Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Technological Advancements Onboard Oasis of the Seas

I marvel at technological advancements made during my lifetime and admire the genius it takes to develop it. I am appreciative of the ways “gadgets” make my life easier; make it more organized, more simplified, or just more fun. And when I board Oasis of the Seas, I know I will be thanking Royal Caribbean for the technological enhancements that will make my vacation experience all that more remarkable. For example…

Guests can rent something called a WOW Phone on the Oasis. I love my I-Phone, but when onboard Oasis of the Seas, I want one of these! (This phone actually looks like a customized version of an I-Phone) From your WOW Phone you can:
*Call or text another WOW Phone user
*Track your children in Adventure Ocean or elsewhere on the ship
*Receive onboard “real time” GPS that allow you to locate other members of your traveling party
*Call a stateroom
*Pull up a map of the ship
*View your weekly customized calendar
*View the daily “Why Not Today” (formerly known as the Cruise Compass)

There will be Digital Signage that will assist in navigating around the ship with unique state of the art way-finding graphics. It will be especially useful during mustering and departure. Many signs are interactive and guests will be able to view dining menus, check restaurant seating availability, watch videos about spa treatments, and check show times in the various theatres.

Hand Held Technology will expedite service. For example, a bar server enters your order on this gizmo as you sit by the pool. By the time he walks back to the bar, your drink is ready and waiting for him! Now that’s a quick turn around! This devise will also be used in the photo gallery, some retail areas, and by maintenance people to ensure problems are quickly addressed.

High Definition Television Systems in staterooms do a lot more than show movies and music videos! Guests can simplify their ship experience by pre-paying gratuities, or by booking shows and shore excursions. The system allows one to view a personal cruise calendar that includes any reservations that were made for shows, restaurants, the spa, or excursions. Through the T.V. a guest could browse the internet, order room service, and order wine to be delivered at dinner. From the comfort of a stateroom one can view info and hours of operations for onboard bars, activities, the spa, or casino. Guests can even take a look at traffic flow updates for food venues! It is easy to check the charges on a sea pass account, read about the ports of call, and watch a port shopping preview. And if, by the slightest chance, you find yourself with nothing to do on this amazing ship, you can always watch T.V.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oasis of the Seas...How Sweet!

Revolutionary, Innovative, Ground-Breaking, Unique, Incredible. All of these words have been repeatedly used to describe Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. I won’t disagree with any of these, but I’d like to add one of my own….Sweet!

Debuting on Oasis of the Seas will be “The Cupcake Cupboard”, the first cupcake shop at sea! You’re not rolling your eyes, are you? This is critical information! In my opinion (for what it's worth), the cupcake is the quintessential dessert. Perfectly portion controlled, it’s like having a scrumptious little cake all to yourself. There’s no guilt in eating the whole thing and not sharing, because that’s how they are meant to be eaten. Then there’s the beauty of these little desserts. Soft and swirly icing piled high in deep dark chocolate, snowy white, or any color of the rainbow, maybe with tinted sugar or little candies sprinkled on top. They offer the perfect high icing to cake ratio! How divine! They’re easy to serve and easy to eat. They’re portable. Cupcakes make people happy. Even big, burly men smile like little boys when they are given a cupcake. Wouldn’t you?

Cupcakes have become a pop culture craze in the culinary world. Over the past few years trendy cupcake bakeries have opened in cities like Chicago, NYC, and LA, with people waiting late at night on lines out the door. The cupcake has gone gourmet and is playful, hip, and oh so cool. And that’s why you’ll find “The Cupcake Cupboard” on the Oasis of the Seas. So sweet!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Formal Night: A Love / Hate Relationship

One of the things I love most about cruising is the formal nights! To me it’s like playing dress up just as I did when I was a child. What woman doesn’t feel alluring wearing a long dress that gracefully sweeps slightly above the ground as she walks? Or that feeling of being so incredibly irresistible in that sexy little black number that hugs your body in all the right places! You carefully select a little beaded purse and a pair of strappy heels that are higher than you would ordinarily wear, but they’re oh so perfect. It’s a chance to pile your hair atop your head with wispy tendrils framing your face. You look absolutely amazing! But it’s not just about the ladies. What woman can resist a man in a suit, or better yet, a tuxedo? So debonair! Is it possible that he’s smarter, funnier, sexier, when he’s all dressed up? Makes you want to keep your arm linked with his….maybe a bit possessively? And then there are the children…little prince and princesses dressed in their finery! It is a fairy tale evening! How lucky that the ship has photographers on every deck to capture the magic of such an evening….

One of the things I hate most about cruising is the formal nights! Months before the cruise the feeling of dread overwhelms me as I go shopping for a new dress. There are racks and racks to choose from, but they’re all too big in the chest, too tight in the hips, too short for my chunky legs, and why oh why are they all black???? I hate wearing black! Eventually I find a dress and shoes, but nobody will mistake me for Cinderella. My hair is too short to be glamorous and I wonder if a rhinestone clip would help. My husband does not own a tux. He last bought a suit in 1999 and has gained 10 pounds since. My teenage son is growing by leaps and bounds and I refuse to buy him something that he’ll wear only one evening. Thank goodness the cruise line solves those problems for me. They will rent tuxedos, including shoes, onboard.

