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shazza_h

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About shazza_h

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  1. You are welcome - thanks for reading my review.
  2. Day 5: St Maarten & Day 6: At sea We had booked to do the Tall Ship Excursion on St Maarten, but then it got cancelled a couple of months before the cruise & refunds given. Not having booked another excursion and tired, we opted to stay on board for the day in St Maarten. Note for next time – pace yourself! For the final 2 days we had breakfast in the Coastal Kitchen which we really enjoyed food wise. Service still ho-hum though. Both days were pretty much the same – relaxing, swimming, kids club, rock climbing, eating – giving everything a go. On the last sea day there was a family event on the Boardwalk and the kids enjoyed that with the various activities and entertainment to participate in. Erika commandeered a car down by Johnny Rockets which kept her entertained for a bit, until a big cake came out and then made a beeline for that. We attended the Dreamworks parade on the last day which was a bit of fun too. Just my opinion but the Disney character meet and greets and the Disney parade/experiences were better if I have to compare the two. Certainly no shortage of people turning out for the parade on Oasis. Both day 5 and day 6 we had dinner in the Coastal Kitchen and Marcus kept both shoes on his feet thankfully! On the way home: Sadly our holiday had come to an end and so we opted for the 2nd (later) escort time off the ship. Our flight wasn’t until around 4pm back to LA where were we staying the night and heading back to NZ the next day. We met in the champagne bar around 8:30am and boy it was crowded!. We got a sticker to show we were part of the suite/pinnacles group and attempted to maneuverer through the crowd with limited success. Didn’t see much cooperation to let us through, but it was fine as we had plenty of time anyway. When we did start to move we were through and out past customs in about 30 minutes. The line was quite long and when we got to the front of the Customs line we found out why – one of the guys there (who we had processing us) was having a full on chat with everyone passing through. He was intrigued with the look of our NZ passports – to me they are pretty ordinary but to him the thought they were special and wanted to show us some design features... ah ok dude! We had booked Cortans shuttle for $20 each (I think) to the airport and arrived in plenty of time. Just on a side note, nothing to do with the cruise at all, but it fascinates me about the overselling of the plane and then the airlines having to find people to volunteer their seats, before they go ahead and bump someone at the gate. I’ve never seen this happen back home; maybe it does at the check in point, but you never see it at the gate. You can get a pretty sweet deal if you are prepared to travel later! We flew American Airlines back to LA and had a special treat – something else you don’t get back home either. We boarded the plane and the flight attendant asked Marcus if he’d like to head up the front rather than down to his seat. Thinking he’d somehow scored himself an upgrade I headed left too, to find the cockpit door open and the pilot and the co-pilot there letting him ‘fly’ the plane back to LA. He was well chuffed. I think this was a highlight of the whole trip. Final thoughts: Overall, the whole experience on Oasis was just amazing. It was a very different experience to the Disney Dream too. Disney is expensive, but they unashamed about saying if you want “Disney Magic” then you’ll pay a premium for it. I think the vibe of Oasis was more chilled out, Disney is FULL ON all day – exhausting!. Food & variety – Oasis wins hands down, for service I’d give it to Disney. Both had brilliant shows and entertainment. So that’s our trip! Happy to answer any questions if I can (and I can remember, it’s been a while since getting back!). Thanks for reading my review.
  3. Hi Coralc! Yes, the summer school holidays start around mid December and go to late Jan/early Feb for the primary school kids. Christmas day bbq's at the beach are common.
  4. Sorry team - if I can figure out how to edit it to increase the font I will. As you can see I'm not a regular poster here, so working it out as I go.
