine. I went there quite a few times. I can't say it was great pizza but it was good and served it's purpose. One comment many of us had is that there are no snacks available at the bars so we had to head over to Sorrento's or Cafe Promenade to get anything to eat.

    Cafe Promenade: I mainly went there to get a glass of water but they serve coffee and tea 24 hrs/day. They have cookies (which weren't fantastic) and I think some other dessert items. That's all included. They also serve specialty coffees with a charge.

    We did order room service for breakfast several times (my wife preferred eating on the balcony and I went to the buffet). The options are very limited but the service was good, they were always right on time, and the food they brought was fine.

    Any food places I didn't mention are ones we didn't go to so I can't comment.

    Bars: We are not big drinkers but we did frequent a couple of the bars quite a bit on this trip as a place to hang out with friends as much as a place to drink. We went to the Globe and Atlas a couple of times. The performer there was rather good and sang a nice variety of music. Drinks were fine. We're not beer drinkers so we were ordering general cocktails.

    The place that quickly became our favorite, though, was the Champagne Bar. The head bartender there, Tony, is awesome. He really approaches it as a craft and is a wealth of knowledge about the history of different cocktails, different alcohols, and the whole process of creating drinks. He ran two martini classes during the cruise where we learned so much about making drinks. I'd highly recommend those classes if you're into that sort of thing. Another reason we liked this bar is that there is no music (though you hear whatever is going on out on the Promenade). If you want a loud club, this isn't your place. If you want a place with comfortable seats and great drinks, this is the place to go.

    Central Park: We were very impressed with this area of the ship. It is quite beautiful and almost hard to believe that it exists on a cruise ship. The lush greenery all around you is fantastic. There are even real birds and lizards flitting around even though you're in the middle of the ocean. At night, they had a wonderful duet with a pianist and violinist. We sat and enjoyed them a couple of times. This is also where the Park Cafe and some of the specialty restaurants are located.

    Boardwalk: This is a neat area though more geared toward the young ones with the carousel, candy store, arcade, ice cream and cupcake shop, hot dog counter, Johnny Rockets, etc. The Mexican restaurant is also out there but we didn't go there (it is not one of the included places).
    Shows: We didn't plan any shows in advance but we did catch the acapella group MO5AIC in the Opal Theater one night. They were very good. We also saw the aqua show which was also very good.Ports: First stop was Labadee, Haiti. I was not looking forward to this stop as we are not beach people, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The area (it is not a private island even though it is often referred to as one) is beautiful and there are several walking paths where you can get great views and take lots of photos. We spent time walking around doing just that. Then we got a couple of lounge chairs in the shade and a couple of tropical drinks and relaxed for a bit until lunch time. They serve a big bbq lunch with burgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs, assorted sides, and desserts. It was all very good and is all included. After lunch we continued exploring and discovered the Dragon's Tail Coaster. It is similar to Alpine slides we have done in New England but on a much more substantial, longer, and higher track. We decided to do that and it was a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend it and I would gladly do it again if we ever find ourselves back there.

    The only downside to Labadee is the shopping. There are a tons of shops with local merchants who are outrageously aggressive and harassing. Do your very best to avoid them. We managed to stay away but we heard many stories of merchants coming up and putting jewelry onto women and then insisting they buy it and other nonsense like that. RCCL really should do a better job of policing this if this is their "private" space. Establish some rules of conduct and enforce them. Guests shouldn't feel threatened and intimidated there. That kind of defeats the point of a private island.

    Falmouth, Jamaica: One thing to be aware of here is that there is very poor signage to find the departure area for shore tours. We walked back and forth and asked 3 different people including 2 security guards and all gave us lousy and incorrect information. We finally found our way purely by chance. We had booked the Great House tour and tea excursion and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We were taken by bus on a 25-minute ride during which time our excellent guide told us all about the places we were passing and history of the area. At the Great House, a shuttle took us to the actual house where we got a guided tour and then concluded with tea on the patio. We had wonderful snacks and really had a good time. The one odd thing was that there is a nice size gift shop there but we were not given any time to visit it.

