Cruise Review: Oasis of the Seas Voyage to Haiti, Puerto Rico and Sint Maarten

Greeting everyone! I just finished up a 7-night Eastern Caribbean Cruise with my family on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, the second largest cruise ship in the world! 😮 🌎24947519527_5220052e4e_kI thought I would provide a detailed review of our on-board experience, as well as, helpful tips for those considering taking a cruise in the future. 😀28038180709_f614b8e3a0_bArrival: Our ship departed from Port Canaveral, near to Orlando, Florida. To reduce stress, we arrived a day early, which was smart considering my parents had flight delays, which affected their arrival time. While in Orlando, we stayed one night at La Quinta Inn & Suites Airport North Hotel, which offered a complimentary airport shuttle, and arranged our shuttle to the port as well.24952455847_f9a11b9f85_bCost: ~100 USD for a room with two double beds, booked on Orbitz,  plus 30 USD per person for round-trip transport to Port Canaveral.
The next morning, after enjoying a complimentary breakfast, we made the 1-hour drive to Port Canaveral. The ship departed at 4:00 pm, and passengers had to check-in at least 2 hours beforehand. Our check-in process went very smoothly, and took less than one hour.

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breakfast at La Quinta; hot sauce= life ❤

During that time, Royal Caribbean transferred our bags to our room, while we went through the security screening, and were issued our sea pass cards.39817711371_254e80e4cc_bThe sea pass card is used for literally everything on the ship, from buying drinks, shopping in the boutiques, renting towels, getting into reserved shows, and especially for getting on and off the ship. It can also be used in the casino if you win any money. The card balance can be checked at any time at either the front desk or by using the television screen in your cabin. Since I found a last-minute deal on this cruise, we received a 100 USD of credit, which we quickly spent up…on adult beverages. 🍺🍷😉

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Oasis of the Seas pub

25943117158_4334560d01_b25943117068_a42ab57348_b25943116738_c27c91fdaa_bFacilities: We were stunned to learn that the Oasis of the Seas is the second largest cruise ship in the world.38917857215_2c21d01735_bIt’s five times the size of the Titanic, and almost as tall as the Empire State Building. It has a capacity for over 6,500 passengers, and over 2,000 crew members and staff. The ship has 17 floors, 25 restaurants, 28 bars, seven distinct neighborhoods, over 12,000 plants, a casino, two rock climbing walls, a gym, spa, sports court, an ice rink, a gaming arcade, mini golf, two surf machines, a zip line, a library, a card room,  a comedy club, multiple theaters, the deepest pool at sea, a carousel, 25 pools, including hot tubs, and plenty of on-board shops, including Tiffany’s, Rolex, and Michael Kors.39818005281_ec5a4bfb0a_b39784364232_6a67920fb2_b39784364042_a48dcc51cb_b38917440255_2165be1286_o25943117388_79a27a6b87_b
25945344938_5a4bb1d39d_b39816329671_5d2f1174c3_b39816329441_4d91ed3c2a_b39784740712_8507493d44_b39816571001_c24bb99e4e_b
39816475681_7b584e483e_b39816571131_e2b1c6f322_bI got lost all the time on this ship, and heavily relied on these displays to tell me where I was. I overheard someone say they lost their wife for almost 24 hours on this ship! Some people have walkie-talkies, which seems like it would come in handy. 24946004257_0a316d4b91_bOur personal cabin was an interior stateroom for three people. It had a double bed, a couch, desk, bathroom, closet, mini fridge, and a twin-sized bed that folded down from the ceiling. The room was so quiet and dark, we could honestly sleep the day away in there, with no concept of what time or day it was! 😛24945341987_5339af1424_b
24945342097_773da75750_b38916972805_bb808edf7d_bWe also had a personal attendant who came each day to clean our room, change our towels, make our beds, and came each night to deliver an itinerary for the following day. He also left us cute things, like towel animals. The staff come from over 75 countries, and our attendant was from Indonesia. ❤39113215034_5d612f89ac_bOverall, the cruise ship was like a moderate-sized village. The cruise director even hosted a talk show each morning to give passengers a run down of upcoming events and things to know.38929814965_4c79d54e69_b

What’s Included on a Cruise:

Food: Let’s be honest! Food is a major part of the overall cruise experience. On the Oasis of the Seas, over 10 of the 25 restaurants are included in the price, with hours of operation listed in our daily itinerary, and a $ asterisk next to it, if eating there was not included in the cruise. The non-included specialty dining services included a fine Italian restaurant, a Mexican taqueria, a Japanese hibachi and sushi bar, a steak house, Starbucks, and a chef’s table multi-course dining experience.