  5. Day 4: St Thomas Day 4 we were spending at St Thomas. By this time on our holiday we had been away for almost 3 weeks and the tiredness had set in. So we weren’t that motivated to do much at all and decided to stay on board. Part of me really wanted to get off the ship and nosey around, but the other part was happy enough just to stay put. By this time I was also getting some emails from work which I wanted to attend to, so I got myself a margarita and some chips/guacamole from Sabor and tried not to be the only loser in the Caribbean doing work. Failed badly – maybe the laptop gave it away?! This morning we mixed it up a bit and ate in the Solarium buffet for breakfast. This was really great – still being served by the staff there, but it was nice to have something a bit healthier. Nice setting too, I enjoyed it in there a lot. After breakfast, Marcus went back to the AO and Erika went for a swim. Get to the pool and guess what – no water in the splash area or any of the surrounding pools either. Apparently there had been an accident and it was all drained and roped off for cleaning. Bummer! Not to worry – hurray for icecream! We had received invitations earlier in the week for the suite party up on the helipad which was happening at sail away this evening, hosted by some of the senior offices on behalf of the captain, along with Cruise Director Dan. Hell yes – what a novelty to get to go here! And free drinks and nibbles to boot! So we headed off, hoping to find the right place and met one of the Concierges along the way. Once again, we had the only kids there. Kevin had a discussion with the kids about what would happen if they were even thinking about mis behaving.. Thankfully there was no spilled drinks and nothing broken on this occacsion. Felt like we were on display there a bit with others looking down at what was going on. Queen’s Wave everyone! We spoke with some lovely Officers about where they were from and what area of the ship they looked after. Was a great event! Some of the photographers were there too and we had some nice photos with the sun setting behind us. Then we got talking to the Food and Beverage Director - I forget his name but he was from Turkey. More on that in a bit – suffice to say that for the rest of our cruise he was our best buddy, however I wouldn’t blame him if the feeling wasn’t reciprocated. Or as Erika says ‘I’m your best friend, but you are not my best friend!’. That night we had dinner at the Japanese restaurant Izumi. Walking down the promenade, Erika and Marcus had another disagreement and Marcus was practicing his karate kick – dreaming that it was going to collide with Erika’s backside. And then this happened… Yup – Marcus’s flip flop flew right off his foot, high up in the air in slow motion - then smack BANG into the area where the Rising Tide Bar takes off on the promenade. Ah.. Bugger... Thankfully our New Best Buddy, Mr Food and Beverage Director was literally right next to us when this all unfolded – who luckily saw funny side. He was laughing, along with one of his colleagues. Marcus other hand was besides himself upset cause he thought he’d get into trouble. We of course do all what good parents do and put the phone into camera mode. So he calls the engineers who only take a few minute to arrive. These are the guys in the white overalls. After an animated discussion, it became apparent that it wasn’t an easy fix trying to break into this area and it wasn’t as though they can just leave the flip flop there. Meanwhile, they stopped the bar from coming all the way down and the passengers are stranded in between floors. Passengers are leaning over the side asking what’s going on and they are yelling up to them that we’ve had to manually override it to prevent it from coming back down. It took another 15 or so minutes to unlock a door and get on in there to retrieve the offending object and they tried to re-start the bar again. Ooops – blimin thing won’t restart and starts going up again.! This is our cue to thank everyone for their assistance and high tail it off to Izumi! So after that little drama we had a nice dinner at Izumi. Can’t recall how much it was, but it didn’t seem too unreasonable. The kids had some sushi, but my memory fades exactly what Kevin and I had. That was the end of that eventful day.
  6. Day 3: At Sea Today was a sea day so we didn’t have much planned other than exploring around the ship. Today we thought we’d check out the breakfast fare at the Windjammer buffet. Plenty of tables, lots of variety, the crew still serving food behind roped off partitions. Thought the buffet was pretty good - but again we are easy to please and no trouble finding something for everyone. The kids are not massive breakfast eaters either. After breakfast the kids wanted to go to the pool, so off we went for that. Erika was a bit small for the bigger pools so she played around in the splash area which was actually a whole heap of fun & she could play in there all day. No problems finding chairs next to the pool, maybe we were too early. Marcus and I went to one of the bigger pools next to the kids area and suddenly the life guard at the pool started blowing his whistle and waving his hands, trying to get at the attention of another other guard. He is waving and pointing to an area behind us. Didn’t think too much of it, until I get back to where Kevin is sitting. He isn’t swimming, he is just on the chair watching Erika. Turns out that one of the crew who was standing next to Kevin passed out and thumped her head on the way down on another chair and literally fell on-top of Kevin. He gets up, manages to get her on the ground, puts her in the recovery position and tries to get the attention of someone to come and help. He’s able to catch the eye of the lifeguard at the pool opposite who then alerts the other guy who is closer by the lazy river. A minute late and there are heaps of crew swarming around and take her away. Never found out what happened with her, I hope she was ok. That afternoon we played some mini putt up on the sports deck, and generally just lazed around. Stood in the wrong spot at the Flow rider and got drenched, but enjoyed watching others participate, they seemed to be having a great time. Marcus is back at the AO until dinner time and then reluctantly came back for dinner. We went to the Coastal Kitchen again. Marcus mentioned in passing that the Captain had stopped in at the AO that afternoon for a meet & greet with the kids. He said he had a photo and I thought he was kidding -but no, a photo of him and Captain Goran appeared in our picture folder. Captain Goran was super lovely, he came over the intercom a lot during the cruise. This was his last cruise before taking a holiday, so seemed to be in good spirits despite the nightmare of the previous weeks cruise. I went to check out the Oasis of Dreams show and once again the entertainment was excellent. Again it’s hard to believe you are on a massive ship. Both Disney Dream and Oasis had first class entertainment. The Dream had a production of Beauty & the Beast when we were there. I couldn’t pick a winner in terms of shows, they were both great.
