Elle and I have cruised 5 times before, the first being on Voyager of the Seas in 2001 back when it was the largest in the world. We’ve also done the Mediterranean on Orient, Alaska on Holland America, Caribbean on Carnival with the boys, and the Baltic on Norwegian. We’re a full time RV family currently staying in Kissimmee, FL for the winter. I figured it was a no-brainer to cruise out of Canaveral while we were so close, and I’ve wanted to try one of the new huge ships ever since we parked next to one in Cozumel years ago. Obviously everyone’s tastes are different, but I wanted to share our experience in case it helps others out there decide if this is the right ship for them. I’ll have some photos, but probably way more words than pictures.
Day 1: We drove from Kissimmee to Port Canaveral where we used Lots of Honor to park. It wasn’t obvious to me when I made the reservation, but “Lots of Honor” is simply the name Park N Cruise gives to the veteran discount they offer. Although the website says the discount is only for veterans, there was no attempt to verify my status. Prepaying with LOH got us a $2/day discount over the published Park N Cruise price. When we got to where Google Maps directed us, we didn’t see Lots of Honor anywhere, but the address was correct so we went in. Park N Cruise starts the day off right with super friendly parking attendants helping us find where to park, checking us in, and directing us to the line for our ship. There were 4 ships in port today: Oasis, two Carnivals and a Disney.
Our first glitch of the trip happened almost right away. Since we full-time in an RV, all of our suitcases are in storage far away. I bought a cheap 28″ spinner at a market in Shanghai, China. We already own suitcases and figured a cheap one that lasted only one cruise would be better than deciding how to store an empty piece of luggage until we pass by our storage unit again. What I didn’t realize was the cheap spinner’s wheels easily came off. The Park N Cruise lot had some uneven bricks right where we unloaded, and apparently a brick pressed the release button and caused one of the wheels to pop off. After examining it I figured it wasn’t a big deal, so I re-attached it and proceeded to check in.
The driver accidentally took us to the Carnival terminal instead of Oasis, and my bag was first off the bus before the porters told him he was in the wrong place. We loaded up again and drove to the correct terminal, only this time my bag was missing a wheel. Apparently it came off when he tossed it off at the first stop, and nobody noticed. We were in the back of the bus so didn’t see it until we got off at the right terminal and saw it leaning on three wheels. We searched the bus and asked the porters if they saw it. Nobody seemed concerned about the lost wheel, and no effort was made to get it back for us. We took off the other three wheels and stuffed them inside the suitcase. The porters (who I’m told are highly -paid longshoremen) earned their tip money by not being able to wheel our bag around.
We made our way to the terminal line and got inside fairly quickly. I’d been watching the FB group and knew some of our fellow travelers arrived at the terminal way before anyone was allowed inside. We arrived closer to 11 and pretty much breezed through. Right before the cruise I noticed that my wife (who has never cruised without me) is Gold after 1 previous RC cruise and I was not. We put her ticket on top and proceeded to the Gold check-in counter. There was some computer issue getting the kids checked in, but eventually we got through and headed towards the gangway. We boarded and immediately went looking for the Windjammer with 5000 of our closest friends.
I’ll put my WJ spiel here: on our most recent cruises (Carnival and Norwegian), the buffet wasn’t anything special. There was the occasional good item, but overall we found the food to be so-so. For us, the WJ was far and above the other lines during all our meals there. The food just tasted great to us, from salads to main courses to desserts. The burgers tasted better than the supposedly Wagyu beef Royal Burger we tried once on room service, but that’s another story. On other cruises the roving staff were mainly cleaning tables and little more. In the WJ they were also bringing drinks, desserts, helping people carry food, whatever was needed. They were as attentive as our MDR waiters. I didn’t plan to miss MDR meals, but the day we did I was just as happy with the food in the Windjammer.
During lunch the restaurant was of course very crowded. Most people ate and moved on, but they kept making the “please be courteous and leave” announcement to move along those that were just camping out after their meals. When we finished, we found the sports deck and signed all the waivers for the week. By then our cabin was ready, and we proceeded to 11128, a Family Oceanview on the port side. More on the cabin later, but especially for us tiny house folks, it was a huge cabin!
We purchased the deluxe drink package for the adults and soda for the boys. Our cups were waiting in the room. For those who don’t know, these cups are required to dispense soda from the 6 freestyle machines on board (2 in promenade, 4 in WJ–are there more we missed?). Our excursion tickets were in the room, but there was nothing about our “First Night Done Right” reservation in the room or on the TV. From reading here I knew I needed to visit one of the specialty restaurants, so I made my way to Central Park and inquired at Giovanni’s. As it turned out, we were reserved there, so I went back to the cabin. Our first bag made it to the room early, but we still hadn’t seen the big, wheel-less bag. We walked around the ship a bit, standing at the aft shuffleboard court (behind the aquatheater) to watch the Port Canaveral people watching us a bit. We saw another cruise liner head out, and then it was our turn to leave port.
By dinner time we still didn’t have our big bag, so we headed to Giovanni’s in our shorts. The meal was exquisite, though I was surprised nobody tried to sell us any wine. I had Osso Buco, but the star for us was the filet mignon. It was to be the first of several amazing steaks we enjoyed on Oasis.
After dinner we went straight to Studio B for the Frozen in Time show. By this time Max had discovered the teen hangout and activities, and we let him go off on his own for the first time. All our shows were pre-reserved, and it was nice to walk in and find lots of open seats. Here’s another overall observation: just like our first RC cruise in 2001, the shows were all spectacular, standing ovation-worthy productions. Other lines weren’t as consistently good. There was some concern about the 5+ foot seas interfering with the show (apparently Cats was canceled earlier), but it went off without a hitch. The ice show was amazing, and Jack was enthralled. After the ice show, we went back to our cabin to see if the prodigal bag had arrived. It hadn’t, and our cabin steward kept telling us it was probably the alcohol we snuck in, despite our assurances to the contrary. The Cruise Compass said something like “if your bag hasn’t arrived by 8pm, proceed to deck 2 to see if it’s been held by security.” No other time or specific location was given. Since we went from dinner straight to an 8pm show, we didn’t start looking for our bag until almost 9pm. We found an elevator to deck 2 and stepped out to see a “no passengers beyond this point except for medical facility” sign. There were no bags. I saw a crewmember in the restricted hallway, and she saw we were obviously lost. When I said we were looking for our bag, she said since we didn’t come to get our luggage during the posted times, remaining bags had been moved to guest services. Since the only time actually posted was “after 8,” 9 didn’t seem so unreasonable.
We made our way to guest services and said our bag was missing. The worker said it was behind a bulkhead and told us to go get it. The bag had a notice on it saying it was held because it had an extension cord inside. As a quick aside, the list of prohibited items clearly states, “extension cords.” However, it’s there in the middle of a list that includes illegal drugs and smuggled alcohol, among other more serious things. We knew we weren’t smuggling anything aboard and likely skimmed the prohibited items list. Not trying to justify–just saying it’s easy to miss if you’re not intentionally breaking the rules. We gave them the cord and got our big bag up to the cabin, where I proceeded to unpack everything into the immense walk-in closet.
At this point we were done for the night, but Max was ready to go play volleyball or whatever other activities the teens were starting at 10pm. In what turned out to be a pattern for the rest of the cruise, he ran off to play while Jack and the old folks hit the hay. I briefly woke when he came in around midnight, but otherwise slept pretty well until morning.