As many of you know we are booked to sail on Oasis of the Seas in December. Why do a blog now about it, well I wanted to share how it has been preparing for a cruise on the 2nd largest cruise ship in the world, yup Allure is just a smidgen bigger. And also to sail a cruise line I have never sailed on after sailing over 30 times with Princess.
First off I should explain why we are even sailing another line other than Princess. Reason: Vickie wanted to sail Oasis or Allure. I am laughing cause really when I first mentioned this to my lovely accommodating husband Bernie a few years ago he said "no way". So I know every wife is wanting to know "how did you change his mind?" Well it started that we had a weeks vacation scheduled for December (on our job we schedule our vacation in October for the entire following year) and there is no way to change that week's time so I started to peek at what was available.
When I found this cruise it was selling for $750 for the week in an inside cabin. I quickly checked airfare and saw we could get airfare return from Seattle for $300 so after showing this to Bernie, and him knowing how much I wanted to try it he said "YES".
So after booking I knew I was needing to learn EVERYTHING about Royal Caribbean and my days were then spent doing just that.
I joined the Cruise Critic Roll call and there was already a great group there and they were so welcoming and helpful with my numerous questions. They also set up a facebook group and I joined that and put faces to names.
A month prior to the cruise I was checking prices and noticed that prices for Boardwalk and Central Park Balcony Cabins had gone down. In fact we could upgrade for no price and $20 for a bit better cabin. Heck we jumped on that. We now have a cabin on deck 12 facing Central Park.
I am excited to check it out, the cabin looks lovely. I see that it has a couch which with Princess you only get a chair. But I will miss that extra space at the closet that gives you a bit more privacy that cabins on Princess have.
|big closet/storage and privacy on Princess ship|
I want to now write on what my experience has been with RCI and where I see differences with Princess.
- RCI has an amazing website with so much more on it than with Princess. We were able to book our dining reservations, specialty restaurants' package, book show reservations, wine packages, soda packages, gifts & services. Their site has numerous videos explaining so much including: dining options, the entertainment options, ports, spas, all areas of the ship. They have menus for pretty much every restaurant including the main dining room. Princess has some options, but really you still need to print out an order form and fax it to them if you wish to order a gift! Really!
- Wine Package is available and explained very clearly on their website. Princess now has a wine package but it is only available on ten days or longer; however we didn't have it on our last b2b cruises.
- You can prereserve your shows. It is nice to know we have shows reserved and will definitely get to see them.
- You can pre sign waivers for the flow rider, zip line, ice skating, and rock climbing wall
- Their electronic documents were sent to my email and when you open it is a lovely 36 page colored document (that you can print out if you wish) that is totally personalized and included our cabin, our pre reserved items including our specialty restaurant package, our one Main Dining Room reservations. Shore Excursions would also show up if we had booked them. It felt really.... nice... made me feel special.
- Specialty Restaurant Package: we booked a package that including dining at Chops (their steak house) Giovanis (their Italian restaurant) and 150 Central Park (fancy fancy foo foo place) for a total price of $65 per person which was a savings of $25. The one thing is we have to dine at Giovanis on the first night (reservation is made) but we can't book the other two until we get on board.
- RCI organizes the Cruise Critic meet and greet and offers prizes and snacks. Princess could certainly do this for the good public relations it would give.
- Originally this was going to be a con, but recently RCI changed their policy on bringing wine on board. Currently you can bring two bottles of wine or champagne per cabin to consume in your cabin. If you take to a public venue corkage fee is $25 per bottle! A little high compared to Princess' $15 per bottle. Way to go RCI for this.
- They have a Starbucks on board. Okay this might just be a pro for me and other addicts, but it is a definitely pro to me.
- First and foremost we will really miss all of our Elite perks with Princess (free laundry, mini bar, Internet etc), our loyalty credit $50 now, and our stock holder benefit ($100). But RCI has a loyalty program (but you have to sign up for it, whereas Princess is automatic) and their loyalty program is definately not as good as Princess' (mini bar, internet, loyalty credit, special disembarkation lounge, priority tendering, free afternoon tea in the cabin, laundry, suite toilitries).
- With RCI you get to book everything ahead of time but you also have to pay for it ahead of time! So we had to pay for our dining package.
- Since we chose My Time Dining we had to prepay our tips. We have never had a problem paying the tips and much prefer to have it automatically added to our bill as oppose to the way it use to be where we had to pay out the tips at the end of the cruise. But we don't like that we had to pay the tips when booking and them having our money ahead of time.
- Even though I loved their website (but I am very tech savvy) it would be confusing to someone who is just into checking email/surfing the web. To print out the luggage tag you have to open your e document booklet, select the page the luggage tags are on and print out just that page however many tags you need. I loved it, but most of my family if they were sailing would be calling me to say "Vickie how do I print this". I also found that when you went into your reservation it was a bit cumbersome and a little difficult to surf around it to find what you needed, again for someone who is tech savvy no problem, but anyone else I imagine some frustration and a lot of cruisers' kids would have to do it.
- Reserving shows.... I know I know, it was also on my pro side, but when I go on vacation I want to rest. I don't want to end my vacation in need of a restful vacation when I go back to work. Right now I feel my week is scheduled too much and I hate being so scheduled (too much like work). I do love that with Princess the major shows are repeated a few times a night and often another day too so I have many options to see it. Along with many other evening options that I can choose on the day of depending on my night and what we want to do.
- It appears that there are a lot of things we have to pay for that we don't have to on Princess. Princess only has two specialty restaurants and all other venues are free. Whereas the Oasis of the Seas has numerous added fee venues, sure we can manage to eat at all the free venues but my point is I don't want to have to feel like "oh can't eat here cause it isn't free" whereas on Princess it is very clear everything dining venue is free unless you actually book Sabatinis or Crown Grill.
- The cabin looks great but I have recently found out that the only toiletries that are offered are soap and shampoo. With Princess I get soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and lotion.
- I have also just found out that we can't access our cabin on embarkation day until 1 pm. Although I have experienced this on other lines (Carnival) I like that with Princess we get to access our cabins right away. But it truly is not a big deal as we don't normally board until around 1-2 pm.
I am so excited about trying out a new thing.... and meeting my new sailing mates. And guess what now Bernie is excited too.
Stay tuned. I will not be doing a live blog as we don't want to spend the money on the Internet packages on board, but I will be keeping a journal of our experience and sharing it with all of you.