We just had to sail on one of biggest ships in history and have an experience that would be very different, and it was. We went to the Bahama's, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. We have been to these ports many time but wanted to experience the ship so I won't talk about the ports. First, embarkation was amazingly easy. They have a terminal with the capacity to check-in a massive amount of people. RCL didn't just try to use the old system but instead effectively planned for the 6000 passengers that would descend in a short period of a few hours.
In each port they also had 30 by 30 foot portable classrooms on each dock with multiple security stations rather than try to run people through metal detectors on the ship entrance. This worked great and avoided the crunch at the gangway entrances. Again, somebody was thinking. Debarkation was also smooth and very quick. It's the fastest and earliest we have ever gotten off a ship. There was a long line at customs but it moved quickly and took, maybe, fifteen minutes. Don't hesitate on scheduling a flight outof Ft. Lauderdale a noon to 1:00pm, you'll make it with plenty of time. We played it "safe" and ended up sitting around the airport all day.
Now about the ship. Our balcony cabin was on the 11th deck in the back overlooking the Boardwalk. Normally I don't like rear cabins because there is so much engine/propeller vibration. That was not a problem at all as it was very smooth and we rarely even felt this huge ship move. The inside cabins on the Boardwalk were great as they are sheltered from the wind. The inside balconies on Central Park often had a lot of wind as do the outside balconies. We used our balcony more than we ever have before. This ship itself is overwhelming.
The jogging track is one of the best at sea and is only 2.4 laps to a mile. Beware of a few people who think this is a nice place for a leisurely stroll and will walk side by side blocking the runners. On one occasion we saw one runner take a spill twice because of people who blocked the track. Some people are just oblivious to what is going on.
Entertainment was amazing, the best shows at sea. We saw a shortened version of Hairspray which was of touring company quality. The ice show was excellent. They had Clint Holmes, a Las Vegas regular, fly in and give a fantastic performance. The Aqua/Diving Show was very entertaining and very unusual. Be sure and book your reservations well in advance for these shows as there isn't enough seating for all the passengers.
The food in the dining room was good, not fabulous, but equal to all other cruise ship standard. This isn't a negative comment because it was good and we gained 5 pounds during the week. We "discovered" the Solarium for breakfast. It has the healthy food and was never crowded. It is for adults only and made for a very relaxing breakfast. It became our hide-away area. During "sea days" the dining room has a nice buffet with a great salad bar. They have the best chopped salad bar you will ever find. Every sea day we ate here. There is also a little Cafe in Central Park that has the best French dip sandwiches on a fresh roll. Now for the negatives. The Windjammer buffet was a nightmare. It seemed smaller than the buffets on some of RCL's smaller (but still large) ships. We ate there only 3-4 times. It was super crowded and congested. To RCL's credit they stopped people at the door and wouldn't let them in until there was a table available and then they seated the people otherwise it would have been a disaster. One time we saw the line go out both doors and wind down the stairway. A ship this size needed a huge buffet or two separate buffets. This lack of preparation and planning made this a huge negative. If you eat most meals at the buffet, avoid this ship.
The second thing that bothered me was during the karaoke night when the passengers could sing with the band. I think they called it "live karaoke." It only lasted one hour and should have been done every night. With 6000 passengers the talent was unbelievable, however, there were crew members who did four of the songs during this brief hour. One crew member did two songs. Given the short time frame that meant there were passengers who didn't get to perform. The crew should not be taking away from passenger participation. I wanted to tell the cruise director about this but he was impossible for me to find.
So, how would I rate this cruise overall? Half way through I decided I didn't like the huge ship. We took a wonderful cruise on the small Ryndam earlier in the summer and I loved that ship. But, I have to admit the ship did begin to grow on me. It was congested at times but you have to think of it as a big city vacation and not a relaxing country vacation. I would sail on the ship again, but only if it was a special itinerary and the ship just happened to be going there. Overall, it was a unique experience and I'm glad I did it this once, but I prefer a smaller ship.
Boarding the ship was a cinch for we went right up and waited in the Diamond area for awhile and before we knew it were having lunch in the Windjammer.
I have been on this ship in Sept 2011 and I believe a lot of things improved like the entertainment and the food. Entertainment excellent and the food much better than a year ago.
My only negative is where this big ship docks in St Thomas... we used to like the old port where you could go shop right next to the ship but on this one we have to take a taxi into town and you had to wait for one and it was just not that convenient. St Marten was wonderful as usual and we docked on a new dock made for this ship.
