CruiseDivaNJ
Second Mate

Joined: 10/17/2011
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About CruiseDivaNJ

Sassy Social Media Girl, Cruise Girl, Conversation Starter, Content Curator. You can find my original "Cruise Chatter with CruiseDivaNJ" Discussion Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cruisedivanj/ Cruise & Travel Planner -www.windsorcrowntravel.com



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CruiseDivaNJ's Past Cruises

Oasis of the Seas

June 2011 - Oasis of the Seas to Caribbean

OASIS June 25 2011

OASIS June 25 2011 A little about Us; we are a family of 4. Me, my husband, Daughter (22) and Son (18). We booked this back in the beginning of 2010. This was our 12th ( the kids 10th or 11th) cruise. Most of our cruises we have left from the NY/NJ area leaving the hassle of flying behind. DS chose Oasis for his HS Graduation celebration cruise, so off we go to Ft Lauderdale. We flew in the day before and I made plans to see my friend aka ldquo;Birthday Sisterrdquo; who I hadn't seen in 30 yrs. We stayed at the Ft Lauderdale Cruise Port Hotel- a $17 taxi ride from the airport, very nice hotel and a 2 minute ride to the port (Port Everglades). We made arrangements at the hotel for a taxi ($6.00pp and DH gave them a $5 or $10 tip) to the port. We also booked them to take us to the Courtyard Marriot on our return (we booked a room for the day since our flight home wasn't until 5:30pm). DH called them when we disembarked and they were there in 2 minutes. DH and I stayed in a D1 (10198, a balcony hump-cabin) and our kids stayed across the hall in a C2 (10197, a Central Park balcony). Both cabins were excellent. Our D1 balcony had a table and 3 chairs. The table is so much better then a short and small side table we're accustomed to on the Voyager class. Embarkation couldn't be smoother; we were on board by 11:30. (yeah, okay maybe I should mention this... I remove my belt- take off my shoes, do everything Im asked. Not concealing or smuggling anything, but there I am setting off the alarms, and yes I had to be wanded) We checked on our cabin at noon and since our cabin attendant was finished he let us in. We left our carry-ons behind, locked the door and were off exploring. We stopped in to look at Cup Cakes on the Promenade! We stopped in to IZUMI to change our reservation time and to make sure they could accommodate preparing our sushi rolls using soy paper. When I saw a picture posted on a thread here on cc (a few weeks back) of Izumi I had commented that I thought the decor could have been more reflective of Asian style- I take that comment back, lol I do believe Izumi has great asian style and decor and affords the perfect vibe. Oasis Boardwalk Central Park, first impression, love it- but wouldnt miss it. Agreed, pretty innovative. Although Oasis is huge, we found it very easy to navigate. It never seemed a far walk anywhere. Maybe it was the mid ship location of our cabins.There were times the ship seemed crowded and times it didnt. We made it to Johnny Rockets for breakfast twice, but passed on it for lunch. Park Cafe became a favorite almost immediately. the roast beef sandwiches, panninis, soup were all very good. The Salad was my favorite. Always crowded, but we were always able to get a table. Tables are also very close together. Between indoor and outdoor seating the tables turned pretty quickly. The flavored water, okay, the Mango flavored water is really good. I didnt taste the others. Ask if the breakfast Egg Paninni has pesto if you are allergic to nuts. It did when we were on board. I thought it was actually a wonderful twist on an egg sandwich served on pannini. But if you are allergic to nuts, this is a breakfast dish one would never think has nuts.One of my favorite breakfasts was a [sesame] bagel with a roasted garlic and sun dried tomato cream cheese and lox. Viking Crown Lounge was another embarkation day pit stop for us. The ONLY indoor Bar and Lounge with a view to the sea. (I recommend a Pear Melon Martini) We chose My Time Dining (MTD) for this cruise. We have always gone traditional-late seating and although I prefer that over early/main I still always wished there could be a compromise. I want to start dining at 7:30 every evening! Voila, MTD showed up on board RCI ships. Although available on our Dec 2010 14 night holiday cruise, we still opted for late. This time around, going on Oasis and having to prebook your shows and entertainment, it forced us into trying MTD. The first night of MTD is not organized. There are 2 lines and both pax with and without reservations wait on either line. We waited around 15 minutes (I was not patient at the beginning and wanted to know why there werenrsquo;t separate lines. This is so where DH and I complement each other, he is calm, cool and collected- Me, not so much. This all changes the second night and there are separate lines and MTD runs fabulously!) We were first being shown to a table in an area at the far back that I didnrsquo;t like. Before he even got us to the table, I expressed how that wouldnrsquo;t work, we turned to a table for four that overlooked the deck below and asked if that would work and we were happily seated there for the rest of the cruise ndash; with the same wait staff, and at the same time (except for the nights we went to Izumi and Chops). MTD for us was the best experience ever! I can add here, after reading a few reviews prior to this sail that said the MDR food was only so-so, I had no expectations of anything but not-so-good fare. Boy was I surprised. The food in the MDR during MTD for us was way beyond good. I wont say excellent, but totally surprised it was so very, very good. Unlike my last review where I posted pictures of every plate of