Seven Ships in port, Baggage Extortion, truly a mega ship, a teenage Captain

After a very nice, long sleep, we had breakfast at the hotel, then waited for our transfer to the dock. Most of the people on our van got off to board the Crown Princess, which on any given day would be one of the largest ships in port. Sadly for The Crown, the Behemoth (Oasis) was just down the block and it towers over every other ship in port. Speaking of that, there are seven ships departing from Ft. Lauderdale today and nine tomorrow (including the sister monster to this ship, Allure of the Seas). Besides Oasis and the Crown Princess, other ships leaving today include two other RCI ships, another Princess ship, two Holland America ships (including the Westerdam, which we sailed in to Alaska in 2006) and some off-brand party boat to the Bahamas. As you might guess, there is a huge fuel farm just west of the cruise terminals. I’m sure our elitist “betters” are feverishly working to find ways to stop this massive use of resources by invoking the name of “Gaia” or some other malarkey, so we are enjoying it while we can. The mileage per passenger is likely more efficient for this mode of transportation, however, than the same number of individual vehicles on the road; don’t our betters love mass transportation, or would they frown at having fun, too? Who knows, it sure seems that there are more and more killjoys in our lives, just when so many people finally might have a few bucks to go on a cruise (gee, they’ll probably get to spend it on health insurance in 2014 and beyond).

The check-in process was extremely efficient, after we went through the somewhat humorous extortion on the part of the baggage handlers Steve didn’t have change for a $100 and only had a few one-dollar bills. This was clearly not acceptable and they found a way to make change so they got $10 bucks a bag. Nice little racket…

We boarded Oasis around 1:00 pm and made our way to our cabin (10198, just forward of mid-ship on the port side on deck 10). The cabin is very nice, with a larger balcony that will be shaded in most circumstances. Since we have boarded, Steve’s Fitbit has noted that we have walked more than two miles just exploring a couple of decks. We went up to deck 15 and saw the pool areas, then made our way down to deck 8 and the beautiful Central Park area, which is open to the sky and filled with live plants. This is where the top restaurants are located and we feel like we’re sitting at an upscale outdoor mall, instead of being on a ship. I find it to be absolutely nuts, that this monstrous thing actually moves around 20 knots on the open seas. Crew members we have met so far have been very nice and friendly.

Oasis will back out of its berth at departure time, which will be interesting to observe. The channel out to the open ocean appears to my eyes to be pretty narrow, but since they do this every week, I’m confident it is an optical illusion. As we found a table to sit at in Central Park to have a salad and drink, we ran into the Captain of this vessel, who was holding his infant daughter. Captain Patrik Dahlgren, from Stockholm, is one of the youngest captains in the RCI fleet and to our old eyes he looks like a damn teenager. Very nice man and apparently he is the top pick for their new ship that debuts soon, Quantum of the Seas (“only” 4500 passengers, but full of groundbreaking amenities).

The lifeboat drill is at 4:30. Our muster station is on deck 4, mid ships. We do not have life jackets in our room. The new philosophy is that you would proceed to the muster station immediately in the case of an emergency rather than struggling to get back to the room to get life jackets.

Steve is going nuts taking photos (I’ve taken a few, too) and we hope to post some later tonight, so stay tuned. Oh, two other things, there are many passengers on board from other countries, with lots of folks from Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Canada, UK, Mexico, and other locales and there are many wheelchairs, scooters, strollers and large groups and families. And secondly, Oasis is berthed not far from the airport runways and we are sitting here amazed at the low-flying aircraft going right overhead (shades of the old Shea Stadium near La Guardia).

Great fun so far! Hope folks don’t mind the occasional snarky comment. Just like Phil Robertson, I’m going to stick with my opinions and beliefs and they may sneak into my commentary (not that I necessarily agree with ol’ Phil, but I defend his rights to his beliefs, unlike the rabid screaming brigade that wants his head).

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