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
After posting the Day 2 recap, I headed down to Casino Royale that night to try my luck. More than anything, I wanted to see what the casino would be like after the pause in sailing. There are some changes that you’ll want to know.
First things first, the casino is available only for vaccinated guests. If you’re old enough to gamble, then you’re also old enough to meet the vaccine requirement on Royal Caribbean, so that’s not a big deal.
However, you will want to have your wristband provided at boarding that tells the crew your vaccine status. There is staff at the door checking. Most of the time you won’t notice they are checking as you walk by, but if the band isn’t visible, you will be asked to show it.
One thing to note is that a crew member told us if someone is unvaccinated, they can’t even pass through the casino. Instead, they are required to find a different route. Keep that in mind if sailing with kids.
Since the casino is for vaccinated passengers only, distancing and mask rules are relaxed inside. I’d say that about half the people playing were still masked, even though it is optional. As for distancing, the layout looks exactly like before, with slot machines and table spots all open. There are no machines turned off, plexiglass dividers, or anything else.
With so few people on the ship, I was able to pick practically any machine I wanted, although there were dozens of people playing. Casino Royale on Oasis of the Seas is without a doubt the largest casino I’ve seen on a ship, which is fitting given the ship’s size. In a time when many people want some space from others, that’s a great thing.
All told I played for about 30 minutes, losing about $30 before calling it a night. I’m sure I’ll win that back later in the trip… right?
Day 3 started with weather that couldn’t quite seem to make up its mind. It wasn’t bad weather, just a bit hazy and overcast, with peeks of sun. It was one of those mornings where it could rain… or it could completely clear out and be gorgeous. Oddly enough, it did neither. All day was bright outside, just not always sunny pool weather.
I started the day with my first visit to the Windjammer buffet for breakfast. One thing to know is that reservations are recommended for all dining venues — even the Windjammer buffet. The buffet is listed as “reservations preferred.” It’s not as if they won’t let you in if you don’t have a reservation, but the cruise line is pushing for people to reserve space beforehand as a way to keep tabs on crowd size.
As with other casual eateries, places where passengers would have served themselves are now served by the staff. Staff gives you a plate, serves your food, and serves your beverage. I’ve also noticed that many things on the buffet are now in individually served dishes. For instance, instead of a large bowl of fruit that you are served from, there are now individual cups that you can simply grab yourself.
Finding a seat is a little different, too. The Windjammer is large, but since it’s for all passengers, distancing rules are in play. Each table will either have a card that tells passengers it’s cleaned and ready, or a card that says it is unavailable due to distancing. So even if you find that perfect table right by the window and no one else is around, it may still be unavailable due to distancing.
After breakfast, I checked out some of the spots that I haven’t seen on other Royal Caribbean ships I’ve sailed.
First are the small “casitas” that I mentioned yesterday. To refresh your memory, Deck 16 has the spots available first-come, first-served for passengers. They seem very popular. Even early this morning with hazy weather there were already some that were claimed.
In total there are 14 casitas, each one with a couple of loungers. One other nice perk is that they each have a USB charger built in so that you can charge devices while you hang out.
I also spent some time checking out the Solarium, the adults-only pool area. I’m familiar with the area on other Royal Caribbean ships, but on Oasis, it is like nothing else. In my opinion it is one of the best spots on the ship.
For one, it’s at the very front of the ship, so there is an amazing view. It’s also nice in that it’s partially covered. So if you want to hang out in the open air, but don’t want to fight the sun and wind, it’s perfect. There is also an uncovered area with loungers if you do want to work on that tan. In addition, there is the pool, multiple hot tubs, and a bar. In general the atmosphere is simply calmer, more relaxing, and more luxurious than what you find in the regular pool area.
For lunch, Royal Caribbean set up an outing to Playmakers — the sports bar on board. It’s located on the Boardwalk on Deck 6. The spot is well-known for having a ton of TV screens. If you’re on the ship during football season, it’s the place to be as it can get more games than what’s found in your stateroom (and you can watch multiple games at once).
In addition, there are arcade games, beer on tap, and a full menu of bar food. Options range from wings to double-patty burgers, chicken sandwiches, nachos, and desserts. Let me give you one word of warning — do not come here if you are on a diet. A group of us was treated to practically everything on the menu. All the portions are big and look as good as they taste.
