Feb
13
Oasis Cruise Day 4: St. Thomas, wherein the Captain’s speech comes into play.

During the captain’s long announcement about taking a slightly longer route to get to St. Thomas, Elle and I would swear he said we’d be arriving only 10 minutes late. However, sometime during the day at sea, Romeo left a printed note on the bed stating that our meetup time for the shore excursion had changed from 10:45 am in the Opal Theater to 12:30 outside on the dock. That seemed like more than a 15-minute delay to us.

While it wasn’t a significant delay, it threw our plans off completely for the day. First, we intended to eat breakfast before the meet time and drop Jack off at AO. He likes the water but isn’t comfortable snorkeling in 40-foot water. We had a hilarious time with his claws digging into our arms when we snorkeled in Grand Cayman on the last cruise, but that’s another story. Anyway, the delay interfered with both our meal plans and our AO plans.

We decided to skip breakfast and order room service at 10:30, so that we wouldn’t be hungry on the tour and we wouldn’t be stuffed either. I consulted the app and the TV; both indicated the all day menu is available from midnight to 11:59pm, basically all day long. I’d read the Royal Burgers from room service were the best on board, and the fact that they are Wagyu beef made it sound good to all of us. We’ve had Kobe before, and Wagyu is supposed to be a step up from it. We placed our order on the TV at about 10:30, and 5 minutes later the phone rang. They informed us only breakfast was available, and the all-day menu wouldn’t start until 11:30am. He asked if we wanted to wait an hour, and we decided to go for it.

The first thing we noticed when the meal arrived at 11:50am was that fries are included with the burgers. It’s a reasonable thing, but neither the TV menu nor the app list them as coming with the meal. That meant we had 4 burgers and 8 orders of fries. I felt bad wasting that food, but it’s something RC could easily correct by offering an accurate menu.

The burgers came with a fair amount of condiments, although if we were really eating 8 orders of fries we would have needed a lot more ketchup. Despite being close to the start of the lunch meal, our food was lukewarm at best. We loved the fries in the WJ and with Jack’s MDR meals, but these tasted like they were yesterday’s fries slightly warmed. The biggest disappointment were the burgers. Not only were they overcooked, they just didn’t taste good. Over the course of the week I had a few bites of Jack’s MDR cheeseburgers as well as one from Wipeout Café and one from WJ, and they all blew these supposedly Wagyu beef burgers out of the water. We were so bummed, but by now time was rapidly ticking down towards our shore excursion time.

We wolfed down our sad meals and then ran into the second snag of the day. On the original schedule AO would have been open when we finished breakfast, but now it was lunchtime. We ran up to AO anyway since it was only 3 floors above the cabin, and sure enough the sign said they were off at lunch. We hurried to the aft of the ship and found the AO group in the Windjammer. To their credit they jumped right up to sign Jack in, but they hesitated about letting us leave Jack on the ship while we went on an excursion. Again, this surprised me because the childcare advertises itself as being able to take care of your kids when you’re on shore excursions, and they know those are always off the ship, right? After consulting another worker, they agreed to take poor Jack, who had to sit through a 2-hour WJ meal when he’d already eaten. I wouldn’t be surprised if the boy ate more while he was there.

We hurried down to the gangway and made our way off the ship. I’ll point out that we heard something about the gangway button during one of the hard-to-hear initial announcements on Day 1 or 2, but didn’t realize until today there’s a special gangway button on the elevator that takes you where you need to go. One day it was deck 2 and we walked right out, but today it was deck 3 and then the escalator to deck 2. I’m sure there’s a crowd control reason for having some elevators stop at different floors.

We got off the ship, walked right past the towel stand, and didn’t think about getting towels for the excursion. That came into play when Max was freezing on the way back and wished he had one. We found our meet-up area quickly, and then waited there about 20 minutes. In the end we didn’t need to hurry as much as we did, but we figure it’s always better to be on time or early than to miss a tour for being late.

The ship is so big that it’s hard to fit it all in one frame!

After awhile our guides led us around the dock to the other side where the smaller boats docked. We were all told to take off our shoes before getting on board. I was certain RC recommended water shoes for this excursion, but in retrospect it might have been one of the other snorkeling trips that also stop to swim at beaches. In any event, my brand-new water shoes held up great for the walk from Oasis to the catamaran.

Our excursion was the Buck Island Sail and Snorkel, and it was just fine. It started with a 20-30 minute powered ride out to Buck Island, during which we got some large waves and saw some parasailers having fun. By this point we’d been rocking and rolling on Oasis for 3 straight days, and nobody was particularly excited about the ride out.

