Tag: cruise ship

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship Review!

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Oasis of the Seas

The Oasis of the Seas is among the most majestic on the Royal Caribbean fleet. It launched in 2008, and has an occupancy of 6,296 maximum. It holds 16 passenger decks. This city on the sea is an exciting treat indeed!

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The Atrium – sort of…!

The Oasis has a very different layout than many of the mega-ships I’ve traveled on before. A signature design for this class of Royal Caribbean ship is a cut-out middle, interior as well as exterior balcony cabins, and “neighborhoods”: a variety of unique types of “destination” locations around the ship. The “Atrium” does not resemble those of most of the ships I’ve experienced before, either. In this case, it’s a long hallway filled with shops, restaurants, and much more beyond passenger services desks.

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Lido Deck

The Lido Deck is expansive, and there are multiple pools and jacuzzis as well as an adults-specific deck under glass (admittedly it gets hot and starts to feel like a greenhouse in there!)

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Central Park

Central Park is one of the neighborhoods on the ship, replete with trees, plants, cobblestones, and relaxing benches. Many of the interior balconies have views over this delightfully green section of the ship.

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The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk looks and feels like a likeness to the Boardwalk at Atlantic City, complete with a Johnny Rockets diner, Zoltar fortune telling machine, arcade booths, boardwalk food, and an operational merry-go-round. There are also interior balconies facing the Boardwalk, as well as a massive water-based stage at the back of the ship.

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Ice Stage

Entertainment is abundant aboard the Oasis, and “go big or go home” never seemed a more fitting description than aboard this ship! Unique stages include the ice rink – a stage for ice shows by night and available for guests to ice skate on by day. Olympic skaters perform spectacular stunts, and I was thrilled and amazed every minute of it!

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Water Stage

The other unique “stage” on this ship is the water stage, on the Boardwalk, where Olympic divers perform death defying feats, complimented by synchronized swimming and other aquatic performances, all with a backdrop of cotton-candy clouds. The stage is outdoors under the sun, and the seating consists of splendidly colorful beach chairs.

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Balcony Cabin

I had a balcony cabin and found it to be plenty roomy, comfortable, and pleasingly decorated. I opted for the Oceanview, because I can’t get enough of the beauty of the open sea. But how great it was to have three balcony cabin view options at booking! Because there are so many balconies on this ship, I found them to be a better value than on some of the other ships I’ve sailed on.

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More of the Atrium

I greatly enjoyed my experience aboard the Oasis of the Seas. The ship is spectacular, well-maintained, beautifully designed, and offers a dizzying array of great entertainment, fun activities, and diverse areas to dine, party, and relax. I did not find it to be a particularly solo-traveler friendly ship – every time I entered the main dining room and asked for a table for one I was made to feel like Steve Martin in “The Lonely Guy” when a huge spotlight appears over his head and everyone stares at him like he’s psycho or something… and with no good promotion for the drink package on this cruise line I ended up drinking more than my fair share of ice water with lime. But all-in-all I had a fantastic time choosing neighborhoods to suit my mood, reveling in effervescent entertainment, and soaking in the sun!

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Larger than Life!

You can view a full video tour of the entire ship here!:

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The Beautiful, Bold, and Breathtaking Brand New Norwegian Bliss Cruise Ship!

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The Norwegian Bliss

The Norwegian Bliss cruise ship sailed its maiden cruise this past spring, and I had the opportunity to sail on the Bliss in August on Norwegian’s Alaska itinerary out of Seattle, Washington. A spectacular experience on a spectacular ship!

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The Bliss docked in Victoria, B.C., Canada

The Bliss has 19 decks, and a 4,990 occupancy rate (double occupancy!) It holds a crew of 1,700. As impressive as the stats on this ship are, they cannot prepare you for the experience of witnessing this beautiful, breathtaking behemoth in person! The artwork on the hull is titled “Cruising with the Whales” and was created by renowned marine artist Wyland.

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Spectacular chandelier in one of the main lobbies

The interior design of the Bliss makes it as magnificent as the exterior! The decor is elegant, grandiose, and best of all, clever and creative. I felt spoiled on eye candy at every moment on the Bliss.

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Savor complimentary dining room

The Bliss is abundant with options for dining, including many complimentary and specialty choices. The decor in the dining rooms is upscale and trendy; I felt like a VIP no matter where I dined, whether there was a charge or not. Service was always prompt, courteous, and friendly, and the meals were a delight to my palate!

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Sugarcane Mojito Bar – my favorite hangout on the ship

In addition to dining outlets there are many bars on the Bliss, often tastefully themed. I was especially partial to the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, where the decor was classic Havana and there were a myriad of different flavors of Mojito, all delicious, to choose from. It was a great place to relax, enjoy the views of the ocean, and meet fellow passengers while enjoying some of the best drinks I’ve ever tasted!

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Balcony cabin on the Bliss

The balcony cabin was spacious, comfortable, and delightfully decorated. The mattress was dreamy, and I appreciated the many options for storage and abundance of electrical outlets. I never felt cramped in the bathroom, either. These were very pleasant surroundings for my stay on the sea!

