Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Are you stuffed yet?

I'm hoping to start the day by running my own personal turkey trot. It's likely in the 30's (or less) so I'll be bundling up and cursing the entire time. But, I won't feel as guilty about that second helping of mashed potatoes.

Wishing you a wonderful day with family and FOOD!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stitch Fix

I am in big trouble.

I received my first fix and I want it ALL.

If you're unfamiliar, Stitch Fix is a website that will send you clothing and accessories to try for a $20 styling fee. You keep (and pay for) what you want. Anything that doesn't work gets shipped back within 3 days. The $20 fee is subtracted from your total purchases and if you keep all 5 pieces, you get a 25% discount.

For quite some time, I've been less than enamored with what I've seen in stores so I decided to go rogue. My wardrobe needed a shake up anyway. When you schedule your first fix (dates usually aren't available for about 6 weeks out), you fill out a very detailed questionnaire about your style, sizes, wardrobe needs, likes, dislikes, etc. VERY detailed. If you have an event coming up or if you need work clothes or something specific, you can say that too. You pick your price points (the "as cheap as possible" option means under $50 so it can add up fast) for each category: tops, bottoms, outwear and accessories. I don't need outerwear so I opted out of that. It's all very flexible.

Then, I not so patiently waited for my friendly Fed Ex man to deliver my first Fix. Nervous that I wouldn't like anything. Nervous that I would like everything knowing I shouldn't keep it all.

It finally arrived last week.

Want to take a peek?

Sweater - $98, Corduroy Pants - $78, Infinity Scarf - $34

I love love love these pants! I was a little concerned with their fit when I saw the size but then I put them on and they were perfect. They are from Kut from the Kloth. I now want to go buy them in every single color. I've been looking for red pants for awhile so my stylist was spot on with these.

This chevron scarf. I know. It's so voluminous and lovely and I really wanted to keep it. However, $34 is a bit more than I like to spend on accessories and I was concerned the fabric would snag easily so it went back. Currently, I'm on the hunt for similar fabric to make my own for less. 

The brown sweater was also a great choice. So great that I actually have a nearly identical version. Same exact color and style. I did like the hi-low hem but since I own its twin and it was the most expensive piece in the box at $98, it went back too.

This blouse and necklace were the last two pieces in my fix.

This top it probably not something I would have picked out in the store but I really liked it. Isn't that the whole point of StitchFix? The above picture is actually my Thanksgiving outfit this year. You get a sneak peek. Aren't you lucky! I thought the necklace was interesting and also unlike anything in my wardrobe but at $34, it went back. It was already scratched on the back from the journey and I questioned how much I would really wear it.

They also include these cute styling cards to give you other ideas about how to wear things.

I kept two out of five pieces and mailed the others back in a pre-paid envelope that is included with the box. When you send items back, you can include information about why you didn't like it. Maybe the fit wasn't good or it just didn't look right on you. All the feedback is sent to your stylist so your next Fix can be improved. Had I kept everything it would have cost $210, after the discount. Yowza! I don't ever go to the mall and just drop a couple hundred on clothes and jewelry.

But, I did love my experience enough to schedule another fix. It's coming December 11th! You can set them to come automatically every month but I didn't think my wallet would appreciate that. When you sign up, you pick a date about 6 weeks out. It was sure hard waiting that length of time but it was worth it!

Do you want your own fix? You can sign up through HERE! This is my referral link which means I get a credit for my next fix if you sign up. DO IT! Then you can share the love of Stitch Fix too!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cruising // Final Thoughts

If you’ve never taken a cruise before and aren’t sure whether or not you would enjoy it, I say you won’t know until you try. Any cruise is only as fun as you make it. If laying by the pool sipping pina coladas is your thing, great! No one said you have to leave the pool deck to go play bingo. If you’d rather not sit with a bunch of strangers at dinner, request a table just for your party and you’ll likely be accommodated. Would you like to spin the roulette wheel instead of seeing a broadway show? Go for it! Part of the problem with a ship this size is that even with 3 sea days, I still came away having missed things I wanted to do. It is hard to squeeze it all in but we had an amazing week and I would book it again in a heartbeat.
Sailaway in Ft. Lauderdale

