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Joined: 05/24/2014
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About bratak


bratak's Past Cruises

Norwegian Getaway

May 2015 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Getaway

A new state of the art vacations

Overall a very good cruise.   Here are some of the positives and negatives: Embarkation:  no signage as to where to go and we had to wait in the broiling sun for over 15 minutes while in line to check in.  A cruise member shouted to the crowd to make sure we were in the "correct" line as they were boarding from two entrances.  Luckily, we were in the right line.  If we hadn't, I would have been livid after standing in line for so long.  Once we got inside the terminal, a gentleman told us to go over to a table and fill out the medical survey.  The table was crowded but I was able to get a form and fortunately had a pen so I didn't have to scramble for a writing instrument with everyone else.  After filling out the form, we asked about priority boarding and were sent in a very long line.  Evidently, everyone got priority boarding as everyone was sent to the same line.  So much for the loyalty perks.  We stood in line another 15 minutes until we got to an agent. We've cruise on other lines where the check in process is much quicker and much more efficient.

Crew:  the entire crew was extremely friendly and always spoke to you.  We had an issue in our cabin and guest services went above and beyond to make sure it was taken care of.

Food:  we did not dine in any of the specialty dining areas.  I'm old school and feel that your purchase price includes food and you should not have to pay extra to get "better" food.  We tried all of the complimentary restaurants and the food was very good.  The Tropicana has live music and it's pretty loud, so if you want to enjoy conversation, beware.  We ate most breakfasts at the buffet and the food was good and a good variety of items.  We ate dinner one night at the buffet and were disappointed.  The food looked dried out - like it had been sitting out for a while and the selection wasn't much.  Not that we use room service, but they now charge $7.95 to use it.  This was a bummer.  O'Sheehan's was their complimentary pub and had good food and a great atmosphere and décor.  You can sit around a counter and watch the entertainment going on down on the floor below, sit at the bar, or in regular tables.  The menu's not extensive but gives you the feel of a pub.  They held a lot of their games and activities in this area.

Cabins:  We had a balcony on the 9th deck-mid ship.  There was more storage space in this cabin that on any other ship we've sailed on.  The bathroom had a lot of shelving as well but I was a little concerned as the "lip" on the shelf did not extend up very high and if you hit some rough waters, I could see things falling off of these shelves..  The deck was VERY small but sufficed.  The most disappointing thing was the view.  The ship's WATERFRONT is located on the 8th deck and has a roof over it.  This roof is directly underneath the balcony cabins - therefore, you can't see directly down to the water.  This was true of probably 75 - 80% of the balcony's on the ship.  The higher up you went, the less of an obstruction, but nonetheless, if you want to look directly over your balcony and see water, you won't be able to.  We moved mid way through the cruise (due to a cabin issue) to a cabin on the 10th deck-forward.  we didn't have the WATERFRONT roof, but we did have a deck with  shuffleboard on it directly below us.  Again - no view of the ocean directly below us :(  In looking at the balconies overall, it would appear that the suites are the only ones that have this type of view.  This ship was the first one we experienced with using your key card to activate the electricity in your room.  This was great in that you always knew where your keycard was and made it easy to turn everything off when you left your cabin.  They also have two buttons you can push:  one for "make up the cabin" and one for "do not disturb".  This was a big improvement over putting cards in your door.  They also have an interactive TV (which we've used before and it's great) and it was nice to finally see it on an NCL ship.

ENTERTAINMENT:  Their two most publicized shows were "Burn the Floor" and "Legally Blonde".  We really enjoyed Legally Blonde but were a little disappointed in Burn the Floor.  Although it was high energy, it was like watching Dancing With the Stars and after several dances, it seemed redundant.  They had a magician/comedian one night and one night we went to their comedy show (it's on every night).  They were both good - not great.

