Royal Caribbean

Thinking about Cruising

Thinking about Cruising

We’re getting ready to head out on a cruise. This time we’ll be leaving Fort Lauderdale and making our way to southern California, arriving in San Pedro Harbor, Long Beach, shortly after New Years. We’ll travel on the Princess Cruise line’s Coral Princess as we make our way through the Panama Canal.

Here’s a quick video we put together to help us get in the mood. It’s a series of clips we made aboard the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas, but to us, a ship is a ship!

We’re thinking about cruising, so we put together this quick video. We’ll be cruising aboard the Coral Princess and these video clips are from the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas, but to us, it’s more about being on the water and less about the actual ship.
Posted by Donald Fink in blog, Cruising, 0 comments
Whale Watching in Juneau, Alaska

Whale Watching in Juneau, Alaska

We’re in day two—or is it day three—of our Alaska Cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas, and today we spent a few hours whale watching.

This tour is one of the Royal Caribbean approved and sponsored tours with a local company in Juneau. The name of the tour company is Allen Marine. They sail from Auke Bay just north of Juneau. We were particularly pleased with the boat they used since it was big; bigger than most whale watching boats we saw on the water. You might think that the experience would be less “intimate” using a big boat, but the real result was that we were afforded a better view, perched atop the tallest thing on the water to observe the wildlife.

Our trip took us north from Juneau, past the Eagle Glacier and into Favorite Channel and Lynn Channel where the naturalist aboard knew that whales were likely to be feeding.

We only saw three Humpback whales up close and personal, but we stayed with each of the animals for a reasonable bit of time and saw quite a lot with just the three whales. And of course, on our way to and from looking for whales, we took in more wildlife. We saw a Bald Eagle, a Bob of Harbor Seals, and a Pod of Sea Lions.

We would love to show you the ship we’re on, and we’ll do just that in an upcoming post, but first, take a look at some of the images from our day on the water whale watching.

 

We also put together a quick video of our day whale watching in Juneau. Enjoy.
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Cruising, 0 comments
Cruising Aboard the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

Cruising Aboard the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

Not long ago, we boarded the Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas in Barcelona. We made a seven night tour around the Mediterranean, stopping in several places along the way. Some of our stops included Marseille, France, Villefranche, France, Florence, the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii, in Italy, and back to Barcelona.

We stayed on the ship and used it as our transportation back to Florida, with stops at Cadiz, Spain, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Las Palmas, Grand Canary Island, and La Palma, Canary Island. We then made our way across to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

We’ve made several Atlantic crossings, and it’s our favorite part of cruising, but it’s not necessarily for everyone. The good thing about an Atlantic crossing for us is that we spend several days at sea. The bad about an Atlantic crossing is that you spend several days at sea, and for some people, it might be a bit much.

Cruising aboard the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas. Take a few minutes to see what this great ship has to offer. Photos and Video by Don and Bonnie Fink.

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Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Cruising, 0 comments
Oasis of the Seas – Seven Days on a Royal Caribbean Oasis Class Ship

Oasis of the Seas – Seven Days on a Royal Caribbean Oasis Class Ship

Not long ago we ventured out on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas for a seven-night tour of the Western Caribbean. We made only three stops along the way at Labadee in Haiti, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico.

An Oasis Class ship is huge. It can accommodate 6,780 guests. But the funny thing is, you really don’t feel crowded. We’ve read countless posts from potential cruisers saying that they absolutely hate sailing on these “monster” sized ships, citing long lines and big wait times because of the overcrowding. Truthfully, we don’t see it. A ship like the Oasis of the seas has 24 guest elevators, 9 complimentary restaurants and 8 specialty restaurants. There are 11 bars and lounges on board, many of which have entertainment at night or even in the afternoon. When you think about it, a town that size wouldn’t have all of these services. There are even 3 doctors and 5 nurses aboard.

Service is generally good aboard this and other Oasis class ships, and the entertainment is what we consider to be above average in the cruise business. The great thing about Royal Caribbean is that they have so many ships, they employ a large number of entertainers. If you make several voyages, you’re likely to see different shows each time. With the exception of the main stage shows and ice performances, you’ll even see different performers each time you sail on the same ship since they tend to rotate through the fleet. The ice performances and main stage shows, of course, are often specific to one particular ship because the sets are complex.

