Yesterday was a very good day on Oasis. First we arrived at Labadee, where the new pier for Oasis is complete. We did not even attempt to be the first people off the ship, but my Colleague David Beers was, and he said the island was virtually empty up until 10:00. When we left about 11:00 we had no line or waiting at all. Coming back on the ship they had two gangways, and they were checking security items. Once again, we walked straight on the ship with no delays at all. They even had a whole bank of elevators waiting to take people upstairs – so there was no crowding at the elevators at all, and we jumped aboard one we had to ourselves and rode to our floor alone. Bottom line, it appears worries about over-crowding on Oasis have been greatly exaggerated.
By the way – we did the “Dragon’s Breath Zip Line at Labadee – Wow. Not for the faint hearted. We had been zip-lining before so we felt fairly confident. They go to extreme safety measures with this zip line, however, because it is one of the world’s longest.
Here is another example. They actually put a misprint in the daily Cruise Compass that said “Today is your last chance to see Hairspray” and it was showing twice, at 4:30 and at 10:00 pm. Well, we have reservations for the show for tomorrow night. We asked at the guest services and we were told it was a misprint, that the show IS indeed still scheduled for tomorrow. But we decided to go last night anyway.
We had no problem getting last minute seats – no reservations. It seems all the shows have been that way. You get a reservation if you want one of the better seats, but if you want to go on a whim I don‘t believe any of the shows have been “sold out” to non-reservation guests.
I had dinner at 150 Central Park last night. I invited my colleague David Beers since my wife cannot eat anything other than her special diet these days. We both agreed the food is absolutely delicious, including the banana split which supposedly takes two days to prepare. Keep in mind, this restaurant is about senses for the mouth, so it is a tasting menu. There are no “lamb chops” or stuffed pork chops on the menu. If you want that, you should go to “Chops.”
150 Central park is the Gourmet experience onboard, presided over by Chef KeriAnn Van Raesfeld; The youngest and the first woman ever to be named “best young chef in the world” at the Dubai World Culinary Congress.
As it turned out, what was promised to be an “eight-course” menu was only six courses because some of the necessary ingredients had not arrived on the ship yet. Most of the courses were barely more than a few mouthfuls. For example, there was a beet combination (today’s chefs are obsessed with beets, I don’t know why). This had a serving of vanilla-beet ice cream the size of a large marble, two small bites of baked beets, some long rashings of pickled beets and a tiny arugula salad with Keri’s signature caramelized walnuts and feta cheese. All together about 10 bites of food. Here is my point, it was all extraordinarily delicious. The ice cream was sweet and bright red, and delightfully unusual – nothing like that red-bean Chinese ice cream. The baked beets were tasty little nuggets, but it was all so small.
I don’t have the menu I saved in front of me, so I can’t go into more detail, but in the end I have to say that although it was absolutely delicious, I left still quite hungry and could have easily walked straight to another restaurant and ordered a main course, a steak or something to really satisfy the hunger pangs I had walked into the restaurant with. I did not want to ruin my dinner by not arriving hungry (I have done that for special restaurants before and that is a terrible mistake). But I am sorry to say I left with my palate fully satisfied but not my stomach. It was about half the amount of food I would have preferred. I will get into the details of the recipes later, however. The tastes were extraordinary.
After dinner we sat in the Pub for awhile and listened to the guitar-singer. He wasn’t exactly the same laugh riot personality we have seen on other RCL ships in the same pubs. He sang his songs and said thank you, but not much personality.
Then we saw hairspray. All I can say is “wow,” they really pulled this show off. With a cast of 23 or 24 people (amazing size for a cruise ship show) and all the original songs, chorography and great sound and sets, I guarantee you will enjoy this. This show is done perfectly, and was obviously ready with the ship’s opening. I have heard the same about the ice show - that it is the best ice show RCL has done yet. We will see it tonight.
Here is another odd bit of news – for al the talk of the company not being able to feed 5200 passengers at once, I have not eaten in the dining room once yet this trip, although my wife did last night where they made her a very special vegetarian menu. Her diet is so strict she cannot even have any animal products and very few carbohydrates. They did accommodate her, by getting yet another Boca-burger from Johnny Rockets at no extra charge and making her a special salad.
