Day 6 – Labadee
After 2 very hectic days in Sint Maarten and Puerto Rico, our 3rd port of call was on the island of Labadee, Haiti, where Royal Caribbean leases part of the island for the exclusive use of its cruising guests. While our intention was to spend most of the day on the island to relax and recuperate from the rigours of our last 2 ports, there is lots to do on Labadee for those who want to continue to be adventurous.
Labadee is home to the Dragon's Breath Flight Line, the world's longest zip line over water. It also has an exciting 300 foot long waterslide that goes through several twists and turns, and ends up in the splash zone at Columbus Cove. There is also the Dragon's Tail Coaster that speeds along at 30 miles per hour.
While we didn’t take advantage of any of these thrill rides, Laura and Ian instead opted for a parasailing adventure that departed just after our 10:00am disembarkation and took place on the bay behind where the Oasis was docked. Needless to say, as we ambled down the ramp from the ship to the pier, we were greeted by another cloudless and sunny sky with temperatures already past 30 degrees celsius. It was going to be a scorcher.
While Kim, Ian and Laura headed over to check in for the parasailing adventure, I decided to see if we could find a spot on the beach with umbrellas to provide some much needed shade from the relentless sun. We had met a couple in the Solarium the previous day who had been to Labadee before and had rented beach tents for $35 U.S. I went to the information centre and was told that there were a few umbrellas at each beach, but they are usually taken immediately after disembarkation. I was told to go up to the beach area to see if there were any cabanas available. I walked up to the main entrance to the beach and resort area and enquired at the front desk. I was informed that all of the cabanas were rented out and that there was no availability. My only option was to see if there were any no-shows.
There were a series of shuttles that transported guests with confirmed reservations for cabanas, back and forth from the beach to the ship. I stopped one of the shuttle drivers and asked him if there were any unoccupied cabanas. He told me he wasn’t sure but asked me to wait while he loaded a group who had reservations for their trip to the beach. The group he was loading handed him 6 tickets, one for each cabana. Since they were only 6 people, he asked why they had purchased so many tickets. There response was that they thought they needed one ticket per person. It turned out that each cabana is large enough for 6 people, so in effect they really only needed one ticket. What was more surprising to me was that each ticket cost $200 U.S., so this group had paid $1200 to spend the day at the beach! I negotiated with them for one of the tickets so that we could enjoy our day without worrying about the blistering sun.
By the time I had done the negotiating, Ian and Laura had finished their parasailing, and Kim was leading them back to the beach entrance where we had agreed to meet. I told them the good news, that I had managed to get a cabana, and the bad news – it cost us $200.
We waited for the shuttle to arrive to transport us to our cabana, and as it turned out, we managed to get Willie, the same shuttle driver that I had spoken to before. Willie welcomed us aboard the shuttle and drove us along the crescent shaped shoreline to the far end of the beach, where our large, square cabana, covered in a white canvas roof with white sidewalls flapping in the breeze stood in the middle of the beach amongst a few other well spaced cabanas. The cabana interior was made up of adjoining mattresses with large pillows all around the perimeter. Willie introduced us to our concierge who provided us with beach towels, a water cooler with 6 large bottles of water, coupons for bar drinks and a BBQ lunch. He also pulled out beach mats and lounge chairs for our exclusive use.
By the time we settled into the cabana it was approaching noon and the temperature was nearing the projected high of 38 degrees celsius. It was time to relax and take full advantage of the amenities that came with the cabana. We spread out on the mattresses under the canvas and let the cooling breeze soothe our burning bodies as we all buried ourselves in our favourite books for the next hour.
After a good rest in the cabana, we walked over to the closest of the three covered BBQ areas where lunch is served buffet style. The menu consists of hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, rice, beans and a variety of salads. There are picnic tables on either side of the buffet area, but we chose to bring our lunches back to the cabana where it was quieter and far more peaceful.
One of the main advantages of renting a cabana, aside from the obvious comfort and protection from the sun, is the location. The main beach is much closer to where the ship is docked, and as a result is extremely busy. The cabanas are at the far end of the beach which is much more private. The beach at this end is also protected by a stone breakwater that extends well into the bay so the water is very calm. The water is quite shallow all along the beach but unfortunately it has not been dredged out so it has many sharp rocks and coral on the bottom. Water shoes are a necessity!
After lunch, and for the rest of the afternoon, we alternated between cooling dips in the Caribbean and short naps or reading on the cabana mattresses. This was probably our most relaxing day on the cruise so far and was enhanced by the palm trees behind us, white sand beneath us and turquoise waters in front of us. The all aboard was scheduled for 5:30pm and we waited until the very last minute to have Willie paged to drive us back to the ship. In fact, we were the last group on this part of the beach to leave.
Once we boarded the ship, we went to our staterooms to shower off the sand and salt, and get ready for dinner.
Of course, after a difficult day of lounging and sunning ourselves, we had worked up an appetite. Tonight's selections were very good. Ian and Laura enjoyed the cheese gnocchi (in fact so much so that they each had two plates) and Kim and I replenished our energy with enormous portions of prime rib. Both were excellent!
Because we had time before the evening performance was to begin in the Opal theatre, we browsed through the ship’s photo gallery on the 5th deck to preview some of the pictures that we had posed for over the past few nights. We often take advantage of the photographers onboard to capture some images of us while we are dressed up and all together at one time (since it doesn't happen often). We had some group shots and individual pictures taken over the last couple of evenings but on this particular cruise none of them were outstanding. They have also changed some of the policies for purchasing photos. They won't provide an individual digital photo any longer, you must purchase a package so this wasn't really of interest to us at the time.
After checking out the photo gallery we walked down to the Theatre for the evening performance of Come Fly With Me, an impressive acrobatic extravaganza that has hints of Cirque de Soleil and Burlesque. The costumes and stage settings are creative as is the use of black and white, and colour to portray changes in time. The show is energetic and fast paced.
As had become our custom after watching the evening performance, we strolled through the Promenade to see what was happening at On Air. Tonight’s game show was “60 seconds or less”, based on the popular TV game show “A minute to win it”. Several contestants representing their home countries competed for fabulous prizes including Royal Caribbean zipper pulls and colourful hi-liters by trying to bounce ping balls into a Red Solo cup placed strategically in the centre of a bar table. After many unsuccessful attempts, a winner was declared from Australia, to the relief of the spellbound spectators.
To cap off our evening, Ian, Kim and I headed to the Adult comedy show while Laura headed off to her stateroom. The show is typical stand up comedy fare with a Master of Ceremonies who warms up the crowd and introduces the feature performers. The headliners for this show were Mike Marino and Joe Yanetty. Both have countless credits to their name including appearing on the Tonight Show, The Martin Short Show, and various comedy venues in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Both also have extensive acting credits in both television and movies. We found their performances to be topical, hilarious, and sometimes raunchy, but certainly not over the top. This is a show well worth seeing.
With Day 6 behind us we retired to our cabin saddened by the thought that tomorrow would be our last full day on the Oasis.
Sharing Our Travel Dreams
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