My lunch was the chicken sandwich with Playmakers fries (steak fries, with garlic sauce and Parmesan cheese). I’ll be honest, the fries were a bit too heavy and I couldn’t eat many. The sandwich, however, was perfect.
If you’re looking for something lighter, I’d highly recommend the Poke Nachos. It has ahi tuna, avocado, cilantro, with aioli and truffle sauce. It’s like nothing I had tasted before, but lots of flavor and just the right amount of spice. If I have time to make it back, it’s what I would order instead.
But the real showpiece of the entire meal was dessert. The “Touchdown Sundae” features five scoops of ice cream, caramel, whipped cream, and syrup, along with chocolate sticks and sprinkles. It’s all served in a plastic football helmet that you can keep as a souvenir. When it was served, people passing by literally stopped to ask about it.
The afternoon on the ship was fairly quiet. Following Playmakers, I took some time to simply recover from such a big meal and chilled out in the cabin.
I also headed down to the fitness center for a quick workout later in the day. I’m not a workout buff, but with all the food I’ve had already on this trip, it definitely makes me feel better to get a little exercise.
The gym on Oasis is large, wrapping around the front of Deck 6. During the afternoon is a great time to go if you’re looking for space. There were only two other people working out, and any machine you wanted was available. Kettlebells, ellipticals, bikes, weight machines… the gym is as stocked as anything you might see on land. If you love to work out, you don’t have to skimp just because you’re on vacation.
After the gym, I had the chance to try out Bionic Bar. This is a spot I’ve always wanted to try, but never had the opportunity until today.
At the bar you order through an iPad menu. There are a number of options to choose from, or you can design your own concoction. What was surprising given the amount of bottles above the bar is that many classic drinks weren’t on the menu. In particular, I looked for classics like a margarita and didn’t see them.
I opted for a “From Earth” — a bright green drink with Sprite, Midori, and Curacao. Once the order is confirmed on the iPad, the robot arms get to work making the drink, going back and forth between ingredients, and then mixing it all up before pouring in a plastic cup.
One thing to note is that since every drink is served in the same size cup, some may not fill up all the way. So if you order something that’s normally served in a smaller glass — like a martini — don’t be surprised!
My takeaway on Bionic Bar? It’s absolutely something to try at least once. Seeing the technology in action is an experience you can’t get anywhere else. That said, it likely isn’t a place you’ll frequent over and over, as the novelty does wear off.
Dinner tonight was at Giovanni’s Table, an Italian specialty restaurant located in Central Park on Oasis. I will admit, my palate is a little to “low-brow” for many of the dishes served here. If you’re a foodie, however, I think you would love the place. The menu includes everything from pork belly to grilled octopus, steamed mussels, and lots of different fancy pasta dishes.
I enjoyed the Mozzarella di Bufala appetizer — tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. For my meal, I tried the gorgonzola gnocchi. While it was tasty, it was also a bit too rich for me to eat it all. Others who ordered the risotto raved about it, and someone with us also ordered a delicious looking steak.
Following up directly after dinner was the headliner show: “The Passing Zone” in the Royal Theater. With the new protocols, things are also changing in the theater. Vaccinated guests are allowed to sit on Deck 4. Unvaccinated have to sit on Deck 5 (the balcony). On Deck 4, masks and distancing aren’t required, so it’s just like watching a show before the pause. Unvaccinated passengers were asked to still keep a mask on during the program.
As for the show itself, it was highly entertaining. The Passing Zone is a juggling duo that not only performs their tricks (which are amazing in their own right), but they also have a fantastic banter between each other that’s hilarious. To give you an idea of the talent, they were twice finalists on America’s Got Talent.
If you get the chance to see them perform, it’s something you don’t want to miss, and the runtime is just an hour.
Random Thoughts and Observations
- When playing in the casino, you now simply tap your keycard on the machine where you used to insert your card to track your play. It’s the first time I’ve seen this. That means you don’t have to worry about leaving the card when you get up to go to another spot. However, you do need to tap your card again as you leave to “sign out” of your player’s account.
- Does anyone else have issues pacing themselves on a cruise? I notice that the first couple of days are “go, go, go” as I want to make sure I see and do everything. It’s not until a few days in that I realize there is plenty of time to fit in everything you want to do.
- Day 4 is the lone port stop on the simulated cruise, in CocoCay. From the conversations on the ship, everyone is excited to visit — especially because everyone is given free access to the Thrill Waterpark.