This is for those who are about going on the Oasis-of-the-Seas.
We went on May 8, 2010. Seemed like this is last date before the more expensive summer rates kick in. Had we gone a week later, we would have had to pay hundreds of dollars more per person. We booked our cruise through Costco Travel. Seven of us stayed in three staterooms.
We live in Fort Worth, TX and chose to book our flights ourselves. We flew to Fort Lauderdale a day early so that we could be sure we would not be late for the cruise.
Months before the cruise date, we booked our “My Time Dining”, reserved specialty restaurants, and shows; and got what we wanted. All was done on the Royal Caribbean website. “150 Central Park” Restaurant is extremely popular and can fill up very quickly. I saw people standing in lines at Guest Service desks trying to reserve restaurants and shows. They are wasting valuable time on the ship.
Get luggage tags from Royal Caribbean a few weeks before your cruise and put them on your luggage. With the luggage tag, you will be able to drop your luggage quickly at the curb when you arrive at the ship terminal.
We also checked in online in advance and received our paper Seapass. You will need the paper Seapass and your passport to check in. If you don’t get your paper Seapass in advance, your check-in process will be much more time consuming. A permanent Seapass will be issued to you after you check in. Use the Seapass to get in your room or make purchases. You will pay for your purchases at the end of your trip. No cash or credit cards are needed during your trip.
For the 5:00 PM departure, we got to the ship terminal at 11:00 AM and were on board at 11:30 AM. When you board the ship, you will be greeted on Deck 5, the Royal Promenade. Your room will not be ready until 1:00 PM so if you come on board before your room is ready; there are plenty of places to eat on Deck 5, or the Park Café on Deck 8, or the crowded Windjammer buffet on Deck 16.
Royal Caribbean website has a list of free and paid restaurants. Get to know where all these restaurants are located prior to your cruise.
There are two dining times for “My Time Dining” in the Opus Restaurant 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM. Book one of these times and you will get to eat at the same time, same table, and be served by the same wait staff every night. That doesn’t mean you have to eat there every night… you can skip it and go eat somewhere else any night if you like. If you didn’t reserve your “My Time Dining” and want to eat at Opus, just show up they will seat you when they have an available table.
Royal Caribbean publishes a day planner every day. Daily planner is an invaluable document as it tells you what is going on on the ship the next day. Read it the night before so that you cap map out your activities for the next day. Royal Caribbean devotes one TV channel to inform you of all activities in details.
We didn’t book any shore excursions with Royal Caribbean. I think they are overpriced. We made our own arrangements and I describe those excursions on my Day 2, Day 4, and Day 5 Blog. In Nassau, you can take the ferry ($3 per person one way) to Paradise Island to visit the Atlantis. We loved Magens Bay Beach in St Thomas and Orient Beach in St Maarten. In St Maarten, if you just want to go to the closest beach and shop, then take the water taxi from the ship dock ($3 per person one way). If you drive in St Maarten, be aware that the traffic congestion is BAD.
Carry your Seapass and passport when you get off the ship so that you can be allowed back on.
Return to the ship 30 minutes before the time they state on the day planner. The ship will not wait for you.
On our cruise, formal nights were on Day 2 and Day 5. Not many people wear tuxedos or evening gowns anymore. On formal night, I wore a suit and a tie and Lee had on a nice dress.
Even with 6,000 passengers and 2,500 crew members, we did not feel crowded at all.
Royal Caribbean has photographers that can take great pictures of you and your party. Face recognition software allows them to place your pictures in your folder in the Focus Shop. Your folder number is printed on your Seapass. Pictures are expensive and can range up to $20 per copy. We didn’t buy that many pictures from Royal Caribbean. We took our own pictures (1,653 of them).
If you decide not to go to any of the specialty restaurants, I still suggest you go into all of them during their non-busy times and look around. The “150 Central Park” and “Chops Grilled” Restaurant; and Vintages Bar all on Central Park have awesome decors.
The paid internet service on the ship is very slow. I bought 500 minutes for $150 but only used a third of it because I got so frustrated and gave up. Went to Guess Service and they refunded me the unused portion.
De-embarkation process is simple. Pay attention to what they inform you through the day planner or Channel 14, and fill out forms they give you and you will be able to get off the ship without any problems. They will allow you off the ship at Port Everglades as early as 6:30 AM so if your flight is 10:00 AM or later, you should not have any problem making your flight.
I have one word for those who are going : UNBELIEVABLE!!!
Enjoy your cruise and feel free to add to or correct any of my notes.
You can go here for details of my cruise: