Note: Cruzely was invited to sail on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas during her simulated voyage from Bayonne, New Jersey. Each day I will cover the experience, giving you an inside peek at what it’s like to sail a test cruise aboard one of the largest cruise ships in the world.
You can read each day here:
- Day 1: Boarding and Sail Away (With Big New Rules)
- Day 2: Sunny Sea Day to Try New Things
- Day 3: Casino, Casitas, & Robot Drinks
- Day 4: A Stormy – But Fun – Day at CocoCay
Oasis of the Seas’ second day of its six-day simulated voyage began with much better weather than when Tropical Storm Henri drenched her new homeport of Cape Liberty. Sailing south down the East Coast, the morning came with blue skies and calm seas as we sailed past North Carolina.
So what better way to start the day than a walk in Central Park? I mentioned this space in yesterday’s blog, and it’s quickly become my favorite. With all the greenery, the winding path through, and tucked away benches, it feels like your own private garden — especially when there are so few passengers on the ship. I especially like how the colors of the restaurants and storefronts are designed to blend into the scenery. There are no neon signs or bright colors to ruin the atmosphere.
I hadn’t planned on it, but passing by Park Café, I stopped in and ordered a quick breakfast. Then I found a table and enjoyed a quiet calm that simply feels disconnected from a busy cruise ship. It honestly felt like I was eating in my own private courtyard.
Just as with other casual venues, Park Café is following a new routine for guests. First you are directed to the hand sanitizing station by an attendant as you enter. Then you pick out what you’d like to eat. From there another member of the staff will grab your utensils or any condiments you might need. Finally, another is there to serve your beverages from the dispenser. The “new normal” fully removes passengers from serving themselves.
After breakfast, it was time to explore the ship. I saw lots yesterday, but the ship is so large that I couldn’t see everything in an afternoon, even just passing by. The bad weather also meant my time exploring the outdoor areas was somewhat limited.
As I explored, I can absolutely tell that there are very few passengers on this cruise. The strange thing is, however, that the feel isn’t bad at all. I thought before boarding that the cruise ship would feel like an empty mall. That’s not the case.
Between the passengers that are onboard, the large number of crew, and the music and lights around the ship, there’s always some activity everywhere you go. Sure, it’s absolutely more subdued and quiet than normal, but by no means is the atmosphere dead.
That was especially the case on the pool deck this morning. With the sunshine and great weather, I took advantage to spend some time seeing everything topside. So did seemingly everyone else on the ship.
The pool deck was busy, but with the number of passengers and the deck space (did I mention there are four different pools?), there was plenty of room for everyone, even with the loungers spaced out from one another for social distancing.
One thing I noticed is that there are small “casitas” spaced out around the deck above the pool. These spots feature a small roof for some shade and space for two people to lay. There are only a handful (I’d guess about a dozen), and even on this test cruise with few passengers they were all taken up quickly in the morning.
Before I hit the pool, however, I headed to the back of Deck 16. There you’ll find one of the big changes that Oasis of the Seas saw during her “amplification” that happened right before the pause in cruising.
There is now an “Ultimate Abyss” slide that runs from Deck 16, spinning all the way down to Deck 6. You can’t miss seeing the purple slides or the giant angler fish with the wide-open mouth that serves as the entrance. For our cruise the slide has limited hours, so I didn’t want to miss a chance to ride.
For the slide you sit on what’s essentially a specially formed blanket. It has a pouch you slip your feet into and a strap that you hold. From there, it’s lay back and hold on tight. The ride loops around several times and gets going with some pretty good speed. I’d say it’s over in about 10-15 seconds, to give you an idea of how quickly you are dropping ten stories. Bottom line: It’s a lot of fun for those who want some excitement.
The bad part? Given how quick it was, I really wanted to ride again. However, now I was on Deck 6, and there’s not an easy way to quickly get back up without going inside and catching an elevator.