  7. Day 2: Nassau So we had been in Nassau the week before on Disney at that time we visited Atlantis for the day. Which is beautiful and even better I won a few bucks at the casino. This time I had booked the excursion out at Blue Lagoon Island and the Dolphin Encounter. I was really looking forward to the dolphins, and we all enjoyed it, but to be honest would I do it again? Maybe not, I’d have to think about it again. The trainers were very knowledgeable about the dolphins and explained how they were rescue dolphins etc. I just don’t know how I feel about the ethics of it all. When we arrived at Blue Lagoon we were in the first group of people to do the encounter session. So we got into lifejackets and headed on down to the platform with about maybe 25 others. They have 2 platforms which they use for the encounters but the day we were there they had an issue with 1 of them, so we had to wait for the first lot of around 20 to go in since they couldn’t take everyone at the same time. The trainers had 2 dolphins and the interaction with them is the same for each group. You get to pat the dolphins, they do a little dance with you, you get some nice group pictures, you get to feed them some fish etc. Probably all up about 15 minutes. But boy the water was FREEZING though!.. At one point it was quite funny because the trainers had sent the dolphins away to do some tricks out the water and they made a run for it. They were like “ah the boys have taken off for a break again…”. The kids loved it.. of course you aren’t allowed to take any photos and they sell them to you for quite a price, but we bought a package of about 4 (can’t remember how much it was in the end) we got a cd to keep. Here is us with the dolphins. After that we headed on down to the beach. It’s funny that here in NZ we have so many beaches and many which are within a few minutes drive, but we never ever actually go to the beach. So it was ironically, a bit of a novelty. The kids had fun playing some beach games and we had some lunch and it was time to head back. Didn’t go into the water this time – a bit cold for my liking! There is only 1 boat on the way back, so if you missed it I guess you were in luck that you get to spend more time in the Bahamas! The boat on the way back was hilarious – we had music blasting and one of the crew was obviously the self appointed entertainment director and he had people up dancing. Marcus loved it joined on in. Erika fell asleep and missed it all! Too much fresh air probably. When we got back I took Marcus to the Adventure Ocean. He was in the 6-8 age group. Compared to the Dream, the AO rooms are quite underwhelming to look at, but hear me out on this because in all honesty he preferred the Oasis one more than Disney, as odd as it sounds. The Disney kids club is such on a grand scale, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There is so much to do, all the bells and whistles, everything you can think of, they have. Erika refused to go on the Dream because there is just so much and kids running all over the place, it was just too much for her. We did try her for an hour and got the call to pick her up. The AO on Oasis is a bit different, definitely smaller but because they cater for particular age groups it seems to be a less crazy. They would play games and have activities all together, it just seemed nicer and more inclusive. The team running the room which Marcus was in were awesome. I literally could not get this kid to leave the AO room at any point during the week. I heard that on this cruise there was 660 kids, but it didn’t feel like there was that many. On this night we had reservations at Coastal Kitchen at 6:30pm, like we had for many other nights. We didn’t actually set foot inside the MDR all week, I couldn’t even tell you where we were meant to go. Overall, the food at Coastal Kitchen was excellent. I know that food is subjective of course, but in our opinion, the food itself on Oasis was a massive improvement better than anything we had on Dream (which I wasn’t expecting). What wasn’t as great however, was the service. With the exception of one server who learnt the kids names and bought then out special treats every night, we had different servers each night and the service was slowwwww. They appeared to be quite indifferent, inconsistent and just going through the motions. In the Suite Lounge & Coastal Kitchen some drinks are complimentary, even a selection of alcohol drinks. One night something was included, the next night it wasn’t; just depended on who you got. The kids love spaghetti bolognaise and they ate a bunch of it this trip. To be fair it looked pretty good too. There was a kids menu but no one blinked an eye about which one they ordered from. Asides from 1 other family who had dinner around the same time as us, there were very few kids in the Coastal Kitchen or Suite Lounge. Certainly we had the youngest kids - which isn’t a good thing since the kids can be clumsy, messy and often loud. Fully conscious about not being that annoying and unruly family disturbing everyone else! After dinner Marcus went back to the AO as they had an evening session up on the basketball sports deck which started at 8pm till 10pm. I tried my luck at the casino for a little bit whilst he was there. Never played Blackjack before, but sat down at a table and must have been beginners luck as I walked away doubling my money. Until day 3 when I lost it all again! Turns out that beginners luck is for a very very short time! That night there was an alpha alpha alpha call around midnight. The next day the captain came over the intercom to say that the injured crew member was ok and they were getting medical treatment. That’s the end of day 2 folks.
