Tag: comeseek

My Next Cruise: Vision of the Seas to Cozumel

My Next Cruise: Vision of the Seas to Cozumel

It’s cruise time…well, almost! It’s been a few months, but I’m excited to announce I have my next cruise all lined up for February of 2018!

The last ship I was on, the Oasis of the Seas, is one of Royal Caribbean’s largest. On this cruise, I’m dialing it back a little and sailing one of their smaller and older ships, the Vision of the Seas. Vision has been around since 1997, making her only 5 years newer than the Majesty of the Seas which I sailed on back in February of 2017.  This is a 4-night cruise departing from Galveston, TX and sailing to Cozumel, and then back.  This will be my first time sailing out of Galveston, which is only a few hours drive from where I live here in Austin.

Cozumel is one of my favorite cruise ports; the water is beautiful and crystal clear, and the people there are wonderful and friendly. I’ll be cruising with another one of my dear friends who has never cruised before, so it will be fun to introduce him to this fabulous form of vacationing.

There will be lots more coming on this cruise, so stay tuned!

Oasis of the Seas 2017 Cruise in Review

Oasis of the Seas 2017 Cruise in Review

 

Looking at pictures from any of my trips is a fun way to remember all the fun we had, but even better is seeing a slideshow! Of course I couldn’t resist making one for this trip, since so much had happened on this vacation. There was scuba diving, snorkeling, epic concerts, an incredible ship, and we can’t forget about that little solar eclipse… Go for it, check out the video!!

Cruise Day 6: At Sea

Cruise Day 6: At Sea

Today was another lazy day, since we were at sea and thus had the ship as our destination. It’s hard to believe the vacation is nearly over! This is the first cruise I’ve been on where our final day was a port day. Usually the cruises I’ve taken have ended with the last day being a sea day, and the following be disembarkation day.

Breakfast was in the Windjammer again – my family and I have never been ones to do the main dining room for breakfast, not sure why. The buffet always gives a nice variety of offerings to get your day started.  We then made our way to the pool and spend a majority of the day hanging in or by the pool, and this is where I was introduced to one of the bar staff named Lindell, who had his own twist on a Rum Runner drink that had come to be known as the “Lindell Special.”

Oh…my…goodness it was delicious. I asked him what was in it, and he explained it in his very thick Jamaican accent; sadly I didn’t catch much of what it was, since I’d already had about 4 of his Specials in me when I asked him. I probably should have written it down, because I know I can’t get on another Royal Caribbean ship and ask for a Lindell special, since they’ll have no idea who Lindell is and what’s in the drink. I tried ordering a Rum Runner from one of the bars at a litmus test, and it tasted kinda close, but not close enough. All I can remember was Mango, Pineapple, Banana, and Rum, but I’m not sure if there was more to it than that. The only solution: Go back on Oasis of the Seas ASAP and try to track down Lindell again! Or, those going on Oasis soon, find him and ask him about his special drink! Trust me, it’s very well worth it. It’s lighter and more refreshing than a Rum Runner… perfect for those hot days by the pool.

Dinner this evening was in the Main Dining Room, and I have to say compared to past cruises I’d been on with Royal, I wasn’t as happy with the service in the dining room this go around. Food wasn’t as good, and the waiters seemed like they had far more to do since there were no dedicated bar staff. Our primary and assistant waiter had to also juggle drink orders in addition to our food orders, so it slowed down service time and had us waiting for drinks more often than previously. I heard some talk that this was a decision made by corporate to cut costs, but I’m hoping this is revisited some time because it’s certainly detracting from the overall customer experience. Our servers were very nice and pleasant, but the overall experience wasn’t the highlight of the trip for me by far.

 

After dinner I had another brief visit to the casino, but then decided I’d had my fill since I was up quite a bit from the night before. Always good to quit while still ahead, right?

One of the really fun events on board was called “60 Seconds or Less”, which had contestants doing silly things within a 60-second timeframe. I’d arrived before my family so I tried to find a seat, and heard someone calling my name off to the side. I looked around and made eye contact with someone who looked vaguely familiar but I couldn’t place who it was. He was doing the “I know I know you” look, as was I, and it then hit me: It was a guy named Chris, one of my pals from Berklee, someone I went to college with!  What are the odds???  We chatted for a few minutes before the event started, and made plans to catch up again tomorrow after setting sail from Nassau – I wish we’d connected earlier in the cruise, but it was so much fun to see a familiar face on the ship.

The game show was hilarious, as it ended with Joe (one of the hilarious members of my group) having 41 shoes hanging from/stuffed on his person!

Tomorrow’s Nassau…the last port day, stay tuned for more fun stuff coming!

Cruise Day 5: St Thomas

Cruise Day 5: St Thomas

 

We didn’t have anything planned for this day, so we took it easy on this port visit. We woke up late and had a quick breakfast in the Windjammer before heading off the ship. The port of Charlotte Amalie was built just for cruise ships, much like the one in Costa Maya in Mexico, so it’s very “Tourist trappy” when you first get off, and you have to take a taxi of some variety to get to where all the shopping and attractions are. We opted to just take a little stroll around the surrounding area, and then get back on the ship to change into swim clothes and head to a beach of some variety, since we’d gotten most of our shopping done in St Maarten the day before.

