Posts tagged qanda
How did I end up (basically) living on board Royal Caribbean? (part 1)

Oasis of the Seas. The ship that started it all.

One of the most common questions I get asked by those I meet on board (and others) is how? or why did this journey begin.

It's a longish tale, so please bear with me. So TL:DR Oasis of the Seas inspired this journey.

For those who are still with me.

For the best part of the past 18 years (ie to date pretty much all of the 21st Century)  I lived in Japan, for most of that time I was an English teacher. One of the issues with learning English (and Japanese for that matter) is that counting isn't a straight forward translation. (This gets a little convoluted, so please bear with me). 1 = 1 and 10 = 10 but when you start getting to larger numbers things begin to get funky. It's all easy to the low thousands, but after you reach the 10's of thousands Japanese counting begins to mess with counting as you know it, because 10,000 is a new base, meanwhile in English we count all the way to a million, in Japanese you count from 10,000 (man) to 100,000,000 (oku) to get a different base. For learners in both languages it takes time to work out what 225,282 is (apart from the Gross Tonnage of Oasis of the Seas).

So in early 2010 I came across an article discussing the Oasis. The tonnage, the number of guests, staff, food consumed, length of the ship, fuel used, etc. It was, at the time, the worlds biggest cruise ship and the article was dripping in big numbers. It was and is an amazing feat of engineering and some thing many of my students would enjoy discussing. I turned it into an English lesson. And every student I had over the next few weeks got to read about and discuss the Oasis of the Seas. Every lesson we talked about her, what it would be like to sail on, what were the ports like, it was one of my favourite lessons.  Before long I really wanted to sail on her. But she was in Florida, and I was in Japan, so this wasn't happening any time soon.


In 2016 I found myself in America for a few months, and I was sort of lost between dates on what to do. Go to Florida and Disney World and the other theme parks? Go to New York? Rent a car and go for a road trip? Florida... hmmm what is about Florida.... there was an itch of a memory... but it bugged me for days on end. And then one night Bingo!! Oasis of the Seas. A cruise!! I can go on a cruise!!

So I hit the internet to find out when and how much it was to sail on her. 

Allure of the Seas  My first cruise.

Allure of the Seas My first cruise.

To my surprise there was a newer and (by not much) bigger ship, the Allure of the Seas. Well that's it, I would have to book a holiday with her.  So I did. I booked a 1 week Caribbean cruise. It was a bit pricer than I would have liked, so I teamed up with my friend from Japan to spilt the cost and we went on my first cruise. Yes, my first cruise was on the then biggest cruise ship in the world, and I had no idea what to expect. 

It was a great week, and I enjoyed it immensely. But I was pretty sure I wouldn't do another cruise without getting a few friends together, or at least a girlfriend to go with me. Solo cruising was not for me.  But I wrong, so very very wrong.


Readers Questions
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Over on Facebook Di asked some great questions.

  1. Have you been upgraded often?
    • Never!!! I will be a happy cruiser when it happens (I have requested an upgrade once and a room change twice, today was the second time, I doubt I will be lucky).
  2. Do you book a particular level, cabin or class?
    • This is actually quite complicated. As there are several factors involved in how I choose my room. Firstly, suites are almost always out! Too expensive, and for a solo sailer, poor bang for your buck on points. For example, and lets assume a Junior Suite is only 2x more than a balcony stateroom. 7 night cruise, $2,000 for the balcony, $4,000 for the suite. I get 14 Crown & Anchor points for a non suite, so each point cost me $143. For a suite I get 21 points, which is $191/point.  
      So the extra money for a suite is not worth it. Combined with the fact that it's just me, I don't need all that space. 
      Super Mario, Royal Caribbeans most dedicated cruiser, always books interior. After all he reasons, he is never in there, except to sleep and shower. I am not quite like Super Mario, and sometimes I just want to sit in a quite space, watching the ocean go by, so I do like a stateroom with a balcony. But then it comes down to price.
      If an interior room is significantly cheaper than a balcony, I will book the interior. But if the balcony is only a few hundred dollars 💵 more, then I will book that. 
      Finally duration, on longer cruises, or ones that are particularly scenic (Norway, New Zealand, and I imagine Alaska) I will have higher preference for a balcony, but ultimately the dollars rule. I would rather cruise more and have an interior room, rather than a balcony and cruise less. There is no right answer on which class of room to choose, it is 💯 a persons preference balanced against budget. If I had a bottomless budget, it would be a balcony every time, but with budgetary constraints, interior it is. 
  3. What % of discounts do you receive as you climb up the levels to pinnacle?
    • I have no idea. I don't believe it is a % at all. Rather it is a numerical value per day. It only applies to balcony and above staterooms, so no C&A discount for the interior rooms! (this plays into the price difference, as I level up the difference gets less).
      Ultimately it feels like I am only saving a few hundred dollars, and that's on longer cruises, at my current level. It is a good question and I will see if I can get the low down, so I can give a better answer.