  8. Hi everyone! Over the years, I've enjoyed many trip reports from fellow CC members. I had been planning this trip for ages as a celebration for a very round number birthday of mine beginning with the number 4 And yes it has taken me a very long time to get around to writing this review but here goes… A bit about our family - we are from Auckland, New Zealand. There is the "reluctant hubby (Kevin), prefer to stay at home - hate to travel - why are you disturbing my summer school holiday-type", he is a high school teacher and usually spends the whole summer holiday in front of the tv watching cricket - or more lately some computer game I never understand, with him and a bunch of other clowns running around trying to take over the world. We have a 6 year old son (Marcus) and 3 year old daughter (Erika). Since we had come such a long way, we spent 9 days at Disneyworld in Orlando and took in a 4 day Disney Dream cruise just prior to this one, so this cruise was the last thing on our agenda before the long flight home. Considering how long it’s taken me to get my act together for this review, I expect between now and Christmas, I’ll get around to writing up a review of the Dream! During this review I'll compare between the two from time to time, and share some of our experiences traveling with kids this age. Here is a pic of the fam: Pre cruise Whilst we were on the Disney Dream, the news mill was in overdrive about the Norovirus outbreak on the Oasis which was returning to port early for deep clean. So to say I was nervous about actually going on the cruise was an understatement. I figured that either it was going to be a complete disaster or the Oasis would be the cleanest place on the planet. Thankfully it turned out to be the latter. Surely this whole thing would be costing RCI or their insurance company a heap - both financially and reputation, so surely they won’t want a repeat of it anytime soon! Thanks to the folks on the cruise from the 6th who were giving updates about what was happening on the boat and were checking out future rooms for signs of quarantine from anyone ill on the previous trip. We had 2 days in between the Dream and Oasis, so we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites at Cocoa Beach. Coming off the Dream we arranged for Cocoa Beach shuttle to pick us up, the price was pretty good at $27 for all 4 of us. Finding the shuttle was very easy and I recommend using the porters who meet you in the customs area who help you collect your bags and take you to the pick up point. We founds the location was great and it was nice to have a massive grocery store right next door to where we were staying (to pick up extra hand sanitizer and antibac wipes!!).. We had 2 days to spare, but didn’t want to be rushing around too much. It would have been nice to visit the Space Centre but to be honest, I was happy enough just mooching around and relaxing without rushing here and there. Marcus is a dinosaur mad kid, so we made a stop at “The Dinosaur Store” which was within walking distance down the road from the hotel. This is actually a really cool place! It has a museum on 2 floors at the top of the shop and an activities centre. The museum is quite new and only been there for 18 months or so, so not a lot of people know about it. We were the only ones there at 10:30 on a Saturday morning. A welcome change to the crazy lines which we had come used to at Disney over the holidays. Here are some pics of the Dino Store if you're interested: Day 1: Boarding We took the hotel shuttle back to the port on the day. I think it was about $7 bucks each. Cue a lot of jokes about noro etc from the shuttle driver and fellow passengers but too late to turn back now, so took a chill pill and tried to hope for the best. We arrived back at the port about 10:30 and there were lines… and lines and more lines! But it moved pretty quick and even quicker for us since we had a suite. Got the check in counter and they stopped checking people in momentarily. Not really sure what the deal with that was. We did make it to the suite area and no sooner had we sat down, boarding seemed to open up for us – so all aboard we go!.. We were some of the first on board at 11:15 and it was EMPTY! And clean – and beautiful! Wow what a ship. We wanted to get to the Park Café for lunch since it was on deck 8 and I’d heard pretty good things. But the Oasis is so huge and overwhelming. So we stopped off at Guest Services and there was some of the team out the front who were meant to be helpful. I guess this was my first impression of the crew on Oasis vs Disney. On Disney they went out of their way to help, whereas this lot didn’t make a great first impression. I asked where the closest elevators were so we could get to Park Café. Guess what – no one had ever heard of Park Café. They must be kidding?! So the supervisor comes over and guess what – he hasn’t heard of it either! Perhaps it was our NZ accents, but we walked away a bit miffed. Anyhow, we did find where were we going, just took the scenic route! Walking through Central Park for the first time was amazing, just gorgeous in there. Kids were mad with excitement and a photographer at Central Park captured a cute pic of the kids who were just buzzing at being on board. We had our first of many visits to Park Café and also our first experience of many of the