We decided on Emerald Beach, which was only a $4 taxi ride from the pier. This beach came recommended by a few folks that had gone to St. Thomas before, and it really was a beautiful place. It’s a small secluded beach tied to a nearby hotel of the same name, so it wasn’t packed but it certainly was crowded. The water was crystal clear, and my cousin and I decided to do some impromptu snorkeling. I’ve got some video of that which will be up on my YouTube channel some time soon. We saw lots of tiny fish, as well as a few surprises along the rocks. As it turns out, we swam quite far away from the swimming area, but it was well worth it given the sights we’d seen.

We headed back to the ship around 2:30pm, and made our way to the Solarium, where we enjoyed the refreshing pool in the center. It had spray jets in the center which my cousin and I nicknamed “The People Washer” – clearly this had become my new favorite pool on board. While I love listening to the Caribbean band playing “Hot, Hot, Hot” and other soca hits, I also love my serene quiet peace time as well.

While the rest of the family dined at Chops Grille, my cousin and I decided we weren’t in the mood for steaks so we had our dinner that night in my favorite speciality restaurant: Izumi. Since we’d done the Hibachi experience already, we decided on doing the regular sushi menu, and I couldn’t resist revisiting my meal from my last Izumi experience on Anthem of the Seas. It was amazingly delicious, and I honestly can’t recommend Izumi more highly.  For those mildly curious, we had the Chicken Karan-Age and Spicy Miso Ramen appetizers, and I had a Snow Crab California Roll. I’m not an overly adventurous eater, but this hit the spot beautifully and I recommend all of those if you’re unsure what to try when visiting Izumi.

After dinner we visited the casino, and I made a few more donations before calling it a night early.  Stay tuned for more about the last 2 days of the trip!

 

 

 

Cruise Day 4: St Maarten

Cruise Day 4: St Maarten

St Maarten: Such a beautiful place! Now I know why so many love this island.

The weather was, in a word, perfect.

We woke up early and had breakfast in the Windjammer around 8, and met up with family shortly thereafter for some morning shopping. We rode the water taxi to the downtown shopping area (Front Street) where my cousin and I scored some incredible deals on some bling! (Yes, I said bling…)

I’ve never been much for jewelry, but I got a nice chain and titanium ring, which I bought for far less than the respective shops’ asking price. We then headed back to the ship to prepare for our SCUBA adventure.

The SCUBA dive was an incredibly fun experience! I loved it, and want to go for my certification. I think it will be a great thing to have for getting into underwater photography. Our instructor was incredible, and if you ever get to St Maarten, you must dive with Scuba Fun. Our instructor was Max, and with a group of only 4 of us gave us individualized attention and really made the whole experience memorable and safe. I can’t recommend it more highly.

I have (almost) the whole dive on video from cameras that my cousin and I had, so I’ll edit something together and post that after I get home.

After Scuba we had dinner at Giovanni’s Table, which was delicious. We had an early night since we had walked a lot and done the epic dive, but tomorrow we’re in St Thomas for more fun, and perhaps some snorkeling!

Thanks for following along, and if you want to catch some in-the-moment fun be sure to follow me over on Periscope to see live video streams from wherever I am.

Cruise Day 3: At Sea

Cruise Day 3: At Sea

Ah, day 3…

The eclipse has come and gone, but the memories will surely last forever.

We slept in and headed up to the Windjammer for breakfast around 9 or so, and met up with family poolside. Most of the morning was sitting by the pool and relaxing, fitting in some time in the Solarium as well.

Lunch at Johnny Rockets was tasty – greasy and tasty! We missed the Belly Flop competition, but that’s okay because there will be more cruises for sure!

We played some Cards Against Humanity again in the afternoon, and after a brief rest had a nice dinner in the main dining room.

We wanted to see the Aquatheater show, but it was canceled due to the movement of the ship, so we wandered around and found our way to some Michael Jackson trivia – which we aced, of course. We called it a night early since we had a big day planned for St Maarten and wanted to get some rest.

Having a wonderful time so far and can’t wait to share more with all of you!

Cruise Day 2: At Sea on Eclipse Day

Cruise Day 2: At Sea on Eclipse Day

Day 2 was truly unforgettable, in that there was a lot of fun mixed in with downright awe…

We started with breakfast in the Windjammer, and then proceeded to the sports deck for some morning Flowriding. I’ve got video of that which I’ll post after I get home, for bandwidth reasons.

Jen and I took two turns each bodyboarding, and just thinking about it is making me want to go back and do some more.

