February 09, 2023

Day 7 At Sea, then Home

It is raining when I awaken at dawn. The seas are moderate at 3 to 6 feet, the wind is almost directly on our bow and whistles at the balcony door. Temperature is just above 70. Cold for the Caribbean, but nothing like they are getting in the northern states where windchills are reaching record lows of -60 degrees. Everyone is glad to be here.

There is a gentle rock to the ship as we head northerly at about 20 knots, almost top speed for this big girl.

The cooler weather and lack of sun does not stop many of the sun worshippers. They gather around the pools wrapped in extra towels to block the cool winds. Unlike some of the smaller ships, all the pool areas on this ship are exposed to the elements.

This afternoon I will see Cats for the XXth time. But not the Broadway Cats of the past. Royal has produced a special 90 minute production for presentation on the ships. Actually probably a good idea because historically many guests would walk out before the end of the show, the Broadway version just being too long.

The show runs until 5:15, just the right amount of time to get to the Coastal Kitchen for our last dinner. Food and service is again excellent. We have had several different waiters during the week. This is going to force me to start tipping waiters at the time of service instead of at the end of the week. I have been doing this for years with the bar service. Time to print many more $2.00 bills for future travel.

The fact that Cats is shorter is a good thing, but I only found a few musical numbers recognizable. If there was a story being told in this version, I missed it. Conclusion. Not a winner.

Before heading to the cabin to pack we take in another Ice show. Gppd as always.

The luggage is in the hallway by 9:00, the alarm set for 6:30.

We arise before the alarm goes off and make a last minute decision to head to the buffet. This is tough as I had [lanned to not set foot in the buffet this entire week. Absolutely packed at 6:15 AM. Eventually two seats to be shared with another couple are found. The pastry was stale, the ice water cold. My expectations were low.

We soon head to the meeting  place for wheel chair assist departure. After a brief wait I am within the first dozen passengers with assistance to head to the gangway.  It is a long walk to the baggage claim room. Thousands of suitcases for as far as the eye can see. 

Both of ours are spotted, porters are abundant. We are on our way again. Probably only the second time in a week that Lynn is able to walk at her normal pace instead of needing to walk slow for me. Mere seconds to pass facial recognition for reentry, then whisked up to the 5th floor of the garage.  This whole process only takes only about 15 minutes.

I exit the garage and am welcomed back to Miami.  The signs lead me to be heading the wrong way on an exit ramp. Fortunately no traffice here. Get to the right road and then another misplaced sign takes me into another garage instead of the tunnel entrance I am looking for. The clerk collecting payment to let me out of the garage sees it all day long.

Exiting the tunnel there is lots of construction. The road is flooded to a depth of about 5 or 6 inches. I have no choice, I slowly creep across to the other side. I make it.

Once on the Florida Turnpike it is nonstop back to Clermont, stopping for gas only once about 5 miles from home. Traffic moves well despite the sometimes very heavy rain.

Laundry is washed and everything is promptly put away until our next trip in less than 4 weeks.

February 04, 2023

Day 6 Costa Maya, Mexico

We arrive in Costa Maya about 8:00 and the ship is quickly cleared. Lynn is taking a tour to see some Myan ruins, I am staying on the ship.

There is only one other ship here today, the 200 passenger World Voyager.  The weather forecast indicates a threat of a passing storm, but otherwise pleasant with temperatures around 80.

Overall the Oasis of the Seas remains in good shape and generally is not showing her age. Having said that a water main broke about 10 cabins down the hall a couple days ago and fans have been in use since to dry out the soaked carpet, and for a period of time during the night there was no water. Hopefully a planned shutdown.

Other than a few guests in the Coastal Kitchen the first night, my observation of guest behavior has been good. Not true for the rest of the ship. Three passengers were given a one way trip down the gangway in Roatan, Honduras, not to be allowed back on the ship.  How they get home is their problem.

The daily compass has it's usual problem of listing events that just don't exist. Most likely a product of cut and paste by the production team. Wi Fi has actually been good. I don't know if they have made the conversion to Sky Link or not. WiFi has become more important as there are a number of passengers "working" from the ship. More and more all the time.

There have been a few medical emergencies. One passenger with a massive heart attack that was transported to a hospital in Cozumel. Reported by the captain as doing well.

Last weekend the marathon in Miami disrupted our boarding and delayed departure over two hours. Three passengers didn't make it to the terminal until 9:00 PM. Yes, they missed the ship. It was not clear if they caught up with us along the way.

Today we learned both exits from the port will be hampered by construction projects as we attempt to leave on Sunday. Have I ever said I do not like sailing from Miami?

I arrange for wheel chair assistance to the terminal. Not mandatory for me, but I have found it to be a big help especially when the path winds back and forth around the ship and the walk becomes long.

Chops for breakfast has been great but I sometimes think they have a different chef every day. Buttermilk pancakes come out differently each day. Sometime one, sometimes two. Sometimes with fruit, others not. Always a surprise. More importantly, always better than fighting the crowds in the Windjammer.

Lynn had an excellent tour guide and enjoyed the temple very much. Presently the only way tourists get to this part of Mexico is by cruise  ship. Construction is underway on a rail line to bring the masses. Hopefully running in a couple years.

Another good dinner in the Coastal Kitchen. Tonight is lobster night in the main dining room. Do you want more than one? Each additional will  cost $16.95. In the coastal Kitchen it is poached lobster tails, quantity unlimited. I'm not sure the difference between poached and steamed lobster other than the words.

The quartet in the Jazz club is excellent, I take in one set before sleep time.

The seas are a little choppy as we head north, the skies overcast with a forecast of rain showers. Tomorrow is a sea day with our next port of call Miami on Sunday morning.

February 03, 2023

Day 5 Roatan, Honduras

Roatan is an island off the coast of the mainland of Honduras. It boasts two ports and is often a destination for western Caribbean cruises.  We arrive about 10 AM and are greeted by a band and drummers on the pier. The NCL Getaway, another large ship is already in port when we arrive and a Carnival ship soon docks at the other dock several miles away.

With a tour at 12:45 we wait until after 11 to get off the ship. The port area is very small and it doesn't take long to see it all even when it is jammed with people.

Our tour is to a botanical garden where we, as guests, will make chocolate after a tour of the grounds.

The drive to the gardens is what you would expect in Honduras. Very poor and run down. Driving past their hospital it looks like a falling down condemed century old wooden building. With the siding falling off and parts of the roof missing we would think it very risky to enter such a building. Broken windows were boarded up. Be thankful we live as we do.

The gardens are nice. Mahogoney, teak, spices, etc. the chocolate making experience was a slow process from removing the shell of the beans to grinding them into a fine paste. The hand grinder was very difficult to turn. Making one cup of chocolate this way would easily take 2 hours.

The end product was definitely chocolate, but grainy as we skipped the third and fourth grindings, and despite sugar being added, still a little bitter for my taste.

Our tour took us around the entire island. Back on the ship, it is time for a shower and then off to the Coastal Kitchen. No time for cocktails first.

The braised short ribs were excellent, as has been all the food in the Coastal Kitchen, A change in my medications has left me with little appetite. So far a good thing. I usually lose a few pounds on a cruise, I expect no different this time.

After dinner is is directly to Studio B for the ice show. Without question one of my favorites. Busy but not full, The best part was watching some very young children in the first row. In total awe of the skaters.

Again the weather remains excellent. The skies are partly cloudy and the seas slight as we begin our trip north with our next stop in Costa Maya, Mexico.

Day 4 Cozumel

I have no idea what time we docked, but it was long before our scheduled docking at 7:00 AM. Again the skies are partly cloudy, a nice breeze and temperatures in the low 70's.

The ship is cleared by 7:30 and passengers start heading ashore. We leave the ship about 9:00. No specific destination, just some shopping. Initially I had considered purchasing some vanilla, but recent news articles have pointed out that labeling of such products is most often fraudulent, and more often than not the ingredients are not what the label says. The conclusion: just buy in the US, at least you know you are for the most part getting what you pay for.

By the time we come back to the Celebrity Constellantion has pulled along side of us. There are now 5 ships in port.

We try El Loco for lunch. The line is long, the nachos and the cheese sauce tasteless. Probably not again. 

After a much needed shower, off to the Suites Lounge to write and answer emails.  Surprisingly I have yet to find the lounge full either during the day or early evening when appetizers are served.  Unlike on other ships in the past, the bar is open here nearly all day long. A nice quiet retreat overlooking the pool decks.

Royal has increased pricing substantially for a number of items. The "all access tour" which was free about 10 years ago is now $250 per person. Giovanni's cover charge is $50, Chops $65. and Johnny Rockets is $15. I have yet to see any of them busy. Royal may have exceeded the breaking point for surcharges. There are some deals, but they no longer are pushing 2 for 1 in the specialty restaurants, ar least not on this voyage.

After dinner we have reservations for the Aqua Show. The theater is full with only a few of the standby guests able to find seats. The high divers and the aquatic performers are excellent as usual. Even though the show has been on all the Oasis class ships for years, each show is a little different, and the shows have evolved over time.