food that graced our table of 6, along with a post-it note hand written description, this time the food porn is sporadic. [NOTE: pictures not included in this posting] The first evening we had reservations for Oasis of Dreams, where, no pun intended, it rained on our parade.We all enjoyed the show, despite the rain and having to exit and take cover. My daughter and I being somewhat more critical of the performance thought the synchronization was off and the majority was more a gymnastics program rather then a dive show. Well, we could have been mistaken, because we were expecting more of a dive show. We did love the diving at the end. Okay, my daughter and I were just picking it apart, it was truly wonderful and very, very enjoyable! Everyone seeing this show will enjoy it. Loved the Red Bull divers. Make reservations, arrive at least 30 minutes prior to show time- and try to get the comfy chairs or you will be sitting on the benches. Day one- we could not get the cabin water to cool. (Day 2 we immediately called Guest services and it was fixed) The cabin - - as mentioned in many other reviews and live threads, the outlets are located under the ever-so-tiny desk area. This was an epic fail, but I heard it was corrected on Allure. Also, we felt there was not enough storage at all - and, the safe shrunk! How can it hold your valuables if it is getting smaller? It didn't affect us, we had a laptop lock for the laptop and locked other stuff in a suitcase. Also, no pullout clothesline in the shower. Ah, my favorite, our first day at sea! DH and I had breakfast at Johnny Rockets. I had scrambled eggs (which are the same as on windjamer buffet or if they are ordered in the MDR, they are not fresh eggs scrambled to order), My husband had over easy. Nothing to elaborate on. My daughter and I checked out the Coach, (to my surprise) they had a very nice selection. My daughter and I shared 2 cupcakes the entire cruise. The Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting and an Apple Pie cupcake with a sweet cream and cinnamon frosting - both were very good. Sorrentors; the busiest place on the promenade when folks return from excursions. Formal Nights on Board Oasis: Very nice. Folks seemed to all look fab. There are obvious folks in shorts and beachwear, but didn't see that in the MDR. Actually, there was one table not far from us, sorry to say they were looked at - so if you wear shorts, sneakers, tee shirts, yes you will probably stand out in the MDR on formal night as this was the definite minority. Most nights everyone looked really nice. Hairspray was AMAZING. Make your reservations online before you leave - make sure you dont miss it. Labadee. We all did the zip line in December, this time we voted to just chill on the beach. We took a one way ferry from Oasis over to the Columbus cove area. This was not available when we were on Explorer this past December, we surmise they only use it when Oasis and Allure docks (because of the amount of pax). We tipped ($10.00/ 4 chairs) one of the rci locals who helped us with lounge chairs and finding us an area. The buffet lines were long this time.We took the tram back to the pier. We chose not to walk through the markets, so I can't comment on whether they are aggressive or not. Here are some pictures, (they're not so great, we were moving and I took them with my Olympus indestructible water camera) How come I never heard it mentioned, there is an escalator on Oasis. Plus, you let yourself back in. Instead of handing your seapass for them to account for you, you slide it in yourself.There was a line for the ferry as soon as we disembarked on the pier at Labadee. Since this ferry wasn't available on our last cruise (explorer) we're surmising that it is used for the Oasis class ships. No clamshell canopy loungers on columbus cove beach, but plenty of shade from palm trees and smooth sand getting into the ocean. Helipad Champagne Sail Away from Labadee, By Invitation only. This was nice! Unless invited, you can not get to the helipad on Oasis. Im not sure whether it is a Diamond event or the invite went to all CA members. Everyone took pictures with King Julian, and the Hotel Director, he made a fabulous speech and the Master (blew) the horn a few times (even when a glass fell and broke, if I recall correctly, lol) IZUMI Tonight.emNom, nom, nom, nom, nom......I have to admit, I was quite impressed. We are admitted sushi-snobs, (if you didn't read earlier in this review, we stopped into izumi on boarding day to make sure they could prepare our sushi rolls with soy paper). While waiting a few minutes for our table at Izumi we strolled through the Windjammer. It seemed to be somewhat limited for our palates.While not Nobuor Morimotors, for me sushi on board has been long awaited for. Izumi proved to be very good. Everything tasted yummy and delicious. I like that on the Oasis Class shipsEdamame and Miso soup are complimentary . My daughter had the Noodle Bowl which is equivelent to Yaki Udon. My son had the beef hot rock and enjoyed it thouroughly. My husband and I tried all the rolls. I liked them all. I thought the Box Roll was great. Oh Jamaica! I actually love Jamaica. I know, I know some of you hate it, but we have always had pretty good experiences. This was our 3rd time to Jamaica, but (obviously) the first time our ship called on Falmouth. We usually wing it either rent a jeep or hire a private tour guide, it depends on the island. As we were looking into all inclusive places close to Falmouth, my husband came home from his office and said he spoke to an associate who just spent a week at Iberostara Rose Hall and recommended it. Other then Oasis- the Ship, this was the highlight of the cruise and our excursions. Wow, I dont often