The last two days we followed Hurricane Sandy back up to Ft Lauderdale and that was no fun.... with the wind and rain no one went out and you had 6147 people running around inside but it was not as bad as you would think...still not sure where all those people went??? It was alittle rough the last night which made sleeping difficult and because of the storm we came into port 2 hours late but everyone just assumed they would get off their assigned times and came down to Deck 5. We opted to pull our luggage off and they made us go into the dining room in one very long line that took us almost 1 hr waiting in before we got off... this was not a cause of RCCL but the people who came down before they were called.
This is a wonderful ship and a must see for the ship is the destination for many people including me and I will return on her again someday. Service was wonderful as usual which makes the trip so pleasant and so many went out of their way to make it a super vacation. I am a Diamond member on RCCl and hopefully some day soon will be a plus.... I will be trying one of their smaller ships Vision of the Seas in 3 weeks, Dec 3 for a 11 day southern cruise. I have only cruised on Voyager, Freedom and Oasis class so this will be very different.
Embarkation Arrived at 11am and there were already 800+ people waiting but there was absolutely no lines for check-in. We were seated in a waiting area upstairs and at 11:15 they started by row admitting people to the ship. It took a few minutes and we were onboard. Simple, easy and painless.
We walked through the cavernous Royal promenade. The shops were closed, but there were tables set up selling soda and wine packages and excursions. We went to the Guest relations desk to deposit some money on our account and waited in our first line. Then on to show reservations. I had made mine in advance, which is highly recommended, but I wanted to change a few things. They had six people working with lines on both sides of the theatre, and a 30 minute wait to get serviced. The people working the reservation computers were very nice, but not very knowledgeable about what was going on. There was a special live TV broadcast scheduled for Sunday night, and no one knew anything about when it would be happening. There were plenty of seats for all performances of all shows atthat point, but the shows were full at all performances so reserve on line.
EMBARKATION LUNCH: Solarium We went up to the Solarium Bistro for some healthy food and enjoyed it very much. Whoever said the food on the Oasis is bad must be very picky because I loved everything I tried. It was very crowded because it was embarkation day, but we still found a table. They offered a vast array of salads, fruit and vegetables, hot food, bread, desserts and sugar free flavored water. I was able to thoroughly enjoy my food while not packing on any extra pounds. The view was wonderful. The restaurant is surrounded by the solarium, a sun-soaked area with four hot tubs, a pool and lots of loungers.
TOURING THE SHIP We saw the Boardwalk area first. It was lovely. I was glad not to have booked a Boardwalk balcony. It would have been loud, hot and no fun at all. They had a slew of family-style restaurants like Johnny Rockets, a seafood place and then at the end, the amazing aqua theatre. When I looked up and saw the grandeur of the place, it really was amazing. On the other end of the ship was the Opus Theatre, where they were preparing for the national broadcast of a scene from Hairsrpay to be telecast on the Tony Awards, checked out the promenade, sat for a while in Central Park, which was wonderful, and saw the windjammer buffet. Even though we had just eaten, my skinny partner couldn't resist eating more in the windjammer. There were plenty of seats, and despite the bad reviews of the place, I thought everything was delicious. They had an amazing calamari salad, Asian salad with pork, a salad bar, lots of hot entrees that looked great, soups, but again, boring desserts.
We went back to our cabin and unpacked, then went to the liquor tasting, which was a dud. I was expecting scotch or something decent but they were pouring some cream liquer that had no allure. We got on the rising tide bar, had a great conversation with the waiter and a member of the cruise entertainment staff and really enjoyed a lichee martini as we went up and down. I expected a line but we were the only ones on the lift as it rose and fell. After that, we returned to the Windjammer for a really fantastic casual dinner, healthy for me, and lots of naughty stuff for my partner. Great food, really fresh, plenty of tables open, boring desserts.
FIRST NIGHT OUT We first went to Jazz on 4, and it was empty. If you like jazz music, you'll love it. They have a very good quartet, but I like a singer and there was none. We left and went in search of a singer and band. We tried Bolero, where a great latin band was playing but it was way too smoky, so we went to Dazzles, where they had a band supposedly playing Motown. They were from the Phillipines and not that great, and not really playing Motown. It was more 70's Bar Mitzvah disco. Again there were 4 people in the place. We checked out Scooners where a piano player was to be playing. He was OK and there was no one there. We went to the Promenade and the pub and the On-Air karaoke place were showing the basketball game and they both were packed and the areas outside of them were packed. It was where everyone was. The cafÃ© on the promenade was busy, as was the pizza place, the only two venues still serving food. There was a Starbucks (prices equal to land prices, plus 15%). The ship's nearby coffee place also charged but was cheaper and unlike Starbucks that charged for drinks and food, at the coffee place the food was free.
