Neither of us had ever been on a cruise before, and so when we did it we did it big. We chose the biggest cruise ship in the world — Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis of the Seas.”
After seven days in paradise, I’m better able to appreciate the phrase “Work hard but play harder.”
What follows are pictures, videos, and descriptions of our first cruise experience. Although we took over 500 pictures and documented 20 pages in a travel diary together, this post is intended to present a summary of the highlights of our week aboard the Oasis.
Day 1 – Boarding the Oasis
We flew from Detroit to Ft. Lauderdale the night before, so once we arrived at Port Everglades we were really anxious to board. The luggage handlers took our bags from the trunk of the taxi and we headed towards check-in. It was only noon — the ship departed at 5pm — so there was no line to get on board.
We were blown away by the size of the ship. The Royal Promenade reminded us of a mall. Three decks up was Central Park, which literally looked like a park:
There were 16 Passenger decks with 24 Elevators to move guests between them — and if that wasn’t enough, one of the bars was an elevator too:
When this “Rising Tide” bar rose from Deck 5 to Central Park on Deck 8, it had a fountain show beneath it to take its place:
We found our Stateroom around 2pm. It was bigger than we expected, but it’s clear that how we interpreted the size was a consequence of well-placed furniture.
Below, Cassie is taking the photo with her back to the window. There was enough space between the window and the bed to store our luggage, although we stowed our nicer clothes in the large closet with sliding doors to my left:
Directly in front of me is a vanity. To the left of the vanity you can barely make out the handle to a narrow cupboard that ran from the floor to the ceiling. The TV is on an arm that can be used to angle it towards the bed for better viewing. Here is a picture of our bathroom:
We changed into bathing suits and headed for the pool deck. Here is a shot from the pool deck looking down on the Boardwalk and Aqua Theater — look closely along the top and you’ll see someone riding the Zip-line:
Before the ship departed we did a quick Emergency Drill. We didn’t need to put on life-vests, we only needed to meet in our assigned area — ours was the gym — and have our Sea Pass scanned. After everyone on the ship was accounted for, the captain made a quick announcement and we watched a short instructional video. Once the drill was over we changed for dinner at the Opus Dining Room.
Dinner was tasty, but we noticed the wait staff was extremely attentive — almost to the point where we felt awkward about it. Thankfully, we never felt that way on other nights. Either the waiters were really overdoing it on the first night to make a good first impression, or maybe we simply got used to the waiters setting our napkins on our laps, pushing our chairs in, and moving our silverware around for us.
After dinner we went to a show in the Aqua Theater:
It was a combination diving, acrobatics, and dancing show called the “Oasis of Dreams.” They didn’t permit video or flash photography so these pictures came out pretty blurry:
On each side of the theater were huge LCD screens that highlighted the action:
The synchronized swimmers were our favorite part of the show:
In the immortal words of ZZ Top: “She’s got legs, she knows how to use them!”
Day 2 – At Sea Entertainment
As an aside, I wanted to include the following photo. It is a shot out of our apartment window back in Michigan. Imagine waking up every morning to this:
But when you’re on vacation, you look our your window and see this:
The view was absolutely serene. We spent some time staring out the window waiting for room service to deliver our breakfast, and had a conversation about just how mind-boggling the ocean is:
We wanted to check out parts of the ship that we had not yet explored, and we ended up on the entertainment deck. We weren’t interested in the Casino (it was a bit too smoky for us despite being divided into smoking and non-smoking sections), so we opted for ice skating:
Cassie was terrified that with her luck, she’d fall and hurt herself, and consequently spend the remainder of the cruise hobbling around with a sprained ankle or something. We braved the ice rink regardless of her concerns and she did just fine:
After a few laps we went up to the pool deck, where we signed up for the FlowRider and made Zip-line appointments. We got into our bathing suits shortly after taking this picture:
Now, the FlowRider was hands down my favorite thing on the boat. I’m a fan of surfing, but since I can’t surf in Michigan, I took full advantage of the opportunity to surf on the ship:
The thing is, FlowRiding on that tiny board is a lot more difficult than surfing on a longboard. Although the above picture may make you think I was able to do it immediately, I definitely wasn’t. I spent most of my time in positions like this:
To best illustrate my FlowRider experience during the cruise, I’ve put together the following video. Make sure your sound is on for the full effect:
Day 2 was Formal Night, so after the wipeout session we dressed up for a pre-dinner cocktail at “The Rising Tide” bar…
…and then took a before-dinner stroll through Central Park…
…and finally ate dinner at the Opus Dining Hall. It must accommodate a few thousand diners every night, so it is appropriately large, and spread across three decks:
The food was always delicious, and often presented beautifully. So beautifully, actually, that we got into the habit of photographing our food before eating it.