Our next port is Roatan, Honduras. The weather remains excellent, low 70's partly cloudy to sunny with a light breeze. The seas remain under 3 feet.

February 02, 2023

Day 3 At Sea

The seas remain 3 feet or less. The skies partly cloudy, temperatures in the high 70's. Breakfast as usual in chops. A goal has been set to never set foot in the Windjammer buffet for the entire cruise. It will be an easy goal to attain wth Chops for breakfast and the Coastal Kitchen for dinner.

The usual activities are offered today. Lots of trivia, pool contests and the never ending art auction and bingo. I attend the top tier party. I am always curious as to the the number of frequent cruisers. 

There are 459 Diamond,  301 Diamond Plus, and 67 Pinnacle members. Among the Pinnacles is Royal's most frequent cruiser Mario, often referred to as Super Mario who has 10,649 points. He has aged a lot since I last saw him, but I better be careful what I say.

Other than introducing the top cruisers and having free champagne or fruit punch the top tier was pretty boring. No new information, no introduction of officers, no stories from the captain. Probably less than half the invited passengers attend.

Despite the great weather, I am still able to find seating in the solarium pool area. Of course there are many chairs that are obviously being "saved" with carefully placed towels.

Again another excellent dinner in the Coastal Kitchen, grilled New York Strip. I was disappointed to find that the "apple pie" is not fresh baked apple pie as in the past, but the same factory pastery served in the dining room. at least in the Coastal Kitchen it is heated before being served.

Long before boarding I made reservations for all the main entertainment. Tonight it is adult comedy. Never a favorite of mine, but entertainment none the less, I was surprised I was able to leave the comedian speechless for an uncomfortable few seconds. That wasn't my intention, but when he asked how many years we were married and I told him we wern't married he had no comeback. Not what he was prepared to hear.

After comedy, across the hall to Jazz on 4. The venue is full, well as full as it will be with half the seating facing away from the stage. Why they don't better arrange the seating boggles my mind, but then agian I am only a customer.

The seas have calmed to less than 3 feet as we head towards Cozumel, Mexico. We have been warned several times that Mexico has banned smoking an vaping in all public places. Good for them.

February 01, 2023

Day 2 Coco Cay

The skies are partly cloudy, the temperatures in the upper 70's. there is a slight breeze. Despite our late departure it is a short cruise to Coco Cay and we are tied up at the dock before 7:00. The ship is cleared by 7:45

Shortly the Serenade of the Seas pulls alongside on the other side of the dock. The majority of passengers start heading ashore for a day of sun and sand.

Chops Grille is reserved for Pinnacle guests for breakfast. There are at most a dozen passengers. The service is fast, attentive and the food excellent.

A stop at the future cruise desk to check on pricing for a fall cruise to Bermuda, A few hours in the Solarium, some time on the balcony. A lazy day in port.

In addition to 18 cans of diet coke, we have three bottles of champagne in our cabin. We ask the concierge host is we can exchange the champagne for wine. He obliges and it is taken care of within an hour. Only afterwards we learn the one bottle of champagne, sent by the Coastal Kitchen manager, is sold on the ship for $86.00 per bottle! It doesn't matter, we didn't care to drink it.

Future cruise pricing is no different than what I can do directly on line. Making cabin selection here is very difficult in that the all the deck plans are squeezed onto 1 sheet of paper. Even with a magnifying glass it is very difficult to read.

We hear many stories from other passengers trying to get to the port Sunday. The taxi fare for one couple was over $110 for what would normally be a $10 ride. Another Uber driver was furious because he had accepted a fixed fare, and it took him hours. Another knew the back alleys and parking lots to drive through and made it to the port quite quickly. Just the challenges of travel.

The Coastal Kitchen is at about 50% of capacity for dinner. Again the food is good, and the service exquisite.

The Oasis has been around for a few years, and has seen several makeovers. The seating in the main theater is comfortable as are most of the chairs in the Suites  Lounge and Diamond Lounge. Overall she is in good shape and not really showing many signs of her age.

We waste a few minutes listening to karaoke, then catch the headliner production show. A vocalist, Lou Gazzarra, with an excellent voice and a very good show. Unfortunately the theater was only about 50% full. 

After the show, one set at the Jazz club. The musicians are from Eastern Europe and do a good job. Soon it is bedtime.

The seas are about 3 feet, the skies mostly clear, temperatures in the upper 70's. Tomorrow will be a sea day as we head to Cozumel.