land vacation but I want to book a get away here right away--Falmouth is going to be a fantastic port. I bought Blue Mountain coffee and jerk spices. Within the market area, all the vendors were pleasant and friendly. There was absolutely no one trying to get you to buy their wares. There was no soliciting of any kind. Also, you will find a Taxi Rate Sheet small billboard that tells you the set prices to different locations. We didnt need to take towels with us to the Iberostar suites in Jamaica, they provide them for the day. The cost for the day was $75pp, and the cost of a taxi for the 4 of us was [as seen in the picture of taxi rates] - $40 each way. There are taxis waiting at Iberostar to take you back to the pier, so dont worry about contracting your first driver to pick you up at a specified time to return to the ship. Uh Oh, I didnt mention that the candy shack should really offer maybe just one thing in DARK CHOCOLATE? For those of us who stopped eating milk chocolate and would like something a little decadent, like dark chocolate. The Diamond Lounge is fantastic! The folks there (Charmaine and umm, I forgot) were wonderful! It was never crowded. On this cruise, children were not allowed. Since, the policy has changed. A side note on the towel situation/em/strong.Of course, I admit it didnt affect me much because I have a special husband who takes care of these type of things while I chill. The majority of the time there was between 1 and 2 towel stations opened and staffed on the entire pool deck. Only one sea day did we see a towel station in the Solarium staffed. This made it annoying for those of us situating ourselves in the Solarium. To make matters worse, when my husband trekked from the Solarium across to the opposite end of the pool deck, there was only one station staffed with 2 but half a dozen bar servers just standing around- it was a port day late afternoon. As expressed to RCI, we understand the towel situation and the need for this process, but they need to step it up and provide us, the passengers with staffed stations, so it doesn't take time out of our vacation. In 11 cruises, oura href=http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1439785page=7food/ain the MDR was THE BEST we have had yet........ You know what, we were very happily surprised.I wonder what makes a dining experience on the same cruise so totally different. We had EXCELLENT wait staff - and, the head waiters were at our table twice a night. They loved us. Everything we ordered came out as it should, not overcooked or undercooked. The only issue we had was one morning with eggs benedict in the MDR - they are ALWAYS hit or miss and if you dont know how they are supposed to be prepared and served, well you just wouldn#39;t know the difference. We went to Chops one evening (4 of us) and Izumi once for dinner and once for lunch. Right before we were leaving on this cruise, there was some bragging about the Lasagna on board Oasis. This left me awfully curious, so we all ordered it. It was ok- if you're Italian you'd expect a lot more. The white sauce on top is just that, a simple white sauce. Come on Royal, this dish needs some cheese! Lasagna must have cheese, not white sauce (poor attempt of a beacute;chamel). My time Dining worked wonderfully for us. I think a big reason MTD worked so well for us is because I explained how i wanted it to work for us and I didnt leave it to fate, lol. We explained that we have cruised before and always had traditional late seating, and trying MTD was new to us- and we made our reservations for every night online and would like the same table and same wait staff every night. They graciously accommodated us and it was wonderful to have dinner 7:30 every night with the same staff. I do admit that on the first night it seemed like it was going to be a free for all, but the second night there were separate lines and we never waited more then a few minutes, if at all. On a side note: As we stroll to Schooner one day we pass the loyalty ambassador, who tried to stuff a banana peel into the box outside the loyalty ambassador desk? A picture is worth a thousand words. [I will have to post it in the picture section] I was asked, "So, did you love Oasis?" I answered with this: Let me say, yes and no. I think LOVE is too strong a word. I didnt love her basically because other then my balcony or when you're at one of the pool decks, you dont feel like you are at sea. Everything feels like it is indoors. It was raining when we had reservations at Chops and I didnt like having to get wet.Note: there are umbrellas out when it rains- but they are situated in front of the CP Restaurants. If you are coming out of Chops or 150 Park, its great- you just grab an umbrella...but if you are coming from your stateroom, from an inside elevator and it just starts raining, you are out of luck. Plus it gets slippery out there in the rain so a lady in heels is out of luck trying to even speed up the pace, lol. My husband noticed umbrellas outside of 150 I think it was and grabbed one and walked me to Chops.Would I sail on her again? Yes, for the right price and situation. Dont forget to check your stateroom television to check your seapass balance. The ice show was very good.Not as long as the ones we have seen on Explorer, but still a fabulous show not to be missed!! The skaters were outstanding! I almost forgot, the most amazing part of the ice show was the sand art artist, it was amazing to watch. [This is not mine, but I found this clip on youtube. If you havent seen it, its really great. I read everything I could about Nachi Cocom, Mr Sanchos, Paradise something-or-other. For me it was a toss between Nachi and Mr. Sanchos. I was leaning towards a peaceful and chill type