Day 4 – Sint Maarten
We arrived in “Sint Maarten” (the proper spelling for the Dutch half of the island) a little after 7:30am. In 2010, this part of the island was granted the status of “country” within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the northern half, Saint-Martin, was colonized by the French. I watched from our stateroom balcony as we backed in slowly and gracefully to the dock beside the beach in Philipsburg. The view from the 9th deck of the Oasis was quite spectacular – a ribbon of white sandy beach separating the turquoise waters of the harbour from the white, pink, blue and yellow stuccoed bars, restaurants and boutiques stretching in a long arc away from the ship.
This was our first port since we left Fort Lauderdale, and we were quite excited to get off the ship and explore this island oasis. To enhance our experience, and help us to gain some knowledge of Philipsburg and Sint Maarten, Kim had booked us on a Royal Caribbean excursion called The Race – a take off from the popular TV reality show “The Amazing Race”. The object was to follow clues around the town of Philipsburg and complete a series of challenges and eventually end up at the destination area, while collecting the most points, in the least amount of time.
Our excursion began at 9:15am at a pickup station on the pier beside the ship. There were another dozen or so families gathered around our meeting point, and once everyone had been checked in, we walked as a group to the water taxi that would bring us to the town.
The excursion was scheduled to finish up around 12:30pm so our plan was to stay in Philipsburg after the excursion and find a spot on the beach to swim and relax before the 4:30 “all aboard”. We had packed a bag with towels, swimsuits and extra water, but, as it turned out, there was nowhere for us to leave the bag while we were on the excursion, even though we had been told otherwise by the onboard excursion staff. Rather than carry the bag with us for the next 4 to 5 hours, the tour facilitator offered to have someone from the staff bring our bag back to the ship and have it kept at Guest Services until our return. We gladly chose this option as the temperature was already approaching 30 C and by midday would be several degrees hotter.
With that settled, we followed the rest of the group onto the water taxi for the 5 minute ride to the entrance of the old town of Philipsburg and its 1400 inhabitants. After exiting the water taxi, we all gathered a short distance away where we were greeted by our excursion hosts, clad in bright green teeshirts, who would be providing our challenges for the game and offering guidance along the way.
Each team chose a name (we were Team Ajax) and received a map of Philipsburg along with a notepad and pencil for working out some of the clues. At the end of each successfully completed challenge we would be given the clue for our next destination and challenge. By the end of the excursion we would have covered some of the major highlights of Philipsburg and been introduced to its history and geography – a great way to explore and learn about a new destination!
Once all of the rules were communicated, we began our first challenge. Each team was given a small container filled with dry rice and beans as well as a plastic spoon for each member of the team. The container with the rice and beans was placed on the ground and an empty container was placed about 50 feet away. The object was to have one team member use their spoon to gather a few beans onto their spoon from the first container and pass the beans onto the spoon of a team member standing at arms length away. This team member would pass the beans to the next person in the same manner. Once a participant passed the beans successfully to a teammate, the participant would go to the end of the line to accept beans from the person previously at the end. This process continued until the last person in the line was able to deposit the beans on their spoon into the previously empty container. The challenge ended when there were 30 beans deposited into the container at the end of the line.
While this sounds simple enough, there were a couple of gotcha’s. First, for each grain of rice that ended up in the container at the end, you lost a point. Second, you could only use the spoons to transfer the beans and you were not allowed to touch the beans with your hand. Third, if you dropped the beans during the transfer, you had to start again. Fourth, during the transfer you could not move your feet – you had to perform the transfer with outstretched arms, accept the beans, then transfer to the next person in line with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Because the spoons could hold a maximum of 5 or 6 beans, the more that were on the spoon, the greater the likelihood of “spilling the beans”. We managed to finish our task with relatively few issues and were one of the first teams allowed to proceed to our next task – we were stoked!