The entertainment was outstanding on the Bliss, including the Tony-award-winning “Jersey Boys” show, “Havana!” a Cuban music and cultural extravaganza,  and the New Orleans speakeasy inspired “Happy Hour Prohibition” musical. I was enthralled and moved by all three shows. And of course, there is plenty more nightlife to come post-show in the exciting nightclubs!

The Bliss has ample amenities, even including a go-kart track on the top deck, laser tag, and the wildest water park slides I’ve ever witnessed on a cruise ship. And if all that wasn’t enough, the spectacular views of Alaska’s Inside Passage from up on deck or the privacy of your balcony – priceless!

I would recommend the Bliss cruise ship to anyone with absolutely zero hesitation. To this day, it is in my opinion the greatest cruise ship I have ever had the pleasure to sail on. I experienced no issues or problems whatsoever at any point during the cruise, either.

I have posted a full video tour of the Bliss, including a first-person view from inside the go karts, here!:

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I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

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Breakaway to the Baltic: Norwegian Breakaway Cruise through the Baltic Sea

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Norwegian Breakaway: Canvas for Artist Peter Max

The Norwegian Breakaway can hold a capacity of 3,963 passengers (double occupancy), 1,657 crew members, and launched in 2013. It is one of the larger ships on the NCL fleet. I sailed on the Breakaway through the Baltic Sea in May-June, featuring the destinations of Copenhagen, Denmark (embarkation port); Berlin, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Russia (overnight stop); Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden.

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Trendy Studio Cabin on the Breakaway

I booked a studio cabin for the trip, which, as you can see from the photo, was somewhat cramped but comprehensive, classy cabin. With the studio cabin category, NCL inspires solo travelers to feel like VIPs, through locked door access to the studio cabin hallways (think: velvet rope), a studio lounge with a specialty coffee machine and other amenities, and a dedicated solo travelers’ concierge that arranges meet ups like group dinners, entertainment, and activities for those craving some companionship for others in the same “boat…” Being an introvert myself and someone who tends to stay very busy during a cruise I opted out of these gatherings, but was pleased to see that such an effort was being made to accommodate solo travelers paying a premium to book passage alone.

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Ice Bar, Norwegian Breakaway

The Breakaway has spent much time sailing out of New York City, and this association with New York is heavily apparent in the decor of the ship. One example would be the Ice Bar (photo above,) which features images of the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Empire State Building. I found this to be an oddity, since I tend to associate the concept of an “ice bar” with Scandinavia, not New York. The Spice H20 outdoor lounge features images of a Rockaway Beach in Queens. Artist Peter Max’s signature Statue of Liberty image proudly graces the front of the ship, and more. Perhaps a reader will “get it” and leave a comment, but I couldn’t grasp the motivation behind featuring New York so profoundly in the ship’s decor. If you are from New York taking a vacation on a cruise ship, isn’t New York probably the last thing you want to look at? Or wouldn’t you want to “breakaway” from the Big Apple?

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Lido Deck, Norwegian Breakaway

The Lido Deck is expansive and features a water park boasting enormous water slides! Also available are a rock climbing wall, basketball court, ropes course, mini golf, and more. Due to lower Spring temperatures in the Baltic, the Lido was not heavily trafficked on this particular itinerary.

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Bliss Nightclub, Norwegian Breakaway

The Breakaway is almost daunting in its sheer size, but once you get your bearings there are many options for dining and entertainment. Aboard you will find multiple theaters, nightclubs, and restaurants (both complimentary and specialty.) The Breakaway has some of the finest entertainment I have experienced on a cruise ship, including a Cirque du Soleil show, wine tasting musical, and ballroom dancing show all of which I found to be outstanding – a quality comparable to Las Vegas shows. Be prepared to pay extra for some of the shows.

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Le Bistro, a Specialty Dining Venue on Norwegian Breakaway

Public areas of the ship are extremely clean, luxurious, inviting, and well-maintained. Typical of Norwegian’s style, the decor is modern and trendy. The ship is kept in immaculate condition – I found no signs of wear-and-tear or rust.

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Lobby Chandelier Spanning Three Floors, Norwegian Breakaway

The Breakaway Baltic Cruise features a 9-day itinerary, which I found to be far more satisfying than the typical 7-day itinerary. At this time of the year, the Baltic area is experiencing the “White Nights” effect, where it only gets dark for a couple of hours out of each 24 hour day (in the winter, the effect is the opposite, with limited time of sunlight.)

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White Nights: Moon in a Bright Sky at 3:00am

I highly recommend the Norwegian Breakaway, whether you choose to embark on the Baltic Itinerary in the Summer or a Winter itinerary closer to home! You can view a full tour here!:

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I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

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It’s a New Dawn for the Dawn – Norwegian Dawn Cruise 2018

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Atrium of the Norwegian Dawn

We are fresh back from a thrilling 7 day cruise to Central America out of Tampa, Florida on the Norwegian Dawn, and I am glad to be able to share another boots-on-the-ground travel blog with you after the past couple of posts. This was our second cruise on the Dawn – we sailed the Dawn to the Southern Caribbean back in December (2-part blog post from January is available related to that trip – click January 2018 on the sidebar to find them.) I’d like to provide a review of the Dawn here.