of day. We bring our own music, so we didn#39;t need loud music playing overhead. After reading 99% excellent reviews and seeing wonderful pictures we booked Nachi. We took a cab there ($17 and DH gave the driver $20) When you arrive, you are greeted by a girl who takes your picture wearing huge sombreros. We purchased the picture, it is 12.00. Initially Nachi Cocom looks great and the service seems to be impeccable; Manuel kept coming over to us to see if we needed more drinks. This was a huge issue, there seemed to be NO alcohol in their alcohol- seriously. If you are a beer drinker then Nachi can work for you. The other issue was the water. The ocean was not beautiful, it was not clear. It was cloudy and the weather the days before were calm. Because of these two issues it makes me also say that the beach should have been raked that morning, before cruise guests arrived.There are plenty of palapas and it is beautiful. The ocean was the big disappointment. Another family that was at Nachi from a CCL cruise said him and his wife had been there a few years prior, and since the beach lost about 15#39;- and he had promised his little ones beautiful blue water and it wasn't! After reading everything online positive, then seeing the ocean, then the worst then anywhere bad drinks, the average food couldn't make up for it. I don't like returning with a bad review, but I had to give the facts as they were to us. On our return to the ship, my husband asked the driver (we knew what he was going to say tho) but we asked the driver what he thought were the best beach/beaches to visit in Cozumel when here for a day on a cruise..of course he said Nachi cocom, then we asked where else and he said Mr Sanchos. I cant even offer any advice on where since the driver's dedication apparently lies with these beach club owners. We had yummy guacamole and chips, average chicken wings, really really good salsa. the chicken fajitas and the grilled shrimp, but they were nothing different then I would make my family for dinner at home. My son liked his ribs and my daughter was annoyed that inside those yummy looking enchiladas (?) was some shredded chicken and no cheese. Leaving Cozumel...... Our kids went back to the ship to shower and change and then went back out to Senor Frogs. We walked around a bit. I bought vanilla and a small colorful pottery frog for a spot in my front garden. Lots of yummy leather boots. I didn't know this, if I did I would have planned to buy boots. Beware of all the knock off bags that infringe on the copyrights of designers, don't get sucked in to thinking they are authentic. When DH and I went through the scanners leaving Cozumel, his Oakleys never came out. If we had to ask over and over at least 4 or 5x for them to look at their scanners to see where my husbands sunglasses were. They never came out. It wasn't like we weren't watching and someone could have picked them up. They did not come out of the scanner and it seemed like they didn't care and weren't going to do anything until we insisted. It was the oddest few minutes there. DHs sunglasses did get caught up somehow inside the scanner. I kept telling my husband I was glad we weren't trashed like the girl in front of us because I can be honest in saying that I would have never realized the sunglasses didnt come out of the scanner! We went to Chops tonight. It was raining and we had to walk from the elevators/entrance to Central Park to Chops in the rain. Its tough to quicken your pace in heels because its a little slippery. A great idea but it needs to be perfected is there are huge umbrellas located outside the restaurants in Central Park-they really need to be located by the elevators as well (or the entrances to CP).Dinner was excellent. [the Tuna appetizer was phenomenal] The Quest.... The Quest game show was very different comparatively to what we have seen and participated in on Explorer. LOVED IT! There was just so much [additional] improv going on that it lasted over 1.5 hrs. We start off in one section, we're 6 people. Our section seems dull. We notice a pretty wild section, so we quickly join them. One couple was the newlywed [game] couple from the DC area. DD quickly gets onto the dance floor and starts dancing, this secures her as a co-captain. Another guy who is getting the section pumped is the other captain. We had a great team!Oasis has a resident Disc Jockey as well as a DJ Scratch academy DJ. The resident DJ is a part of Quest along with the Cruise director. The Solarium was a favorite spot of ours on sea days. We also very much enjoyed the Diamond Lounge. And thenhellip;.it was time to go home. [While writing this review, RCI called our home office. *Just off the phone with RCI representative, Pamela. My husband and I conferenced in together when she called. She wanted to know if we had anything more to elaborate on from the comment card we filled out. It was a pleasure to receive this phone call and be able to discuss the few minor faults (ie: D1 fail of outlet placement)emas well as recommendations/em(I think the Solarium age should be 18 and up. Nothing personal to under 18s, but age restriction should match across the board. 17 under can not go into the night clubs, they have their own- It would be less confusing if the Solarium mimicked the same restriction) I think kids deserve to act their age and there is nothing wrong with safe horseplay in a pool, just not in the solarium pool. Welcoming 16yo's that are tumbling out of their lounge-space with 15 yos is just asking for rowdiness.) Okay, I said it and now I am done.) We also pointed out all the super-wonderful-amazing aspects of Oasis! We REALLY loved the layout design of her! it is really very easy to navigate from one end to the other.]