After completing the first challenge we were given our first clue and, using the map, headed to our next destination. Our second challenge took us to the beautiful, white, sandy beach of Philipsburg. This would also be our most physical challenge of the day. Each team lined up about 200 feet from the beach and were given a plastic cup and a sponge. One member of the team placed the empty cup on their head. The other members of the team would take turns running to the water’s edge, filling the sponge with water, then running back to the start line and squeezing the water out of the sponge, into the cup. This task was completed when the cup was overflowing. Needless to say, this challenge left us quite exhausted in the scorching heat!
With our second challenge completed, our next clue took us through the old town of Philipsburg, along Front Street – the street closest, and running parallel, to the beach. We meandered through tiny shops, markets and boutique stores as we followed our clue to the museum at the eastern most point of town. Once there, we entered the tiny 2 storey building which was filled with works of art, furniture, crafts and model ships depicting the history of the colony. Our task was to find a dolphin on a ship and record the information that was displayed about that ship for a future task. While the museum was small (each of the 2 storeys consisted of only one room about 200 square feet), there were hundreds of artifacts. We finally located the ship with the dolphin – It was an old sailing ship that had a carved dolphin perched on its bow – in a tiny alcove on the 2nd storey. We took a picture of the plaque describing the ship to record the information that we would need later in the game.
Our third clue took us north from the museum to the Library where we had to locate a small park and determine what kind of bird was depicted on the sign by the entrance. The bird was a dove and as it turns out, is the National bird of Sint Maarten. Once we determined what the bird was, we had 2 other tasks that we needed to complete here before we could go on to our next destination.
The first was to list 20 independent Caribbean countries. Fortunately for us, we have been on several Caribbean cruises in the past and had the benefit of a professional cruise consultant at our disposal so were therefore able to list quite a few of the 20 quite quickly. It took us a few minutes to get the last 2 or 3, but finally we were successful and the list was checked off by one of the excursion facilitators who pointed us to the Library for our next task at this location.
A narrow table, about 6 feet long stood on the sidewalk at the entrance to the library. There were several fruits and vegetables lined up along the length of the table and the object was to identify as many of these as possible. A point was allocated for each properly named fruit and vegetable. Some were easily identifiable and are items that we commonly purchase in Canada such as bananas, mangos and coconuts. Others were more difficult, because they the are not commonly consumed at home. We were able to identify some less obscure ones like plantains and a version of avocado that is much larger than we find in our local grocery store, but we did get stuck on some of the varieties that we never see at all. This was the task that gave us the most difficulty and we did lose a few points here, but, undaunted, we got the clue to our next task and continued on our way.
Leaving the library, which is situated at the North East corner of town, we headed west toward the north central part of town where we were looking for a monument situated on the round-about that is the northern entrance to Philipsburg. Our specific task was to identify the name of the monument, and explain its significance. We spotted the monument as we walked up the street toward the police station which is located at the intersection marked by the round-about. The large, stark sign is easy enough to read, even from away. The sign simply reads “The Salt Pickers”. The simplicity and starkness of the sign is an indication of what the monument represents – the harshness of life for the early inhabitants who worked the island’s salt mines. The monument depicts a small group - men, women and children- labouring around mounds of course salt atop a stone base that makes up the entire round-about. The dark, grey stone, the white, course salt and the stooped figures serve as a sharp contrast to the fun and sun that visitors experience in Sint Maarten today.
Our next task headed us south through the centre of town back towards the beach. We were looking for the catholic church that boasts the statue of Saint Martin of Tours, the patron saint after whom the island (and the Church) is named. The statue stands inside the gates of the church and to the right of its main entrance. At the base of the statue is a plaque that describes the saint and refers to the episode of the Cloak and Beggar. It is said that St. Martin, when he was a soldier in the Roman Army, came upon a beggar on a cold winter night and used his sword to cut his woolen cloak in two and gave one half to the beggar. After pausing and reflecting on the statue, we headed south towards the beach and the last few tasks of our excursion.
To get back to the beach and our final destination, our next clue took us west along Front street through the more commercial parts of town that included higher end clothing stores, diamond and jewellery retailers and dozens of tourist shops. Our clue had us looking for “dancing fountains” that marked the main entranceway from Front Street to the beach at the westernmost part of the town.
