or take a stroll on the boardwalk,
or through central park,
(All without leaving the cruise ship)
Recently I was invited to participate in RCCL’s Inaugural Sailing of their newest (and biggest) ship, the Allure of the Seas (along with a couple thousand other Travel Professionals and Press) for a 2 day cruise experience on their then Brand New Ship. Now I must admit that being a veteran cruiser of her sister ship (and virtual twin) the Oasis of the SEAS (which I also sailed on in April of the same year) that I almost decided to pass on the offer. How Glad I was that I didn’t. And my wife couldn’t agree with me more! Is Bigger really better? At a whopping 2 inches longer, ALLURE now gets to boast the title of largest passenger cruise ship in the world. While on this most recent sailing aboard the ALLURE we (wife, Angie and I) occupied one of the Balcony Staterooms on Deck 10, situated roughly at mid-ship.
SO WHATS THE BIG DIFFERENCE? It appears that RCCL has implemented some genuine improvements in their latest version of a city at sea. The first difference we noted was in the shipboard artwork. Very much a nautical, as well as a plethora of worldwide cultural themes (while both very imaginative yet tastefully done) BRAVO RCCL! The art was actually a variety of different styles and feelings, so great that I found myself having to stop (from where I was intending to go) in order to take a closure look at some of the exhibited works. The next thing we observed was the friendliness of the crew/staff in the Windjammer Dining Room. Definitely a better response with everyone (that we interacted or observed) being as helpful as they could, and they were very helpful and approachable with and towards the guests. It actually seemed as if management had hand selected the crew on this ship. Like the best for the best. It certainly showed!! A definite good foot forward.
We also found some neat improvements in the stateroom areas as well. From items like the carpet, to cabinetry, to the privacy dividers between balconies (all of) which featured a different but distinctive wave pattern. I would also say that the staterooms seemed refined and tastefully appointed, just as were those on Oasis. However, the electrical outlets were more conveniently located near shelves and ledges, not to forget the really cool ipod docking/charger stations (complete with easy to read LED clock) which definitely make for a marketable improvement.
While I had heard of some complaints regarding the lack of adequate storage space, and problems with the closet slider doors, I have to say that neither my wife nor I felt short-changed in the least. I would tell you the bathroom shelves were raised making them much more functional, as well as the shower doors, which were two bi-directional sliding type, which made it quite easy for me to get into and out of (as I am full-sized). And dare I fail to mention the bedding. The mattresses were far better than most, while the duvets were just to die for, and I am really not the duvet dying type, but I know quality when I see and feel it. Nicely done RCCL!!
Ok, now that we have dropped our bags, and filled our bellies we made our way through some other parts of the ship. The Boardwalk area was the same as Oasis with one change which was Rita’s Cantina, and the only negative (if you could call it that) was that the food portions were larger than I really needed to eat. Now while there was a Sorrento’s Pizzeria, (complimentary custom pizza by the slice) on the Oasis, I didn’t remember a coke machine capable of dispensing over 160 different flavor combinations. There is also the Boulevard Café (Café Promenade on Oasis) both open 24hrs, with Seattle’s Best Coffee and sumptuous treats (Also Complimentary). These are just the enhancements and improvements I observed, and doesn’t even begin to describe the total experience of RCCL’s Oasis Class of ships. You definitely need to experience either of them for yourself. I can certainly say I would gladly sail them both again.
NOW FOR SOME SIMILARITES
Not even having left port, was the Parade on the Promenade where we were met by not only the entire DreamWorks cast of characters, but with the very Godmother of the ship herself, Princess Fiona. While the entertainment for the kids was terrific, I am most happy to report that ALL of the adult entertainment especially the Blue Planet Presentation was absolutely awesome. These two amazing ships are a definite MUST SAIL, for anyone who fancies themselves as avid cruisers. All said, it has been a job Very Well Done Indeed by Royal Caribbean International!!!
Now as I alluded do in the beginning here is a list of things that one can do to occupy their time while awaiting your arrival at your next exciting Caribbean port of call.
Complimentary Dining Venues: Main Dining Room(sit down courses), Windjammer (casual), Solarium (healthy choice dining), Sorrentino’s Pizzeria (pizza custom made by the slice), Boulevard Café/Café Promenade (open 24hrs light fare & coffee).