Read Full Review »

Oasis of the Seas

June 2011 - Oasis of the Seas to Caribbean

Explorer of the Seas

December 2010 - Explorer of the Seas to Caribbean

"14 nights, still not enough Royal-time!"

Explorer of the Seas

June 2010 - Explorer of the Seas to Bermuda

Carnival Miracle

December 2008 - Carnival Miracle to Caribbean

Carnival Miracle

Since I didn't post a Live From thread, this will probably turn out detailed. This was our 8th cruise (5 on RCI, 1 on =X= and 1 on Chandris line back in 1987). DH and I are in our mid 40s, kids are 20 and 16 and it was their 6th cruise. Let me start off by saying that on a whole Carnival met and exceeded any expectations especially because we've always heard mixed reviews throughout the years. We're accustomed to leaving out of the northeast since that's where we live. CCL made all the arrangements for us, flights to Florida and transfers. Since we had to cancel our RCI cruise last minute due to a family medical emergency, having someone handle all the details made it easy. We arrived in Florida and were greeted by friendly CCL staff, escorted to a (cabana coach co.) bus where we proceeded to go to the next terminal to pick up more pax. CCL staff advised the driver to take us without waiting for the others since they were waiting on their luggage and CCL didn't want to hold us up. We appreciated the gesture and decision very much. Boarding was a breeze, the terminal was empty, and they were waiting for us with happy, welcoming faces. We boarded and went directly to our cabins on the Empress Deck- deck 6, Cabins 6194 and 6212, both balcony cabins. We met our Cabin stewards who DID ask us to sign that we had met him. The moment was hurried but he didn't mention we were signing to ok the condition of the cabins, although he did ask if we had already been in our cabins (so even tho he asked us to sign that we met him, Im not 100% why we signed- if cabins were acceptable condition and cleanliness as others have mentioned or if it was merely that we met like he indicated). I swear we were the last to embark b/c it seemed like muster was shortly thereafter! After muster we had our kids bring back the vests and meet us at the Orpheus Bar aft Lido deck for our Unofficial Meet mingle from Roll call. Being new to the CCL boards I am STILL unsure if CCL would have hosted a formal MM like RCI does- If roll call members register. (if any CCL reps can enlighten me on this it would be great). Roll call met up, it was great to put faces to names and see some around while on board! (and wondered and hoped if some we hadn't met made it on board safely!) The first thing we noticed was Miracle is smaller than we're used to. DH and I enjoy smaller vessels, so we were happy. (yes we knew it was, what I mean is that we felt the difference and liked it) Muster was quick and painless. I never did find out if the ship was at full capacity, but we weren't often crammed into an elevator and we never waited too long for one. We were seated at Table 333(late seating), at a booth for 4. Our waiter and asst. were very good and quickly caught on that we were not newbie cruisers. After the first evening they always had a large bottle of water waiting on the table for us and the bar waitress knew what soda the kids wanted (until they switched to ginger ale b/c we hoped even the tiny amount of ginger something would help the tiny bit of nausea from the motion of the ship). We have heard mostly positive critiques, but have heard a small handful of folks that were not pleased with the food. We can compare to RCI- we were very pleased with everything about the food in the dining room. We were happy to see that CCL still maintains the charm of classic pretty (heavy) china plates- on our last 2 RCI cruises they were cheesy. Let me first say that my husband and I are both foodies and critical of food quality. Knowing banquet preparation is very different from fine-fresh dining this is our critique on the food. Presentation of all of our food was excellent- choices were plenty, most everything we ordered was tasty and properly cooked. We do not like anchovies and they are minced into the Caesar dressing, therefore after a couple days of Caesar we just had to pass. They could have had more salad choices. Our daughter is a chilled soup connoisseur; she did not like the chilled peach soup and said it tasted like watered down peach yogurt. My husband and I ordered filet one night both medium rare and they came well so we sent them back. They were very apologetic and quickly brought out what we ordered. Other than those instances, there is nothing we can say wasnrsquo;t excellent. Service wasn't slow, but also wasn't rushed, it was a perfect flow for us. Our son is allergic to nuts and had a personal dining consultant, as the kids called her, stop by every evening to take his order for the following night (they prepared it separately) and she was very nice. The majority of people were well dressed in the MDR. An announcement was made the night before Cruise Elegant on what attire they would not allow in. We did not see any shorts or jeans or t shirts. We did see tuxedos, and most men were wearing suits. Very few wore casual khakis and a polo shirt. Women spanned the gamut from gowns to cocktail dresses to chiffon pants and one woman wore a very short red santa dress with boa trim. She looked like she was wearing a costume or a very tacky bedroom outfit from Fredricks; it didn't belong on a cruise ship (but she was a body builder most likely on steroids). I will end the review of the MDR with, we thought we died and went to heaven when we tasted the chocolate melting cake..My daughter already has the recipe! We had 2 balcony cabins, 6194 and 6212. Both were about the same as on RCI. CCL has more closet space which we liked, but the bathroom was just the slightest bit smaller, NO biggie at all. We all agreed the shower tube was also somewhat bigger on CCL. The balconies are noticeably smaller on CCL but we managed. We don't like the placement of the balcony lights though...one of our neighbors used it as a nightlight and it was very bothersome. When we wanted to relax on the balcony at night it was like being in a brightly lit city and we were blinded by the light from his balcony. Our Steward spoke with him and (lied) and told him that he had to keep the light off unless he was using the balcony...and I honestly forgot what he told him, but when he told us he was laughing and saying how he had to lie to the man. A day (night) later my husband knocked on his cabin door b/c they still had the light on that night- the man said his wife is afraid of the dark cabin so they use it as a nightlight. My husband offered the idea that if he keep the bathroom light on or the few stage lights on the desk mirror that would work too. We