Day 2 – At Sea
Sea days are some of my favourite on a cruise. They are sip and dip days – relax, drink, go for a swim; relax, drink, go for a swim.
On this day, I got up, went up to the 15th deck where the pools and hot tubs are and headed to the adult (16 and over) Solarium deck. On most cruise ships this is a small section just fore or aft of the main general pool. On the Oasis, it comprises the entire bow from port to starboard on both the 15th and 16th decks. The whole area is covered in lightly tinted glass from port to starboard with alternating sections that are open air to allow for ample ventilation and a constant sea breeze. Lounge chairs are plentiful and there are oversized round, cozy sofas along with a scattering of padded chairs and regular sofas similar to what you would see in a classy hotel lobby. On deck 15 there is a small round pool with fountains and showers and 2 hot tubs, one on each side of the pool.
The entire Solarium on the 15th deck is interspersed with live palm trees and tropical plants. This, along with the open view in front, gives the impression that you are sitting on a private island. The floor covering on both decks is a balance of dark wood planks and grey flagstone tile, once again enhancing the impression that you are at an island resort.
If the exertion of lazing in a lounge chair and taking a dip in the pool causes you to become uncontrollably hungry, fear not, as the Solarium Bistro, on the lower level features a variety of food for both breakfast and lunch. At this buffet style dining area you can load up on hot and cold selections and we found this bistro tends to be less busy than the Windjammer Market at the other end of the ship. The upper level Solarium bar is convenient and close if you need a refreshing beverage to quench your thirst before another round of lying on your lounge chair.
Some things to note about the Solarium. Although it is my favourite get away place on the ship, and there are plenty of lounge chairs for everyone, there is very little shade as a result of the glass and open air ceiling. The only spot that offers an escape from the blazing sun is a section at the back of the upper level, which has several rows of, lounge chairs on either side of the bar as a large curving overhang covers that area. You need to get to this spot early though, as by late morning all of the shaded chairs are occupied.
During a couple of hours of lounging in the Solarium, we all managed a refreshing pool dip. Ian and Laura tried out the Flowrider, a wave simulator for boarding and surfing located in the Wipeout area at the back of deck 16. They found it to be quite the test for first timers, but seem to be determined to give it another shot on a different day.
For lunch, we headed to the back of the ship to the popular Windjammer Market. This is Royal Caribbean’s standard breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet venue and is common on all their ships. It is generally located aft of the family pool area for convenience. We had heard that there could be long lineups at this restaurant because of its popularity, but we managed to walk in and get a table with no problem.
The Windjammer is well stocked with food for all appetites and is constantly refreshed and replenished. There are several island counters each with themed food for different tastes. Today’s menu featured Asian, Indian, Caribbean as well as the standard American style buffet items. We all had different meal selections from the various islands and there were no complaints.
After a quick lunch we decided to take a walk through Central Park. This neighbourhood is where you will find most of the specialty restaurants, which are on either side of the ship bordering an expanse of tall tress, shrubbery and park benches. There is a winding path on either side of the central area that allows you to pass between the restaurants on one side and the park on the other.
Following our stroll, we headed back to our respective rooms where Kim did some reading and I had a quick, but rejuvenating health nap following the rigours of the morning.
We enjoy quite a few of the onboard activities so after a brief rest we headed to the piano bar for the afternoon game of charades. While we were waiting for the game to start we ordered pizza from Sorrentos that was nearby. There were 6 or 7 other groups that had gathered there as well so we had lots of competition. Today’s theme was movies or television shows. There were 4 rounds in all and we ended up with 4 points (including a bonus point). Our challenges were Beetlejuice; Halloween; Ironman and Prison Break. We got 3 out of the four plus we correctly guessed another team’s selection when their time ran out (Gone with the Wind). Our winning team won Royal Caribbean zipper pulls for our tremendous effort.
Following our exhausting game of charades we went back to our rooms to get ready for dinner.
Our preferred dining time is 6:00 pm because we like to eat early and then take in the different nightly shows afterward which typically start around 8:30pm.
This was our first night in the main dining area as we had been to Giovanni’s the night before. We were taken to our assigned table by the maitre’ d and then welcomed by our waiter Fnu from the Phillipines. Fnu has been working the cruise lines for 19 years and this is his 6th on the Oasis as he started just a few months after the ship was launched. Our assistant waiter, Singh hails from India and though he seemed barely old enough to shave, we later found out that he is 24 and married. More about both Fnu and Singh to follow on later days.
We had been looking forward to our first meal in the dining room on the Oasis for a couple of reasons. First, our experience has always been very positive about the food on the Royal Caribbean ships and our appetites were whetted from anticipation. Second, over the past few months we have heard a few criticisms about the food and the lack of quality of the entrees. I was particularly interested to see if those criticisms were warranted.
A few moments after our arrival, Fnu returned for our drink order. We typically order wine by the bottle for the duration of the cruise. Since Kim drinks white and I drink red, we each order one bottle which will last us for 2 nights at dinner. Kim found a Riesling on the list which was $7 per glass or $31 for the bottle. I was fortunate to find a St. Martin French Merlot from Languedoc Roussillon, the region in France where our apartment is located. It too was $7 a glass or $31 for the bottle.
After returning with the drink orders and pouring our wine, Fnu took our meal orders. For starters, Kim ordered the Shrimp Cocktail, Ian the Peach Soup and I had the Lobster Bisque. For our entrees, Kim, Laura and I had the Pork Shank and Ian opted for the Seafood Linguini. I also ordered a Chocolate Bar Cake for dessert (for energy).
When the meals came out, the presentation was every bit as pleasing as we had expected. The portions for the most part were perfect, except for the Pork Shank that was surprisingly large. The meat was tender, well textured and fell off the bone easily. Our only issue was finishing it all – it was a tasty dish, which meant you wanted to eat it all, but it was more than enough for one person. Undaunted by the size of the pork shank, I nonetheless made my way through it then fought through the sumptuous cake.
The second night on the ship is also the Captain’s reception, so after dinner we made our way to the Royal Promenade to meet the captain and crew of the Oasis. On entering the Promenade, we were greeted by waiters offering up trays of sparkling Champagne in tall, glistening flutes. We managed to snag a couple and meandered to the catwalk at the centre of the Promenade where the captain was just making the introductions of his main crew. The welcome usually lasts about 15 minutes and after the welcome, the captain summarizes some of the key highlights of the cruise.
The captain finished up his speech just in time for us to have a quick picture on the upper deck as the sun was setting and then make our 8:15pm reservation in the Opal Theatre for the musical production “Cats”. This was a 2½ hour Broadway theatrical performance that featured the songs “Memories” and “The Magical Mr. Mistoffelees”. The costumes, dance and vocals were amazing, but the overall performance missed its mark because the story itself is nearly impossible to follow. It is a very interesting performance for a Cruise Ship but sadly quite a few of the audience left after the intermission. It is interesting to note however, that those who stayed, gave the performance a standing ovation and extended applause at the end.
Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.