Working from sea is very hard – wifi costs nearly as much as a phone call and is very unreliable – so I decided to take an actual vacation this week. I’d get online to check emails for about 5 minutes a day and didn’t even stress over posting my blog. I figured that half of my readers are on this cruise with me anyway, so I might as well just update upon my return home.
First thing’s first: the Oasis of the Seas is not a cruise ship, it is a functioning, floating city and we are just the tiny Sims people that fill it up. The size is incredible and I’m almost positive that I didn’t see everything there was to see onboard. It’s great for families, especially multi-generational ones like our own, and the new additions for the Oasis Class of ships are nothing short of noteworthy. It’s definitely a spectacle, from a Boardwalk area, complete with a carousel, donut shop, and AquaTheater, to my personal favorite area, Central Park, an open-air homage to it’s New York namesake.
My family of nine bustled around the ship, participating in everything from late-night karaoke to Lady Gaga dance classes (no, we did not sing; yes, we did dance).
Here’s a day by day account of all we did on this particular itinerary for days 1-3 (4-6 will be presented in a second blog post, out tomorrow):
Day 1: Our first day was spent at sea, which for me meant: eat, work out with Dad, lay out with Lauren, read, nap, repeat. After the tiring day, we enjoyed dinner at Chop’s Grille, where I believe I saw my grandfather shed a tear he was so happy about his filet. We loved it so much, we booked it again for the last night.
Day 2: Labadee, Haiti – Royal Caribbean’s private island has a lot more to it than other cruise line islands that I’ve visited. We enjoyed the huge zipline, which starts at 500 feet high and stretches 2600+ feet across the beautiful bright blue Caribbean Sea – easily the best views of any zipline I’ve ever done.
Afterwards, we went to the island’s roller coaster. The term “roller coaster” is a liberal one, almost a misnomer. I’ve never done a Jamaican bobsled before, but I feel like this activity is the product of a bobsled + roller coaster tracks. Be aware: this is not the Superman at Six Flags – my favorite coaster. It is fun and a little unnerving, but really just another way to take in the beautiful views of the beach below.
After this, we came back to a fairly empty ship and tried out the Flo Rider, which we all obviously rocked at (okay, maybe not me).
Day 3: Falmouth, Jamaica – I’m so proud of the little port of Falmouth! The cruise port has had a facelift in the past year. Classic Caribbean shops make it a nice area to walk around in and pick up some Tortuga Rum Cake (which I did) or jewelry from Diamonds International (which I did not).
The best decision we made (this entire cruise!) was to take a private tour in Jamaica. Until last week, we had been booked on the ship’s excursion of river tubing and Dunn’s River Falls. However, on a whim, I decided to get in touch with one of our partner companies through Virtuoso, Glamour DMC. Glamour did such an amazing job with the itinerary and service that I cannot wait to recommend them to other travelers (the company also works in Turks & Caicos and the Cayman Islands). For the same price as the ship’s tour, we were met at the port by Kirk, our amazing guide, and taken to River Rapids, recommended by Glamour, which was a different company than the ship was using. Because of this, the river we were on was not jam-packed with people.
Instead, we enjoyed the best excursion of our entire cruise. We floated down the river in our individual tubes, jumped a few mild rapids, and, when we would find ourselves beached like upside-down turtles stuck on the sides of the river, our reliable guides would paddle over to us, dislodge us from the thick brush, and send us on our merry way.
It was perfect – just enough adventure over the rapids (the guides would yell, “BUTTS UP!” at the shallow, rockier sections) and just enough time taking in the beautiful scenery.
We met Kirk at the other end of the river (which is the ocean, I might add) after the company transported us from river to beach via 14-foot jon-boat with two rafts on the back – pretty authentically Jamaican. He took us to Scotchie’s for lunch, one of the most well-known restaurants in Jamaica, famous for its jerk chicken and pork (and rightfully so – delicious! Don’t miss their fresh fruit smoothies, either).
While we had originally planned on climbing Dunn’s River Falls, by the time we reached it we were worn out and cutting it close to the time that we needed to be back on the ship. Instead of climbing the falls, we climbed in the falls for a photo op and made it to the port in time to get ready for dinner (this was, of course, our major concern).
Taking the private tour was such a great decision – if you’re traveling with a group, I would highly recommend it anywhere in the world. For groups of 4+, it usually winds up being about the same price and the experience is so much better. You get to determine where you go, how long you’re there for, and you don’t have to chance it with strangers – a win/win if you’re not looking to be a social butterfly.