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Old December 2nd, 2009, 11:03 AM
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Default end of day one update

Oasis Day 2
Last night was a fine dinner at Johnny Rockets and ion the Windjammer, followed by hanging out on the boardwalk, riding the merry-go-round, and also visiting the Windjammer café.

My wife is on a very strict vegan diet right now for medical reasons, and so we had to research the possibilities. The Solarium Bistro has all kinds of salads and it is totally possible top eat a vegan diet on board. You can have a great salad, but also veggie crepes, East Indian dishes, stir fried vegetables. They even have flax seeds and other things nutrition advocates know and care about. This I free buffet for breakfast and lunch, but costs $20 per person for dinner. I am not sure what the dinner cuisine is like, but it is not a buffet.

The Windjammer Cafe (buffet) has all kinds of vegetarian dishes, including Indian food and steamed veggies like broccoli and carrots.

Johnny Rockets is where we ended up, strangely enough, because it even has a soy-based vegetarian hamburger that comes in sautéed onions and wrapped in lettuce. It is not a “Boca-burger” like many that are made of a combination of different vegetable matter. It is made of soy and tastes so much like real hamburger my wife almost sent it back. She had to ask the waiter “are you sure this isn’t meat?” I would say that is a pretty good substitute if you happen to be a vegetarian who has been craving a real hamburger.

Now, another subject – the onboard reservation system:

My personal on-TV reservation system didn’t work the first day – but just this morning it decided to allow me to make reservation for two shows.

As we have already noted, there are but two small web cafes where you can either get online at one of only 10 workstations (five on deck seven and five on deck nine) or set up a wireless accounts from those workstations.

BUT you can also use your in-stateroom television to access the web – and even better – to set up a wireless acct. You WILL want to bring a laptop on this trip in my opinion. Using the in-room TV-Internet is very difficult and slow, and with only 10 workstations for 5200 berths you are not likely to find a free workstation – even if you can manage to find the rooms where they are located.

The internet access has been especially troublesome for me. I tried to create an account on the first day, which it allowed me to do, but it also asked me to “pick a package” so I chose the best deal, the $55 most expensive package. The problem was that when I tried to use the same account on my laptop it said “invalid username – your account have been disabled” BUT it didn’t take the $55 charge off!

After some frustration I noticed the in-stateroom TV comes with a keyboard with a built in mouse, so it also has Internet access something like a workstation. But it is more like Web-TV from 1997; slow, cumbersome and limited in capability.
So, I tried using this Internet on my room television. The keyboard is clumsy and the interface is very slow. I guess I racked up $17 in charges just trying to post one message to this board, and it was SO full of typos and CAP-LOCK characters it was un-readable. (I deleted it). That was a totally wasted session that cost me $17.

So – for the entire first day I pretty much had NO worthwhile Internet access. Then it hit me that I should try a different username since the first one was saying “invalid username” – so I set up a new wireless acct- from my state-room television, with a new username and now it works, but I had to charge another $55 to my acct for the best-priced session. So I all together I already have over $127 in Internet charges and have barely even used the web on the ship.

Obviously, the problem is that they need a web manager who can sort out problems when they occur – not leave you wondering what went wrong when they do (frequently). As far as I know, there is no web manager onboard but if I find one I will let you know.

The Reservation System
They said they would have reservation kiosks for shows and show excursions all over the ship. But I only see one in the Royal Promenade and the line gets enormously long (50 people). My interactive TV system seemed to be down all last night - always failing at the last step when you actually tried to book a reservation but it I was finally able to book some shows on today.

It is a confusing system, I am sorry to say, and if this ship is going to have show times booked so not enough people can get in then making reservations must be made easier to do than it has been for us. It was VERY easy to do it online before we left for our cruise, but I wanted to leave some things open and wait and see how the cruise went for getting into shows without pre-planning. So far, on this 4-day cruise, the shows seem to be filling up. Plus the truth is that all of the shows are not completely ready. The AquaTheater show was cancelled last night no warning, but they have added another show today to make up for it. If the shows are not ready for this cruise I will personally be very upset since that is why I wanted to book this cruise.

I was finally able to make the TV reservation system work this morning, but it is not intuitive. I was told “an error has resulted being unable to process your request” at least twice, but when I went in and changed the times for the shows I wanted it went through. I can’t say you have to try different times to make the system work, because it was able to show me which times were already sold out. I guess you just have to keep trying until you get a confirmation – but I am not sure.

By the way – the shows that were already “sold out” appeared to be the ones today, the shows later in the cruise all seemed to have availability. That is a good sign that the reservation system may ultimately become more of a convenience than a required part of the cruise..

What else? I do not see a shore excursion desk on the ship. It appears they expect you to book everything at the one reservation kiosk they have in the Royal Promenade, or else on your interactive TV.

The phone system in the rooms is not set up yet. The phone works but there are no pro-programmed buttons for room service, etc. Basically, you have to hit 0 and listen to the options. Room service is “3”.

And now for the Good News:
I called room service this morning because I forgot to put out my breakfast card. Yes, it took about three minutes on hold before they picked up (at 8:00 am what else do you expect?), but once I put my order in (coffee and OJ) they told me to expect a 30 minute wait, but it arrived within 10 – 15 minutes; A big plus for a 5200 passenger ship.

I truly did not see much crowding anywhere at dinner, but we also did not try the dining room. There were plenty of people in the Windjammer. This is a little weird; Johnny Rockets closed the outdoor service at night (why? It’s the best time to dine outside) and the Sea Shack closed completely for dinner. I do not know why.

Anyway – that’s our report for day one. Stay tuned!
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