The itinerary takes you to Nassau.  We've been there so many times that we didn't get off the ship.  Instead we spent the time on some of the deck 16 and 17 activities.  They have a ropes course which was a lot of fun.  You can make your interaction with it as long as you want.  They have 5 water slides - each with increasing degrees of difficulty.  Their green and blue slide will really get your adrenaline going!  They were a lot of fun.  We also played miniature golf and although that's not a novel concept to ships, the course was cute and fun to play.  My husband did the rock wall.  You can go up one deck and get a different view of the wall, but it is a very congested area.  We're not joggers, but if we were, we wouldn't have liked the jogging track.  It went through a lot of high traffic areas.  We tried the hot tubs one night and they were not crowded.  The only negative was that the "adults only" sign was ignored and there were children in all tubs.  We did try the Spice H2O area for adults one afternoon and it was very nice.  The only negative was that there were no shady areas.

DEBARKATION:  We chose to do the self assist debarkation which means you have to carry your own luggage.  Just beware that if you chose this option, you will have a real challenge getting an elevator.  We ended up carrying our luggage down the steps which was not ideal.  Once we got it line (which was VERY long), it moved quickly and orderly.  A big improvement over the check in process.

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Oasis of the Seas

January 2015 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Oasis of the Seas

A few negatives, but overall, a wonderful experience

This was our second voyage on the Oasis.  Both times the embarkation and disembarkation were super quick - quicker than any other ship we've ever been on.  We were so "wowed" on the first trip that we were afraid that our expectations might be slightly disappointing on this trip, but they weren't.  We were a group of eight and had to do "My Time" dining as we couldn't get all of us on the early seating (our first negative).  HOWEVER, we sat at the same table with the same waiters each night so it was great!  They were attentive and top notch in their service.  The food was better than our first time on the ship.  The second negative (and I'm not sure there's a reasonable fix for this) was in the Windjammer Café on the day of embarkation.  We got to the Café around 12:35 and we could not find a table anywhere.  We walked around for over 15 minutes before we found one table for 4.  They kept announcing for folks to please leave their table once they were through eating, but no one did.  They were just sitting around waiting for the cabins to be ready (which was 1 p.m.) .  Shortly after 1 there was an abundance of tables.  We tried all of the complimentary restaurants and they were just as good as we remembered.  The third minor negative was in the show CATS.  Their performance was top notch.  I had seen the Broadway version and a fellow traveler saw it in London and we both felt it was better than what we had previously seen.  The negative was that we had it booked for an evening show and it somehow got cancelled and we had to see it on the afternoon of the last day of the cruise.  It just doesn't have the same feel in the afternoon as it does at night and the theater was probably 50% full - which says something about the timing.  Even though their performance of CATS was excellent, I didn't think it was the right production for a cruise ship.   I think many agreed in that probably half of the people in attendance left at intermission.   We saw "Hairspray" on our last sailing which was light and funny.  CATS is neither of these.  There are plenty of "happy" musicals that could have been picked before CATS.  The rest of the shows were phenomenal and they set the bar really high for other cruise ships' entertainment.  The crew on the ship are among the friendliest we've ever encountered.  Everyone spoke to you.  The final negative was in the casino.  My husband played the slots and they were not at all fun.  He spoke to a lot of other players and they all agreed.  The ship itself is an amazing experience just to walk through and it is easy quickly learn the layout. Walking down the promenade was like walking through a mall.  As you walk through Central Park, you have to keep reminding yourself that you're on a ship. The live plants and trees are beautifully arranged and at night, it's just wonderful to stroll through the park.  And the Boardwalk is much smaller, but cute.  We rode the carousel one night which was fun - mainly because we were at sea!  Johnny Rockets is open for breakfast and it's complimentary.  It was never crowded and you can eat inside or outside.  If you eat outside, you can watch the zip liners overhead and if you don't watch, you can certainly hear some of them.  We did play miniature golf and my husband did the rock climbing.  We never got to ice skate as we were too busy with other things and decided to skate on the last day at sea but didn't find out until we read our activities for the last day that they weren't going to offer it.  By then all of the skating sessions had closed.  That was kind of a bummer.  The parades are fun to watch and even though we didn't have any children on the cruise, there was plenty of things on the ship geared to them.  It was the first time for the other six travelers in our group to sail on the Oasis and they were as awed as we were the first time we sailed on it.  We've already said we'll do it again! Royal Caribbean's ads now show a "WOW" experience and the Oasis is just that - "WOW"!