The Dawn went through an extensive drydock in 2016 – and consistent with the title of this post it looks incredible! The ship is extremely well maintained – I noticed absolutely no sign of wear and tear, and there is nothing outdated about the decor which was very fresh, trendy, and modern. There is a dizzying array of dining venues to choose from (5 of which are complimentary!) as well as bars. I felt as though the food in the main dining rooms, Aqua and Venetian, wasn’t as good as it was back in December, but that was okay because we had Bamboo (an Asian restaurant) and O’Sheehan’s (an Irish pub) to dine at instead on the remainder of our free dining nights. There is also a buffet – but I generally do not partake in buffets on cruise ships at all with the exception of breakfast (on any cruise line) because I am not comfortable in huge crowds and found that I’ve liked the food in the dining rooms far better as a general rule. But if you do like buffets, the Garden Cafe on the Dawn has magnificent views, a large selection, and comparatively nice decor for a cruise ship buffet.

One of the greatest benefits to booking on Norwegian are the promotions they offer in their “Free at Sea” program. With an interior cabin you choose one perk, and as you upgrade in stateroom category you get more to choose from. We usually start with the unlimited beverage package for our first perk, and the 3 nights of free specialty restaurants as our second perk (excursions, extra people in your cabin, and wi-fi are some of the other perks). We had an oceanview cabin and were able to book both of these perks, and the specialty restaurants we visited were outstanding. We returned to the Italian restaurant, La Cucina, and the steakhouse, Cagney’s, because we enjoyed them so much last time. We also decided to try Teppanyaki for the first time – where the chefs prepare your meal entertainment-style right in front of you (which you can watch in the YouTube video below!) We also visited Los Lobos again, the Mexican restaurant, for specialty margaritas (the best drinks I had on the whole ship) and homemade guacamole and chips. We really enjoyed Le Bistro – the French restaurant, last time but we didn’t have a chance to return this trip. So many options, not enough time!

It was Spring Break (mine too!) so the crowd was rowdier than last time. “Party hardy” is not our favorite atmosphere – despite my college student status I prefer peace and serenity on my cruises. I didn’t spend much time on the lido deck (despite the good Caribbean band that performed there often) but found a great quiet spot on the promenade deck to relax and contemplate the view. We didn’t need the lido pool because we reserved the Thermal Suite at Mandara Spa. There is an extra cost – but it’s worth every penny. The thermal suite includes a sauna, steam room, pool, 2 different jacuzzis, heated loungers (with an amazing view), and relaxation rooms. (The men’s locker room apparently also has 2 plunge pools that are not included in the women’s locker room – which I was disappointed to discover!) It’s quiet, relaxing, and there’s rarely a crowd. At night we often had the place all to ourselves. The jacuzzis and heated loungers were exactly what I needed after walking and exerting myself all day on excursions and getting around the big ship. I slept so much better after my blissful visit to the spa, all of my tension lifted and my sore muscles soothed!

Another benefit to booking with Norwegian is the stateroom upgrade bid program – where you can tell them what you’re willing to pay to upgrade your cabin and if they have one they can bump you up to they will. We got upgraded from an interior to a balcony last time, but we didn’t have any luck this time (probably because they were fully booked with Spring Break), but we were very pleased with our oceanview cabin nonetheless. It was comparatively roomy for a cruise cabin, had bright, cheerful decor, and lots of storage space. Our steward did an amazing job taking care of our room twice a day for us.

The entertainment was spectacular! Norwegian has our favorite shows for a cruise line. There was a great variety on this trip, from acrobats, to a Vegas-style production show, to magic, to comedy. These were some of the best shows I’ve ever seen – not just on a cruise ship but also on visits to Las Vegas and Atlantic City. We enjoyed spending our nights going to a show, the casino, and relaxing at the bars after dinner.

Staring at the incredible views out at sea, particularly the spectacular sunsets, is another of my favorite pastimes on cruises, and this trip did not disappoint. We sailed through the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea to Cozumel, Mexico, Costa Maya, Mexico, Roatan, Honduras, and Harvest Caye, Belize.

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Sunset View from the Promenade Deck

Service was excellent, and highly exceeded expectations. It was friendly, courteous, and efficient throughout the ship. We were extremely impressed that a couple of the servers even remembered us from 3 months ago!

This time I filmed a complete stem-to-stern tour of the Dawn for my YouTube channel which I have to share with you:

The next several blog posts will cover my adventures at the different ports. I wanted to try some new things this time on excursions, and had an absolute blast! I look forward to sharing these experiences with you over the next few weeks. And two weeks from now we will be sailing again – this time on the Carnival Pride out of Baltimore on a back-to-back to Bermuda, the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, and Princess Caye, so I will have a lot more cruise travel coverage coming in the immediate future!

Donation

I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

$1.00