Fee Dining Venues: Johnny Rockets(small fee pp), Rita’s Cantina/Seafood Shack (small fee pp), Chops Grill (signature steak house), 150 Central Park (upscale specialty dining), Giovanni’s Table (Italian trattoria), Park Café (indoor/outdoor café), Vintages (wine bar), Trellis Bar (crystal canopy bar)
Energizing Activities: Zipline, Flow Rider (2 surfing simulators), Rock Climbing Wall (2 of them too) Miniature Golf, Sports Court (basketball), and not to forget the hand carved Carousel. While children need be a certain height to ride there are some other milder motion rides and playful activity spaces situated throughout the Boardwalk area.
Entertainment geared: The Casino Royale, Main “Opal” Theatre (nightly shows & performances),Blaze Night Club(dance music), Boleros (Latin Dance Club), On Air Club (Karaoke and Interactive), Schooner Lounge (piano bar and sing-along), Jazz on 4 (Jazz & Blues), Viking Crown Lounge (Big Band & Swing), Dazzles (nightly variety big band to disco), Studio B (ice shows and ice skating during the daytime), Comedy Live (adult shows), Aqua theatre (water shows). Central Park (Landscaped tropical foliage, flowers, shrubs and trees.
Kids Only Venues: (Youth Zone) featuring RCCL’s Adventure Ocean youth program, Ages 3 to 11 Adventure Science Lab, Ages 6mos-18mos Royal Babies, Ages 18-36mos Royal Tots, Ages 3-5yrs Aquanauts, Ages 6-8 Explorers, Ages 9-11 Voyagers, Ages 12-17yrs Teens (these cruisers have use of Fuel (teen disco), The Living Room (teen lounge), The Back Deck (activity gaming area), Youth Spa/Fitness (specialty areas designated for just teens).
Vitality (spa & fitness) venues: Fitness Center (Cardio, Resistance, Free-Weights, Studio fitness classes, and Kenesis center), Spa Center (Massage, Thermal suites, Rasul Chamber, Beauty Salon –Full Service, Medi Spa, Y Spa and Fitness.
Pools : (there are five) H2O Zone, Main Pool, Sports Pool, Beach Pool, & Solarium Pool
Shopping Venues: Everything from Coach and High line boutique and jewelry shops, to Duty Free, sundries and logo apparel. There are some cool kids places like Candy Beach (candy store), Cupcake Cupboard (special order cupcake designs), and the way cool Pets at Sea (create your own plush animals).
Bar Lounges: 15 dedicated, with 3 more inside venues, plus 4 outdoor located on the pool deck (I think).
Accommodations: The Oasis Class ships offer 37 different categories to choose from. Including Inside, Oceanview, and Balcony Staterooms. Promenade View Staterooms. Boardwalk View, and Balcony Staterooms. Central Park View, and Balcony Staterooms. Family Inside, Oceanview, Balcony Staterooms, and Suites. Suites types include Junior, Grand, Family, Aqua Theatre, Owner’s, Presidential, and Royal. Loft Suites include Crown, Sky, and Royal.
Now while I have spent the better part of 12 days on board the two Oasis class ships of RCCL, I am sure that there may have been something I could have missed. But I hope you have garnered an idea for what is awaiting you aboard these highly innovative ships. Check out (click here) the many astonishing maritime facts and the endless exciting things to try to get accomplished in only 7 days!!!!
Here’s a tip from Mike, on two of his favorite things to do, (On the Oasis Class Ships) and they are both located in the same spot on these ships. On the boardwalk area right before you get to the carousel, you will find the ice crème shop. You Must try this. You might look at the selection and think hum that’s not much to choose from, but the flavors are absolutely delectable. It cost a few bucks and you can get cup, cone, or sundae/split and its well worth the treat while cutting through the high seas at 20 knots. The other is located outside the ice crème parlor (only in the very early mornings), where they serve freshly made donuts and coffee (it’s all free) and are worth the walk down, and there’s hardly a soul there. Enjoy!! Oh yes for you Starbucks freaks. Fear not, your cup of Starbucks brew awaits your arrival on the Promenade forward just before the mezzanine bridge, while the coffee will set you back a few clams, the delightful goodies they have are complimentary!! Try that at your local java-brew-house…………………
For more information on these fabulous ships of the Oasis Class, or to book your next cruise or travel adventure, you can contact Mike via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . You can “Join” our Travel Club at http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . You can follow this blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also is editor of his own twice daily e-newspapaer called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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