OUR CABIN, 7th floor, 208 We had a balcony cabin. It was very cozy. Not large but very functional and comfortable. The bathroom at first seemed larger than most cruises I have been on and the shower, while tight, seemed fine. However, upon taking a shower, I realized there was not enough room to dry oneself or move much. Given the girth of some of the passengers I saw onboard, I wondered how they managed at all. The toilet is wedged in as well and presents interesting but not insurmountable challenges.
There was a flat screen TV with many channels including CNN but there really wasn't much to watch. There was a sofa, desk and closet with shelves and plenty of hangars. There was a small safe, NOT big enough for a computer or an ipad. The balcony had a table and two chairs and was small but sufficient. I wanted a suite, but honestly, to spend thousands of more dollars for some extra room seems like a waste of money when the balcony cabin was just fine. We peeked in on a grand suite and it was really not that big. I would have been upset had I paid $8000 for that vs. $2200 for our balcony.
WI-FI As with other cruises, a total rip off. They charged 65 cents a minute but offered packages up to 500 minutes for $150. The cheapest was $35 for 100 minutes. I didn't use the service so I have no idea if it was slow or fast. I was able to get signals on my cell phone at all ports to check email.
The CASINO It is a smoking area and smells terrible. If you can get past that issue and you like to gamble, then you will love it. It's huge, has lots of slots and several tables, open all the time on the sea. There are blackjack tournaments, slot tournaments, lottos, bingo, etc. I donated $170 at the $10 minimum blackjack table in about 20 minutes. I won't be going back. They have a smoking area that is more crowded than the non-smoking area, but both were relatively empty. The dealers were very nice and had I won, I would have enjoyed it much more! You can use your card and pay a 3% service charge for the money you lose.
PRICES Dewars on the rocks $6.25 + 15% service, around $7 Absolute and Cranberry $5.75 + service Cosmopolitan martini $9.25 plus 15%, $10.60 or so Gin and Tonic, $6.25+ Lichee Martini special, $7.50, keep the glass Wine started around $7 per glass and went up to $55 per glass, with bottles being much more. Beers ranged from $5-7 per glass plus service. Drink of the day, $6.25 and you keep the glass Cupcakes $2.50 $24.95 Surf and turf ordered in the dining room available every day $2.50, hot chocolate in the cafÃ© $3.85, hot chocolate at starbucks, including service $135, cheapest wine package, includes five bottles of wine drank at your own pace Great prices on alcohol in the duty free shop Jewelry store offers high-end watches at very good prices
FITNESS CENTER Work out time was around 10am on the first sea day. There was a lecture going on, very informative, about eating, losing weight, being healthy, nutrition. It was great background to my workout. The gym was packed. There were no lines for equipment, especially the nautilus stuff, but the aerobic machines were completely full. I had no problems doing my workout despite the crowds. I never had to wait for anything despite the throngs of people burning off their 1000 calories of desserts from the night before. There are dozens of treadmills, elliptical machines, bicycles with pilates machines, free weights and much more. Great gym. The lecturer tried to sell the audience on doing a test for $35 to indicate toxins in the body and also to buy the products they sell to detoxify. I didn't try it. There were several for a fee classes, including a cycling class for $15, a four-day Â½ hour a day fitness boot camp for $120, Yoga for $15, Pilates for $25. They were all early in the day, too early for me. The instructors seemed knowledgeable but definitely weren't interested in helping for free when I asked questions or for assistance. One woman fitness instructor actually looked at her watch as if to say "I don't have time for you" while I was asking a question. Very off-putting. One other minor complaint â€“ the machines had interactive screens and when using the elliptical I had to go through five machines to find one with a screen that worked.
SPA We didn't use the spa but it looked very nice. They had specials on port days, starting at $99 and up for packages. A hot stone massage regularly was about $150 for 50 minutes. Everything in the spa was excessively expensive but it looked busy. They have a relaxation suite which is a sitting room, and three variations of hot and sauna rooms. One time use is $30, and $99 for the week. A lot of money for not much.
THE SOLARIUM ON the 15th deck forward is the adults only solarium. For the most part the adults only restrictions are adhered to. It is a partially open air, fully sunny area with loungers, Jacuzzis, a cooling pool, and a second deck with more loungers and a bar. The solarium was very nice, and since it was on the front of the ship the view was spectacular. The Jacuzzis were ALWAYS packed full (all four) and the cooling pool was usually full. On sea days they were not somewhere I wanted to be, fighting for a spot in a pool was not my idea of relaxation. However, if you go after 5pm, the situation changes and there is no one there and everything is empty. They are available 24 hours a day. The seating consists of wire mesh loungers, and plenty of them, some padded seats with ottomans, which went quickly until 5pm, and then seven very nice padded wicker pods, that were never available. Upstairs there were the wire mesh loungers and some padded loungers that were in the sun, so you have to like being in the sunshine to enjoy them. There were tables on the porch of the restaurant under a flooring that were protected from sun and rain that were nice. Generally this was my favorite lounging spot and with persistence, a nice spot could always be found.