I’ve been asked if there’s any way I could go back to a smaller ship and surprisingly, I definitely could. While I loved all of the opportunities and amenities of the Oasis, we had a ton of fun on the much smaller Grandeur cruise we took back in 2010. I don’t NEED a zipline, flow rider, ice rink, etc. to have a wonderful vacation. Cruises are about the experiences you have, the things you see and the people you meet. And no, I never once felt trapped at sea. I often hear that sentiment against cruising too.
I love Royal Caribbean but I’m also open to checking our other cruise lines to see how they compare. Different ships offer different itineraries and a chance to discover a new location I’ve never seen. I will say this. Before Oasis, I cruised for the ports. If I cruised Oasis again, I’d be cruising for the ship. If I sailed Oasis again (or her sister ship, Allure of the Seas) I suppose I would try the Western itinerary. It’s not as appealing but it IS cheaper and if I want to make the most of the ship itself, it wouldn’t matter anyway.
Cruising can be a very expensive or very economical vacation. We got an awesome deal for this ship but it’s the most we’ve ever paid for a cruise for a lower category of stateroom. If you don’t drink alcohol, never go to the spa and don’t shop much, your on board expenses can be kept to a very frugal amount. I do recommend splurging on at least one paid specialty dinner though. It was well worth it. RCCL also offers an all-inclusive drink package. We considered it for a hot minute but ultimately decided it wouldn’t be worth it, and we were right. Sure, there were times we wanted to order another drink but didn’t because our bill was adding up. However, we would have spent the whole cruise drinking way more than necessary to try to make sure we at least broke even on the more than $700 expenditure (for two people). We would have had a heck of a time drinking our quota on the port days too. Don’t worry, I took my calories in plenty of other ways. (Donuts, coconut ranger cookies, pizza slices, froyo)
Can I share a couple of cruising tips?
-Take the stairs. The lines for the elevator can be long and this is a good way to sneak in a little activity. It’s especially helpful to walk off dinner.

-Wash your hands. A lot. All those passengers carry beaucoup germs. You don't want to be sick on your cruise, do you?

-Dress up for formal night. People gripe about having to look nice for dinner. Don’t you want to look nice for special occasions for the person or people you’re cruising with? You don’t have to go ball gown and tux but you’ll sure feel pretty if you put on a swanky dress.
Check out that healthy glow!
-Try dishes and food you would never dream of ordering. The beauty of a cruise is the ability to order as much as you want. You don’t like it? Try something else.
-Have fun people watching behind your sunglasses. You won’t believe some of the things your fellow passengers will do, wear, say.

-When possible, plan your own port activities and book private excursions. You’ll save money and get a much more personalized experience.
-Take more cash for port days than you think you’ll need. You will be cabbing it a lot. Lots of beaches charge an entry fee. All beaches charge for chairs and an umbrella.
-Do your research! A wealth of information can be had about every single cruise out there on Cruise Critic. Any concerns you have can be assuaged by someone who has been there and great tips are available.
-Talk to the staff on board. Your room attendant, waiter, bartender all have interesting stories.
-Reapply sunscreen! This is the first cruise I didn’t burn (except my forehead) thanks to multiple reapplications daily. I also wore a hat which is something I never do. My mom would be so proud.

-Relax. It’s okay to sleep in, lie around and do nothing. You are on vacation!

Monday, November 25, 2013

St. Maarten // Third Port on Oasis of the Seas

Our third and final port was also a repeat for us, St. Maarten. We like St. Maarten though so it's all good. On our honeymoon, we took an island tour with Bernard's Tours. This is an incredible way to spend a day and see the highlights of the island while adding in beach time and shopping time too. But as with St. Thomas, since we had already done that, we opted for a DIY day in port.