cautious approach the crew were taking to hygiene post noro from the past week. All of the self serve areas were roped off. Guests could not touch ANYTHING or self serve – from the cups of water to cutlery. Not even napkins. Crew were handing out everything. Which was fine, but slowed the whole process down. This was the theme for the first 5 days everywhere you go – including the windjammer to the suite lounge buffet to the ice-cream machines. Even the carousel which gets (apparently) cleaned once per shift, was being cleaned twice per shift- according to the lady operating it. Having got there early we got a nice table outside. Loved the food at park café, we had awesome salads and sandwiches. Over this trip, Erika became very fond of the “Lays Crisps” and what a bonus – an infinite supply! After lunch we had a wander around the ship as it was began to fill up with people. We found the Suite Lounge up on Level 17 and went in for a nosey. We hadn’t eaten for a full 30 minutes (!?) so checked out the buffet there which had a small selection but was pretty good. Had to stand behind a certain line and only 1 in and 1 out of the buffet area and of course the staff had to serve you what you wanted. No unnecessarily germs allowed! We met the Concierges and got the all-important Wi-Fi codes etc. Kids started to get a bit grouchy so sat down with their tablets. Right next to a group of Pinnacles – best behaviour everyone! Rooms opened up around 2pm. En route to the room we found our suitcases down the hallway so we brought them along with us. I had originally booked a junior suite when the cruise first came available. Roll forward another year and I snagged a great price on a GS for really not much more so I jumped on it. I must be honest though, the draw of a CLS was incredibly strong, but I decided to “slum it” on a GS on the 8th floor which turned out to be a great location and we loved it. Our room was 8254. The GS was wonderful – HEAPS of room for all of us, massive closet, had a nice little benchtop for stuff to go on, and an excellent location mid ship and just down from Park Café. The only thing I that I didn’t like was the placement of the TV which was on the wall next to the bed. Wasn’t really comfortable to lie in bed and watch tv – but hey, first world problems! On the Dream we had a Family Oceanview room and although we had heaps of space for us in both, the GS felt a little roomier. I can’t recall what the exact dimensions of each room was and whether the GS actually had more room or not. On the Dream the kids had bunk beds which folded up during the day. We had a little time to unpack and then head for the muster drill which for us was on deck 5 in Café Promenade. We came back and Erika and Kevin had a nap and Marcus and I went off exploring. We found the carousel at the Boardwalk and registered Marcus at the Adventure Ocean. More on our experience at the AO later on. After sail away we met up with the roll call group – some of which were on B2B’s from the week before. Thankfully none of them got sick – actually they were all in excellent spirits knowing they would be receiving refunds for the now infamous prior cruise. We booked the First Night Done Right promo and I had asked the concierge team to books us in at Giovanni’s. Oh my goodness – the food and the service was out of this world great. I’d say one of the best meals I’ve ever had. We have amazing service too. Our server took care of the kids first and brought out their food and then they had dessert whilst Kevin and I enjoyed our meal. No kid ever needs help with dessert. Pictures aren’t the best but I had the mussels for entre, filet for main with a side of their famous lasagne! Kevin had pork if I recall correctly. Had a few glasses of wine too, but we didn’t pay for any of that. The server said he ‘took care of the wine’ – so it wasn’t on our bill. Score! Not sure if this was typical or not, but hey I wasn’t complaining. After dinner Marcus and I went to check out Frozen in Time. Loved it and we had great seats right at the front. The dancers were very talented and I’ve never seen anything like it. Hard to believe you are on a cruise ship sometimes. Here are a few pics of the show. So that was the end of day 1. Will post day 2 tomorrow! Thanks for reading so far.
  9. We are on the Oasis this week and as of today, we've been allowed to self serve at the buffet, ice cream etc again. The lengths they have gone to this week to 'washy washy' and clean down surfaces this week has been very noticeable. Been a great cruise actually!
  10. Hi - We are on board right now. The crew have been very diligent in making sure that everyone washes their hands, wiping down surfaces etc. You don't have to go far anywhere to find someone cleaning something! Crew is serving food at the Windjammer, the Coastal Kitchen buffet, park café etc. You can't even get too close to the food as it is all roped off with a crew member standing between the rope and the food. Slows down the whole process but for the best I guess.
  11. You are an angel - thanks ever so much!
  12. Starry Eyes - in the interests of contributing to your half marathon training would you please please do a 'drive by' for me on 8254? That's our room for next week. With 2 young kids I'm freaking out about this. Sorry for the hassle!
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