Instead of breaking up our meals into individual days, I’m just going to post all of the food pictures together here. You may want to skip this section if you’re hungry.
Antipasti – I didn’t expect a thin piece of ham wrapped around a slice of cantaloupe to taste “right” but it surprised me:
Surf and Turf:
Pasta with Marinara Sauce:
Rack of Lamb:
I’m a big dessert guy, so I was in heaven.
Warm Chocolate Cake:
Angel Food Cake:
Banana Cream Pie — hands down the most delicious thing we ate the whole trip:
Dulce De Leche Cheesecake:
Key Lime Pie:
Banana and Macadamia Nut Parfait — it wasn’t exactly what Cassie was expecting when she ordered it, but if I recall correctly, she ate it anyway:
Day 3 – At Sea, But You’d Never Know
Seriously, when I look at these pictures it looks like I’m in a city somewhere. Here we are having lunch at Giovanni’s Table:
Classic Italian Food served Family Style. We started with a Caprese Salad:
Our main courses were Lasagna, and Seafood Pesto Pasta:
After lunch we gathered in Schooner’s Bar for Team Trivia. It was at this point that we began to make friends on the boat. (Just in case any of you happen to read this — Hello to Sandy, Bill, Diane, Chuck, Jane, Reed, and Michael!)
We really enjoyed socializing over Trivia so we went back many times. We won a few times and got prizes like Royal Caribbean luggage tags, Oasis of the Seas backpacks, and a Royal Caribbean hat.
It was finally time for our Zip-line appointments, so we went to the pool deck to gear up:
Cassie rides the Zip-line!
I rode the Zip-line too, but since the sun had nearly set once it was my turn, none of the pictures came out.
We spent our evening in the On-Air bar (if you haven’t noticed already, there is no shortage of bars on the ship):
On-Air features Karaoke and other “Guests on Stage” performances like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Cassie sang Karaoke, turned lots of heads, and became a bit of a mini-celebrity for the remainder of the cruise:
Every night before arriving in one of the Ports of Call, our stateroom attendant would fold our towel into something awesome and leave it on our bed. The first Towel Art we discovered was a swan:
Day 4 – St. Thomas
Our original plan was to do a “Discover Scuba Diving” excursion in St. Thomas. Sadly, Cassie was unsure if she could safely participate after reading the health form. We weren’t too disappointed with many aspects of our trip, but this was one of the few. It would have been convenient if the health forms were provided on Royal Caribbean’s website, so that we could have consulted her doctor as we were planning the excursions.
Not to be discouraged, we planned a beach day at Magen’s Bay instead.
We were greeted by the songs of some of the Islanders…
…not to mention some other surprising locals!
We met up with other cruisers going to Magen’s Bay and piled into a Taxi-bus together. The terrain was really steep at some points, and once we reached a high elevation it allowed for some great shots of St. Thomas:
According to National Geographic, Magen’s Bay is one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the World. As a result, it was quite crowded:
It was a nice beach day. The water was so clear you could see down to your toes, and the water didn’t rush to shore in waves — so it was perfect for wading.
A waitress from a local bar walked up and down the beach taking food and drink orders. There was a shop that rented out things like beach chairs, and Cassie couldn’t resist the chance to relax on a floating mat:
After a few hours we returned to the port. We really wanted to take a picture of our ship, but the Oasis is so huge that I couldn’t fit the whole thing into one picture. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to shoot a panoramic, so here’s my crude version where I simply combined two photos:
For the sake of capturing the whole ship, I shot this video instead:
Now, this next picture is the only picture Cassie absolutely needed to have taken while on the cruise. She believed that if anyone was ever thinking of her on vacation, they were imagining her in the hot tub sipping a frozen beverage. Naturally, she ordered a Pina Colada and made her way towards a hot tub to secure this photo in her collection.
As we’re walking down the pool deck, though, I suddenly hear a loud gasp behind me. When I turn around, I see Cassie frowning the saddest frown possible, and pointing down to her Pina Colada — which has somehow ended up in her shoe.
Despite the momentary mishap, a bartender quickly replaced her drink. Mission Accomplished:
It’s astounding that we’ve been on the boat for more than half of our entire cruise and yet we still hadn’t visited parts of the ship. Here’s Cassie taking a moment to pose for a picture in the incredibly cute library:
We spent the evening dancing in the Royal Promenade, at a “Disco Dance Party!”
Many of the ship’s crew members dressed up for the event:
Cassie danced with this cowboy, but I wasn’t thinking and didn’t snap a picture during the moment. He was kind enough to stop to pose with her after the party:
Towel Art Take Two: A puppy!