We took the water taxi for $7/person unlimited round trips to Phillipsburg. I heard rumor after we got back that you can walk it in about 10 minutes. Had I known that, I would have saved my $14. We wanted to wander around the town a bit before we settled in on the beach. 
Old Street - Sint Maarten
There are lots of little souvenir shops and they all mostly sell the same things. What you can and should get here is guavaberry liquor. Pretty darn tasty! We also picked up some Coconut and Banana Vanille rum. One of the salespeople told us because it's homemade (?) that you don't have to declare this on your customs form. I don't really think that's true but we were nowhere near our limit anyway. 
Originally, I wanted to go into Marigot and visit the market and French section but the cab there was something like $25 (same for the return) and the beach was calling me. So was lunch. I had an amazingly fresh fish sandwich at a beachside restaurant while John had a burger (I think). When in the Caribbean, eat as much fish as possible!
There is a long, narrow beach here at Great Bay. Most places charge the same for chairs and an umbrella so we picked one that looked good. I can’t remember what we paid now but it was definitely less than $20 for both chairs. We got a bucket of 6 Carib for $12 and we were set!
Carib is far superior to Corona
The water was, as usual, amazing. There were a lot of people in our little section of beach but it was easy to find space to swim. 

This part of the beach also gave access to one of the grossest bathrooms I’ve ever used….including Europe. You could not flush toilet paper so there was a trash can next to the toilet for that. YUCK! I was also told I was beautiful by a Spanish guy while waiting in line. He asked me where I was from and then said I was beautiful. Also, I was only wearing my bathing suit. That was kind of creepy but I was a good foot and a half taller than him so I figured I could take him.

After a few hours, we decided to board the water taxi and head back to the ship. We stopped and had a guavaberry colada before boarding. Mmm! It was a pretty easy port day but the weather was beautiful and we did most everything we set out to do.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

St. Thomas // Second Port on Oasis of the Seas

After a lovely day at sea filled with pool time, shows and various other things, we were ready for another port.

St. Thomas - View from the Ship

We stopped in St. Thomas on our honeymoon but it is a beautiful island. On that cruise, we rented a jeep and drove all over the island giving ourselves a tour of Magen's Bay, Drake's Seat, the mountaintop lookout and other spots. We didn't feel like we needed to do that again. What I was interested in was St. John. It's another island in the US Virgin Islands and it happens to be a ferry ride away from St. Thomas. You can do this trip on your own. It involves a taxi to the ferry dock, the ferry over, a taxi to the beach on St. John's (and back) the ferry home and a taxi back to the ship. While not impossible, we decided that for $34.00 a person, we'd let Royal Caribbean figure out all the logistics.

Oasis does not dock in the same spot as all other ships due to its size. They have built some shops right at the port but it's nothing like all the jewelry and souvenir shops at the other dock we had visited. No matter. Instead, we hung out in the blazing sun waiting for our tour to gather and begin.

We boarded a 2 story ferry for the 25 minute ride to St. John. That 25 minutes turned into 45 minutes due to some pretty rough seas. High waves, lots of rocking. Not for the easily motion-affected. But, we survived and eventually landed at St. John.

On our way to the beach, the taxi driver asked if we wanted to stop at 3 lookouts to take pictures. Yes, we did!

I researched all of the beautiful beaches of St. John and settled on Trunk Bay as our stop for the day. Because St. John is a national park, the beaches are a lot less commercialized than on other islands. You could rent chairs and snorkel gear here and there was one stand serving food and drinks but that was it. Oh, there were bathrooms too. But you also had to pay to get in to contribute to the upkeep of the beach/park.

We had a burger and fries, grabbed a couple cans of Carib and headed towards the sand. Doesn't get much better than views like this.....

There is a snorkel trail here as well but we opted for the relaxation route. The water was warm, the sun was hot. Life was good. It came to an end all too soon and because I had a specific souvenir in mind to purchase, we grabbed a taxi and headed back to the ferry dock.