We then headed to the Aquatheater for the DNCE and Bonnie Tyler concert, which I went into with mixed expectations – I was blown away. I knew nothing of who DNCE was, and didn’t know much from Bonnie Tyler other than “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Holding Out for a Hero” – both acts were incredible. I did a few Periscope broadcasts of the concert, and found both acts were full of energy and had incredible stage presence. It was amazingly fun.

Then, came the highlight of the day: The Eclipse

I took about 300something pictures, my favorite of which being the following, which I’d posted to my Instagram account:

I’ll be posting the rest of the pictures after I’ve had a chance to go through and edit them, but that one is certainly up there as one of my top favorites.

After the eclipse, was dinner at Izumi. My cousin Jen and I opted for the Hibachi experience which was a lot of fun. The chefs were very friendly and engaging, and really got into the spirit of how much fun that style of cooking can be.

After dinner, I went to the casino and made my obligatory donations… blackjack and craps… they were fun, and it took me a while to lose my initial investment so I don’t call that a complete waste. We then finished the evening with the comedy stylings of two fantastically hilarious comedians: Phil Palisoul and Kivi Rogers – find them on YouTube, they are brilliantly hysterical. I’d actually seen Kivi Rogers while on Majesty back in February, and he was even funnier this cruise.

That was it for Day 2… Day 3 is coming soon: anther sea day!

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Event

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Event

Here’s a shot from today’s eclipse… I’ve got lots more to go through, but wanted to share this.

I’m truly humbled and blessed to have had this opportunity and will always be grateful to the incredible family with which I’m traveling; thanks for bringing me along and letting me enjoy this incredible experience with all of you.

Cruise Day 1: Embarkation

Cruise Day 1: Embarkation

It’s here! The first day of what’s to be an epic cruise!

My apologies for the live blog coming late, but here it is!

We stayed overnight at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, by far my favorite place to stay before a cruise out of Port Canaveral. We met up with the group before 9, and were en route aboard our private bus transfer by 9:30.

We made it to the pier about an hour later, and there she was: Lady O herself… the Oasis of the Seas. I couldn’t believe what a massive ship she is. I thought Freedom and Anthem were big, but this is a whole new level of big.

The size being what it is, security and embarkation were smooth and well-executed, as I’ve become accustomed to with past cruises on Royal. They are wonderfully consistent.

We had lunch in the Windjammer, hand headed poolside to verify that our drink package was functional – my wonderful margarita confirmed this! I even managed to fit in a live stream on periscope here!

Then we explored a bit and found our way to Central Park, where we had another verification of our drink package (Margarita #2, the drink package officially works on all decks!).

Rooms were ready promptly by 1pm. My cousin Jen and I are in an ocean view balcony on deck 14 – definitely smaller than the room I had on Anthem but enough for the 2 of us to be comfortable and not tripping over each other.

Afternoon fun consisted of a gut-busting game of Cards Against Humanity while we relaxed in our room… I won’t write specifics here, but let’s just say we’ve come up with a truly tasteless idea for a musical that would even make Mel Brooks cringe.

Dinner was in The Grand, and was fine. We then explored a bit more, and found our way to a general knowledge trivia, that didn’t go so well, then a Movie Themes trivia, where we did much better.

We ended the evening with karaoke in On Air, followed by an epic Eclipse-Day-Kickoff party on the Promenade. So fun.

Having a great time so far!

Be sure to tune in on Periscope for in-the-moment live video streams, and stay tuned for more fun from the Oasis of the Seas!

Stray Observations:

  • The ship is big, but surprisingly easy to navigate. The abundance of signage everywhere really helps.
  • Ship motion is very comfortable but felt more at the rear of the ship than anywhere else.
  • Staterooms and some public spaces feel smaller than on other ships; On Air, Schooner Bar both felt larger on Freedom.
  • Ship doesn’t feel overly crowded, despite my concerns it’s quite pleasant.
Off to a Great Start

Off to a Great Start

I don’t feel like I’ve been up for 2 hours, but I have. It’s just before 4:30am, and arriving at the United Club before it opened was definitely a first; that’s when you know it’s early.

I was going to drive myself to the airport, but figured since I had enough points on one of my travel cards, I got myself free black car service to and from the airport, and boy I was that a good choice. I was picked up promptly at 3:30am this morning by a black Tesla Model S… and it was one one of– no, it was the best ride to the airport I’ve had in a long time. I couldn’t think of a better way to kickstart this trip. I tried to think of a funny electricity-themed title for this post, but nothing came to mind. Why don’t you post a comment with some suggestions?

After having test-driven a Tesla a few months back, it’s really opened my mind to the idea of the possibility of daily driving an electric car. The ride experience was very smooth, and I loved the feel of the acceleration! The driver was quick to get up to the speed limit, which I always enjoy, of course. Maybe when I turn 40 a Tesla model S can be my midlife crisis car. I know I’ll feel better about owning one when charging stations are more accessible.

Either way, although it’s not obvious in the picture I’m excited and can’t wait for my upcoming cruise. More to come here on the blog, but also be sure to follow me over on Periscope for some fun in-the-moment live streams from the beautiful Oasis of the Seas.