We walked through Central Park last night at a leisurely pace, and although you may not “see the sea” – you certainly don’t forget you are on a cruise ship. The warm tropical air, which at night in the park is just exactly right for temperature and humidity, is a wonderful, quite place where you can hear the wind and some music wafting in from other parts of the ship, but it very tranquil.
I had seen the ship last week on the media trip, so for me this voyage has been more a focus on food and entertainment. But for my wife and David beers, this is their first time seeing the ship andthey are suitably wowed. It is a shame my wife cannot taste all the goodies there are around the ship (cupcakes, donuts, pastries, etc), but there is a lot of fun food. What she craves the most is the pizza.
By the way, the Pizza Parlor here will make you a custom pie with any ingredients you want – they are displayed out front for you to choose from; anchovies, mushrooms, pepperoni, peppers, onions, etc. Just order it up and they make it for you.
That is all for now – more later today. We are off to see the ship….
I hate to say "it isnt ready for primetime" because they probolems that remain coiuld be resilved within a couple of weeks - not major events, just a few littlethings. The Internet has been acting fine all day - as well as the TV reservation system.
This is the first cruise witrh passengers ever - more reports will be comiung in from future guests in subsequent weeks, we will know when these niggling little problems have been resolved soon enough.
Still, if you have not seen the ship you wilkl definitely be wowed - of course thye media misseda few things, that is why I came back, but I would not say thisis a "white elephant" by any means - more later...
Oasis Day 5
NO t much new to report. Today was another sybaritic day at sea. There were a LOT of people in each “neighborhood” of the ship so crowding really does not seem to be a problem here. The pool area was particularly crowded ae people worked on their last-minute tans before returning to points East.
We had lunch in the dining room, which involved the typical community seating where everyone was guided to a table already containing other people. But there was a delicious salad bar with plenty of choices. This was not only great for my wife’s vegan diet, but there were also choices for me to enjoy, like brie cheese, shrimp, etc and several hot buffet entrée items.
All of this was in addition to a large lunch menu which I here they server every day. It was two-dozen selections including my turkey burger and “catch of the day” which was catfish today. In other words, you can eat quickly or leisurely at lunch in the dining room, almost as quickly as the Windjammer if you just go to the salad bar-buffet, or you can order a full lunch and take your time. Looks to me like yet another way to make sure a shipload of people can get served in as little time as possible.
Here is another drawback which we are finding a bit confusing – they keep changing the show times around. Now, we made all of our reservations for shows before we boarded, so Hairspray and the ice show have been moved several times, and we were not notified. For example, our reservation for the Ice Show was last night at 7:30 so we booked an additional reservation for the Hairspray at 9:00 on the TV system the night before which was confirmed. Later that day, we saw in the Compass a note that said Thursday was the last day Hairspray would be shown, so we decided to go see it. Good thing.
Friday at dinner we were eating when someone told us the ice show had been moved up to 7:00, so we ran out to see it, missing the first 10 minutes. It also turned out they changed the time for Hairspray to 8:00 instead of 9:00, so there was no way to see both as we planned.
Fortunately, we saw Hairspray the night before on a whim, so we are OK, but we were never notified of our scheduling problems in any way. We read about the time changes in the daily “Compass” – so unless we had been paying attention we would never know. The reservation system was a joke. People are telling me they had no idea they could make reservations on the online TV system, and that is why the line in the kiosk was so long every day.
It seems all of the show times for every show got changed several time during this cruise, and when you have a reservation system that allows you to pre-book and plan before the cruise- it just isn’t right to change all the times once the cruise starts – especially without notifying they had remade the reservations for the people who already made them in advance. For example, if I was booked for the only showing of Hairspray on Thursday at 7:30 – and they then decide to have an 8:00 and an 10:00 show, which one did my reservation go to? They didn’t tell me. It turned out I had a res for the 10:00 show, and possibly the 8:00 as well, but I didn’t ask about that.
Furthermore, when I made the reservation for 150 Central Park I remember being notified it would be re-confirmed once we got onboard – it never was, nor were we told about the smaller menu until we arrived. For $35 per person, little things can make a difference. I loved the food, but I would have waited until a later voyage if I had known how limited in servings it was going to be.