We were approaching the 3 hour mark of our excursion and, as the sun was beating relentlessly on our sweating bodies, we were looking forward to a swim at the beach. After a 20 minute walk through the crowded street, we spotted a wide opening on the south side of the street, between the endless row of shops. The opening was the gateway that we were looking for and featured two rows of fountains about 6 feet apart that guided the way down a pedestrian boulevard from Front Street to the Beach. Our pace quickened as we neared our final destination and we made our way to the beach.
The pedestrian boulevard from the street to the beach ended abruptly and we stepped onto the burning white sand dotted with brightly coloured umbrellas. We made our way to the destination point – an outdoor bar at the entrance to the Nazca Peruvian Restaurant where the excursion guides had set up their command post. Our arrival time was registered by the guides and we were given one final task to perform: one of us had to ride a tiny plastic tricycle around a set of pylons on the beach and then swim out 50 yards to a designated buoy and back to officially complete the race. Ian “eagerly volunteered” to perform this last feat and managed it quite well despite the challenges of plowing a tricycle through soft sand and battling fatigue on the final swim.
With our last task out of the way and officially clocked in, we went inside the Nazca restaurant to escape the scorching sun and found a table underneath one of the several oversized ceiling fans. The Nazca is a typical beachside restaurant with moderate inside space, modest décor and surprisingly good food. As its name implies, the Nazca specializes in Peruvian food abundant in seafood dishes. We had fresh white fish, shrimp and hamburgers. As we finished our meal, the excursion guides announced the winners of the grueling race – sadly, it was not us, although we did finish in the top 5!
After lazing in the Nazca to take advantage of the cooling fans and some shade, we returned to the bright sunshine of the beach. We were able to locate a spot on this very busy stretch of sand with an umbrella and a couple of lounge chairs that were unoccupied. All four of us headed into the sea where we spent the better part of the next hour wallowing in the warm waters of the Caribbean.
It was approaching 3:00pm and since our all aboard time was 4:30pm, we decided to start making our way back to the tender pick up point. During one of our tasks in the morning, we had passed by the Rum Emporium on Front Street and wanted to stop in to try one of their specialty liqueurs – Guava Berry rum. It just so happened that this was on our route back to the pickup point. We tried a couple of different liqueurs, including the Guava Berry, and decided to purchase a bottle of the very tasty Mango rum for $20 US. Since our return home, we have enjoyed a variety of martinis using this liqueur as the base.
After a very busy and exhausting day in Philipsburg, we finally boarded the tender back to the ship around 4:15pm. We went to our respective staterooms and showered off the salt and sand in preparation for another fabulous dinner. Of course once again the dining room did not disappoint. We thoroughly enjoyed lasagna, short ribs and chicken cordon bleu.
Feeling both full and tired after a hearty meal, we were happy to just spend some time relaxing in the main theatre and taking in the Headliner show that featured Marcus Terrell and the Serenades. Marcus Terrell was a quarter finalist in Season 4 of the TV show America’s Got Talent. He and the Serenades provided some lively entertainment that focused on the wholesome sound of Motown. I quite enjoyed both the music and the energy that Marcus Terrell brought as well as his ability to engage the audience.
Following the headline show we strolled around the Promenade and ended up at On Air where tonight’s event was Karaoke. Auditions had just finished for the competitive event that would last for a couple of evenings and unfortunately, we had arrived too late for Ian to register. He did perform a moving rendition of Frankie Valli’s “I Love You Baby” for which he received a resounding ovation from the audience and accolades from the host. It was an appropriate end to a great day.
Day 3 – At Sea
Our 3rd day on the Oasis was to be our last at sea day prior to our first port stop. This meant another day to relax and enjoy the amenities of the ship before a very busy schedule in the days following.
Kim and I decided to try the Wipeout Café, on the 15th deck at the back of the ship, because it was where the omelette station was located. On most Royal Caribbean ships, there are omelette stations at the Windjammer, but on the Oasis, this isn’t the case. The Wipeout Café is not a very large venue so it was surprising that we did not have to wait in line to order our omelettes as is the case on most cruise ships.