With the Ultimate Abyss checked off the list, I grabbed a towel from the towel station, staked out a chair to put my things, and then headed to the waterslides. Oasis features three slides — Supercell, Cyclone, and Typhoon. Cyclone and Typhoon are similar (they are essentially two versions of the same slide) and loop around and around, like a classic slide. Supercell drops you from one slide into a large round bowl, where you eventually wash down (frankly, it looks like it works similar to going down a toilet drain).
In this case, Supercell was closed, so I took a turn on both Cyclone and Typhoon. They were lots of fun, and I was surprised at how fast I went with each. I think smaller kids may think it’s a little too fast, but older kids, teens, and adults will have a blast.
After the slides, I took some time to finally relax and get some sun. With the music playing, the pool deck buzzing, and the warm weather, it is certainly was nice to be back at sea.
Of course, what’s the pool without a drink? Royal Caribbean took some time during the break to rework their drink menu with some new Caribbean-style options. The two drinks that caught my eye were the Strawberry Blonde (vodka, St. Germain, strawberry, lemon juice, mint) and the Cozumel Sunrise (tequila, mango, lime juice, grenadine).
I opted to try the Strawberry Blonde from The Lime & Coconut on the pool deck. Tomorrow I plan to go back for the Cozumel Sunrise.
If you’re looking for a perfect poolside cocktail, it’s hard to beat the Strawberry Blonde. It’s light, sweet, and refreshing, but also packed a punch. After a light breakfast, the drink quickly snuck up on me. It was especially surprising because it didn’t taste extremely strong.
Good thing there was Portside BBQ, another new addition to Oasis. As of now, it’s the first and only BBQ restaurant in the Royal Caribbean fleet. It is a specialty restaurant, so you will have to pay to eat here. The prices are reasonable, with sandwiches starting around $6.50. You can also get a combination plate with 2/3 meats, as well as two sides and a dessert, starting at $12.50.
I opted for the brisket and sausage, along with mac & cheese, baked beans, and banana pudding. It’s all served on a metal tray, and during our lunch there was a guitar player belting out Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Alan Jackson songs to add to the ambiance.
The food itself was very good, especially the brisket. The banana pudding was also delicious, but so rich that I could only eat about half before calling it quits. There was also a “Portside Spiked Palmer” that was an Arnold Palmer (lemonade and iced tea mixed) with Buffalo Trace bourbon, peach, and mint. It wasn’t bad, but it’s likely not something I’d try again as I’m not a big bourbon drinker.
Originally, I was going to attend a matinee showing of CATS in the theater after lunch, however, it was postponed about an hour before showtime.
I honestly didn’t mind. After a long day of travel yesterday, a full morning in the sun, drinks, and a big meal, I spent much of the afternoon taking it easy, including laying down for a nap (a luxury back home!). Feeling more refreshed, I did spend some time trying out Rising Tide later in the afternoon.
Rising Tide is a bar that rises from Deck 6 to Deck 8, in the middle of the promenade. The venue is small, seating maybe 30-40 people at capacity. You can sit, order drinks, enjoy some company and slowly make your way up and down. It’s definitely unique, but don’t expect a thrill ride. It takes several minutes to rise or fall the two decks.
As the evening went on, the weather turned a bit, and we passed through some showers with choppy seas. That weather change led to what is without a doubt one of the most perfect rainbows I’ve ever seen. What a way to end the day.
Random Thoughts and Observations
- One change I’ve noticed is that staff often no longer takes your card to scan for purchases made on the ship. Instead, you simply tap it on a reader instead of handing it over. That reduces a touchpoint between people.
- A really nice thing about having fewer people on the ship? Elevators are blazing fast. They come almost instantly, are almost always empty, and don’t have to make many stop to pick up others. It’s going to be hard to go back to a full ship with slower elevators.
- I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m excited to check out the Bionic Bar where robotic arms make your drink. The robots were doing a demonstration today, and it looks very cool.