CAUTION: Be prepared for lots of food pictures! 😛

We chose to eat at the following restaurants during our cruise:

Windjammer: a casual buffet-style restaurant with a daily rotating menu, and a variety of international cuisine, including European, American, and Asian fare. (B,L,D)39817722331_6b878f3c11_b39783975702_6c68cee3bf_b39783975572_b380551d6b_b39817722371_9f2a97918a_b39817722561_4eeeb898ec_b39817722861_70bd3730a4_b39817722451_d25f958152_b39784813772_87e3703768_b39784813582_ca380e7c13_b39784813522_d81fa779b5_b39816799791_d831301517_b39816799641_5db9479674_b39784813422_a6f96b446d_b28037870799_16e628d20f_b39783975402_4550297ba6_bSolarium Bistro: another buffet-style restaurant, with a tranquil garden setting and beautiful sea views. (B,L,D)28037906709_2af43ff984_b28037906739_4b5d8a4f6e_bSabor Taqueria: this Mexican restaurant was not included in the package, but they did have a nice happy hour, with a margarita, appetizer, and unlimited chips and salsa for only 12 USD.  (L,D)38918428785_11986e9bb1_b39108138034_93b7d4ff85_b39108137594_01ff825586_b39108137744_6884d5a133_b39817839131_b32798b3ba_b
Nothing like a little post-margarita merry-go-round. 😉39817839621_d3285e3ee2_b
28039221239_6799ecaefd_bPark Café: a casual dining spot, which reminded me of Panera. They offered salads, soups and paninis. (L,D)25943969918_7b4704b8a1_b25943969768_894019d4b5_bJohnny Rockets: a 1950s-style American diner, with flap jacks, burgers, fries, and malts. (B is included, L is extra $)28038195419_c25b0a1a9a_b28038195839_2daaeb7aff_b28038229899_08b1bc3374_b24952456117_3070e5543f_bWipe Out Café: a surf-themed buffet near the pool, which offered sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, and pizza. (L,D)38917857305_07af17e57e_b24946996797_692ecdd774_bBoardwalk Dog House: a casual, carnival-style eatery, with specialty hot dogs, like bratwurst with kraut, chicken sausage, and pork sausage with peppers. (L)38918429075_0424313e25_b25945344438_874d66bd81_b39818014841_dd76a194e6_bCups and Scoops: a paid ice cream parlor, with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and elaborate sundaes.25945344578_086882ea03_b
25945344818_0eb824c4ca_bSorrento’s Pizza: a casual Italian restaurant, with slices of pizza, garlic bread, and a variety of salads. (L,D)39784364572_f92c79312b_b39818048951_52ec572cef_b39818049051_3f56537341_bAmerican Icon: a casual dining spot for breakfast or dinner, with the option of either buffet or a la carte dining. (B,L,D)24947504217_2a8a0cc3f5_b24947518557_bf1cbe501c_b24947504397_5ee5c4d4da_b24947505007_f963f1e651_b24947504617_a0b02c8388_b24947506107_480d9a7089_bSilk Main Dining Room: the main on-board dinner option, where you receive a lovely fine-dining experience. (D)39816263951_e440e0aa7a_bEach meal, you choose a starter, entree, and dessert from their daily rotating menu.
Side note: you can choose as many starters, entrees, or desserts as you’d like! 😉39817258881_a46be97f91_bYou also have an assigned table, assigned waiter, and a set dining time for each day. You can check the menu beforehand as well, and decide if you’d like to dine there, or choose another restaurant.39816263631_ac5f762913_b39816193851_fd43b79447_bWe were assigned the 7:30 dining time, and this was the family we ate with each evening. 28039511429_eb2dacb618_bHere’s a sampling of our most photogenic foods. 🙂28038180879_9efc1eae7e_b28039511519_a63408ae81_b39816799871_c183cd6e72_b39817258991_1f9bec12b7_b39816799941_448317e5c3_b28039511349_71d7f37f5d_b28039228859_87aa024e25_b28038180999_36808b9d6d_b39816800031_042357ed4a_b28038180919_e457370ca3_b28039511229_d65abfb0d3_b28038181059_f085fb4fd7_b39816830471_fcb5b68cae_b28038195279_563ba03369_b39817259141_cc435c1ea8_b28039511139_6810eb0441_bThey also had multiple poolside soft serve ice cream machines, and a few paid restaurants which we didn’t get to try. By the end, we just felt like mindless zombies in an eternal food coma, walking from one meal to the next! Hah!25944001618_8f1e54704e_bDrinks: As for beverages, coffee, tea, water, milk, and juice are included. Alcoholic drinks and soda are not included.38918042175_affb95c429_bYou can choose to buy these individually with your sea pass card, or as a package deal.Beers and wine are 7-8 USD, mixed drinks are 9-15 USD, and soda is 2-4 dollars.38917857445_24f09159e4_bDrink packages cost 25-60 USD per day, depending if you want just soda or alcohol too, but everyone in your group must purchase a package. This stops large groups from buying one package and sharing all the drinks. You can also bring up to two bottles of wine on-board with you from off shore, but no liquor.28039228659_a21a083874_bInternet: The WiFi can be purchased for 20 USD for 24 hours or for 15 USD/day for a 6-day package. This was for surfing the web, but higher speed internet for streaming videos can be purchased at an additional price as well. Personally, we bought internet for one day, but it was actually enjoyable to disconnect from the web. As well, it was easy to find free WiFi in both Sint Maarten and San Juan.
Activities: Each day we were given a detailed itinerary of available activities. Almost all were free, aside from spa services, exercise classes, or other experiences, like tapas tastings, liquor flights, and gambling tournaments.