never saw their balcony light on at night again. We like the sliding doors on RCI much better than the regular doors CCL have because no one including my husband holds the door to shut it. Therefore when you're out on your balcony you hear an awful lot of slamming doors. Cards and safe and soda cards...So many cards!! Why? Cant we consolidate CCL? Use a shape hole-punch for pax who purchase a soda card. A trained eye will easily notice a triangle or something different to the card. As for the magnetic-strip operated safe I guess nothing can be done about having to use a separate card, but CCL you can step it up, the process seems archaic to say the least. Having smart boards near guest relations and the excursion desk is a great idea but we didn't see many folks use it. As for Miracles function, we thought she did a superb job at navigating us on the mighty seas!! Before we left there was so much negativity on the boards regarding the poor functioning (right) and rumor that the stabilizers were not working at all. Im not an engineer but if you're a seasoned cruiser and wake- watcher you could tell that one azipod was weak, but still functioning. When we just sailed along we were at 17+ knots and there really didn't seem to be difficulties. We have sailed in December before and the seas are never like glass. April out of Florida to GC, Jamaica were more choppy on a larger ship, so we didn't notice any extra rocking n rolling that was anything even remotely out of the ordinary. As for the stabilizers, hmmm, never really saw anyone walking side to side and from the small amount of rock n roll they were not needed. As for the high winds, you can't control mother nature. I don't remember a cruise ever not being windy on the top decks. Why do folks complain about the wind but still cruise? I am interjecting a comment on galley and food prep on CCL. I just rec'd an email from a friend overseas who does hiring for the upper cruise lines. (ie: seabourn and silversea, regent type lines). She said she was not surprised to hear the food was top notch because lately "the galley reviews of Royal have been bad", but surprisingly the frequently criticized CCL culinary dept has become rather opulent. They must be investing more time and money in the galley area using good quality and fresh products. That is inside trade information. Shops on Board, we didn't find any unique jewelry. Other shops didn't carry simple things like pepto (son needed it) or body lotion (they had one brand but I opted for the other shop with the good stuff!). I don't cruise for these reasons but I thought it was worth the mention. The casino could use better ventilation. I am an x-smoker and I thought the casino was very smokey. The SUSHI!! Okay, here goes. Its nice to have a little spot that they open from around 5pm to 8:30 (not all days). It is the best attempt to date for presenting on board Sushi and it was nice that they rolled it in front of you instead of having pre-plattered sliced items. The sushi offered was cooked. You did not find delicacies like tuna (bluefin or ahi) and salmon (yes there was salmon but it was lox not raw uncooked). The tuna was seared and very good, the salmon (lox) was good, nothing was great or outstanding and some was downright uneatable. (mackerel was one, I don't recall the other icky rolls). One night there was a roll with cooked shrimp. Presentation was very good, including pickled ginger and wasabi and chop sticks. You were able to purchase Saki but we didn't enquire. Do NOT get excited if you're a Sushi snob, but if you need a fix go for the tuna! Debarking and embarking the Miracle to and from islands was smooth. They could honestly use more security measures. There are many parents that allow their teens to walk around the islands unsupervised. The teens purchase clear alcohol and pour it into water bottles. CCL you need to step it up a notch and check the kids water bottles. Most nights the young teens are walking around 3/4s trashed. I admit that CCL does well with having security around the ship but what are they really doing I wonder? My best guess is they are there to make sure fights to not break out and kids do not get rowdy, but I tend to think they turn their heads on drunk kids or they have zero training to notice. We also noticed 2 gentlemen handing over their 8 bottles of boxed alcohol but security didn't notice their opened backpack with 4 clanking bottles of wine sticking out. Just saying... Entertainment; a tough comment so I will compare. We think it was merely entertaining. Good enough to watch, sometimes I fell asleep, somewhat cheesy but you could notice excellent effort. Jazz moves were simplistic, we expect more if we have expectations. We missed the Motown Classics, I was kind of sad b/c I like Motown. Guitar Music (Scott) in the Gotham Lounge MUST be missed. He had to know someone for them to hire him, he was beyond awful. Maybe he should stick to playing guitar and NOT singing. Your ears hurt just walking by listening. Folks raved about the Beatles Tributehellip;.why in the world would dancers be dressed in mexican garb doing the weirdest moves to Hey Judehellip;.some of it was very good, but lsquo;mostrsquo; was lacking any cohesiveness- the dance and costume should be tied to the song. It was so confusing and annoying to the eye and ear. Enough said. The Newlywed (Love Marriage) show left little to be desired. The CD didn't know how to get out of a sticky situation and instead of having the right age brackets on stage he had the senior couple, the newlyweds married about 2 months and then a cpl like in their early 60s or something. The middle couple probably should have been married 25ish years. It almost mirrored Royal Caribbeans game but Royals is BY FAR more entertaining, each and every time! It is "interactive" whereas CCLs is not. Again a comparison. We loved the Hypnotist, he was excellent! The scavenger hunts were great. I wouldn't fathom doing arts and crafts while on board but I could imagine instructing them in my senior years (then we can live on board) Not many used the Water Slide when it was opened, but we enjoyed it, wind and all! The wind did not deter us. The Captains Welcome party was very nice. We didnrsquo;t want to stay long, we were meeting friends, but we ended up staying a bit and having a cocktail. Always enjoy listening to the Captain, I just wish he'd speak for even longer. Pools, we only went to the Orpheus pool which is supposedly Adults only. I finally arrived where both my kids are old enough for us to enjoy the area and there were little ones there too. It honestly didn't bother me at all, the handful there were well behaved and pretty unnoticeable, just a mention. The hot tub back there is smaller than mine at home. It does mention in the Caper, do not save