This ship still gets a 95% right now, but as someone said, it is not quite ready for primetime. I asked someone who has been onboard for the past 50 days and he said the Internet problems were fairly common. He also said he heard the problems with the AquaTheater show may be deeper than a need for more rehearsal time, that it may be “political.” I have some verification on this to be announced later, but right now I have to get this online and get home to sort out all my pictures and video.
Show: Hairspray is great, and so is trhe Ice Show. I havebeen talkingto one of the AquaTheater people and they promise the show will be great as soon as they have a chance to fget the rehearsal time in they need.
This one person claims they have been too distracted with other things to really learn and rehearse the shows to the point of full confidence. The point being that this is a show where people can literally die if accidents happen.
This person is obviously very professional and wants these shows to be the best on the ship. he/she is as disappointed as anyone that the shows are not yet ready, but says they should be soon.
During Hairspray last night there was a technical fglitch (it looked like the band stand, which is right in the middle of the stage) got stuck. It stopped the show for almost 10 minutes and many people walked out, but once it resumed all went well.
The show is as perofessional as a Broadway preoduction of the show. It is a long show for a Cruise Ship, almost 90 minutes, but it is a lot of good fun with a lot of talented castmembers. However, I can't help thinking they could cut a few scenes and it would not chage the show much at all.
The ice show is the best ever - great costumes and an interesting theme.
The most surprising best thing is the ease of boarding, embarking, at Labadee, and disembarkation. We only had 4500 passengers but I found it no more problematic than any other ship.
BTW: the ConciergeLounge is very nice, but they were doing most of their events in Dazzles. I am not sure why.
So far - tro sum up, the biggest problem I see is Internet access. I heard rumors it has been spotty since Turku, and I cant believe there are only 10 workstations on the entire ship - with 5200 people trying to print boarding passes?
Let me add my voice to the choir on some items Paul mentioned. As previously noted, I missed the first AquaTheater show and was rescheduled for the following evening. This because of the myriad problems listed in other posts.
Fast forward to the day at Labadee. I had booked the 3:30pm matinee performance of Hairspray on-line. I knew this would limit my time ashore at Labadee when I made the reservation. When Paul invited me to dine with him at 150 Central Park at 6pm that same day I thought "great, that gives me an hour to get ready for dinner". That morning I happened to walk by the theater and noticed the marquee listed the show time as 4:30, not 3:30. The Compass still had the 3:30 time listed in the afternoon schedule. Looking deeper I found a small note buried in the promo for the show which said "to give our guests more time at Labadee we have changed the showtime to 4:30". Wonderful. This now meant I still had to come back early to shower and change, and it also meant I had to miss the last act of Hairspray so I could get to the restaurant on time.
The staff needs to gain an appreciation for the ramifications of changing show times. It does have consequences for some, and it can be like a line of dominoes starting to fall. Everyone who had reserved the show was prepared for the 3:30 time. There was no justification for changing it. I am more upset that, as Paul experienced, I found out by accident. Clear communication of changes didn't happen. You can't assume people will read the fine print in the Compass.
I ate at Giovanni's Table for lunch yesterday. The food was very good and it really is an Italian restaurant, with the ambiance and all. Waiters rushing around, the maitre'd constantly telling the staff to do things, etc. Giovanni's is really about couples or small groups. I ate solo and it threw a kink in things since many dishes are "due"....for two. My waiter made a special plate of antipasti for one which was very high quality. I had a pasta dish with squid and mussels, and finally a steak with broccoli rabe and olive oil fried potatoes, with gorgonzola butter on the steak. Yum. I waddled out stuffed. However, there was again a problem with reservations. I pre-paid the $10 on line but when I got up to leave I was presented with a bill for $10. No sense arguing with the restaurant staff, so I signed for it and then went to guest relations. At guest relations the purser immediately asked me if I could prove I paid it on-line. I was incredulous and asked "can't you pull it up on the computer?" Her reply was "no". After a pregnant pause she took the receipt and vanished into the back room. After about 5 minutes she returned and said they had found the info and she credited my account for the $10. It is ridiculous that the computers at the front desk can't access all the details of a cruise booking, to include all enhancements that were pre-paid.