Day 5 – St. Maarten
Once again, we ran into a bit of bad luck with our choice of excursion. We had chosen to go snorkeling at a snorkel park, but the weather was turning and causing really choppy seas:
Our snorkeling excursion was canceled, our Sea Pass cards were automatically refunded, and we spent the day inside on the ship. Cassie and I took a 30 minute Country Line Dancing class:
I’ve been debating on whether or not I want to post the video of me trying to shake my hips to “Achy Breaky Heart.” For the time being I’ll settle for posting the above picture, but I’ll consider coming back to add the video later if there’s some interest.
We ate lunch at one of the specialty-dining restaurants on the Boardwalk — Johnny Rockets. After splitting a chocolate malt, Cassie told me to stand by this statue guy for a picture.
Funny thing is, although she said “Go stand by him” I thought she said “Go stand like him.” We now have this accidentally silly but surprisingly endearing photo of me outside of Johnny Rockets:
We spent the afternoon playing Guitar Hero, playing Trivia, and buying some pictures in the ship’s photo store. After eating dinner we found a bar called “Dazzles.”
I say “found it” because it was a bit of a hidden gem — it was on the same deck as our stateroom, but our room was near the front of the boat and Dazzles was in the back. They featured a live band that played some Beatles songs and other great dance music:
We then had the privilege of watching the funniest live show we have ever seen — a spin-off of The Newlywed Game called the “Love & Marriage Game Show.”
A young couple (married for one year), a “middle” couple (married for seven years), and an old couple (married for 55 years) battled wits to see who knew their spouse the best. The old couple stole the show, but every couple had their moments — and I must say that I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.
Without going too much into it, let’s just say there were humorous tales of making whoopee, embarrassing admissions of flatulence, and unexpected comparisons of bra sizes:
Day 6 – At Sea, Still Cruisin’
We started our day at the Aqua Theater for the “2010 International Men’s Bellyflop Competition.” Six brave men varying from 200 to 300 pounds volunteered to hurt themselves for our entertainment:
It was undecided who the winner was, so for the finale they did a simultaneous flop-off. Sadly, the man representing Michigan did not win:
For dinner we made reservations at Chops Grille, another specialty dining restaurant in Central Park:
I’m normally not a beef-eater, but I couldn’t resist Lobster Tail and Filet Mignon:
For dessert we had Mudpie…
…and New York Cheesecake. Although it looked pretty serving the slices pointing up like this, we thought it was rather silly that we’d have to knock our desserts over to eat them:
After dinner we saw another show in the Opal Theater called “Come Fly With Me.” We didn’t love it as much as some other shows, but we were really impressed by the huge airplane prop they had for one of their dancing numbers. Dancers came out of the doors of the plane to tap-dance on the wings:
Late that night we participated in something called the Adult ‘Quest’ Game Show. The game works like this: Each team has a number. You acquire points by producing whatever the Game Show host is asking for.
The game started off quite tame. The host would say “I need two shoelaces that are not inside of shoes.” We quickly removed the laces from two shoes and ran them up to him to score some points.
But the game got progressively sillier. The host would say “I need a man wearing women’s shoes.” I quickly jumped into a teammate’s high-heels and ran up to the host to score more points:
It got progressively more silly and risque.
“I need a man wearing lipstick.”
“I need a man wearing lipstick without a shirt on.”
It proceeded like this until the finale, where the host asked for:
“A man, wearing lipstick, without a shirt on, wearing a woman’s bra, holding a handbag, doing a dance on camera.”
Which explains why this picture of me exists:
In my defense, “Everyone else was doing it too!”
Although you might think that for participating in such an embarrassing Game Show, you’d be awarded some awesome prizes. The thing is, we didn’t score enough points to win anything, and if I recall correctly, the team who won first place received keychains.
After the show we returned to our room to discover Towel Art Take Three: A seal!
Day 7 – Nassau, Bahamas
We finally had good luck with our excursion in the Bahamas.
We boarded a tiny boat called “The Flying Fish” so that we could go Parasailing!
Riding in the boat was a bit uncomfortable bouncing up and down in the rough water. Once we were in the air, though, it felt really smooth and enjoyable:
On our ride back in we were able to take this picture of the Oasis of the Seas next to another cruise ship, the Carnival Destiny, to give you a relative idea of its size.
I know I’m repeating myself but, this ship is HUGE!
In Nassau we got some souvenirs for people, including a painting by this street artist:
And since it was the last day of the cruise, and I had so much fun doing it each day, Cassie finally decided that she would try the FlowRider too:
Way to go Cassie!
All in all, it was an excellent trip to remember. It was a fantastically timed trip, and a great way to celebrate Cassie’s good health. We’ve been home for over a week now, and I am still experiencing what I like to call “Cruise Withdrawal.”
Thanks again Steve for sending us on this unforgettable cruise!
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