Just a short walk up the road was Mongoose Junction. There were several shops here and I knew this is where I would find my St. John's hook bracelet. You can spend thousands of dollars on diamonds and all sorts of other precious gemstones in all of these ports but I wanted something I would wear on a regular basis that didn't break the bank.


I got mine from the Caravan Gallery. There are other places you can purchase them but I noticed the bartender at the brewery had one on and I asked her about it. She said the ones from Caravan are all handcrafted so they're all unique and they age really well. Sold!

Oh, a brewery? Did you honestly think we wouldn't find a brewery in the Virgin Islands if there was one to be had? If so, I guess you don't know me AT ALL!

But if you do happen to make it to St. John, please please please grab a pint at the St. John's Brewers in Mongoose Junction. The tap room is upstairs.

In addition to beer, they also brew their own root beer, which is what this is.....with a shot of vanilla rum. It tasted like a rootbeer float. John had a pint of the Island Summer Ale which was very refreshing on this hot Caribbean day. We had just enough time before boarding the ferry to split a Coffee Stout. Holy cats. This was, hands down, one of the best coffee stouts I have ever had in my life. Roasty and chocolatey and I didn't even care that it was 90 degrees outside. They do have some distribution in the states but not much, unfortunately. The bartender was friendly and there was only one other patron in there at that time (Tuesday afternoon). We are so glad we stopped.

The return ride on the ferry was much smoother and we made friends with a couple Canadians over some rum punch. Cruisers are generally happy, chatty people, which is nice. You can always bond over the fact that you are on vacation.

The day in St. John was nothing short of amazing. It's somewhere I would gladly return to and spend a week, which is my scale of whether or not the island is worth it. If you have the opportunity to go there, 

This guy was in our room that night at turn down

Monday, November 18, 2013

Nassau, Bahamas // First port on Oasis of the Seas

We booked the Eastern itinerary even though two of the ports were repeaters because the stops were far preferable to Western. The first stop was Nassau in the Bahamas on Day Two of the itinerary.  Unfortunately, ships of this size are a bit limited in their itineraries. Not all ports can handle that magnitude and having to tender 6,200 guests might be somewhat of a logistical nightmare. No matter. We were ready for our day in the BahamasThis happened to be the port we had yet to visit so we were excited! Unfortunately, it's a very brief stop with all aboard being 1:30 pm. Best make the most of our time!

I didn't even consider any of the Royal Caribbean sponsored excursions because none of them appealed to me. I wouldn't mind checking out Atlantis at some point but for what they were charging and the amount of time in port it just wasn't worth it. I'm accustomed to planning DIY ports anyway so I accepted the challenge!

I had printed out a walking tour of Nassau from Frommer’s but there were only a couple sites we were actually interested in visiting. We marched our hot, happy selves through the hockers at the Straw Market and headed off to find the Queen’s Staircase… the wrong direction. We walked through some pretty sketchy areas but it was a quiet Sunday morning and I wasn’t really worried about running into trouble.
Eventually, we reached our destination. I didn’t bother to stop and listen to the history of the staircase, although I suppose I should have because I can’t tell you a darn thing about it. It’s old and pretty neat looking though. There are locals who will stop you and say, “Let me tell you a story”. They give you some history (maybe) and then demand a tip. Pass on that!
The light in the middle of the picture is the top of the staircase

We hiked up the stairs. Screaming memories of European stairwells in my quads! At the top, we found Fort Fincastle. It’s a small historic fort. Why? Beats me! 

My dad would be so proud that I was really soaking in all that history. But, it provided gorgeous views of the ship and port area.

4 ships in port that day!
Off to our next stop! Heading down was a welcome respite from the hike up. I had asked the gentleman collecting my dollar to visit the fort for directions to Graycliff Manor which is where I thought we’d find the rum distillery I wanted to visit. Well, we followed his directions explicitly and found neither Graycliff Manor nor the distillery.
I pulled out a map that had been forced upon me in port and luckily, there was an ad for said distillery, with an address. We were nowhere near it. But, it was sort of in the direction we needed to go anyway to get back to the ship.
We made it down to Front St. and started to see signs for our promised land. Eventually and sweatily, we landed at John Watling’s Rum Distillery!