At the Crown&Anchor reception the Hotel Director said we had around 4800 passengers "on purpose", so they could ramp up to max load and make adjustments in their processes. Well, I will take him at his word. They did the same on the Freedom inaugural revenue cruise (I was on it). However, how convenient this is given the problems RCI is having booking up the ship. I was told those on the official inaugural cruise were contacted and given fire sale prices if they would tack the 4-night cruise on the front end.
Overall, I was happy. These little annoyances didn't ruin my cruise.
Yes, those two closets masquerading as internet cafes! There were lines all day and night as people tried to print boarding passes. Thankfully I got in during a lull and got my airline stuff done. Surely they could do better than this.
Sounds like there are still some major and minor problems to resolve, these things do take time. Wonder what up with the internet system?? As for the shows, sounds like a lot of mis-communication going on. At least you were able to see them.
It sounds like there are some wonderful things on the Oasis. At the same time, I find "listening" to both of you there are some things right now that would tick me off royally.
RCL is not the only company that does it, but I'm tired of the excuses they put out when there are faults where there shouldn't be. When the customer is paying full bore, there should be no excuses for kinks in the system. If they want to take the first few cruises or whatever their product is, to sort everything out, then the customer should pay accordingly.
Although we are talking about the Oasis here, so many companies do this with new products. I'm tired of it and I'm tired of the same sorry excuses.
When the internet did work is was the fastest I've ever had on a ship. Very close to a typical home "light" broadband speed (say around 800kb download speed).
RCI lived up to their promise of honoring diamond and diamond plus members in December. We were showered with little gifts. A very nice Oasis "inaugural season" beach towel, a nice ballpoint pen, a woven carry-all bag, one of the commemorative Coke aluminum bottles made just for the Oasis, and a diamond member "special" pin.
I thought the food quality at the "free" places was very good in most cases. I found it strange for me, but it ended up that I think I ate more Sorrento's pizza than anything else while aboard the Oasis. Perhaps it is a good thing with a large passenger loading in this instance, because they were always pulling pizzas hot from the oven, slicing them, and they'd be snapped up in seconds. More than once I had to wait a couple minutes before eating or else risk burning my mouth from the hot cheese.
I am not in the diamond program so i will not answer, I will tell you, Dave and the rest of you, that I got an an email from our :secret insider' from the AquaShow cast today and she explained a lot to me. I will go into that in more detail later.
Before we get to "down" on Oasis lets put this thread into perspective, the idea was to go on the first passenger cruise and see all the stuff every cruise line tries to cover-up for the media. Hey, if I didn't;t know that happens why else would I book this cruise.
So, not to make mountains out of molehills - there are shakedown cruises. This was the first time the reservation system had ever been used. At 150 Central Park they DID have my payment on record, no problems. They also seem to have had all my show reservations, even though the times were not right. Every time I went to a show they scanned my card and I was told "yes, you are are booked, go right in."
The problem was not notifying us of the changes. That would be a full-time job, but yes it should be. When you put a system as complicated as this reservation system if you are going to change show times it becomes a full time job. I can only imagine what it will be like when they throw shore excursions into the mix.
I was told online that when I booked my 150 Central Park reservation that it would be re-verified once I got onboard. It wasn't, there was no reminder sent to my room that I had ANYTHING booked, and Dave said he could not pull up his reservation information on the interactive TV. Fortunately, I had written all of mine down, so I knew where I was supposed to be.
Bottom line - its a good system, and the shows all seem to very good. Lets not get down on them because they didn't have it working perfectly the first week.
The thing I noticed is that both Dave and my Wife still had the Wow of seeing the ship the first time. Nothing changes that. I am a very veteran cruiser and I had thoroughly explored her on day one. I just found it to be a very enjoyable cruise.
I am not a big Caribbean cruise fan in all honesty. I really prefer Europe and more exotic destinations. I live in Phoenix, and I don't tend to sit by the pool watching belly flop contests.