chairs for long periods of time, but they do not have any signs on deck. Chair hogs were out in full force! The first sea day we opted for lounges on the sun deck, easy to find any time. The wind was minimal. The second or third sea day my husband and I got to the Lido deck Orpheus pool at 8AM and EVERY chair was taken by a towel, tee shirt or book. Very few were occupied by people. We finally found two chairs together near the rail and got comfy. Next to my husband was 3 chairs taken by "the tee shirts" and next to me were 2 chairs taken one by a book one a towel. At around 10:30 a lady comes to the 3 chairs just as our daughter is arriving, she offers one of the three lounges to us then goes on to say if we need another one, she really only needed one. Funny, as this was happening, my son arrived and we needed her second lounge. Then she only stayed for 30 minutes and left. (anyone reading this, don't do this, its so disrespectful to your fellow pax. Sorry had to say it.) A little before 1pm the two chairs next to me were still the way they were at 8amhellip;no one ever came and it started to rain, we left. I just don't get it. Oops, I almost forgot about Horatios and other food options! We had room service every morning, coffee and croissants. They always came early, which was kind of unexpected, but after 3 mornings we knew their schedule and adjusted the time. The coffee is very good. I do not like (will not drink more than a morning sip) Seattles best on board RCI so I was VERY happy to have coffee I liked. We only ordered room service one other time and tried the shrimp salad, it was very good. I will compare Horatios dining experience to the Windjammer (Voyager Class/RCI, most recently ExOS- 25 days total on board). Breakfast; past Explorer cruises the bacon was unrecognizable. Everyone we were with thought the same and it was an ongoing joke. The food is typically never really hot, it is always lukewarm too. You kind of just go on to justify it by saying, "well it is buffet food and kept warm, it isn't straight from the oven." We eat omelets and toast and avoided the rubbery pancakes and nasty tasting sausage and the what is that bacon. On CCL we were pleasantly surprised that the bacon looked like bacon, wasn't laying in grease and was easily taken with tongs from the tray and not all gunked together. The turkey sausage was very good, the omelets very good, the only complaint is CCL get some REAL good whole wheat bread, please. The whole wheat was mostly white w/ traces of ww flour. Anyway, it is hard to find anything bad about breakfast at Horatios. Onto lunch, on Explorer I stuck to salads, they seemed to be the only freshest thing to eat. The first day we do the greasy burger thing but not again the whole cruise! The rest of the hot foods can only be rated as eh. At Horatios you can always find good pannini and wraps. Always excellent pizza 24/7 too. They offered Taste of the Nations including Mexico, Indian, France, Caribbean, America and Mediterranean. Horatios has a grill grilling burgers and hot dogs (vs. WJ where they lay out sitting on fat and pax pick and pull at them and throw them around). I did like the layout of this area for the most parthellip;kids didnrsquo;t. I think they pack whatever they can into one long area in WJ and I liked the different sections in Horatios. The last day they had a continual afternoon Chocolate corner. A chocolate fountain dipping anything you can think of. This was the ONLY time I ever saw a line all afternoon. (note, the line went quickly but there was a line all afternoon). I did not like their salad bar. We also didn't like the Caesar because it had bits of anchovies, just not our thing. Two afternoons (or more?) they had make your own sundaes out on deck by the ice cream and frozen yogurt stations. Itinerary, we booked St Maarten, St Lucia, St Kitts. St Lucia was dropped and we went to Grand Turk. I was okay with this, as I hadnrsquo;t been to either and I had always heard the water in Turks and Caicos was beautiful. We didnrsquo;t do any excursions. This was the first time we decided to "wing it"and just go to the beaches. In St Maarten we took the water taxi over to the beach/shopping area, a 2 minute ride across the bay. If you're in decent shape you can easily walk it but it will take a little longer. We met folks who we knew from our Explorer 2007 holiday cruise, the Dad hung out with us most of the day on the beach and it was great talking and comparing cruises. The kids were so excited to see each other, they kept in touch throughout the year and looked forward to all being together for the 2008 Explorer cruise again, then we had to cancel...so running into them and being able to spend time was very memorable. My kids both enjoyed Jet Skiing. It was very easy to find Jet skiis to rent, they were all over!! We were thrilled to see them! It was tough getting this kind of info before we left for some reason. In case anyone is interested it cost $50 for 30 minutes for one and $55 if two ride. Lounges and an umbrella runs $10.00, some have deals with 2 beers, if you drink beer! Read the signs. We didn't shop other than designer sunglasses for the kids. (part of their Holiday gift). St Kitts- last year we went to So Frigate bay this year I wanted to go to Cockelshell beach... it was raining and we ended up walking the towne of St Kitts instead of going to the beach. We had a great day! Grand Turk the water was as everyone sayshellip;hellip;beautiful to swim in and hang out in all day. The way I feel about Bermuda and GC. Id love to go back and see a different area of the island though. The majority of folks got off and stayed at Margaritaville, carnival cruise center beach area. I wanted to walk down to before the pier to Jacks Shack, we made it 3/4s and I didnrsquo;t feel good so we layed our towels in the sand and enjoyed the water where we were. Our kids walked down but didnrsquo;t see anything at all, other than a seemingly closed dive shack. I think later in the day something opened that had lounge chairs to rent, but at that point we were heading back to Margaritaville. It was a nice dayhellip;..2 ships right there in port as you swim, kind of interesting...I think I rather see a different area of the island if there is one. We wouldn't hesitate sailing Carnival again. Our kids thought it was a definite "party ship" from their point of view comparatively to the kids on their other cruises. I think it would be a different experience out of the northeast, but knowing Miracle sails from here spring/summer months is now another option for us, we live in NJ and NY is very convenient. I hope I didn't miss anything, I covered a lot, hope the info is helpful. Feel Free to contact me and remember, Every cruise is a different experience, even on the same ship!