They make all their rum on the premises and offer free tours daily. We hopped in about 10 minutes late but that was okay. It was a short, small tour anyway and we were in need of refreshment. Refreshment of the rum variety. We are in the Bahamas, right?
During the tour we tasted their 3 types of rum and then moved on to the bar area to make our selections.

John ordered a mojito and I got adventurous with a Rum Drum, kind of a sour lemonade drink. His mojito was so fresh. The Rum Drum was just okay. Sour isn’t really my thing. 

Then, we split a pina colada. Now, that’s more like it! This was the absolute freshest pina colada I have ever had. No mix from a bottle here, no sir! The drinks were $8.00 each, in case you're wondering.

Since it was a short port day, we headed back to the ship at this point stopping in a few shops along the way and bargaining at the Straw Market for a straw grass bowl that we liked. We are terrible at buying souvenirs on vacations and we were determined to remedy that on this trip. So far so good!

This was a nice little morning in Nassau but if we went back, I'd probably book a snorkeling excursion or maybe just make it a beach day. You also have the option of taking one of the many taxi tours around the island. You'll find these right away when you get off the ship because there are about 25 guys standing there shouting, "Tour of the island?" "Twenty five dollar tour" "See Nassau!"

We deemed our Nassau day a success and were ready for the next stop after a day at sea!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Recipe Reblog: Clean Eating Spaghetti Pie

Does that recipe title make you a little nervous? It shouldn't. To eat clean means to eat little to no processed foods and focus on whole foods. It's better for you and healthier too.

Clean Eating Spaghetti Pie: I had really high hopes for this recipe. The crust is formed from spaghetti "noodles" that are actually spaghetti squash. If you've never had spaghetti squash, TRY IT! It's super easy to make. Just poke holes through the skin, roast for about an hour at 375 - slice in half, scoop out seeds and then drag your fork over the flesh to pull out the strands. Do this part ahead of time. Squash strands get mixed with ricotta an egg and some seasoning. Then, ground turkey is browned and tossed with your favorite jarred pasta sauce. Layer it, bake it, serve it. YUM! I will say that she recommends using a 9 inch pie plate. Well, my squash was 4 lbs and I had to use a 9x13 pan. This made a LOT, which was okay by me. If you're trying to eat clean or cut back on refined carbs, this is the one for you! It really does seem like you're just eating spaghetti and noodles. 

What's not to like?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Oasis: Neighborhoods

Something totally unique about Oasis of the Seas is the division of various neighborhoods. They are whole separate areas that take you away from the sea and into a different world. We've already talked about the Royal Promenade although I neglected a couple eating spots here.

If your sweet tooth strikes, you can head over to the Cupcake Cupboard.

For a fee, you may try several different flavors of cupcakes throughout your week on board. I didn't feel it necessary to pay for these.

There's also Sorrento's, a pizza place. The pizza was just so so but it was pretty handy to pick up a slice and head across the way to enjoy a pint at the Globe & Atlas Pub.

You can also pick up sandwiches, cookies, and drinks at the Cafe Promenade. But, lots of ships have a Royal Promenade. Let's move on to new and exciting, yes?

On Deck 6, you'll find the Boardwalk. We already talked about that a bit but I wanted to show you more things there to enjoy in addition to the carousel, aqua theatre and rock climbing wall.

If fried shrimp is your thing, look no further than the Seafood Shack. Eating here is an extra charge and they also have a party here once during the week that you can pay to attend. John and I looked at the menu but were not interested in the fried offerings they listed. Not a fresh piece of fish among 'em. It still had cute decor though.

This is an overhead view of the Boardwalk from Deck 15 (I think.) Those are all balcony rooms overlooking the Boardwalk. They are cheaper than an oceanview balcony and in some cases, cheaper than an inside room but allow you to see daylight. Technically, the view doesn't change like it would over the ocean but they probably provide good people watching.

