The Oasis of the Seas - Revisited

There's so much left to see. We need to go again.

At least, that's what we told the booking agent aboard the Oasis of the Seas on the final day of our cruise last year. It seemed like a justifiable reason to book the same itinerary, the same stateroom, and the same ship, barely 10 months from the sailing we had yet to disembark from - as if I ever really need a good excuse for booking another trip.

It was true though; despite the best of planning and seven full days onboard the Oasis of the Seas, MJ and I both felt like we hadn't scratched the surface of this megaship. So the only logical solution to the problem was to simply go again...

This time around, the objective was to slow down a bit. The first time aboard Oasis we created a checklist of all the spots - read: bars - we wanted to see on the ship. And although we got to a fair number of them, the tradeoff was that our amount of R&R plummeted. Granted, this was partially offset by the twice daily trips to the donut shop, but I still missed the style of our typical cruise where I plop on the balcony with a beverage and book for days on end.

Best people watching spot on the ship...the Schooner Bar.

The first way we tried to dial things down was with a trip to the Vitality Spa. MJ had a massage and pedicure, while I enjoyed a massage and facial combination. As crazy as this will sound, both of us walked away a little underwhelmed. The treatments themselves were great, but we were disappointed to learn that booking one doesn't provide access to the other spa facilities like the steamroom, sauna, and whirlpools like it does at literally every other spa on the planet. The reason given was that the spa facility is quite small - which makes zero sense on the world's largest cruise ship - so in the end the "spa day" that we had envisioned was more like a "spa-couple hours."

Best spot for castoff - deck 5 aft.

Another way we kept things at a slower pace was by skipping all of the nightly shows - a luxury that one doesn't really have the first time around, as all of them Oasis of Dreams shouldn't be missed. This gave us more time to spend strolling Central Park, people watching on the Promenade, or in a quiet corner of the Champagne Bar. Tip: Take your buy one/get one glass of wine coupons there and the server will likely give you an entire bottle for the price of two glasses.

Best and slowest elevator in the world - the Rising Tide.

The one repeat that I insisted MJ put on the itinerary was a night at the Chef's Table. This was one of the highlights of our first Oasis cruise, as we became fast friends with ten other guests while enjoying a five course meal - and plenty of wine - in the concierge lounge. It seems the Chef's Table might have fallen out of favor, as this time around there were only six of us, two of which had been rescheduled from a previous night because they were the only ones to sign up. A sad sign for the future of this unique and memorable experience. But just like last time, we came away with four new friends. 

When it came to the ports of call, we took the easy route here too. Instead of booking an overpriced excursion, we stayed on the boat in Nassau - you're only there for like 20 minutes anyway - and took a cab to Emerald Beach, which was just a stones throw form the port in St. Thomas.

Best parallel parking job...ever.

This was one of those times where MJ's advance research paid off. Emerald Beach was not only gorgeous, but the resort there had chairs and thatch umbrellas available for $20 for the day. Given my motto is "one can never pay too much for quality shade" I found this to be a bargain. We were told the restaurant had a mahi sandwich that would change your life - I'm calling BS on that one, but it was hard to be too upset with this kind of view.

Best use of a thatched umbrella.

Naturally, the highlight of the cruise for me was a return trip to Maho Beach. This is simply one of those places that will never get old for me - I mean, how could it?

We knew from our first visit to bring plenty of cash (no where else can you see airplanes like this, but they won't take American Express) and to get there early, as the prime tables - read: the ones in the shade - fill up early. I must say, this was the first time I had ever had ever combined french toast, a screwdriver, the beach, and a Boeing 757.

Best everything.

As we pulled out of St. Maarten and turned for home, it seemed I was still missing out on all of that R&R I had planned. You see, Oasis of the Seas just isn't all that conducive to vegging out. Despite the best of intentions, I'd say I spent a grand total of a single hour on our balcony over the course the week. Instead, I was doing this...

Best Flowrider wipeout.

And this...

Best to not look down.

Rock climbing was one of the things on the old checklist that I didn't get to - not that I minded. I mean, really it was just a lot of bravdo being tossed around pre-trip that I had absolutely zero intentions of backing up. As I should have expected, MJ wasn't about to let me chicken out a second time.

Best feeling of being on "land" again.

When the last day rolled around, it happened - we were bored. Sure, there was still plenty we could do which we hadn't before, but aside from yoga on the helipad - which was canceled thanks to rain and 15 foot seas - our checklist pretty much felt complete. The downside was after so much activity, we found it hard to do what we had set out to in the first place...nothing. The upside was the trip to the Schooner Bar to play some cards allowed us to stumble on the food fight the Captain and Hotel Director were having on the Promenade. 

Best food fight between officers in uniform.

In the end, there were two things that I learned from our second cruise aboard Oasis of the Seas. First, the ship is so big with so many activities, after a while you start to wonder if you're at at Disney theme park instead of a cruise ship. The second was that just because Oasis is the largest ship in the world by a huge margin that doesn't mean you won't feel the ebbs and flows of the ocean. It simply takes much bigger waves for you to do so, something we experienced on the last day - easily the worst seas I've ever experienced. 

Best hold on's gonna get bumpy.

As much as I love the Oasis of the Seas, part of me longed for the style of cruising that's more prevalent on the smaller ships. The one where the checklist is replaced by overabundance of balcony time. Where the bartenders all know your name, not just the guy at Starbucks. And finally, the one where a week seems to last forever, as opposed to passing in just the blink of an eye. 

No doubt we will be back aboard Oasis in the future, so I'm trusting future cruisers to keep cabin 12566 in good form. But for now, I think it's best to kick it old school on some of the smaller ships and try out some different itineraries.

The Rhapsody of the Seas and Alaska's inside passage would do...

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