Oasis of the Seas Trip Report - January 2015
by Linda Johnson
Jan Fisher and I boarded the beautiful Oasis of the Seas today, January 3, for our “FAM” (familiarization) trip. We always sail the week before our poker cruise to check out the ship, meet the key employees with whom we'll be working closely, and experience first-hand all of the ship’s amenities so that we are better able to make suggestions of what to do (or not do) during your vacation. As we say, just pack and leave the rest to us. We will be sending a few blogs this week to let you know what you will encounter during your vacation. After all, we need to justify the fam trip.:)
Our flight arrived in Ft. Lauderdale this morning at 6:15 a.m. Since boarding doesn't start until about 11 a.m, we reserved a “day rate” room at the Rodeway Inn at 2440 W. State Rd.84. I highly recommend this to anyone who has a lot of time to kill on embarkation day or debarkation day if your flight doesn't leave until the evening. The day rate is $49 (rates may go up to $59 soon), and includes free pickup and transport from the airport to the hotel (or from the ship to the hotel at the end of the cruise), a room, access to the pool, free breakfast, and a ride to the ship or airport. We grabbed some yogurt and oatmeal and went to nap since we did not sleep on the red-eye flight. When we woke up at 2 p.m, we got ready and took the hotel shuttle to the ship. The shuttle is free until about 11 a.m and then is $2-$5 per person after that time.
We boarded with ease about 3:30 p.m today; the seamless process has certainly been perfected for a ship this size. While you would expect lines and waits, we were processed and onboard within 10 minutes from the time we were dropped off at the pier… not too bad considering we were among 6,000+ guests.
Walking onto the Oasis of the Seas was like coming home for us. We have sailed at least a dozen times on this ship. That said, we still love to watch the looks on peoples' faces as they experience the grandeur of the Oasis. There is so much to see and do that it will take you the full week to really get a good feel for the ship.
By the time we got to the cabin, it was time to go to the mandatory fire drill. After the drill we unpacked then went to meet with our group coordinators. We have about 350 passengers in our poker group; with a group this size and with our poker room needs, we need to have “go to” people on the ship's staff. Our first topic of business was to inquire about having television access in the poker room. With some exciting football games scheduled during the cruise, we want to make sure that you can play poker without missing the sports action. We were ecstatic to find out that ESPN is readily available on the poker room big screens. Other channels may be a bit of a challenge but our coordinators will do their best to make it happen for our group.
The food on the Oasis is very good. I prefer to eat dinner in the Windjammer Buffet because there is a big selection of choices and you can easily get in and out in less than an hour. Also, casual clothing and shorts are always in style there. Tonight the theme in the buffet was “Texas BBQ.” The ribs and the corn on the cob were delicious! Post dinner, a short walk was in order followed by the comedy show. One of the comedians was very good; the other...not so much. After the show, we walked on the promenade where we were delighted to find that all of the lounges have become non-smoking. Boleros, a place with great Latin music, has always been off-limits to me as I hate smoke. RCCL must have listened to their clientele as it was totally smoke-free. Also, Dazzles, a great dance club was smokeless along with the Pig and Whistle. Guess I'll finally get to go to some sing-a-longs!
The weather was perfect for a stroll through Central Park before going to the room for some late-night TV. I will like it a lot better a week from today when you are here with me and we can play some poker!
Tomorrow is a sea day. We'll use the day to sleep in and recharge. We will probably play trivia, go to the pool, use the gym, and enjoy being lazy and spoiled. We'll blog at least twice more this week with tips and hints to make your trip more enjoyable. If you have any specific questions about your upcoming cruise, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll answer them for you. I plan to be online at least once a day.
Today's Top Travel Tips:
1. It is important to register for the RCCL awards program, much as you would a frequent flier club to earn mileage and flight bonuses. You can do this on the ship at the Loyalty Desk.
2. Lay the clothes you plan to pack for the cruise on your bed. Now put half of them back in your closet! You just won't need as much as you think you will need. Traveling light is a whole lot easier and more efficient. If you forget anything, there are plenty of stores in port.
3. If you need to use the internet during the cruise, consider buying a package. The unlimited package starts at $200 which will give you 24/7 access to the internet throughout the week. A 24-hour pass starts at $35 and the hourly rate starts at $20.
4. If you drink a lot of soda or alcohol, check into the drink packages. There are many choices based on your preferences and needs.
5. Book your excursions online today! Tomorrow is too late since you are at the deadline. The ship is already sold out of many of the best excursions.
6. If you don't like waiting in line, plan to arrive at the ship between around 3pm. Don't arrive later than 3:30 p.m. Besides, you won't be allowed to go to your stateroom before 1 p.m. at the earliest.
7. You must complete your online check-in before arrival at the pier. To expedite processing, bring a copy of it with you.
8. Bring small change with you. I like carrying $1s and $5s around the ship to tip for good service. The staff doesn't expect it and it will make you happy to see their smiling faces.
9. Be sure to pack anything you need for the first night (medicine, passport, change of clothes, etc) in your carry-on bag since it might take a while to get your luggage. I always carry my luggage onto the ship so I can unpack and have everything when I want it... another benefit of packing lightly.
10. I recommend Central Park Cafe for lunch on embarkation day. Most people go to the Windjammer Cafe and it gets filled to capacity at times.
Please come to the poker room (conference room on deck 3) between 1 and 3 p.m if you are on the ship by then to pick up your badges. We ask that you attend our welcome-aboard party at 5 p.m. We are trying to get the venue changed, so stay tuned for an update. We were scheduled to have the party at Dazzles, but that lounge isn't big enough for our group so we are requesting to have the venue changed.