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Explorer of the Seas

December 2008 - Explorer of the Seas to Caribbean

"Happy holidays again"

Explorer of the Seas

June 2008 - Explorer of the Seas to Bermuda

Explorer of the Seas

December 2007 - Explorer of the Seas to Caribbean

"Our First 12 night"

Explorer of the Seas

July 2007 - Explorer of the Seas to Bermuda

Voyager of the Seas

April 2006 - Voyager of the Seas to Caribbean

"spring Break"

Voyager of the Seas

June 2004 - Voyager of the Seas to Caribbean

Zenith (RETIRED)

July 2001 - Zenith (RETIRED) to Bermuda

Amerikanis (RETIRED)

August 1987 - Amerikanis (RETIRED) to Bermuda

"Our First Cruise"

CruiseDivaNJ's Tips

Oasis of the Seas Oasis of the Seas - When in Falmouth, Jamaica- Transportation (taxi/van) prices are posted and fixed so there is no haggling to get to a beach or shopping area. The immediate food/shopping area at the pier is safe, the vendors did not exhibit any pushy selling tactics.
Voyager of the Seas Voyager of the Seas - On all Voyager Class Ships, Bring long pants (socks too!) if you plan on Ice Skating! And, if you drive to the port, bring your Ice Skates too!
Explorer of the Seas Explorer of the Seas - Go to the Explorations Desk on embarkation day (they typically open at 2pm). You can purchase a transportation pass (good for ferry and bus system) on Bermuda. This saves you time when you disembark on Bermuda, plus you can use OBC if you have when you purchase on board.
Explorer of the Seas Explorer of the Seas - For ANY RCI Ship - If you order room service for breakfast, they will call you before it is delivered to your cabin- this works wonderfully as a "wake-up call"

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CruiseDivaNJ was the FIRST member to check in for the roll call for Dec 23, 2007 cruise on Explorer of the Seas!

CruiseDivaNJ replied to the discussion, Cruse Lines Remembered on the cruiseline forum.