“The Night” arrives and my family joins the hundreds of other people that are milling around the public areas of this beautiful ship. I lose my individuality in a sea of black dresses. I glance at my “boys” and feel my heart swell with love. I wanted to bring my camera but my silly little evening bag barely holds my key card and a tissue. I link arms with my husband… because if I don’t I’ll surely fall. My feet are being brutally tortured with every step I take. My son is grumpy, swears he’s being strangled by the bow tie, and cannot deeply inhale because the cummerbund has restricted his diaphragm. To lighten up the mood, my husband begins to waddle and make penguin noises. By the time we take are places in front of the camera any discomfort is forgotten and we are all laughing. The photographer snaps a pretty picture of my perfect family, which I will frame and proudly display when I get home. I love cruise formal nights!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Oh Baby!

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas…a ship that boasts an overabundance of innovation, announced another “first” this week. Although many will hear about it and just shrug, the impact it will have on young cruising families is one that is able to turn a fun vacation into a fabulous vacation! What can this possibly be? I’m talking about the first nursery at sea – with infants accepted who are between six months and 36 months.

Now in all honesty, cruising, and Royal Caribbean in particular, has always been very family friendly. But still, if your child was not three and potty trained you did not have access to those wonderful kids clubs that allowed you to go off and enjoy some “couple time”, or maybe the chance to take pleasure in a bit of solitude. Having a nursery onboard is like bringing along your babysitter…without having to pay for another cabin! Here’s your chance to have the time to workout in that extraordinary gym, enjoy a spa treatment, or try out the zip line! Maybe you’d like to have a scrumptious dinner at 150 Central Park and afterwards take a romantic stroll through the gardens. Why not catch the evening’s water & light show at the Aquatheater and then have a night cap at the floating Rising Tide Bar? You can feel confident leaving your baby because every member of the nurturing staff has been vigilantly screened and has experience in childcare.

Every year over 25,000 infants and toddlers under the age of three sail on Royal Caribbean ships. It’s nice to know that somebody in the company took notice, saw a need, and did something about it. I bet he or she is also a parent who knows what its like not to have a sitter on a Saturday night!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Girlfriend Getaway

Once a year a travel magazine I subscribe to puts out an issue called “Girl’s Getaways.” It’s an issue full of suggested spas and resorts for getting away …ladies only, please! I find it odd that they have never recommended a cruise. In my mind, nothing could be more perfect!

Cruising is the ultimate “girl’s getaway!” It’s here, in the middle of the ocean and away from the stress of kids, man problems, aging parents, or whatever responsibility is getting you down, that one can truly begin to unwind. It’s a great way to come together to share laughs and tears, to reminisce or strengthen bonds. Chatting poolside, lavish spa treatments, shopping on tropical islands or foreign cities…that’s my idea rejuvenating body and soul! Rainbow colored slushy drinks that make everyone’s stories even funnier, two appetizers at dinner and rich chocolate desserts. These are indulgences to be shared with best friends. Sing-a-longs at the bar, slightly off key, of all you favorite songs; the same ones that you blasted when you all shared that small apartment in your younger days. Dancing the night away like you once did, before you started going to bed at 10pm, because now you have to rouse a cranky teenager at 6am so they won’t miss the school bus! It’s like stopping the world and getting off, for just a short break, to revitalize.

Celebrate, 21, 30, 40, or 50! Re-connect with the women you once shared your hopes and dreams with, when you were in high school or college. Invite your mother, grandmother, and daughter for some generational bonding. Cruising is the ideal “girl’s getaway” for girls of any age!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Say What?

On a recent “ladies night out” we started chatting about this year’s summer vacations, which then led to ideas for next year. I love talking about my plans and began to tell my friends about a cruise my family has booked for next August. My voice automatically rose a few octaves and the words were coming out fast and furious as I excitedly told them all about Royal Caribbean’s amazing Oasis of the Seas. When all was said and done one woman replied, “Wow, what a boat!” Boat? Boat you say? The Staten Island Ferry is a boat! Oasis is a ship! And at 220,000 gross tons, a mega ship at that! Which leads me into the topic of this posting…cruise vocabulary. Here are some definitions to help out all you newbie cruisers out there:

Aft: Refers to the rear of the ship

Berth: Your bed on the ship OR the place in port where the ship is

Bow: Refers to the front of the ship

Bridge: The area from where the captain controls the ship

Cabin: Your room

Cabin Steward: The person responsible for cleaning your cabin

Deck: Levels or floors of the ship

Disembarkation: The process of getting off a ship

Embarkation: The process of boarding a ship

The ships kitchen

Gangway: The entrance or exit area of the ship

Itinerary: The schedule of ports of call

Muster Station: The area you are designated to report to in case of an
emergency evacuation

Nautical Mile: 6078 feet or 1.15 miles

Port: The left side of the ship

Port of Call: A destination you visit

Purser’s Desk: The guest relations desk

Starboard: The right side of the ship

Stateroom: Another word for your cabin or room

Stern: The rear or aft of the ship

Tender: The vessel that transports you from ship to shore if the ship is
anchored a distance from the port

So there you have it, a primer in cruise ship vocabulary. The lingo you need to know to sound “in the know” on your next cruise.
Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Win a FREE Cruise on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas!

Are you feeling lucky today? Direct Line Cruises just announced the start of the FREE Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise contest! In case you haven't heard, the Oasis of the Seas will be the largest and most innovative cruise ship in the world when she begins sailing this December. The lucky winner will receive a FREE balcony stateroom for two on ANY 2010 Oasis of the Seas sailing. The winner will be randomly selected at the end of November. Direct Line Cruises will publically announce the winner in the middle of December.

To enter the contest, simply CLICK HERE. Good Luck!