So, what makes an Oasis class ship so much more than other ships? Let’s take a look:

Royal Promenade

Promenade aboard the Oasis of the Seas

The Royal Promenade aboard the Oasis of the Seas is located on Deck 5. It’s the central part of the ship where you find many of the shops, pubs, and cafés.  Photo by Donald Fink.

When you enter the Oasis of the seas for the first time, you enter on deck five and are presented with the Royal promenade. This is like the Freedom class ships in that it’s a central area designed to look like a street; maybe a typical small town in western Europe, or so it seems to us. There are shops and cafes, bars, just about everything you could need if you were visiting a small town on vacation.

Our favorite haunt was the Café Promenade. It’s a small café centrally located in the Royal Promenade that we used for our daily “people watching.” We would usually head down to the Café Promenade in the mornings after breakfast for another cup of coffee and a bran muffin. They serve up complimentary muffins and pastries, with sandwiches at lunch and dinner. Coffee and tea are also on the house, but you can buy specialty coffee drinks too. It made for some good competition for the local Starbucks that was located towards the forward end of the Royal Promenade.

Boardwalk

Carousel on the Boardwalk, Oasis of the Seas

Closeup of one of the horses on the Boardwalk Carousel. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Johnny Rockets is a hamburger chain that also has restaurants aboard the Oasis class and Freedom class ships. There’s an extra fee for lunch or dinner here, but aboard the Oasis of the Seas, breakfast is complimentary. We recommend Johnny Rockets if you’re looking for a burger that takes you back to mid-twentieth century America. They’re pretty close to the real deal as we remember them. Try the Peanut Butter Milkshake. If it’s not on the menu, ask for it anyway.

At the very back of the ship is the Aquatheatre. This is a pool that is close to thirty feet deep. You can take SCUBA lessons in this pool, and yes, there’s a five-star PADI dive center aboard the ship for this purpose. But the real reason for the Aquatheatre is for the show.

The Aquatheater presents one of those kinds of shows that you should plan to see early in your cruise, because you’re probably going to want to see it again. It’s hard to categorize, but the show you’ll see here involves water, high-divers, acrobats, and arial performances. Think of a circus-like stage show with a large swimming pool that is sometimes a pool and sometimes a stage, and even both. The stage raises above the water to provide dry land for performers, then lowers into the water for swimmers and divers.

There are also two rock climbing walls aboard the Oasis of the Seas, and they’re located at the Boardwalk.

Central Park

Seating in Central Park

You can find several very quiet and private areas to sit at Central Park, on Deck 8. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Up on deck 8 is Central Park. This area is also open to the outside, but is located in the central part of the ship. In other words, it’s open to the sky with stateroom balconies along each side, but the front and back are closed. The unique thing about Central Park is that it’s what you might expect by the name. it’s a park, complete with lush greenery and trees with walkways. And yes, the plants are real. Along the walkways, you can encounter a number of shops and restaurants, including the Royal Caribbean signature steakhouse, Chops Grille. There is also a restaurant called 150 Central Park that is elevated even above Chops Grille. For a complimentary lunch or dinner, there’s the Park Café, which is very popular.

There are three and a half bars in Central Park. We say three and a half because the rising Tide Bar is on a hydraulic platform. Part of the time it’s in Central Park on Deck 8, and part of the time it’s on the Royal Promenade on Deck 5. When it’s in the Central Park location, there are fountains below it in the Royal Promenade.

Deck 15 and 16

Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs

Looking down on the swimming pools and 4 of the hot tubs on Deck 15. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Decks 15 and 16 are where you might expect all the regular outdoor activities to be on a cruise ship. The pools, golf course, zip line, and the two Flowriders for our surfer friends are located up top. There are four pools and six whirlpools aboard this ship.