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bratak's Tips

San Pedro (Los Angeles), California - We flew into LA the day before the cruise and once we got to San Pedro, walked around the waterfront and ate at a lovely café there. It was a nice way to decompress prior to the cruise.
Panama Canal Transit - This is when a balcony cabin is worth the extra money. The transit through the canal is an all day event and it was HOT. it was so nice to sit on our balcony and watch as we moved through the locks and lakes. We did go to the front of the ship to watch one of the locks open and to the back of the ship to watch one close. We also went to the port side to see the newest lock and watch as a freighter moved through it. Even though we sat in our balcony a lot, I had over 13,000 steps on my Fitbit that day!
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - We did the Outback Camel Ride at this port and it was great! The flora/fauna walk was a little disappointing but the camels more than made up for it. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and to think you were in Mexico, on the beach, and riding on a camel was just so much fun. I would definitely do it again. By the time we got back to the ship, it was time for the Super Bowl, so we did not do any touring of the port area.
Miami, Florida - We did not do an excursion in Miami, but our trip from the port to Ft. Lauderdale covered some pretty areas of Miami.
Cartagena, Colombia - We took a tour of Cartagena which included stopping at the fort (we did not go in - it was just for a photo op). We were inundated with vendors. We then took a walking tour of the town walking down several beautiful streets while admiring the architecture. It was very similar to the French Quarters in New Orleans with the addition of vendors continually following you trying to get you to buy something. We went to their Torture Museum which was a waste of time. There were too many people in there and too much to read. We went to the cathedral in the town which was pretty but then sat outside so you could "shop" for 15 minutes. After that we went so see some local dancers. It was VERY loud and we sat through 3 dances. The dancers were pre-teen and teenage children and for their age did an adequate job. Of course when we exited, we walked by the stage where a basket was in plain view for a donation. From there we went to a historical museum which was also not very interesting. All of the signage was in Spanish so looking at the exhibits was futile.
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - We did not do an excursion at this port. We walked around the vendors at the port and then got back on the ship. Vendors were friendly and would wheel and deal on pricing. Once you went to one or two vendors, it was pretty much the same throughout the rest of them. It was a nice day on the ship as a lot of people got off and so it was a lot less crowded.
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua - We did not get to go to San Juan Del Sur due to high winds. We docked in Corinto instead. We had a major excursion planned for San Juan but didn't get to do it due to the change in ports. Instead we went to the bubbling mud pots and historic Leon. The drive to the mud pots was about an hour and 15 minutes. They are literally out in the middle of no where. You were able to get VERY close to the mud pots and you could feel the extreme heat through the soles of your shoes. It was very dry and dusty there and small children continually wanted to walk with you, hold your hand, etc. in exchange for money. Then it was a 30 minute drive to Leon which was a nice town, but not worth the drive to see it. We did visit the Basilica there and got to go on its roof for a nice view of the city. Lots of vendors on the square which was the drop off point and they would follow you trying to get you to buy their wares.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica - We booked the Aerial Tram and Rainforest adventure. Another hour plus drive to the destination. We saw more wildlife on the drive to the destination than we did at the Rainforest. The Tram description is misleading to me as it mentions going along the tree tops. This was more or less a ski lift that went up the side of a mountain and then right back down. It ran vertically rather than horizontally. The Rainforest is a "dry" rainforest ( ?!?) receiving only one meter of rain a year. Zip lining is also done there so between the zips and the trams no wildlife in it's right mind is going to come near there. (To be fair we did see an iguana when we pulled up to park). They have snakes in cages as you walk along a trail and then a butterfly house. None of it impressed me as being unique. We did shop the vendors along the port once we got back to the ship. They were all about the same - always ready to strike a deal. I was totally shocked to see how brown the beach was and how dirty (muddy) the water looked. There were quite a few folks swimming but saw some children who looked like they had been playing in a mud puddle rather than the ocean.
