Staying in The Royal Loft Suite on Oasis of the Seas is an amazing experience. You can find general details such as room sizes, layout, and ship activities elsewhere on the web, so here I’ll offer tips to maximize the value and fun for your money.
- Booking – my party and I booked our trip not through Royal Caribbean Directly but through Nadia Jastrjembskaia (you can call her Nadia J) and her cruise travel agency. We saved a few thousand dollars by doing so because we were able to redeem a promotional offer that expired the month prior. The promotion gave us an approximate $2,000 discount on the suite and provided for $1,000 of on-board credit.
- Internet – The WIFI plan is abysmally slow and you’ll wonder why you forked over $229 for 1980s era 28.8 Kbps speeds. If you love 90-second page loads and the inability to stream even grainy video, then go for it. Otherwise, do this:*Buy a “cruise package” from your mobile phone company. That will get you 3G and sometimes 4G speeds on your cell phone.
*Use the hotspot feature on your cell phone to connect your laptops and other devices.
*Our AT&T cruise package was $120, and it included:
-50 minutes talk time, then $1/min thereafter
-100 texts, then 50 cents/msg thereafter
-100 MB of data, then 10$/10MB thereafter
Important: You need to purchase an actual “cruise package” to cover your time at sea and your time at port. I made the mistake of buying the add-ons online from AT&T’s web site, and adding the regular international packages — these will only cover you at port, and not at sea. You need to call to make sure you get the right cruise package.
The additional benefit of a mobile cruise package is that instead of carrying around walkie talkies to communicate with your party when on-board, now you can use iMessage or WhatsApp, which is much more convenient and clearer than talking through a muddled, loud, usually ineffective walkie-talkie.
- Fitness – Take advantage of the fitness center and spa. The spa is more luxurious than most spas in downtown Chicago, and the fitness center is one of the cleanest, most modern gyms I’ve ever seen.
- Photos – When staying in the Royal Loft Suite, you will eventually get a phone call from the head of the photography studio offering you a private no-obligation photo session. My girlfriend and I did it, and we did it on formal night so we’d already be dressed up. The photographer will take about 400 photographs of you in 5-6 different locations on the ship. He’ll make an appointment with you for the next day to review your photographs and select a package. You will love the photographs but hate the prices. The packages start at $550 for 5 freaking images. Pro tip: wait till the last day of the cruise, find out what time the photo studio closes, and walk in 10 minutes before. Beg and plead for a deal. I can’t say anymore.
- Shows – Don’t worry about booking shows and specialty dining in advance. You can decide where you want to dine each day, and the concierge will make a reservation for you, and because you’re staying in the Royal Loft Suite, they will find a way to accommodate you even if busy. For shows, your SeaPass card will be gold, while everyone else’s is some other revolting color, like white! Avoid those with blue SeaPass cards — they are considered steerage and interacting with any of them is grounds for losing all Royal Loft Suite privileges. 😉 Your gold card status allows you to flash your card 15 minutes prior to any show for entry, without reservations. One evening, we had blue card friends with us, who also did not have a reservation. Much to our chagrin, they allowed our non VIP friends to enter and sit with us. It has been said that the lower class citizens of steerage carry diseases such as Norovirus so it would be in your best interest to avoid them at all cost.
- Dining – In the weeks leading up to the cruise, I was confused about whether to get the “My Time” dining plan or whether to opt for the Early or Late dining plan. My stress was alleviated when I realized that they both essentially suck — specialty dining is the way to go. If you’re able to afford the Royal Loft Suite, you may also care more than the average person about the quality of food you’re ingesting. I have it on good authority (my girlfriend’s on-board hair stylist) that the regular meal plans consist of frozen food which is then heated and served. The specialty dining restaurants serve freshly prepared food that is delicious and comparable to some of our meals at 5-star restaurants in big cities like New York and Chicago. The prices will seem too good to be true.
- Drinks – Don’t buy a drink package, unless from-concentrate juices and high fructose corn syrup are your thing, or unless you plan on drinking 10+ alcoholic beverages daily. Neither my girlfriend nor I drink, and we sustained ourselves on bottled water and virgin pina coladas. If you ask your suite attendant nicely, she’ll bring you bottled Evian and won’t charge you. The virgin pina coladas are $4 each, and if you really want to spoil yourselves, order fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast (around $4 each). And if you love fresh squeezed juices, visit the juice bar in the spa — where they will squeeze practically anything you want: like strawberries, bananas, and oranges into a delicious fresh all-natural mocktail.
- Elevators – There are approximately 9,000 people on the ship, with over 6,000 passengers and 3,000 crew. The only time you’ll feel in such close proximity to the other 8,999 souls is on an elevator. They are slow, generally stop on every floor, and most people have poor elevator etiquette (small child holding the elevator door for old grandma who’s three minutes away, teenagers pushing every button for the fun of it). If you need to go four or fewer floors, take the stairs. The elevators were the only consistently frustrating experience on board.
- The kids center is wonderful and is a stimulating and engaging environment for children of all ages – if you have children, you can drop them off and pick them up as you please, all the way until 2AM. From 10PM to 2AM though, it will cost $7/hour per child.
- Sorrento’s offers all you can eat pizza by the slice, until 3AM daily.
- You will be escorted through check-in by a VIP dignitary.
- There is no VIP status for disembarkation.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: On what cruise did you travel?
A: The 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise to Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten from Aug 23 – 30, 2014. Due to a tropical storm, however, the captain opted to skip Nassau. We were at sea the first three days.
Q: What did you like best about the ship?
A: Relaxing in our suite.
Q: What did you like least about the ship?
A: The elevators.
Q: How was the food?
A: The main dining options provide food that is mediocre at best. Specialty dining is the way to go.
Q: How much does the Royal Loft Suite cost?
A: See Nadia’s pricing video on the page http://oasisoftheseasallureoftheseas.com/royal-loft-suite/. In addition to the cruise fee, we spent about $3,500 on flights and on-board activities, including photographs and spa visits. If you want a detailed break-down of our expenditures, contact me and I’ll share with you a Google Docs spreadsheet outlining every trip-related expense.
- The Vitality at Sea Spa
- Specialty Dining
- Professional Photographs
Not worth it:
- On-board WIFI
- Drink packages
Royal Caribbean’s Official Royal Loft Suite Page: http://www.royalcaribbean.com/findacruise/cabinclass/cabinTypes/cabinType/home.do?cabincls=D&cabinType=RL
Oasis of the Seas Royal Loft Suite Page: http://www.royalcaribbean.com/findacruise/cabinclass/cabinTypes/cabinType/cabin/home.do?br=R&cabincls=D&cabinType=RL&shipCode=OA
Video of Suite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCECI49dvno
Video on Pricing and other Info: http://oasisoftheseasallureoftheseas.com/royal-loft-suite/
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