    Cozumel, Mexico: This was definitely the highlight of our trip. Our group had a private excursion for the chocolate and tequila tour. First we went to the Mayan Chocolate Company where we learned about the history of chocolate, saw a demonstration of how chocolate is made, and got to sample many different things. We did have a few minutes to shop there but I also felt that part of the tour was very rushed. We would have liked to have had another 10 or 15 minutes there.

    From there, we went to where the tequila tour is located. It is on the corner of a little shopping village. Here we were given the opportunity to shop first, although again, more time would have been nice. We made a few purchases (mainly jewelry) before meeting back for the tequila tour. The merchants here, unlike in Labadee, were very nice. They encouraged us to shop but they weren't obnoxious about it. The tour was great. The guide was wonderful, educational, and funny. We got to sample 7 or the 9 products they sell (the other 2 are mixing tequilas so not really meant to drink straight). The almond tequila was delicious and we bought a bottle of that. It's too bad they don't export it to the US as when we finish it we won't be able to replace it without going back to Cozumel. Back at the port, we visited a couple of shops before returning to the ship. My wife wanted a cruise ship charm for her Pandora bracelet and we got one there.

    Back to some thoughts about the ship. We were disappointed with the shopping options onboard. It skews very high end including 3 luxury handbag shops (Coach, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors) and 2 expensive jewelry stores (Tiffany and Regalia). The ship general store was quite small given the size of the ship. However, there was a daily shopping fiasco out in the open area of the Promenade where they sold a variety of mostly cheap stuff like costume jewelry, watches, handbags, scarves, etc. Passengers lined up for this and swarmed the tables like they had never shopped before in their lives and this was their one and only chance. It made navigating the Promenade a real pain. I'd love to see them eliminate some of the luxury shops (which seemed to be perpetually empty) and replace them with more affordable stuff that the average person would actually buy. Then they could do away with the chaos that exists now. There was a small shop on deck 15 that had hats, pool stuff, sunglasses, etc. but we never once saw it open during the entire cruise. I don't know what the deal was with that.

    One thing that we've had on other cruises that didn't happen here was the cruise director regularly making announcements to let you know what was going on. There is the paper schedule distributed but you really need to study that and seek stuff out because they don't make announcements. On other ships, they'll come on the PA and say, "Join us for bingo starting at 3pm in the sports bar" or whatever. I think we would have done more activities had they advertised them better. They were much more low key about the activities on this cruise. Maybe it is how they always do it or maybe it was because the demographic on this trip was skewed to the very elderly end of the age spectrum. I also wish they would distribute the onboard schedule a full day in advance, rather than just the night before. It made planning a little difficult, especially if you wanted to arrange to get together with other people.

    Debarkation: This is always more difficult than the boarding process since everyone is leaving at pretty much the same time. Still, they did a fantastic job. The day before we were given numbered luggage tags and a schedule with an approximate time to leave and designated waiting areas based on our number. For us, it was the Silk dining room. A very nice touch is that they had coffee and pastries out for us there. A couple of staff people went back and forth shouting out the numbers that were cleared to debark so that we could all hear them. That's a lot better than the PA system which isn't always easy to hear. We got off not long after our estimated time. My one complaint is that the staff needs to do a better job keeping the doorways and walkways clear of passengers waiting around to get off the ship.

    Once we got off the ship, the luggage was arranged in numbered sections and was very easy to find. The Customs process was simple other than weaving back and forth through the queue with our bags. And our hotel shuttle was ready and waiting for us when we got outside. The whole process was very smooth.

    Overall, we really enjoyed our trip. The ship is beautiful. Although it is very large, they managed to make all of the public spaces nice sizes so that it doesn't actually feel that big when you are on it. Having Central Park and the Boardwalk as nice outdoor areas was great - except for when it rained. Then you basically lost a big chunk of public space. That's the one downside to the open design. The casino was sickeningly smoky, as most casinos are, but if you don't mind that, it seemed nice enough. The food was good though a bit inconsistent. The service was good overall though also a little spotty. We would definitely sail Oasis again and/or another RCCL ship. In fact, we made a "placeholder" reservation with the Next Cruise department. We probably won't use it until at least 2018 but it only required a $100 deposit so we went ahead and did it.
     