Our first snorkeling trip was short, but we got to see several sea turtles. One of the turtles surfaced right in the middle of our group! The guides then took us out to some coral, and then back to the catamaran. It was easy enough to see the turtles 20-30 feet down, but the water didn’t seem as clear as Grand Cayman did the two times we snorkeled there. Also, our waterproof phone bags were causing trouble. The water pressure made it so sometimes the touch screen buttons wouldn’t work underwater, meaning we had to set up the photo above water then try to use the volume buttons to take pictures. That would have worked great if it stayed that way, because I generally use my volume buttons to take photos anyway. The problem is sometimes the touch screen worked under water, and sometimes the bag itself would just press buttons. Anyway, I wound up with lots of videos, panoramas, and portraits when I just wanted regular pictures. I didn’t get any great photos, but at least the phones stayed protected.

Max looking good with his snorkeling gear
The underwater photos weren’t bad, just nothing special.

Once I gave up on taking pictures, the rest of the trip was better. We moved on to a shipwreck and spent more time over it. The coolest thing was seeing scuba divers 40 feet below and watching their bubbles come up to us.

After the snorkeling was over, the captain put up the sail and started back for port. The ride back was a little gentler, probably because we weren’t going as fast under sail. The crew “opened the bar” and started serving rum punch and a selection of cokes. The shore excursion description said something about a light snack, but no food was available. It might have been related to the delayed arrival, but we were digesting the bricks from room service and weren’t really that hungry.

On the ride back, I was occupied with Elle. Poor thing generally doesn’t get seasick, but days of rolling around on the Oasis and then the bumpy catamaran ride had her nauseous. She never got full on sick, but she wanted to sit still and have me sit with her, so we didn’t do much rum punch drinking and socializing on the way back. Max was fine throughout, and we were all glad not to have to take care of Jack during the excursion.

When we got near the port, the captain brought the sails down and went under power again. We got a good view of the Oasis and other boats moored offshore. We got our shoes back and walked towards the ship. Elle stopped in a few places to shop, but nothing caught her eye. After boarding we sent Max to shower while we collected Jack at Adventure Ocean.

The next casualty of the delay was our MDR dinner. By the time we finished our second snorkel, we realized we weren’t going to make it to dinner on time. Since I had cell service, I tried to cancel the reservation while we rode back, but RC requires you to be on ship wifi to cancel reservations. By the time we got back to the ship’s wifi, it was within 30 minutes and we couldn’t cancel. We were sad to miss because our meals were so good every night. I did cancel the headliner “El Gaucho,” because I knew we’d have to rush through dinner to get there on time, and we wanted to be on vacation.

By the time we all showered, it was 6:15, and we couldn’t decide exactly what we wanted to do for dinner. I wanted to try a hotdog on Broadway or perhaps drop Jack off and eat at the Solarium, but the other three really wanted WJ. In the end we compromised and tried Sorrento’s, and I’m glad we did! The pizza was delicious and could have been a full meal, but we decided to get a little there and a little in WJ to make everyone happy. Max chose to head off on his own while the three of us went to check out what was available. I’ll point out one of the things Elle got me doing on our previous cruises was not loading up my plate at the buffet. I get a few things I want to eat right away, especially if it’s hot, then go back later for more. There’s always more. Well, halfway through my first small plate, they started shutting down the restaurant, more than an hour before closing time! To their credit, no one asked us to leave or tried to rush us in any way, but the absence of food sent a clear message. I was mad, but I knew when I was beat and decided to go get a hot dog or maybe another slice of pizza. As we left, we saw just our half of WJ was closing; the other was still open as it should be. I guess we were close enough to closing that they only needed half open.

I got that second plate of food I wanted: a delicious bacon bleu cheese burger I put together myself, including some huge chunks of bleu cheese off the salad bar. It was worlds better than the burgers we ate that morning! While we were eating, Jack started making eyes at our neighbors as he is wont to do. We struck up a conversation and found out the woman next to us was the “alfa” call from the night before! She said she’s in a wheelchair because she’s due for knee- or hip-replacement surgery after the cruise. As her daughter pushed her in the cabin, a wheel stuck, and she tumbled out. She was unconscious for a few minutes and thinks she might have suffered a small stroke! Made our problems of bad burgers and mild seasickness seem tiny by comparison.

After dinner, we got some root beer in our cups and topped it off with ice cream. We enjoyed our dessert in the cabin, and then Jack and I walked to the card room to grab the daily Sudoku pages. On previous cruises they’ve been in the Library, and it was only today we found out where they really are. The card room was active and seemed like a fun idea if we needed something more sociable than eating and sleeping 😊

We put Jack to bed, filled out our Sudoku sheets, and then both started reading. We’ve been going through Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series together, and it’s been very enjoyable. We stayed up reading, saw Max come in at 12:45, and then went lights out at 1. Elle says I might not have been legally awake for the last 1 hour and 45 minutes or so of reading time, but I promise I’m a night owl and can stay up past 8 when I need to.