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the vitality spa, where you could have services such as acupuncture, hot stone massage, and even a 24 carat gold facial

39784740522_36bb6b9c33_bEach floor also has computer screens where you can check the daily itinerary, weather, and ship statistics.38916973075_4cfb225741_bPersonally, we chose to take part in only free activities. Here was a day-by-day breakdown of all the things we enjoyed:
Day 1- a complimentary alcohol tasting, and the Broadway performance, “Cats”.39783976002_e7355e0dc2_b39105843474_b2fbbcc4f8_b38916972625_782403382f_bDay 2- a champagne art raffle and live auction, a family-themed parade, line dancing class, a dodgeball tournament, and mini golf.25943970418_8676846419_b39783975732_a2c4773858_b25943969588_01b4880dea_b39816475911_05ea9bbbe0_b39816476511_4eaf5d30b2_b25944001478_a0056ce56f_b39816571101_7a4725210e_b39816570961_256f6092e1_bDay 3-  a belly flop competition, ice skating, zip lining, an ice show called, “Frozen in Time”, and a love and marriage game show. Our cruise director looked like he came straight off the love boat with his heart patterned suit. ❤38918042335_d22d5f7958_b38918042515_d4b377c983_b28038230029_c850b82bb8_b28038230119_85b3c874ff_b28038230239_b8d5842a97_b

39816831251_913de274a5_b39816830961_9c70b2185a_b24946716737_6fe8886698_bDay 4- an aquatic performance of divers and synchronized swimmers called, “Oasis of Dreams”, a battle of the sexes game show, and a performance by the famous singer and impressionist, Paul Boland39817241321_212645d861_b
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39817241081_3698cbfe39_b39817259281_9ea43ab978_b39785614492_0fe65571a7_bDay 5- outdoor movie screening of “Flatliners” after a long day at shore.

Day 6- a theater production called, “Come Fly with Me,” after another long day at shore.28039229039_8f3a8b2ac6_b39818004431_37ee7d58ed_bDay 7- an Elvis show, a comedy dive show, rock climbing, and a late-night comedian. Moms favorite joke from the comedian. “What’s the difference between popcorn and pea soup? Anyone can pop corn.” Hah! 😛39818061831_8e5910cfd6_b
39818061701_db5418ea77_b39818061971_05cfd0774b_b24947670957_46d557c4a7_b24947670767_1aefc25192_b39108136864_2fd8cb2c45_b38918429105_5412e3e3ef_b
39818014101_8effb7bf92_bSide note: the Elvis show was an added bonus. It is part of an annual birthday cruise for Elvis.

Elvis fanatics on the cruise decorated their doors to show their support.25943970638_06b861e176_bMy mom may now be one of them. 😛38925641905_d2571450d8_b
28039511019_541cf0d2c1_bOn the last day, we also got to meet the cast to ask them questions about their shows, and meet the captain to learn statistics about the ship.39818005641_3f0ae49689_b39818048881_71481cb51a_bSince I was so impressed with the entertainment, I put together a small video montage for you to enjoy! 😀

Cruising tip: many of the shows require a reservation, which is best to book on the first day of the cruise at the guest services desk. You can also monitor your reservations using the television in your room.
39817711651_9030759266_bSide note on live music: Each day they offered a plethora of live music, from afternoon until the wee hours of the morning. They had a nice variety of classical, Latin, Jazz, Pop and clubbing beats. Honestly though, after a days worth of sun and activities, we were lucky if we made it to midnight each evening. Hah! 😛39818005381_8c2c7d78f5_b24946004647_2d875f71b9_bPorts of Call: During our cruise, we stopped at three different ports: Phillipsburg in Sint Maarten, San Juan in Puerto Rico, and Labadee in Haiti. Personally, we chose to opt-out of any paid shore excursions, and instead chose to do our own thing at the three different ports of call.

1. Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten- this Dutch Caribbean island has clear, turquoise waters and a laid-back beach vibe.24946716877_62ace13bea_b
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38918111495_99b108e5d8_b38918111655_5093c0c5ef_b28038412189_e9b36a3382_b28038412289_e77166ed67_b38918111435_d80894d135_b25944318218_8f5748be79_b28038413379_8a504d4c50_b25944395848_b1c7a8f1e8_b25944396158_12c1f841fb_b25944396048_f116c0ce9b_b24946979927_9b33155afc_b24946980297_1c4bab5bb9_b24946996607_a370617049_bThey were hit hard by Hurricane Irma only four months ago, and we could see that many of the buildings were still far from being repaired. 25944318498_3f4a3a7e3f_b24946996517_76caf8c3c6_bAs well, the locals here rely heavily on tourism, so we had lots of people trying to sell us clothes, jewelry, massages, and hair braiding, but they seemed to be very polite with us each time that we declined.28038412379_1b44e5d126_bDuring our 7-hour stop in Sint Maarten, we chose to rent beach chairs and lounge in the sun all afternoon. We liked this restaurant called Antoine, which had a full bar, restaurant, free WiFi, and a friendly staff.28038413179_15cefc4e3b_bWe enjoyed a leisurely day picking sea shells, tanning, and swimming in the sea. The sand was super smooth and the ocean was a temperate 70 degrees. The air temp was 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but breezy, which made for a relaxing day at the beach. 38923907185_e33395544c_b24952472717_9f1894dc34_bCost: 20 USD for two umbrella beach chairs, and 5-6 USD for drinks

2. San Juan, Puerto Rico- this American Caribbean island was first colonized by the Spanish back in the 16th century, and has an incredibly charming old town district full of colonial architecture, as well as, two historic battle forts gazing over the sea.28038848139_5098447340_b39107561104_2731c551ab_b39785920912_d9b4404fa8_b39785921062_22aea5da1f_b39785921182_4eafaf7dd4_b28039013879_42fc6b8716_b28039013959_b41ca910b3_b39107928894_0f5d61eb7a_b28039014019_9c13c91ec8_b39786018862_900a7c8d87_b28039024699_de12aae0f8_bDuring our 6-hour stop in San Juan, we visited both forts, shopped for souvenirs, and tried some local Puerto Rican grub.39107561044_162b569d63_b28039024589_b19ab8677b_b28039024759_b55f61e964_b28039024929_a4961f2fc1_b28039025059_4299504186_b28038847569_9760828ac3_b39785748352_77288f279f_b39785747702_1a39e75571_b39785747332_81de15f99e_b
DSC_0863DSC_086039785747332_81de15f99e_b25944917128_05a6e3502e_b28039025159_8579d88913_b
39785747492_ece492db04_b24947193177_2172ff916b_b25944990678_7ccb5e0f56_b25944990718_a7edfdfb92_b25944990848_acda73cbae_b39107899474_dbbec1228f_b
25944917288_bc4724b2e2_b39107900004_e4140179be_b28038847909_5ab2eddc4b_b
39785920642_5d86c291f3_b39785920812_f5e801fd16_b24947193067_3b5d39c162_b39107900194_a1e08c7418_b39107900424_a6ee4755f6_b39107928344_357901725a_b39107928164_089b7d582c_b39107928524_aba90d5ee8_bThe main dish here is called mofongo, and consists of mashed plantains, filled with either roast chicken, pork, or seafood. It’s served with rice and salad, not too spicy, and has a nice balance of savory meat and sweet plantains.39786019772_68eaea8f7d_b39786019942_46e5bd51cf_b39786020092_3481b1711b_b39786020262_2b80cd902a_bSide note: San Juan was also hit pretty hard by the hurricane, and it’s obvious that the relief efforts here have been less than adequate. Their relationship to the U.S. is very complicated, and it seems that Puerto Rico is always getting the short end of the stick.

