Wednesday 30 December 2015

Operation Oasis: Day 5

Time to play catch up! I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I took a little extra few days due to the holidays but I am determined to finish this trip report! It is, however, getting a bit difficult to recall certain things because it's been a month since the cruise. But anyhow, let's begin...

St. Maarten is one of my favourite ports. There is always something to do, a new beach to explore and the most welcoming atmosphere. This time, we decided to check out Maho Beach. Maho Beach is on the Dutch side of the island, and it is known globally for its close encounters with airplanes. We took a taxi to the beach, the going rate is $8 per person in a group of four or more. The drive through the island was about 25 minutes. The beach was already overcrowded when we arrived. It was difficult to walk through the beach and because the tide was so high, there was little space to lay on the beach (as you can see in the photos below). The sun was beaming down on us, and it was a scorching hot day. 

We sat on the rocks as we watched the planes land. It was an amazing feeling, and even after the third, fourth and fifth planes, I was just as amazed. It's just insane how close the planes land! The airport runway is literally behind the beach umbrella, across the road! Halfway through our stay, we realized there was a surfboard at the bar with the arrival times of the planes! Do check out that board at the beginning of your stay if you're at Maho Beach for some extreme plane spotting. Only one plane took off while we were there and we definitely felt the engine. It was so strong that it created waves in the ocean, and people standing directly in its path were being blown away into the ocean. Overall, it was a neat experience and I'm glad we had the chance to visit Maho Beach but I don't think I will return to this beach. 

We shared a taxi with another family on our return to the ship, but we decided to stop in downtown. We walked around town, had a quick meal at McDonald's and purchased a few souvenirs. Nothing has changed in St. Maarten. We took the water taxi back to the ship and paid for the ride on our way out. It was then that I realized we were going to be ship runners, we were five minutes away from sail time... but why is no one else running? I booked it anyway, and slipped in a puddle, but got back up and made the world's fastest purchase at the Guavaberry stand by the security checkpoint, and I ran to the ship with the boyfriend close behind me. The line up moved slowly, and we made it onto the ship just as it was supposed to leave - or so we thought. When we finally made it back to our cabin, albeit a little confused, we discovered we were an hour early. The moral of the story is... Make sure you are on ship time!

The pictures above do not do St. Maarten any justice. The weather was beautiful - blue skies and sunshine, but somehow it didn't translate in our photos.. 

That night was the only night we were able to watch the ship leave the dock on the deck. The sun had set and St. Maarten was all lit up. It was a beautiful view. When there was finally no more land in sight, we quickly beelined it to the dining room for dinner.

I had pasta for dinner, but I was not full. So, we headed upstairs to the Windjammer for seconds. Again, we took a walk on the Boardwalk, and wandered into the Opal Theatre where Mad Max was playing in 3D. It was a strange movie, so we decided to head down early to Studio B for Frozen in Time. The ice skating show was based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales - The Ice Queen, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, etc. It was enjoyable, and props to the skaters for being to skate so well on the ship in rocky waters, but I do think children would enjoy it much more. Unfortunately, there were not too many in the audience. During the show, they also had a sand artist illustrate The Princess and the Pea on a projector. The art was amazing - I'd never seen anything like it!

As usual, after the show, we grabbed a quick bite in the Promenade before turning in - to the casino that is - yet again. We gambled our night (and money!) away as the ship sailed into the night...

The next two days are at sea! Our trip is ending, sadly. Stay tuned for our onboard adventures as our ship returns to Fort Lauderdale. 

Want to start from the beginning? Navigate through our cruise here:
Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Day 7

Saturday 19 December 2015

Operation Oasis: Day 4

When I woke up to get ready for our excursion, we had already docked in St. Thomas. The excursion we had booked was the Sapphire Beach Island Drive. Overall, it wasn't all bad, but reviews for this excursion were pretty harsh. Now I'm not expecting limo service, but our shuttle was pretty ghetto like everyone else said. It was a long, and dangerous 20 minutes on the narrow, steep roads of St. Thomas. We arrived at the beach to discover the resort was under renovations, which meant a lot of shoddy looking buildings and a mystery food menu (we later discovered it was a BBQ station hidden behind the hotel). The water at Sapphire Beach was cool and it was mostly calm, but there were enough waves and movement for the water to become cloudy. We had complimentary snorkeling gear, but the cloudy water made it difficult for us to be able to see anything underwater.

Look at that! Not one single soul on the beach! Just kidding. There were tons of beach folks to our left. We were second cruise group to arrive, and there were a few vacationers, but it did not feel crowded at all. We lounged on the beach, and I read a book as the boyfriend slept.

On the way back, our driver stopped at this popular peak for us to take photos. You can see three ships docked on the left side, Havensight. Oasis docked on the far right, at the lousy dock, Crown Bay, with no stores. But what a view it was! It was just breathtaking. We requested to be dropped off in downtown, and we grabbed lunch at a Greengos. It was quite expensive as we only ordered two quesadillas with water. Our bill was $35 USD after tip due to the mandatory 18% gratuity. After a short walk around the block, we took a taxi ($4 per person) back to the terminal. As we waited to board the ship, we were entertained by the street art on the ground. 