Our order was taken and we were given a numbered card to place at our table so the omelettes could be delivered to us when they were ready. This is another plus compared to other ships we have been on since you usually have to come back to the omelette station when you think your order will be ready. After about 10 minutes our omelettes were delivered to our table. We took ours to go as we had settled in our usual spot in a shady area of the Solarium. Before heading back to our lounge chairs we stopped by the Solarium Bistro and finished loading our plates with meat, cheese, tomatoes and fruit.
After a tasty and filling breakfast it was time to relax and enjoy another beautiful morning on the Caribbean. Kim read, I wrote and dozed (mostly dozed), and we got in the pool to cool down. It is amazing how much of an appetite you can work up during the rigours of relaxation, so after a couple of hours we decided on a quick lunch before heading over to the Aqua Theatre to watch the always entertaining International Belly Flop competition. This has always proved to be a very well attended event on every cruise we have been on.
We arrived about 10 minutes before 1:00pm (the scheduled start for the competition) and the outdoor theatre was packed. We were not able to find shaded seating so we stood in a slightly shaded area on the stairs to the right and near the back of the venue.
The competitors were introduced one at a time by name, place of origin and weight. There were 10 competitors ranging in weight from 160 pounds to a whopping 360 pounds. Each competitor took turns strutting to the edge of the diving box full of confidence fed by male testosterone. Only a couple were able to make the splash with the style and steely nerve worthy of such a prestigious international competition. Most flinched and folded, making their way back to competitors row with their pride stung, but their gonads intact. A tie-breaker between the competitors from New York and New Jersey was required to decide the champion for this event. The final dives took place and the competition was won by New York.
The intensity and stress caused by the dramatic finish to the Belly Flop competition meant it was time for some kind of refreshment. The Aqua Theatre is at the aft end of the Boardwalk, which coincidentally, is also where Johnny Rockets is located. Johnny Rockets is a 1950’s style diner which serves hamburgers, hotdogs and other diner classics and is also one of the specialty restaurants on the ship, which means there is a surcharge to eat here for lunch and dinner. As Crown and Anchor Gold members however, one of the amenities we received is a "buy one, get one free" milkshake at this venue. We took advantage of this offer and each had a chocolate shake. While it took a considerable amount of time to prepare the shakes, the wait was well worth it. This was easily one of the best shakes I have ever had. It was smooth, thick, creamy and topped with real whipped cream – very much like the shakes I remember as a kid growing up in the ‘60s.
Feeling satiated and Zen after a delicious shake, we headed back to the Solarium for more intense relaxing and a dip in the pool. Laura decided to go back to her stateroom while Ian and Kim continued to relax in the Solarium and I prepared for my self-selected activity – the Martini Clinic at the Rising Tide Bar.
The Rising Tide Bar is a boat shaped lounge that seats approximately 30 people and, as its name suggests, moves up and down 3 decks, between the Royal Promenade and the Boardwalk. All of the tables in the lounge are high tops with stools. It is a bit upscale and was the main venue for the singles nights as well as the afternoon Martini Clinic.
The Martini clinic occurs a couple of times during the cruise and on this particular day was scheduled to start at 3:00pm. Initially, I was the only participant, so Jayson, the manager and mixologist asked if I would mind waiting a few minutes to see if anyone else showed up. Eventually a few stragglers arrived, and by 3:15pm there were 7 of us participating in the clinic and a few family members, including Kim and Ian, who came on board as spectators (and sly sippers).
With everyone ready to go, the bar began its slow ascent to the 7th deck and Jayson began the clinic.
The cost of the clinic was $25 per person which included a 2.5 ounce sample of 5 different martinis. None of the martinis were the classic gin or vodka martinis with vermouth and olives or lemon. These were all aperitifs or dessert drinks that were made with a combination of vodka or gin and a variety of liqueurs. We tried the following different drinks: Orange/Mango Martini, Southside, Black Forest Martini, Cappuccino Martini, and Strawberry Cheesecake. The mixing and tasting lasted about 45 minutes and when it was over, we descended back down to the Promenade deck.