This was my absolute favorite part of the Boardwalk. It's the Donut Shop! Every day, they offered 6 different (free!) varieties of donuts. They also had specialty coffee drinks for purchase but I wasn't going for that. To prove to myself that I was trying to be healthy, I mostly only ate the top halves of the donuts I selected and threw away the bottom. Half the calories!

The Boardwalk also had several different stores such as a candy store, toy store, clothing shop and so on. I didn't purchase anything on the ship. PRICEY!

While the Boardwalk is full of fun, let's move on to some place a bit more serene.

Down on Deck 8 is Central Park.

 Yes, a park -- at sea. It's totally open air so when it's raining, it also rains in the park. Our stateroom was a balcony overlooking the park from Deck 11, Room 11185. It was the best deal with the best incentives I could find outside of paying for a lowly inside room. While I missed looking out at the ocean and seeing when we had docked in port, I thought the Central Park room balcony was quite serene. I read out there and had wine out there. It was lovely.

Here I am in the park at night. They lit it up all pretty.

In Central Park there is an art gallery (free champagne!), a Coach store, the Park Cafe (good for breakfast and lunch and a nice change from the buffet) the Trellis Bar, Vintages Wine Bar, specialty restaurants and the top stop for the Riding Tide Bar.

Oh! I forgot to tell you about the Rising Tide Bar during the Promenade section. You hop on a giant open-sided elevator of sorts....complete with a full bar, tables and chairs. Then, in about 18 minutes, you travel up 3 decks and get out in Central Park. Pretty swanky, right? These fountains are what happens down below when it's on the way up. I don't have a picture of the bar itself. Sorry!

Here we are at Vintages. This was my favorite spot for a drink. It has a great wine menu and a very attentive staff. You can also pay extra for tapas but we didn't do that.

There are 3 specialty restaurants in Central Park that you pay a flat cover charge to eat at. (Are you noticing a trend about the added fees?) We received a complimentary meal from the travel company. and made reservations for the steak house, Chops. Well, the night prior to our reservation, we decided to splurge and try the Italian restaurant, Giovanni's Table.

The food and service were incredible. We had amazing mozzarella and prosciutto bites, crab and corn ravioli and the most delicious steak. After the tiramisu and cannoli, we rolled ourselves out of there. Then we decided we were a couple of fat kids and had already had what would probably be the same steak as the next night and we ended up cancelling our Chops reservation. We both decided we could feel our arteries constricting. Sometimes, that healthy voice wins.

I know there are parts of the ship I'm neglecting but would you believe I'm tired of this tour? Let's go to an island instead!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oasis: Entertainment

OK, so we've eaten....again. Let it be known that you could never ever go go hungry on a cruise ship. Even the room service is included (although we did not take advantage of that this time.

Anyway, down on Deck 4 is the Entertainment Place!

Here is Studio B!

You can ice skate here if you want but I have weak ankles (not an excuse, just ask) so we were not interested in skating. If you want to skate, you have to wear long pants....just FYI.This is also where Quest takes place later in the week. If you haven't attended a Quest....just GO! You will laugh like you've never laughed before.

We did watch the ice show 'Frozen in Time' one time. It was cheesy but some of the jumps were impressive.

Also on Deck 4 is Casino Royale!!! Let the record show that I won $10 on penny slots. Unfortunately, John lost $20 on black jack so we did not come out ahead. But, it was a good way to kill a half hour. I wish I were more adventurous with gambling. Playing roulette for a couple hours would be fun....

High roller!

If you're looking for a laugh, look no further than Comedy Live! We made reservations for this show and it did not disappoint. I love comedy clubs! Some poor old lady was falling asleep in the front row. She was ridiculed big time. Sit further back if you don't want to be heckled.

Every night there is a show in the Opal Theatre that you should reserve ahead of time. They have the Broadway show 'Hairspray' which I LOVE! It's such a fun show. But, they also do other Royal Caribbean shows (boring) and the Love & Marriage show (Hilarious!)

Last but not least, a jazz club called Jazz on 4. Jazz is my least favorite music so we never went here. exists if that's your thing.

