Three of the cruises were on a smaller ship (Vision Class), the "Legend of the Seas".
The ship used to be in Tampa, Florida. A couple of years ago, I had invited my children and my mother to a cruise. We moved from Germany to Florida over 30 years ago and my mother lived in Germany. When my mother visits us our children are busy working and only have time for Grandma on the weekend. So we all went on a cruise and had a great time. To make the trip even more special, I hired a limo to bring us the 25 minutes from Apollo Beach, where I live, to the cruise port in Tampa. Two years later when I was researching which cruise to take for my mother's 80's birthday, I found the Legend of the Seas again with a great itinerary on the Eastern Mediterranean out of Rome. My mother was glad that it was the same ship she knew and I could show my family the places, where our civilization started: Rome, Athens, Ephesus, the pyramids, and much more.
Thinking about great family time together? Take your family on a cruise and everyone can do what they want, but for dinner all come together again. The food on the Legend was outstanding, on my last two cruises on this ship, I met younger chefs during cooking demonstrations and talked to them. They loved their job and wanted to move on to larger ships. I hope both of them made it. I love the formal nights, everyone is looking great and this makes an evening very special. Also on the formal night usually the chef has prepared a special meal with lobster (I usually take steak or prime rib and a lobster tail).
With my brother-in-law and sister-in-law my wife and I went on a cruise on a slightly larger ship, I believe it was the Radiance of the Seas out of Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, I do not recall. This ship was slightly bigger and really nice, a lot of teak paneling, two pool tables that made you nearly sea sick when you looked at them as they were constantly moving to keep the balls from moving. The seas were very calm that day, I do not want to see the pool tables in rough weather!
I must confess, I have not been on the Oasis Class ships, but a couple of years ago I was on the "Freedom of the Seas", at that time the largest cruise ship in the world. This is a beautiful ship, they had a great shopping area which looked like a street in a pedestrian shopping area in Europe, a British pub, a nice specialty food store, where you could find nice free bites of high quality free around the clock. They also had ice water there and coffee all the time. The illusion to be on land in a pedestrian shopping area was so real that when we wanted to go to the pub, I went inside and my friend, who was travelling with us, tried to stop me and wanted to sit "outside".
I love to have the same table in the evening in the dining room with the same waiter, who knows after some time, what you like or not. For lunch I pretty much always go to the buffet. The buffet on the Freedom is great, the layout reminded me of the Queen Mary2, where the buffet has four specific areas, a meat cutting station, an Asian area, an Italian area, and a fourth area with changing food venues. The Queen Mary 2 once was the largest cruise ship in the world and Royal Caribbean wanted to beat it. They did with the Freedom of the Seas and I assume someone from RCL went on a cruise on the QM2 to study it. I hope they keep that buffet layout. Not just the food on the buffet was great, the dinner was even better. I love food that is made of great fresh ingredients, not processes food and prepared right. The advantage on a cruise ship compared to restaurants on land is that they do not have much storage on board, they do not want to pull a smaller ship behind them for frozen food storage where all the breads, etc. are ready and just need to be pre-heated. The ships bring flower, yeast, water, and salt and bake the bread or rolls - or use the flower for cakes, etc.
As I mentioned before, the quality and variety of food on board of the Freedom of the Seas is great - you do not have to go to the specialty restaurants. In my opinion the food on cruise ships in the main dining room (that you get for free) is good and you do not need to go to their specialty restaurants, where you pay extra. I changed my mind. First I was really opposed to specialty restaurants, but on QM2 and on NCL I tried it out and the food is better and more special. Yes, I must confess, I paid several time extra for specialty restaurants when my wife and I were travelling for a special event, like an anniversary. If you like to try specialty restaurants, please try.
When I sailed on the Legend from RCL out of Rome, the food was some of the best I had on a ship. But in recent years, I believe that the food is not as good on the smaller ships. I have never been on the big ones from NCL, my daughter has and this is her favourite, there the food is, what I learned from her, really good.
Overall, all five cruises on Royal Caribbean were a pleasant experience for me. I have not travelled on Royal Caribbean's Flagship, the Oasis of the Seas, but I saw it from the Queen Mary 2 in Ft. Lauderdale, where I had a great view of the ship. Interesting are the balconies that point not toward the water.
Questions or remarks, you can reach Christian Bellingrath by e-mail c h r i s t i a n (at) b e l l i n g r a t h (dot) c o m (please delete the blanks and replace (at) with the at-sign, and (dot) with a dot. Hopefully this protections against spam works.
© 2010 - 2011 by Christian Bellingrath. All rights reserved.
All information is believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. Prices and itineries are subject to change without notice and the cruise lines reserve the right to reinstate fuel surcharges.