But I still loved being on this ship, It is just so truly beautiful. And so active, and fun. You are never bored. And there is so much good food. My wife was on a diet, but I admit I was sneaking goodies every chance I could get (and there are so many), I am sure I gained 5 pounds.
Oasis is still a home-run folks. Truly. Do not doubt it.
My only real concern is the Internet. I heard rumors that it was a problem several times from Turku on, and being down for 10 hours on a weekday on our trip was not a good sign. It is a satellite issue, not internal. RCCL must get this fixed, they need an web café with a full-time wen manager on duty, and they need the replace whatever is not doing the job correctly.
More on that later, too. I have pictures and video to upload. If you are looking for the real Oasis story, you are in the right place.
They had some special offers for us if we booked another cruise while aboard. Double credits for the balcony cabin diamond discount, $300 onboard credits.
Let me say a few words about debarkation: it was very fast and efficient. From the time my tag number was called and we were escorted to the gangway, until I was sitting in the shuttle bus, it took exactly 9 minutes. 9 minutes to exit the ship, get my luggage, clear customs, walk to the bus and hand off my luggage to the driver and take a seat. And if you recall it took me about 15 minutes to go from the terminal front door to the ship on embarkation day. RCI and the port staff have done a wonderful job on these two processes.
I definitely plan to return to either the Oasis or the Allure. Oasis is a fun ship with so much to see and do that I think these vessels have bright futures. I am thinking Allure since it will have the needed modifications based on feedback from the crew and passengers from Oasis. The bartenders had problems with the layout of several bars. They were designed to look nice but are not optimized for functionality. As an example, Bolero's only has one mixing station but at night has two bartenders. They need two stations. The bar also has a big island in the middle which is simply an obstacle they have to maneuver around, plus it blocks the view so they can't see the whole bar.
In the end though, no matter how innovative a ship is it always comes down the the crew making or breaking the cruise. The crew of Oasis was superb. I was greeted by every crew member who passed by me. If you are worried about so many passengers making it an anonymous cruise, think again. In just 4 days many members of the staff were calling me Dave. Every question or problem was resolved to my satisfaction.
I look forward to my wife and son seeing the ship and looking at the expressions on their faces.
I think you really summed it up. We went onboard to look for the details the media cruise couldn't give us, and I think we did a great job of that. There were certain things, like the shows, the room service, the full service dining, the reservation system, etc, that needed to have follow-up and we did that.
We were also of the ship very quickly, but my wife was obsessed with e fact that we had been given a number that was supposed o be off at 7:45 (or something) so she woke me up early and insisted that we get out of the cabins. I thought those days of rushed disembarkation were kinda "over" so as much as I tried to get her to slow down she felt compelled to get off the ship early - even though we had a 2:10 flight.
I think the point may be that because it is such a big ship they do tend to rush you off on disembarkation day = no room service, breakfast shutting down early, but what the heck, there were still people milling about at about 9:30 when we finally left (when they called 'all cabins').
We had no problem getting a taxi, or finding our bags, etc. It was all very simple and straightforward.
I also want to echo what Dave said about the staff. I have never net a friendlier, more helpful staff. Even if they did not know your answer they would always try to solve your problem. That is rare these days.
Here are a couple of other factors I got from some people I met at the airport. They are one cruise away from Diamond level. They were telling me they had noticed a change in the dining room here there is no longer an assistant waiter. There is a head waiter and something more like a busboy. (I cannot speak to this because I assumed the busboy was the assistant waiter), but I will say the main waiter the vast majority of work.
They said they had asked the waiter because they were concerned about tips - if there is no asst waiter, why leave a tip for one? We pre-paid our gratuities so we just put all of our three envelopes in the main waiter's hands (waiter, asst waiter, head waiter). But my friends were told by the waiter that many people had stopped tipping the asst waiter, because it was not the job it used to be.
By the way, I often think tipping the head waiter is something of a joke if he does nothing special for us, but on this cruise due to my wife's special diet he was an absolute gem and worth every penny.
As far as other dining venues; I already mentioned 150 Central Park - delicious but not filling at all with two fewer menu items than promised.
I tried the seafood shack. They tried to steer me to the catch of the day but I wanted to try fried shrimp, calamari and whitefish (& chips). It was not good. I could not tell the calamari from the shrimp - there were no small calamari, just the ones resembling onion rings and they really did not taste fresh at all. neither did the shrimp. Fried shrimp need to be of a certain size to be any good - these weren't.
One of the best places was the Park Café where you order a sandwich (tuna melt, pastrami, reuben, etc) and they make it fresh & hot and deliver it to your table (they give you a number before you go and find a seat). You can eat indoors or out. This was just a delicious meal - also with greats desserts. I had a grilled tuna melt that was hot and crunchy with a free bag of Lay's Potato Chips.
The ice cream parlor outside seemed very tempting. But I never made it there. I suggest you eat more donuts, because then they would make them more often. I have to admit the few I tried did not taste "melt in your mouth" fresh like Krispy Creme. So in general I did not eat them. On the other hand, the cupcakes were always fresh & tasty. There were also plenty of other free sweets that were wonderful; chocolate brownies, granola bars cheesecakes, etc.
There is free soft-serve around the ship, but it seems to me it was a little harder to find that say the Freedom class where it is right in the Royal Promenade.
The music in the jazz club was very good, although I would call it more smooth/latin flavor that straight ahead jazz. As I recall, they has a flutist as the main horn - that was all I remember ever hearing.
To sum it all up, though, the ship is still just beautiful. And even though I had seen it a week earlier I still found it fascinating a week later, es[especially since I know my wife & Dave were seeing it for the first time.
That's it for now, I am going to look for more pictures and video.
Thank you both for your balanced reviews. I do want to go on the Oasis, but I think I will pass until the price of the cruise decreases.
Dave thanks on the Diamond update we will be on the Navigator next week, I am planning 2 cruises, one in March ( usually take one during my birthday ) and another in May when my son graduates from Graduate school.
Looks like we are leaning towards the Solstice due to the ports and overall cost of the cruise. March is still wide open.
The Diamond lounge is above Bolero's and is a beautiful room with a patio. However, because of the large number of D and D+ members aboard they didn't use the lounge for evening cocktails. We were in the Blaze nightclub and the Jazz club which is across the walkway from Blaze. Great snacks and plenty of free drinks.
I liked the new Diamond breakfast. They reserved a wing of the main dining room for us. Full menu and the specialty coffees on the house. I used it every morning. It was very pleasant. They have a featured item on the menu. First morning it was an open-faced omelet (as in Spain). Delicious. They also had salmon benedict as the feature one morning. I loved that! I am a big fan of salmon and eggs together.
The dining room food was typical for RCI. The dinner choices were too familiar to me and hence a bit boring. If you've been on an RCI cruise in the past two years you've seen the menus on the Oasis. The exception was at breakfast where I saw new things. Also, even in the main dining room they offered buffets at breakfast and lunch in addition to the usual table service. I don't go to the main dining room for buffets.
For DiamondMember..Just back from the "Radiance" so hadn't seen your post about the D+ thing. It wasn't all of the D+ but we are over 50 credits and finally made the cut to get a special event invitation (I had been told they would come by another veteran who was acknowledged by Adam Goldstein himself on "Oasis" for having 200 cruise credits). With all the reductions in benefits, it is nice to see some of them get better, Robbie
I would think we will since I'll be over 60 credits by then. Even with that we were close to the bottom of the list so our "e-vite" came about 2 months prior. Didn't hurt my feelings though and will try very hard to attend if asked.
The invitation was an "e-vite," like getting invited to a Birthday party etc. It contained a link to respond whether or not we would be accepting the 2 night cruise (to nowhere). Most of the crowd were the T/A's and we went the second "non-revenue" weekend right after Thanksgiving. Ran ourselves ragged and if we go to the "Allure," I think we will add on a week.
Sorry bout that...definitely the Oasis. And I really did enjoy the 2 night event. Did you get to see the ABBA tribute band? Thought they were great and I liked that they cranked it up versus a regular showroom event. I did enjoy the overall feel and am already telling folks it is not for everyone. BUT for those of us who don't mind how GINORMOUS she is, I thought it was like Vegas at sea (my DW agrees and loves her new Coach bag purchased on the Oasis).