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street art in Puerto Rico depicting their acknowledgement and resistance to the oppression

Cost: 7 USD per person for entry to both forts, 12-14 USD for mofongo
3. Labadee, Haiti- this tropical paradise is actually owned and operated by Royal Caribbean.24947519697_522c5c19c2_bThe site has beautiful beaches, a pristine landscape, the longest zip line over open ocean, and a fun water park for its guests.24947520047_9fb89a013c_b28039135219_dd4d5b1a13_b28039135309_ced5b0f5eb_b
28039135439_c55a7b3cbb_b24947651207_f32476ccdd_b28039166479_33b9330609_b24947562307_c30e7ee789_b24952456057_4e42a3d0e8_b24947561827_e539f9585b_b28039170689_84bf515705_b28039166569_80554f929b_b28039170849_e73722d6dc_b28039170879_1eb1428a2d_b28039166759_e9de6ddc20_b28039170929_bfe9c8eac8_b39108063544_4f4fb8a181_b24947650797_3c103815f2_b24947669747_306e8b9bdb_b24947669907_b080ec6f9f_b46549614762_10bc1afcd9_o39108063664_8d4d30f030_b28039134899_cef0162899_b39108075574_c2580a8228_b28039134789_9c4f316d6a_b39108076204_1feb32199e_bThey also served a complimentary buffet-style lunch, and this was the only port of call where we could use our sea pass cards to purchase alcoholic drinks. 39108076434_ae4ab3e073_b39108076584_a6d37349e5_b39108076964_b69300f071_b
24947649597_d8bb0b6609_b
24947650207_22b1659eb2_b24947650347_07efe5ae26_bTo generate income for locals, they also had a handicraft market, selling paintings, trinkets, and other colorful souvenirs.24947669467_804e9b3a3a_b24947651407_cf56aa9625_bSide note: For each port of call, getting off and on the ship was quite easy. We simply presented our sea pass card and ran our baggage through a scanner. 24946996727_ae6b59bc14_bThey also rent out towels for the day, so you don’t need to bring your own. All of our ports of call were within walking distance to the ship as well. Lastly, I always found the staff to be incredibly welcoming when we got back on board. Our cruise director was an exceptional hoot, since we never knew what kind of crazy outfit he’d be wearing next. Pure entertainment right there!

Overall Cruise Experience: Now, I can only speak for our personal experience, but we found the cruise to be incredibly entertaining and well-balanced. The quality of entertainment far exceeded our expectations, and offered a lot of variety. We never wondered what to do next, but instead, wondered if we could fit everything we wanted to do into one day.

As for the food, we found the quality to be exceptional, and incredibly diverse. Highlights included fine cuts of tender meat, fresh seafood, and well-seasoned Indian curries. Of course, the greasy burgers, fries, and unlimited soft serve didn’t hurt either! 😉

We also found the staff to be incredibly focused on proper sanitation. We were prompted to disinfect our hands by the staff before entering any dining area, and we could find Purell dispensers literally around every corner. 39818048861_199645c831_bWe also found the three ports of call to offer a nice variety. Sint Maarten was more geared at a beach experience, San Juan was more of a city walk and sightseeing tour, and Labadee was great for kids, and also adrenaline junkies.

As far as value-for-money, I found the cost of the cruise to be quite affordable. The extras for drinks, internet, fancy duty free items, and overpriced excursions are where the prices can really add up. Just be smart when making those purchases.28039221579_2a8d72086e_bCost: around 500 USD per person, booked through Expedia.

Anyway, my apologies if anything on this post is out of order, since although the cruise is done, my travels are far from finished. Up next I’ll be heading to Cuba for over one week. My access to internet will be extremely limited during that time, so I wanted to share my cruise experience with you before I left. Anyway, feel free to ask any specific cruise questions you have and also expect a full report on Cuba when I return. Until then! 😀

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4 thoughts on “Cruise Review: Oasis of the Seas Voyage to Haiti, Puerto Rico and Sint Maarten

  1. Hi Megan,
    What a wonderful jammed packed exciting fun filled post. Looks like you guys had great experiences in every waking moment. I’m sure your parents are going to have some great memories with you to look back on…til the next adventure 😁Can’t wait to see them. Look forward to your next post in a couple weeks from Cuba. Safe Travels! Love, Kim

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kim! Thanks so much for the well wishes! The cruise was the perfect vacation for us to relax and bond as a family. Couldn’t ask for anything more! As always, I really appreciate your continued support of the blog. Sending lots of love to all the Heyens! -Megan XO

      Like

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