Tag: family

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 7: Nassau

Cruise Day 7: Nassau

It’s the last day of the cruise… the one before disembarkation. I don’t know what’s worse; the day before you have to leave the ship, knowing that it’s all over in one day, or actually getting off the ship itself.  You be the judge and post a comment… which is worse?

We had an early breakfast in the Windjammer and headed down to meet the rest of our tour group in the Opal Theater before going ashore When I was last in Nassau on Majesty of the Seas I did a great snorkel excursion called the Rainbow Reef Snorkel, and knew that I just had to show this fabulous place to my cousins. I’ll have video of our visit to the reef up on my YouTube Channel soon, but in the mean time you can check out the video from February’s visit to get a small glimpse at the aquatic life we spotted there earlier this year. Today’s visit was different, so be sure to be on the look out for the video that’ll be coming soon!

Once off the ship, there was minimal organization, so it was a bit chaotic to try to find our respective tour operator. I included some of this in my feedback to Royal Caribbean after the cruise, but I think we should have been kept on the ship until the tour operator had arrived and was in a clearly visible spot for us to meet them. We eventually did meet up with the woman from the tour, but it wasn’t as smooth as some other experiences I’d had in the past.

The excursion was great – I highly recommend the Rainbow Reef Snorkel on your next cruise to Nassau – the tour operators definitely make the experience memorable, as well as give some fun an interesting tidbits on the boat ride back toward the cruise ships, pointing out some celebrity houses right on the water.  It’s a great value for the price – I don’t remember it being more than $40 a person for the whole thing.

After arriving back on land, my cousins Jen and Lindsay decided to walk around before getting back on the ship, but I wanted to get back to the Oasis so I could throw some dry clothes on since I was meeting up with a few folks from one of the cruise fan blogs that I follow that happened to be sailing on Majesty of the Seas, which was due into port around noon. As I was walking back toward the pier, I did my little check to ensure I had everything I needed to get back on board:  Photo ID… check. Wallet… check. Sea Pass Card…. Nope.

As it turns out, my cousin Jen had my SeaPass card in her bag and I’d forgotten to get it from her before we had parted ways. I knew there had to be some sort of procedure for those without their cards to get back on board, and I was about to find out what all that entailed.

Upon arriving at the pier, I was told to talk with a guard in a military uniform, who wasted no time making me feel stupid for having lost my SeaPass card. He then verified my name on the manifest, and let me on to the pier via the crew access gate. Once there, I realized it was a very long walk back to where the Oasis was docked; we were docked all the way on the end, since we were the largest ship in port that day. Also in port with us was the Disney Cream, Carnival Somethingorother, and the Majesty of the Seas.  Since my clothes were almost completely dry at this point, I opted to just wait for my friends on the pier rather than go back to Oasis, and get off again later. Majesty had just finished docking at that point, so I knew it wouldn’t be long.

I had a fun meet up with some other folks from the RC Periscopers group, which is a cruise enthusiast group of folks who perform live streams via Periscope from whatever ship they are traveling on.

You can tune in to my broadcasts via Periscope any time, and join the group via rcperiscopers.live. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know some wonderful people from this group, as well as the Royal Caribbean Blog, an unofficial fan blog run by a friend of mine who lives in Florida and gets to cruise more often than I do! It was on his podcast that I was featured a few weeks ago talking about travel credit cards.

After I’d met up with the guys from Majesty, I started heading back to the Oasis and heard my name being called from behind me. It was my cousin Jen, who was on her way back as well. Thank goodness! I didn’t have to deal with trying to board without my SeaPass card!

We made it back on and proceeded directly to the Solarium for our departure from Nassau. The cantilevered hot tubs are my favorite spot on Freedom and Oasis class ships; I love being able to look down the side of the ship, especially while pulling away from port. I’m always amazed at how effortlessly these massive ships can move, and with pinpoint precision.

Dinner was at Chops Grille tonight, a fun way to end this fabulous trip. The rest of the family had such a great experience on their first visit to Chops, the night Jen and I went to Izumi, they wanted to revisit once more before the trip had finished. I’m not a steak person, so I went more for the experience of dining with family than the food itself. Dinner was good, and we headed up to Deck 16 for some impromptu family portraits taken by yours truly; we wound up saving a good bit of money by having me take our pictures instead of going with a ships’ photographer.

By then it had gotten dark, and it was time to do that which I dread at the beginning of every cruise: Pack and put my suitcases outside of my door. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. As much as I hate that saying, I just tell myself that the end of one cruise means it’s one day closer to the start of my next one.

We went to bed around 11pm, and ended yet another fabulous day, on a fabulous vacation.  Thank you for following along on my trip; I was having so much fun, that I wasn’t blogging “live” as much as I thought I would. A little confession; I’m actually just finishing this up about 4 days late… but reliving the memories are part of what brought be back into blogging in general. I love being able to go back at a later time and think about all the fun I had on this trip.

I saw a legend perform one of her iconic songs on the same day as a once-in-a-lifetime full solar eclipse, that I even got to photograph! I spent time with incredible people, and I got to perform a full-on scuba dive. That’s just a few of the amazing experiences I’ve had on this trip, and why I’m always humbled and blessed for the opportunity to be able to take vacations like this, and share them with all of you.

I do have a number of cruises on the horizon, so be sure to stay tuned, because the next one just around the corner… granted, it’s a fairly big corner, because it’s not for a while, but stay tuned!

 

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 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.

June 2017 Trip Photo Highlights

June 2017 Trip Photo Highlights

I definitely had a great time on this trip, but not just as a ship-going passenger. The photographer in me always loves the chance to snap a great photo, so here are some of my favorites from the whole journey.

I took most of these pictures, with the obvious exception of the ones of me which were taken by the photographers onboard the ship. Since I don’t often like to take the time to set up all of my studio gear and get all dressed up for a selfie, I enjoy taking the opportunity for a nice professionally-shot image like the ones I can get onboard.

I got some great shots of a few guys up on the Flowrider too. I got a chance to chat with them, and made sure to get their e-mails so I could send them the shots after I’d gotten home.

Enjoy these shots – there may be some repeats from the live blogs, but there may be some new ones you might not have seen. Either way, thank you all again so much for taking this trip with me, and I look forward to sharing more with you on my next trips!

 

Trip Day 1: Made It to NJ, Cruise in T-36ish hours

Trip Day 1: Made It to NJ, Cruise in T-36ish hours

It’s been a long day. I woke up at 3:30am Central time, and I’m writing this from my phone at 10:30pm Eastern Time from my brother’s house in Toms River, NJ.

The flight here was uneventful aside from some nasty turbulence; nothing that was overly scary. After watching a lot of stuff on planes and learning how tough they are in their construction, I’m really not fazed when the ride is bumpy. Those planes are built to take quite the beating, far more than any ordinary turbulence. 

It took a little while to get my rental car, but I was finally on the road by about 12:30 and made it here just before 2-ish. I didn’t care about the waiting, I’m a pretty easygoing guy to begin with, and hey I’m on vacation. 

I’m staying with my brother for a few days, and after having dinner with my cousin and her daughter, it’s time to wind this day down. I’m feeling the whole “being up for a long time” thing… so I’ll keep this one short and sweet for now. 

I’ll share this beautiful view to end things with: