Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas

In early December 2021, Haley and Yankee Trails Travel Advisor Laura Kenney set sail on Royal Caribbean’s Eight-Night Southern Caribbean Cruise onboard the Odyssey of the Seas. The cruise was a special one, as it was the 2021 Manager’s Cruise that our Florida Office Manager Julie Burns was taking a group of travelers on.

We had Haley tell us everything about what the cruise was like, how the shore excursions went, and her favorite parts of the trip, keep reading to get the scoop!

We took off on the Cruise Express early Saturday morning, making our way down to Port Everglades to get on board the Odyssey of the Seas. The Cruise Express made everything super simple- we just enjoyed the bus ride while staff took care of our bags from the minute we boarded the Express to when we arrived at the port.

Prior to setting off on our voyage, the entire group of us (144 in total!) had received negative Covid tests and were fully vaccinated. This is the policy the cruise industry is upholding currently and we felt safe onboard the ship because of it! Children were not required to be vaccinated, but parents with children who were not vaccinated had some separate protocols they had to go by, including testing during our voyage and not being allowed in some vaccinated-guest only areas. Masks had to be worn when traveling throughout the ship, but there were plenty of areas where those who were fully vaccinated didn’t need to wear masks, such as the first level of the Royal Theater, the Casino and much more.

Once we got through security, we were welcomed onto the ship by myriad friendly staff happy to see us onboard. First, we went up to our balcony stateroom on deck 13 to check out where we’d be staying for the next eight nights. We loved the setup of the room and felt that there was more than enough space for two people to live quite comfortably. So much room to put away clothes and really settle in to make it feel like home! Not to mention the amazing views we were going to have from our balcony.

Our stateroom attendant Alvin was more like a friend to us by the end of the cruise, always making sure we had everything we needed and bringing smiles to our faces with the new friends he left in our room some nights.

The Odyssey of the Seas was decorated for the holidays, which made it feel homey and fun. There was a beautiful, huge Christmas tree in the Royal Esplanade which served as a gateway for shopping, quick bites and music. In addition to that, there was a menorah lit each night for Hanukkah and poinsettias lining the main hallways, giving everyone an extra shot of holiday cheer.

The group dined together most nights in the main dining room. Our waiter, Elvis, was fantastic and entertaining throughout the entire dining experience each night. One of the best parts about dining in the main dining room is getting to know your server so well. The food each night was delicious! While some items stayed on the menu each night, there were new items that arrived every night for you to try out. Some of our favorites included the beef tenderloin, chicken parmesan and lobster.

We couldn’t forget about dessert! Each night we tried a new sweet treat and they did not disappoint. From the crème brulee, to the apple tart, to the cheesecake, it was all decadent. The ice cream cones we had on the pool deck were amazing too, but those weren’t reserved for just after dinner.

Even though we ate in the main dining room most nights, there are plenty of other specialty dining options that guests could try as well! We were lucky enough to eat at the specialty dining restaurant ‘Wonderland’ during our stay onboard the Odyssey of the Seas and it was such a unique experience.

Inspired by the tale of Alice in Wonderland, the menu is centered around elements of the earth- Sun, Ice, Fire, Earth and Sea. The chef picked out our meals for each course, and the dishes were equally as delicious as they were adventurous. We had items ranging from a type of deviled egg, to lobster bisque to crab and avocado in wonton cones. Our main courses were great- chicken and short rib, but what really wowed us was dessert. Pouring hot caramel over a chocolate sphere to reveal ice cream? Yes. Always yes.

Even though specialty dining can be an additional fee, we encourage guests to give it a try and expand their palates. Some other specialty restaurants on the ship include Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, Izumi Sushi, Teppanyaki Hibachi and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, among others.

We jumped into the action quickly and started our first full day on the trip at Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day Coco Cay. The island has seen tremendous development over the past few years and is continuing to grow!

We were lucky enough to have a private tour of the entire island with the Island Manager Susan and she showed us all the fun options families can choose from for how to spend their day at Perfect Day.

We started our tour of the island at the Thrill Waterpark. This is where the adrenaline seekers should head for some fun! With can’t-miss towering slides and the tallest slide in North America, this side of the waterpark will get your blood pumping.

For those looking for something a little less wild, there are family-friendly raft rides, a kids play area and a wave pool as well. For families with little ones, there’s a splashpad where younger kids can run around and play in the water.

After the waterpark, we checked out some of the other places on Perfect Day. If you prefer a pool over the beach, Oasis Lagoon is the place for you. This massive pool has a walk-in entrance and wraps around palm trees and plenty of lounge chairs. The best part you ask? We think it’s the swim-up tiki bar and DJ that will constantly remind you that you’re on vacation in paradise.

While in Oasis Lagoon, you can see from a distance the bright and colorful Up, Up & Away Balloon. The balloon takes you 450 feet above the island, with an ideal view of the crystal-clear blue waters, the palm trees and beaches and breathtaking views. It truly is a bucket list experience!

If the beach is what you’re looking for at Perfect Day, they have it covered! There are multiple beaches you can choose to spend your day at, all with some amazing amenities. Chill Island gives you the tropical escape you might be looking for while providing some fun excursions for those looking to get a little wild. Rent snorkel equipment, book a guided Wave Jet tour or gear up for a reef rocking journey here. Looking to zone out? Rent a comfy seaside day bed or private cabana and enjoy some relaxation in the warmth.

South Beach at Perfect Day also offers an ideal beach day. Lounging can take place all day long in one of the comfortable loungers, but if playing is more your thing, there is some beach volleyball, bean bag games and basketball at your disposal anytime throughout the day. And don’t worry, there are snack shacks throughout the island to keep you full and ready to take on the day!

South Beach

Private Cabanas at Coco Beach Club

South Beach

If an elevated escape is what you’re looking for, look no further than Coco Beach Club. This private area of the island creates the perfect Zen getaway for you and your loved ones. When you enter, you are welcomed to this island oasis with views of an infinity pool sprawling across the horizon, with a backdrop of the private beach and ocean behind.

Coco Beach Club Pool

 As you venture further into the tropical paradise, you’ll come across myriad private cabanas that can be reserved, before walking out to over-the-ocean cabanas that come with a dedicated assistant to take care of all your needs for the day.

The tour of Perfect Day gave us such great insight into the type of day you and your family can have. It can be a chill poolside or beachside day, full of thrills in the waterpark or at an excursion. We do know one thing- no matter what you do, it really will be a Perfect Day!

After two full days at sea, we were excited to arrive in Oranjestad, Aruba! The pier is nestled within the bustling metro area and offers some great views of the amazing turquoise waters surrounding the island. Our planned excursion for the day was an off-road adventure around the island.

We stepped off the ship and met the tour bus that would bring us to our excursion around 12:30 p.m. The tour bus drove us about 5 minutes away to where we met up with our caravan of off-roading vehicles. From there, we loaded in and got on our way.

Our first stop was to the Casibari rock formation. We climbed to the top of the formation and saw amazing views of the island. From there, we climbed back into the jeep and continued our trek out to the coast. Our next stop was the Natural Land Bridge, which connected the gold mine ruins to the Andicuri Beach until it collapsed in 2005. We saw some breathtaking views and couldn’t believe how blue the ocean was!

Once we departed the Natural Land Bridge, we continued on our trek and crossed the beach and rocky coast until we reached our next stop, the Alto Vista Chapel. Built in 1952, it’s the oldest chapel in Aruba and was constructed on the site of the first and original Catholic Church built in Aruba in 1750 by a Spanish missionary.

Casibari Rock Formation

Alto Vista Chapel

California Lighthouse

Our next stop was to the California Lighthouse, one of Aruba’s most scenic landmarks. It boasts some amazing views of the ocean and we arrived just before the sunset began, which made it even more stunning.

Our last stop of the day was just a quick trip down from the lighthouse to Arashi Beach where we spent some time in the warm ocean water and admired the beautiful Caribbean sunset. We spent about an hour at the beach before it was time to head back to the pier.

Our tour allowed us to see the most beautiful and scenic parts of the small, 20-mile-long island. We loved that the excursion took us all over the island to help us learn about the culture, climate and lifestyle in Aruba.

Arashi Beach

Our tour guides were funny, informative and appreciative and we loved every second of it! Definitely check this tour out the next time you’re in Aruba. 

After a good night of sleep, Laura and I were ready to explore Curacao by sea! We had a scheduled excursion this day to snorkel the treasures of Caracas Bay. Our trip started bright and early at 8:45 a.m., where we boarded a tour bus for a quick ride to the marina where our group would meet the snorkeling team. 

On the ride over to the marina, our tour guide gave us facts about the capital of Curacao-Willemstad. The city has architecture full of vibrant color and it was a gorgeous day, we loved seeing it all!

Once we arrived at the marina, we boarded the boat that would take us out to Caracas Bay. The snorkeling guides gave us instructions on how to snorkel and passed out all the necessary equipment, including flippers, snorkels, goggles and life jackets. The captain of the ship took us through some of the different marinas and showed us the beautiful homes on the water.

Once we made it to Caracas Bay, we hopped in the water and started exploring. Under the blue water we saw a sunken ship that had been grown over with barnacles and seaweed- it was so cool! Once we all got the hang of it, our guides started leading us on a tour of the bay. We were able to see so many different types of fish and bright, colorful coral and plants on the bottom of the reef. It truly was the coolest experience. About halfway through, we stopped at a beach for a few minutes to rest and take in the scenery. Overall, we snorkeled for about 90 minutes total before heading back to the marina.

On the way back, the guides provided us with some fresh fruit and refreshing beverages while we took in the amazing scenery and crystal-clear water.

Laura and I were both novices at snorkeling, with Laura only snorkeling once before and Haley never snorkeling before, and they both found it incredibly easy to pick up. The group that embarked on the snorkeling excursion ranged in age and had people from their late teens to people in their 60s and 70s, so the excursion really can be for everyone. We loved Curacao!

During the cruise, we had four full days out to sea: days three, four, seven and eight. Four full days might seem like a lot, but we had no shortage of things to do during these days!

Of course, we wanted to soak up the warm Caribbean sun, so we spent a lot of time out on the pool deck. There are two levels with chairs to relax in, on deck 14 and 15. Deck 14 is where the pools are, and has a few different types of chairs to lounge in. There are two pools on this deck, as well as a splash pad with slides for the littles to play in. On the opposite side of the splash pad is where a giant screen is where Christmas movies would play each day.

On our last day, Laura and I spent the afternoon in the sun while watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Every afternoon at sea there is also live music played to keep the island vibes around.

If poolside isn’t exactly your thing and you’re looking for something a little more serene, the solarium can provide this to you. A sunny room complete with relaxing pools and hot tubs, this is the place to go to feel Zen. If you’re looking for utter relaxation, there is also a spa onboard the ship, as well as a fitness center with daily classes you can sign up for.

In addition to the pools, there are also some other immensely entertaining activities for the kids and kids at heart to do. On the back of the ship on deck 16 lives the flowrider- the iconic wave simulator that people can boogieboard on. Behind that is the Ripcord by iFly, the skydiving simulator onboard the ship. The skypad, the onboard trampoline park, is also in this part of the ship.

The Seaplex is also a major entertainment hub for those onboard the Odyssey. The Seaplex is the largest indoor activity center on the ship. There is a court at the center of it that provides space for many games to played each day. When we visited, we saw cornhole, pickleball and archery being played. Surrounding the Seaplex is a plethora of arcade games to play, and on the second floor of the Seaplex is where Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade overlooks the courts.

Another activity to do onboard is the North Star, the observational pod that takes guests 300 feet above the ocean. When you board the North Star, you’ll be lifted into the air and given a 360-degree view around you as you move around the ship- this truly is a unique experience and great way to see the ship from above, the ocean or even the ports of call you may be visiting that day.

Just as there is plenty to do on the ship during the day, there is equally as much to do in the evening. Each night we found ourselves doing something fun and different- we never wanted the night to end!

Cruises are known for the entertainment on the ship, and the Odyssey of the Seas brings it to an entirely new level. A theatre that we were utterly impressed by is the 270 Theatre. The theatre gets its name from 270-degree view it provides from the back of the ship. During the day, the 270-degree bay of windows provides an amazing lookout point with comfortable furniture, giving it a very homey vibe. At night, the windows turn into screens that twelve projectors work together on to create an immaculate visual experience.

Our first night, we attended the 270 Experience show that was led by our cruise director, Mitch. During this performance, he showcased all the incredible capabilities the theatre had and how it makes each show just a little more immersive. It was incredibly cool and definitely showed off the almost $40 million price tag of the theatre.

The next show we attended was a couple days later in the 270 Theatre. The show was called The Book, and took us on a musical adventure through seven different chapters- it was one of our favorites! 

We also attended quite a few shows in the Royal Theater; the first we saw was called Showgirl: Past. Present. Future. The show celebrated the different types of performers we have seen and ranged from the 50s styles Las Vegas dancers, to the Super Bowl Halftime Show and what the future of showgirls could look like. 

Some other shows we attended in the Royal Theater include a juggler and comedian who made us laugh- a lot! We also saw a tap-dancing show called Tap Factory, and we saw the most technologically advanced show in the theater called the Effectors. The show is about a group of superheroes called the Effectors and how they fight crime. The music, dancing and technology were amazing, but our favorite part definitely had to be the incorporation of drones into the show. 

While the shows are amazing, we also participated in some game shows on board as well. The Music Hall on the ship hosted a name that tune and group dancing competition on two separate nights which were fun to watch and even more fun to participate in. There is a newlywed-game style game that is held one night, and we also attended a game show that mirrored the television game show ‘The Weakest Link.’ Trivia was also hosted often throughout the day all over the ship, which you can pop into and play anytime! We played Broadway music trivia one night and also played general trivia too. 

After the shows, there’s always dancing onboard the Odyssey! Throughout the various bars and entertainment venues, there is no shortage of opportunities to get your groove on. One experience we loved was the silent disco. It was so fun to dance alongside fellow travelers while the music played in our headphones. The best part was when you took your headphones off and heard everyone singing out loud. In addition to the silent disco, there were also parties in different bars and venues around the ship, you really didn’t have to look too hard to find the fun!

Overall, the Odyssey of the Seas is a party for anyone, no matter your age or interests. We had a blast on this eight-night Caribbean cruise and can’t wait for the next one!