You think you've been entertained? You ain't seen nothin' yet!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Oasis of the Seas, Part Two

When we last spoke, I was taking you on a tour of the biggest ship in the world! Let's press on, shall we?

There are several pools on the Oasis of the Seas - main pool, beach pool, sports pool, kids pool and the Solarium. Lots of hot tubs too, if that's your thing. There are plenty of lounge chairs but if you want a seat close to the pool, you'd better get there early. Likewise, if you think you're going to snag an umbrella at the beach pool, waking up with the sun is probably a good idea.

This is the only picture I got of the Beach Pool area. See the neat umbrellas? They gave a little shade which was nice. Otherwise, the chairs are in full sun. John will kill me for showing this picture of him chowing down on a fro yo cone. That's what he gets for not reading my blog.

This is part of the Kids Pool. Isn't it rad? There's also a mini lazy river in the back and water canons too. This ship was fun as an adult but it would be awesome for kids. Since we sailed in October, the kid number was lower than normal.

This is the Solarium. It's 16+ only so no kids running around being noisy. Although some of the drunk adults are just as loud as kids. All Royal ships have a Solarium and they're fabulous.....except for a big time flaw on this one. It's far too enclosed by glass. The others have a retractable glass roof and get plenty of air flow. This one does not retract. It was like a sauna in there!

Fruity drink overlooking calm seas on the most gorgeous day ever? Check!

We spent lots of time each day at the pool. You ARE in the Caribbean after all. But when we weren't swimming, I was being adventurous. Let's head over to the Sports Deck!

There are basketball courts, ping pong tables, two rock walls, a miniature golf course (That we never had time to play, dang it) and.....a ZIP LINE!

Look at my zip!

It's a short ride over the boardwalk a few decks below. 10 seconds or less and I was landing on the other end. The lines for this can be long. I would suggest getting there when their hours start for the day and you'll be zipping in no time.

The larger ships all have a Flowrider. Oasis has two! The Flowrider shoots water up at an incredible rate of speed and then you can surf on it or boogie board. I did neither. While I was waiting in line, I gathered tips from my fellow riders. They all assured me it was so easy, even the old fat man said so. The 60 year old woman in front of me did an awesome job. I had lots of confidence.

Then......I wiped out twice before I could even get down to the actual wave part. A staff member had to come help me. Actually, I was irritated he didn't help me from the start. It was clear I was struggling.

He suggested I try it on my stomach, which I didn't even know was an option. Sorry these are blurry. The lens fogged up in the humidity. But, I did it! Sort of.

To make wiping out all the more embarrassing, there are bleachers where other people can sit and watch all the Flowrider fun. That's where John took these shots from. Also, I recommend wearing a shirt and probably shorts if you have a two piece bathing suit. If you're a man, tie up those trunks. I saw a lot more crack than necessary on one of the guys. Not cool.

I'm glad I did it but I don't think I need to try the Flowrider again. I came away with bruised knees and bruised other areas too. That thing beat me up and also nearly drowned me. After my performance, John decided he'd stay dry.

OK - now that we swam and sported, let's eat!

On decks 4 and 5 you have the main dining room. I emailed Royal Caribbean ahead of the cruise to request a 2 person table. Typically, you will be paired with a table full of strangers. This can turn out fine, as in the case of our honeymoon cruise. We had wonderful tablemates and great conversation nightly. On our second cruise however, we had a bunch of duds. Our request was granted and we found ourselves at table 212.

Nice tan lines!

The service was impeccable but the food was just so so. The menus have been revamped in recent years but there were several nights we struggled to find something we really wanted to order. One of the standouts was Thanksgiving dinner on the last night. THAT was tasty. All the soups we tried were good as well. We had the late seating at 8:30 pm and while dinner can take awhile if you have a large table, we zipped in and out of there since it was just the two of us. Our servers knew what was up.

After you've stuffed yourself silly, it's time to go have some more fun right?


But I think that's a story for another day.