There’s one pool designed primarily for the youngsters with bright colors and water features, but there’s also an area set aside for the more mature crowd, meaning guests sixteen and older. This is called the solarium and is located in the front of the ship on Decks 15 and 16. There’s a couple of whirlpools, a café, bar, and plenty of areas for sunbathing and relaxing. It’s a quite oasis on an otherwise lively ship.

Deck 16 is also where the main buffet style dining area is located. It’s called the Windjammer Marketplace and it’s located towards the aft part of the ship, with views of either side of the ship, the basketball court and golf course and the zip line that spans the Boardwalk below.

Normally, Decks 15 and 16 would be the main attraction on a smaller ship. And if this was a normal ship except with over 6,000 guests, this would be an overcrowding situation without a doubt. What makes the Oasis class ships different is the other areas mentioned above. The Promenade, Boardwalk, and Central Park and significant areas of interest by themselves, and they certainly draw a large number of guests away from the usual sun-bathing by the swimming pool activity that seems to be the standard on smaller ships. The existence of these other areas is how we can justify saying that crowds are not really an issue aboard these massive ships.

Studio B

Frozen in Time

Several times during your cruise the show Frozen in Time will be offered in Studio B, Deck 4. Photo by Donald Fink.

The Oasis Class and Freedom Class ships have an ice rink. It’s called Studio B. This is another of those shows that you’ll want to see early on in the cruise if at all possible, because each time we’ve seen the show, we wanted to see it again.

If you want to try your hand on the ice while at sea, there are times when guests can take to the rink too. On our last cruise, there were two distinctive times for skating; one set aside for skaters who needed skates, and one for guests who brought their own ice skates onboard with them. Normally we’d think that bringing ice skates along on a Caribbean cruise might be a classic case for overpacking, but not aboard the Oasis of the Seas.

View of the Boardwalk

View of the Aquatheater and back of the ship. This is also the view you have if you have a boardwalk balcany. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

This is not close to a complete guide to all the Oasis of the Seas has to offer. We didn’t mention the theater, the gym, the great walk and running path on Deck 5, or even the three level main dining facility.

There’s no question that one of our favorite cruise lines is Royal Caribbean, and it’s no secret that of their massive fleet of ships, our favorite class of ship so far is the Oasis class. We’ve been sailing on Royal Caribbean since the 1990’s and they’ve always presented interesting ships with the “right” design. We must be in the middle of their target demographics, because they always have just the right amount of bling, the right amount of opulence, with surroundings that both wow us yet make us feel comfortable while we’re on-board.

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Cruising, 0 comments
Colon Panama

Colon Panama

Not long ago we made a short Caribbean cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas. Our trip took us along the western Caribbean and into some interesting ports along Central America. One stop that we found fascinating was Colon, Panama. This is the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal, and we had a chance to view the locks in operation. Continue reading →

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Cruising, 0 comments
Independence of the Seas, The Video

Independence of the Seas, The Video

We put together a short video with some more images of the Independence of the Seas that we thought you might enjoy. Check it out below. Watch the sound initially since the beginning of any cruise involves blasting the big horns on the ship, with other ships replying. We posted another article about the Independence of the Seas earlier and you can see it here. There was also an ice show aboard the ship. You can see some of the images from that show here.

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Cruising, Video, 1 comment
Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas

Yesterday, we boarded Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We’re on board for a 14 day Atlantic Crossing with a destination of Southampton, England. From there we’ll stay on board for another 14 days as we tour the Mediterranean with stops in Barcelona, Gibraltar, Rome, and a few others. We’ll post more on that later. Continue reading →

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Cruising, Europe, 1 comment
Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas

We’re in the Caribbean aboard the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas. This is the biggest ship we’ve sailed, and probably the largest cruise ship afloat. This week, we’re traveling from the Fort Lauderdale Port Everglades, to Haiti, jamaica, Cozumel, and back. We’ll have three “sea days”.

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been aboard a Royal Caribbean ship, and we’ve almost forgotten how different it is compared to some of the other cruise lines we’ve tried. The service is great and the ship is full of Wow factor.

Join us again in the next few days and we’ll have a complete description of this great ship with as many pictures as we think you can stand.

Posted by Donald Fink in blog, Cruising, 0 comments