A couple of weeks ago Jany and I went on the best cruise vacation of our lives! We spent 7 days on the Oasis of The Seas and to say that this ship is impressive is a massive understatement, I would describe it as breathtaking, awe inspiring, amazing and one of the coolest things I have ever seen. It is so big and cool that it is going to take a few posts to give it justice, so check back over the next week for days 1-7. But first, to help you understand how we ended up on the Oasis of The Seas, we have to start with the a quick history of our cruise travels…
The first cruise that Jany and I went on was a bit of a disaster. We went for 3 days on the Majesty of the Seas which was an awesome ship…back in the late 90’s. But when we went in 2010 it was already well past its heyday. Actually Jany and I had both been on it as teenagers and had fond memories of it. But at this point it is a second-class ship, and it has a bit of an old man who has given up on showering odor to it! But since both Jany and I knew that we wanted to go on Royal Caribbean (we had heard horror stories about Carnival’s food and service) we thought it was our best option.
The Doomed Couple
But choosing the Maleficent of the Seas was not the worst of our decisions…there was actually a tie for worst decision which was between getting an interior stateroom (no windows) and deciding to sail during hurricane season. Tips: Never get an interior stateroom and never ever ever ever sail during hurricane season…it’s cheaper for a reason. We should have just turned around and left when we entered our stateroom saw two magazines with, I kid you not, Leonardo DiCaprio on one cover and Kate Winslet on the other!
Just in case you thought I was making this up!
Sure enough the captain could not let that irony be lost so he ran right into a tropical storm on day 2 while we were out at sea.
The Perfect Storm
I can remember the boat listing back and forth violently at almost a 45 degree angle and waves crashing into the hull while we curled up in fear on our bed. We could hear what sounded like the hull cracking every time the waves hit and I think if Jany had not been hopped up on enough Dramamine to take down a small horse she probably would have died of a heart attack or at least puked her brains out. So those are the memories of our first cruise together.
But we are brave and stupid and so when bad things happen to us we just go ahead and charge back into battle! Of course we had learned so much from our first cruise that our second was actually a great experience. A year after Maleficent of The Seas (and before the start of hurricane season) we boarded the Norwegian Sky by NCL and proceeded to our exterior stateroom with its own…wait for it…balcony!!! Tip: The balcony is the only way to go, trust me it is well worth the extra money.
The view of South Beach from our Balcony on the Norwegian Sky
You feel like you have so much more room, you have your own private view and it gives you a reason to actually relax in your room for a bit instead of feeling like you just need to shower change and get out.
Our Awesome Balcony on the Norwegian Sky!
The Norwegian Sky had some great features, it was much newer than Maleficent of The Seas and had some cool decor and good food. This was also our first experience with private dining on a cruise. Tip: If you have never cruised before you should know that if you are not careful you will dine at a big table with other people that you have never met and you will eat at the same table for dinner each night at the same time. On Maleficent of The Seas this was the only option, they figured since the ship was an antique they should make the dining antique as well. But the new trend is private dining where you can sit at a table with only the people you are on the cruise with…and maybe not even them if you are cruising with family members that annoy you! And you can choose your dining time. And since Jany and I do not annoy each other that much we loved sitting together alone each night at dinner. All in all it was such a great trip that we immediately started planning for our next cruise the much anticipated 7 days on Oasis of the Seas!!!
We planned for this trip for over a year, it is definitely the longest in advance that I have ever planned a trip. We knew we wanted a great balcony and by booking early we were able to get one on the top floor around the middle of the ship. Tip: It’s better to be in the middle of the ship because you feel the rocking of the boat less than you do at the front or the back. We also knew that we wanted to sail in May because it was before hurricane season and also not too early in the year that it might be too cold outside for a couple of Floridians. So we settled on the first week of May as it worked with our schedules.
A sneak peak of our Oasis of The Seas balcony
A word on travel agents…in my opinion they are best for people who are either retired or wealthy enough to take multiple trips per year. This way they can be on the lookout for great deals and opportunities and in this case they serve a purpose. But for the working class that only has time for one major vacation per year they can be more of a hindrance in some ways. We had always booked directly through the cruise company, and for Royal Caribbean Jany was even a member of the Anchor and Crown Club which got her special treatment. But this time I told a friend of mine who was a travel agent about our plan and he asked that we book through him because the cost was the same and he could make some money plus he said he would have a bottle of champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries in our room upon arrival. So we figured why not…well here is why not: when we called Royal Caribbean to ask them questions they saw that we booked with a travel agent so they told us that we should direct all questions to the agent. This was a bit annoying but understandable as they are paying the agent a commission. So we contacted him but it always took him a day or two to get back to us. It may not seem like a big deal but for two people who were counting every second until the biggest vacation of their lives it was a big deal. In the future we will go through the cruise company.
But there is a lot more to planning a 7 day cruise than just picking a cabin and a date and Royal Caribbean does a tremendous job of supplying you with tools to plan. The best thing they do for you is provide a website where you register with your cruise information and the site is personalized with all the details of your trip. So you can check a countdown of days to sail, see exactly where your room is located on this ship, get a checklist of things to remember to pack and most importantly reserve your dining times, excursions and shows in advance! This feature is incredibly important because there are close to 3,000 people on the ship (did I mention the ship is ginormous?) and so shows, excursions and dining times can fill up fast. Tip: Do not wait until you are on board to sign up for shows, excursions and dining times as your preferred selections and times may not be available. We were very interested in a couple of the comedy and dance shows and we knew they would fill up quickly so we immediately reserved our spots and then based on the time of the shows we reserved our dinner times. We also reserved the two excursions that we wanted because they were among the more popular. One of the main complaints that we read about the Oasis of the Seas is that it was too crowded, and while this can become an issue if you are not prepared, we spent our time preparing and were rarely inconvenienced by the crowds. One of the main situations where we needed to be extra prepared was during the Dreamworks Parade, which will be discussed in a later post. But all in all if you prepare well you will not have too much of a problem with crowds.
So to sum up the planning portion (which is a major aspect of a 7 day cruise on an incredibly popular ship) you need to:
- Book a balcony cabin around the middle of the ship
- Deal directly with the cruise line
- Spend a LOT of time on your personalized website choosing shows, dining and excursions
- Get all of your ducks in a row, and by ducks I mean passport, tickets, cameras, iPads, books and anything else you can’t live without
- BONUS TIP: They might tell you boarding begins at 2pm, but they are lying to make their lives easier, get their around 10am and you will be one of the first on board and have what feels like a whole extra day on the ship, we will cover this in the next post in more detail
A quick preview of the Oasis of The Seas
Here are the links for the other Oasis of The Seas Posts:
Oasis of The Seas Boarding and Day 1
Oasis of The Seas Day 2: Atlantis and 150 Central Park
Oasis of The Seas Day 3: Central Park, Rising Tide Bar and a Bow for the Bow
Oasis of The Seas Day 4: Sort of Alone on the Ship
Oasis of The Seas Days 5 and 6: St. Maarten and Dreamworks Parade