I had read on the television messages board that the Oasis was offering a 10 drink card for $79 and since we hadn’t purchased a beverage package for this cruise we inquired about it with Jayson. We had been monitoring our bar budget so we had been selecting wines that were in the $8 range, but that meant a limited selection. Many of the wines (and other cocktails) ranged from $10 to $14. The drink card was good for any drink under $14, so we decided to take advantage of it. This meant that we could order the finer and more abundant wines and still only pay $7.90. The nice thing about the drink card is that it is totally shareable, unlike the drink package. We were also informed that as of recently, Royal Caribbean only offers the beverage package for purchase on the first 2 days of the cruise. Starting on the 3rd day, the drink card is offered as an alternative to purchasing drinks individually.
We returned to our staterooms and got changed for dinner and head to the Aqua Show which had been cancelled the first evening because of potential lightning. We had been rebooked for a 5:15pm showing which meant that we had to go right from the show to dinner.
We headed to the Aqua Theatre for the second time to take in the Aqua Show, Oasis of Dreams. This was a 45 minute non-stop performance consisting of acrobats, divers and gymnasts, many of whom had performed at the National, International and Olympic level. The show was fast paced, with perilous timing and flawless synchronization as divers and acrobats appeared to barely miss each other at reckless speed. During all this fanfare you had to stop and think about the fact that we were on a moving ship!
Equally impressive was the theatre itself. What appeared initially to be a regular polygon shaped pool which was the stage for the performance, turned out to be a technological marvel, with a rising floor that converted the stage from a deep pool to a shallow pool, to a solid floor for the gymnasts and acrobats. Several times during the show a large square trampoline would immerse from the water to be used by divers and acrobats alike.
Following the show we made our way to the Silk Room for another dinner where the food was great, but we all overindulged. Ian and Laura enjoyed the Spaghetti Bolognese, I had a very tasty Lamb dish and Kim enjoyed the Chicken Parmesan with vegetable ragout.
After dinner we settled into the Schooner Lounge for another round of Trivia. This time the theme was Michael Jackson songs so with Ian’s fervour for MJ, we were feeling pretty optimistic.
There were a set of 20 short song clips and you had to guess the title correctly to get a point. We finished with 16 out of 20 correct answers which was good enough for 3rd place. Undaunted, we decided to take in the game “Who Wants to Feel Like a Millionaire” which was taking place at the On Air bar. This game was loosely based on the popular TV game show. Volunteers went up to the stage and had to answer a skill testing question correctly to become a participant. After the 2nd round I was coaxed to give it I try, so I made my way to the stage and waited with anticipation for the qualifying question. The question was a quote and you had to identify what it was from. Before the host was able to finish the quote, a young teenager blurted out Harry Potter, which was the correct answer. I had no clue as I have never seen the movie.
Needing a change of pace after two consecutive game events, Kim, Ian and I headed to the Jazz on 4 (presumably because it is on the 4th deck) and took in a jazz band from Italy called Four’n Jazz Quartet. They were very good, especially the saxophone player who performed a couple of moving solos. We stayed for close to 45 minutes, but had to leave as we wanted to see the Love and Marriage game taking place in the Opal Theatre.
We have seen this particular game on a couple of our other Royal Cruises and it is always a lot of fun. There is a selection process from a group of volunteer couples. The selection is based on finding one couple just recently married, another couple that has been married the longest and then a third couple married for 10 to 20 years. After a rather lengthy selection process, the newlywed couple that was selected had been married for 6 weeks, the middle couple for 22 years and the longest married couple (who reluctantly came up at the behest of their grandchildren) had been married for 58 years.
The success of the game is really dependant on the personalities of the participating couples, and as it turned out, this group was quite entertaining. After 2 rounds of rather embarrassing questions, the couple with the most correct answers was declared the winner – in this case, the couple married for 58 years. They even remembered the restaurant where they had their first date and where they had their most memorable sexual encounter. It was very cute.
This game had started at 10:30pm and by the time it was done the clock was approaching midnight. After a very busy day at sea we were ready to turn in and rest up for our first shore day.
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.