Thanks for the questions Di, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below, or contact me through Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram.

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Voyager of the Seas - an alternate universe.


Over on Facebook Julia asked (and Sylvia echoed) "Is explorer much different to voyager?"

I started to write a little and it turned into a little more, so I thought it would be a great blog post. So Julia, Sylvia and any others interested here's what I found.

Voyager of the Seas feels like how I imagine it would feel to enter an alternate universe; the same but different. 

The cone is absent from  Explorer.  Giving the top bar patrons a clear view of the screen.

The cone is absent from Explorer. Giving the top bar patrons a clear view of the screen.

There are some physical differences.

The inverted sunlight cone on the lido deck has been removed from  Explorer so you can see the screen from the top pool bar.  

The Crown and Anchor desk on Voyager has been moved from forward on deck 2 to the deck 7 Library.  Which sucks! You are trying to have a conversation with the loyalty ambassador and you are surrounded by guests reading and playing cards.  Apparently they want to move it on Explorer too, because people can’t find it.  It’s not that difficult to find, and now all Crown and Anchor conversations can be heard by all, rather than a quiet conversation in the front of the ship.  

There are also subtle differences, like the names of venues - the following spring to mind (VY - EX)

  • Pig and Whistle - The Crown and Castle
  • La Scala Theater - The Palace Theater
  • High Notes - Dizzy's

But then there are bigger differences eg the layouts of various venues (in brackets my preferred layout)

  • Schooner Bar (EX)
  • Promenade Cafe (EX)
  • Star Lounge (VY)
  • High Notes/Dizzy's. (EX)
  • Casino Royale (EX)
  • Windjammer (VY)

Other venues may be different too but these were the ones that stood out to me. One of the things that I loved on Voyager was the deck lighting. A nice yellow light, softer and warmer than the white on board Explorer. This definitely gave Voyager a more romantic vibe on deck. Well it would have been if it wasn't for the presence of drunk hooligans.  

No cone here

No cone here

I should point out that I have spent more than 2 months on the Explorer this year, so this feels like home. I have grown use to her routine, the staff, the food etc. So even though Voyager is the same class, run by the same company, there are some operational differences that make the two ships very different. Both ships are configured for the other markets they serve when they aren't sailing out of Sydney, Voyager for the Asian market and Explorer the American. 

These little difference include things like the way blackjack is dealt, trivia is sometimes in High Notes (a terrible location for trivia), the morning dance lesson is on the Promenade on Voyager, the sports court on Explorer. The time of events was different, sometimes as little as 15 minutes, but enough to make me take a second look at the Cruise Compass. Speaking of which, I can now skim the Cruise Compass on the Explorer as I know what I am looking for, Voyager's Cruise Compass required a deeper analysis, not only because times were different, but the wording and structure of events was different. 

All of these things were just a little discombobulating. In the end I prefer Explorer, is it because it is the better ship? better run? Unlikely, it's probably because of my familiarity, with the crew and the ship. 

But even on this cruise I am now on (Explorer) things are a little different as there have been some staff changes which have mixed things up.

Ultimately I think that most people wouldn't notice these differences as much as I have, however I have spoken to some other guests who have sailed on both, and they preferred Explorer too, but could't quite put their finger on why. Maybe it's that bloody cone on the lido deck.