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  8. RAD

    RAD DIS Veteran

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    One thing I forgot to mention was the water in the stateroom. First of all there was no cold water, at best it was luke warm. After a hot/humid day I'd like to take a shower to cool off a bit but even with the control set to full cold it was still warm. Same for the sink, and the cabin next to ours had the same issue. The other was the water in the toilet bowl. When we first got into the cabin the bowl had a lot of black water stains on it. A couple days into the cruise the steward cleaned the bowl but it started to turn black again. This was in junior suites 7242 and 7244.
     
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  9. TheMaxRebo

    TheMaxRebo DIS Veteran

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    [​IMG]
     
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  10. TheMaxRebo

    TheMaxRebo DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the reviews MaryJo and Steve

    Seems like an overall really nice cruise - especially with traveling with so many "Friends"

    Some negatives seem that at least some people had "upsell" pressure and the food not being amazing - though I think both those items seem to go along with the cruise being cheaper than a DCL one
     
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  11. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    Yes! I forgot to mention that. Your choices were lukewarm, hot, and really hot. Not terrible in the shower but I prefer cold water to brush my teeth and rinse my face when I come in all hot and sweaty.
     
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  12. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    That seemed to be spotty as others reported it much more than what we experienced. And I also think some of it is personal perception of what constitutes "upsell pressure". We were not the least bit bothered by a server coming over to our group at the bar and telling us about the wine tasting they were offering the next day. In fact, several people in the group signed up and might have otherwise missed it. Yes, it was listed on the daily schedule but so were a hundred other activities.
     
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  13. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    Ohhh, does that mean a PCC 7.0 announcement is imminent? :duck:
     
  14. SorcererHeidi

    SorcererHeidi Sorcerer please cast forever love spell for me

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    Don't mean to be stupid, but guess I am. :o Is where it is here now AFTER the move? Sorry - I only frequent a very small area of this vast planet, and want to see any reports that come out regarding PCC. :) Thanx for any help.
     
  15. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    At the moment, it hasn't been moved yet. At the top of the Podcast forum are a few sub-forums including one for Podcast Cruises. That's where John was saying it will be moved. If you get notifications from the thread, you'll keep getting them after it gets moved so you'll still know if new posts are added.
     
  16. SorcererHeidi

    SorcererHeidi Sorcerer please cast forever love spell for me

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    Thanx, Steve! :)
     
  17. SorcererHeidi

    SorcererHeidi Sorcerer please cast forever love spell for me

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    Wow - FANTASTIC trip report, @disneysteve! So much info, and helpful tips for anybody going on a future cruise, and a wonderful great read overall. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort and letting us "go along with you". :)
     
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  18. Thing2008

    Thing2008 Earning My Ears

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    Awesome review!!
     
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  19. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    One thing I forgot (I'm sure there are others):

    We did not do a drink package as we didn't feel it was worth it for us. However, on Thursday, they were were selling a deal to get a punch card good for 10 drinks for $79. Unlike the drink package which is per person and isn't supposed to be shared (though I'm sure people do it), the punch card can be shared. So we figured the 2 of us would have no trouble getting 10 drinks in 3 days. Most of the drinks we were getting ran $13 each so we only needed to use 6 of the 10 to break even. We ended up getting the card punched 9 times. We did get a 10th drink but the bartender that time never took the card to punch it.

    So if you don't have a package, watch for this deal on day 5 of your cruise. They don't offer it before that. We spent $79 and got $130 worth of drinks. There is a gratuity added also. It is 18% so that was also less on the $79 than on the $130.
     
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  20. Jobie

    Jobie Earned Me Ears

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    They also sometimes do a punch card for Starbucks as well, but I did not see it this time (I didn't look either). If you are a coffee drinker it is worth it when they offer it.
     
  21. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    I didn't see that being offered either. I'm not a coffee drinker. DW is but she wouldn't pay for Starbucks. She got the free stuff at Cafe Promenade even though she said it was lousy.

    I did go to Starbucks once and got an iced tea and piece of cake but I used the gift card on my Starbucks app. I was glad to see that they accepted that onboard.
     

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