Acapulco, Mexico - We took a tour of the city with the Cliff Divers being the first stop. We had a higher observation point and could not walk all of the steps to the bottom. I was disappointed in that as I felt the vantage point from the bottom would have been a little more breathtaking. It's still amazing either way. After that we went to the Flamingo Hotel and walked around seeing where the stars of days gone by used to vacation. That was also a little disappointing as it is a very old hotel and I thought it would have been opulent since the stars vacationed there. Driving throughout the city was an eye opener as It was dirty and trashy with a lot of armed policemen and military. There was supposedly an unexpected amount of traffic due to protesters so getting around was difficult. Two stops for souvenir shopping and a view of the bay and then it was back to the ship.
New Orleans, Louisiana - We stayed in Slidell the night before the cruise and ventured into New Orleans that night. We went down Bourbon Street and that was definitely an experience that everyone should try at least one.
Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras - The area is pristine and the beach is very nice. Ride the horizontal ski lift over to the beach to get a nice view of the water and overall beach area - plus a nice breeze blew to help cool us off. My husband rode the zip line there and wasn't very impressed.
Cozumel, Mexico - Be prepared to say "no" as vendors are constantly trying to get you into their shops. It's a great place to get vanilla.
Sydney, Nova Scotia - Quaint town to just get out and walk about - lots of cute towns and a beautiful church. They have a lot of souvenirs in the terminal.
Celebrity Summit Celebrity Summit - The Revelations Lounge was cold every time we went up there, so if you're the least bit cold natured, bring a sweater!
Belize City, Belize - Jaguar Zip lining and cave tubing was great! It's a long ride to the excursion but you get to experience a little more of the country of Belize.
Nassau, Bahamas - The tourist area is getting very run down around and to the Straw Market
Miami, Florida - Very busy port a lot of ships sailing on the same day as the Getaway.
Norwegian Getaway Norwegian Getaway - Make sure to make reservations to the shows. The Getaway Theater is relatively small and they do "sell out" on the shows.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - Cleanest of the three stops. 15 minute walk to a beautiful beach. Lots of shops at the beach.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - Cleaner than Nassau. You have to take a taxi to get into town if you want to shop. They have a few shops/stands at the dock.
Nassau, Bahamas - Be prepared to be inundated by folks wanting to take you on a sight seeing tour or sell you something.
Oasis of the Seas Oasis of the Seas - Reservations are required for all shows. You can make them on line or as soon as you get on the ship. They do have a wait line that opens up 5 minutes before each show, but some venues are so small (Frozen in Time) that you probably won't get in even if you stand in the wait line.
Toulon, France - Walked along the streets of the city and went to their open air Market.
Barcelona, Spain - Went straight from the ship to the airport, so not much to say about the city,
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy - Took a tour of Vatican City including the museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Then went to Trevi Fountain (very crowded and partially under reconstruction), and then the Coliseum. We were supposted to see the Pantheon but was told that there were demonstrations going on there and we couldn't go. Went by Circus Maximus instead.
Naples, Italy - Took a tour of Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii. Positano and the coast were beautiful. Sorrento was OK. Pompeii was interesting - architecture very similar to Ephesus.
Mykonos, Greece - Absolutely gorgeous. People were very friendly and very laid back. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey - Took a tour of Ancient Ephesus and it drizzled the entire time we were there so had to watch out for getting hit with umbrellas from other visitors as it was very crowded. Had to stop for a carpet demonstation which we did not like.
Piraeus (Athens), Greece - Beautiful city. Took a tour and saw the major sites of the city and it was definitely worth visiting.
Istanbul, Turkey - Went on a tour but were turned off by the constant pressure of street vendors. They would not leave you alone and kept following us. Grand Bazaar was closed but the Spice Market was more than we had time to see.
Venice, Italy - The ship left at 1 a.m. on Wednesday. Numerous passengers (including us) thought that we would be leaving on Thursday night at 1 a.m. Listing Venice as being the port for Wednesday when you're technically only there for one hours is VERY confusing.

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