Diving fun, a great big band, skipping Jamaica, the Danish flag riddle, Merry Christmas!

Last night we saw the Oasis of Dreams show at the Aqua Theater. Looking for something easy for dinner before the show, we opted for the Seafood Shack, opposite Johnny Rocket’s on the Boardwalk. With a minor up charge, we had pretty good coconut shrimp and fries before the show.

The Aqua Theater is outside on the aft end of the Boardwalk on deck 6. The theater has a big superstructure with diving platforms and a pool that varies in depth (similar to the setup for the Cirque du Soleil show “O” in the Bellagio in Las Vegas). The Oasis of Dreams show combines some half-baked “earth story” with intervals of amazing diving, gymnastics, trampoline, aerial acts and synchronized swimming. The divers use springboards, 10-meter platforms and ridiculous 18-meter platforms (64 feet above the tiny pool!) for foolish high divers. Sadly, they had technical difficulties during the finale, so we didn’t see the true high divers, but we certainly enjoyed the show. Afterwards we headed to the Dazzle lounge, on decks 8 and 9 midship aft overlooking the Boardwalk. We sat through the end of the set with the Korean cover band and scored a couple of the only good seats in the house to enjoy the Oasis of the Seas orchestra, the big band we liked so much on Sunday. The Dazzle nightclub has a strange design, with narrow rows of seats going back on both sides and each side facing towards the stage in front of huge windows. Most seats are crammed together or have obstructed views. We watched a few ancient blisters doing dips and twirls and Moms with their little kids cut the rug to very nicely played classics from Glenn Miller, Bennie Goodman, Duke Ellington and Count Basie and sat through almost two full sets. At one point, we looked through the large windows just in time to see the end of the second performance of Oasis of Dreams and got to see the two fools dive from the 18-meter tiny platforms. Nuts!

We went to bed, with “American Patrol” and “Cherokee” ringing in our ears. We slept in late and were already starting to debate the wisdom of our planned shore excursion today through Falmouth and to Montego Bay before we hit the sack. We visited Jamaica once before, on a cruise in 1987 that called at Ocho Rios. In a nutshell, we were not impressed then and nothing I’ve read since that time changes that opinion. When we woke up this morning, we definitely didn’t feel like doing this junket, especially as I am having some sciatica and back pain, so we decided to inform them at the Shore Excursion office that we would not be going (the excursion was pretty inexpensive and would likely be totally unmemorable and we were willing to eat the cost). First, we tried calling and discovered there was no phone number for the shore excursion office. So we showered and decided to head down to deck 5 and tell them we would be not be going at the Shore Excursion kiosk (we didn’t expect a refund, as I noted, but we didn’t want them to have an excursion that was waiting for us). First, it was a major affair to get an elevator down to deck 5. Keep in mind this Behemoth has four elevator banks with eight elevators in each bank. We finally crammed aboard one after a ten-minute wait and got off at deck 5, only to find a huge line waiting for the single (!) person working at the Shore excursion office. As our breakfast options were rapidly coming to a close, we decided to let it go for the moment and head back up to the Windjammer Marketplace buffet on Deck 16 (no problem getting an elevator going up). After eating, I went down to deck 15 to the dive shop on the pool deck (which also books excursions). It was now ten minutes until our tour meeting time at 11:15, a long ways away through the huge dock area. The crew at the dive shop was very happy that I informed them we would not be going and, as a major bonus, we got a full refund! Kudos to the staff there, who advised me to get some spa time and perhaps a massage for my back. Nice!

We settled in at the Wipeout Cafe area, on deck 15 looking aft at the Boardwalk and Theater. This has become a favorite hangout (comfortable chairs, shade, and an amazing view). As we were sitting here, I noticed the huge flag flying from the stern looked like a Danish flag (red background with a white cross). WTF? Why would they be flying a Danish flag, when this ship is registered in the Bahamas? The Jamaican country flag is flown above the bridge while we are in port, so we were a bit perplexed. Oh, well, off we went for some slices of pizza art Sorrento’s on deck 5 in the promenade, which was almost completely empty. The pizza was great and we enjoyed the Christmas tunes being played. A minor officer walked by and I asked him about the flag. He was also perplexed and did have an answer. After lunch, we decided to head back up to deck 15 and we passed guest services. Steve asked a nice young man who was roaming around to answer stupid questions and he told us the flag is the nautical flag for the Bahamas. If you look closely, the colorful Bahamian flag is in one quadrant of the flag, which wasn’t apparent when we were looking at it.

So what did we miss in Falmouth? This small town, founded in 1769, was named after Falmouth, Cornwall, England and was, at one time a bustling port with sugar and molasses flowing out on many tall ships and slaves flowing in from Africa. A couple of the old slave plantations are still in existence (as museums, obviously), as are many buildings that are Georgian in style dating from the mid to late 1700’s. Falmouth began to fall from favor after Britain outlawed slavery, which was obviously a blessed event. The sprinting legends Usain Bolt (brother of the mythical “Insane” Bolt, if you have seen the stupid Xfinity ad that played ad nauseum all summer) and Ben Johnson (who lost his Olympic title due to doping) are from Falmouth. RCI and Jamaica invested almost $200 million to build the new port facilities that opened in 2011 to accommodate the Oasis-class ships.

So tonight we have the Chef’s Table fancy-schmancy dinner at 7:30 pm on deck 11 or 12 (we think). It’s dress-up time! Have yourself a Merry little Christmas and keep the Holy night in mind!

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