We stayed in the dining room for dinner that night. Our server surprised us with a Jamaican goat curry. The featured dish of the night was chicken gyoza, which was surprisingly delicious. However due to bad presentation, I don't have a picture of the dish. The boyfriend thought it was freshly made on board, but I thought they were store bought frozen gyozas. I guess we'll never know!

After dinner, we walked around the Boardwalk again. We like to get in a quick walk - and a breath of ocean air every night after dinner. At that time, it is often way too windy on the upper decks, so the Boardwalk was perfect for us. Our entertainment of the night was a late night comedy show featuring Kivi Rogers, and another comedian. Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the other comdeian, but Kivi stole the show. He kept us in tears the entire time.

Day five was another port day at St. Maarten, one of my favourite ports. I'll be back soon to tell you all about it. Hope you're enjoying my trip report, stay tuned!

Want to start from the beginning? Navigate through our cruise here:
Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Day 7

Monday 14 December 2015

Operation Oasis: Day 3

Day three started with an early wake up call to the spa. I had an appointment for a full body massage with hot stones (for an extra cost). Unfortunately for me, I have very tense shoulders so it wasn't as relaxing as it was painful. In addition to my treatment cost, Royal Caribbean charges a mandatory 18% gratuity on top of it.

Day three was also our first sea day of the cruise. The winds were strong and the waves were rocky at sea. After the spa, I took a quick nap before lunch at our favourite place, the Windjammer Cafe. Afterwards, we spent the rest of our day on the deck in the Solarium, watching the clouds.

We decided to skip the dining room for dinner. Instead, we headed to Sabor for a Mexican fiesta. Sabor is a la carte, therefore there is no cover charge. We ordered two dinner tasting menus for our group. The tasting menu allows you to order one small plate, one taco or quesadilla, one main course, one side and a box of sweets. Our waiter made fresh guacamole in front of us. We ordered a ceviche, calamari, tuna crudo taco, quesadilla, mole short rib, and Mexican rice. Two samplers were plenty of food for us, we had no room for dessert!

The entertainment of the night was the Headliner Show at the Opal Theatre. The entertainer was Kenny James of Star Search fame. He sang old favourites, with a backup band and his son on bass. He got the crowd dancing and singing along, but it was a quiet night with a half full theatre. It was good music for the night, but I felt Royal Caribbean could have done a little bit better. You can tell why Kenny James was singing on cruise ships - his voice certainly wasn't very strong.  I believe he had a CD for sale after his show, and he was also offering autographs by the exit.

We turned in early after the show. But I didn't go to bed just yet, I ordered a chocolate pear tart from room service while the boyfriend chowed down on the Sabor desserts. My absolute favourite dessert on Royal Caribbean ships is this chocolate pear tart on the room service menu. It is the best! Not overly sweet, and just the right amount of fruits to chocolate. I always try to have it as often as I can when I'm on board.

The next day was our stop at St. Thomas, the only port with a booked excursion, and we had to get up early. Until then...!

Hope you're enjoying the trip report, I'll be back soon to tell you more!

Want to start from the beginning? Navigate through our cruise here:
Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Day 7

Friday 4 December 2015

Operation Oasis: Day 2

Our first port of call was Nassau. We had an early arrival at 7 AM. Because we had been to Nassau before, the boyfriend and I decided to sleep in. We had looked out our window to a dark, and gloomy looking sky. We finally woke up around 11 AM. We grabbed a couple danishes from Cafe Promenade before heading on land.

We walked around downtown, and took a quick look at the Straw Market. Nothing had changed much in Nassau, but I noticed there was a lot more haggling than my previous trip in May 2012. It was humid but the wind was strong. It was pretty uncomfortable so we decided to head back to the ship. We made it back to ship at 1:30 PM. As usual, we had lunch at the Windjammer and marvelled at the Norwegian Getaway, which was docked next to us. We walked around Oasis' Central Park on deck 8, and headed back to our cabin to get ready for dinner.

So early! I know but day two was also formal night. "And that's why the ship leaves Nassau at 2 PM," our server told us the night before, "don't be late," because we would have plenty of time to get ready. I think the menu was one of my favourites during the week. Over the years, I feel like Royal Caribbean's menu has become mediocre. Usually, nothing stands out for me and I have a hard time picking out an entree. I had a roasted duck and a virgin Miami Vice.

After dinner, we headed over to the Opal Theatre for Cats. Now I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about this show, mostly negative, but I truly love everything cats (the animal) so I was willing to give it a try. I'm sorry to report that I did not enjoy the musical. After the first number, I was genuinely confused by the storyline. I had no idea what was going on, and what was a jellicle cat? The boyfriend was falling asleep, and after the song about the fat cat, I decided it was time to leave. I tried! My in-laws, on the hand, stayed and really enjoyed the second half - and I've heard that the second half is amazing, but I truly couldn't sit through the first half.

So, off we went to Casino Royale for a little while before turning in to this adorable towel elephant.

Stay tuned for day three - our first sea day!

Note: Before I started this trip report, I noticed I didn't have as many pictures as I wanted to have for our trip. This may be because we'd been on Oasis' sister ship, Allure of the Seas, on the same itinerary.

Want to start from the beginning? Navigate through our cruise here:
Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Day 7