POOLS The pools are all found on Deck 15, and there is a special area for kids with a circular lazy river pool, and several themed pools. There are two main pools, very small and always packed full and then four Jacuzzis in the pool area plus two cantilevered large Jacuzzis near the solarium and two more in the solarium. There are the wave riders that were very popular, and a small putting golf area, a full sized basketball court and several pool bars scattered around. There are a million loungers and half were always empty. There is also a smoker's area on 15 with the nicest loungers on the ship. Occasionally the aqua theatre pool was open for swimming as well. On sea days the pools were completely packed and not inviting at all.
The Viking Crown Lounge After the workout and another delicious lunch at the Solarium, we found the Viking Crown Bar on the 17th floor. It was completely empty, and there were beautiful sofas at the big picture windows that looked out on the pool areas and the sea. We sat there all afternoon, lounging on the super comfy couches, reading. At 4pm a violin/piano duo started playing making it that much more heavenly. It's the place to go to escape the crowds and really unwind.
SOLARIUM BISTRO DINNER The daytime healthy buffet becomes a night time restaurant with table cloths and stars. It was really beautifully serene and completely empty. We had a reservation but didn't really need one. The menu guarantees that nothing featured is over 500 calories per plate. We started with a few appetizers, Mexican shrimp, basically shrimp with a salsa, a really tasty Barley risotto, and a nice scallop dish. The soup, a chicken vegetable soup, was inedible, and the salad of fruit and endive was good. Our main courses were the Chicken breast with a ragu of vegetables and I had the bison steak. The chicken was boring and not very tasty, but my bison was delicious. The sides were roasted sweet potatoes, literally one slice of a potato, and a mango cole slaw that was boring. The desserts were a highlight, selected from a dessert bar. We had sugar free cookies (amazing), an almond torte, also amazing, a fruit cup, which was nothing special, and a apple bran muffin, that was good. The waiter was not very good, and he seemed very disinterested in us and giving good service. We canceled our second reservation there, favoring free choices instead.
SOLARIUM BREAKFAST AND LUNCH The solarium features a large array of fruits, cold and hot cereals, lots of stuff to put in oatmeal, Turkey bacon, pancakes, grilled vegetables, yogurt confections, prunes, figs, great breads and low-fat delicious muffins, juices, amazing service and such friendly waiters. We waited about a second for a table and breakfast was delightful. Our waiter was very friendly, as everyone is, and the experience upstairs was great. I ate like a king and barely ingested 500 calories. Lunch was equally as good. The choices included lots of salads and salad bar fixings, several hot entrees, always delicious and sugar free desserts. We ate there every day.
Izumi We paid $10 per person, $5 of which would apply to our dinner costs. Everything was ala carte with prices ranging from $2 for a bowl of soup to $23 to a five course sampling menu. I had tuna sashimi appetizer for $6, and it was nice, but very plain, just five thinly sliced pieces of tuna. We ordered the hot rock dinner and it was quite bad. A very hot stone comes out with about 3 ounces of raw chicken which you place on the rock to cook. It was very plain but came with three good sauces. It was barely an appetizer for $8. I had the sashimi for my main course and it was very small but very fresh and tasty. The dinner comes with free endamame which was great. After the meal the waiter brought over an after dinner cordial we thought he was offering us. We didn't want it and declined, only to find out had we taken it, it would have cost us $8 per glass. We didn't say anything but they really should inform a guest that they will charge for something that appears to be complimentary. It was overpriced for very little food.
WINDJAMMER BUFFET We only at there for dinner, but ate one lunch there as well. It was always crowded but every single time we got a seat by the window. And to dispel reviews that disparage the food, we were thrilled with the huge variety and how delicious everything was. At every dinner meal there were at least 10 different entrÃ©e choices, lots of vegetable choices, salads soup, carved meats. Only the desserts were a bit boring (which made us happy!) but one night they had a banana cream chocolate pie that was amazing. We loved the food, yes it is a buffet but there were never lines for anything and it was so easy and relaxing to eat there with a beautiful view of the ocean. I have been on Princess, Norwegian, Crystal and Celebrity and this was easily the best buffet in all aspects.
OASIS OF DREAMS SHOW Then we went to the Oasis of Dreams Aqua Theatre show. We arrived 30 minutes early and the entire middle section was packed already. We sat on the side and it was fine. They have rows that alternate between comfortable lounge chairs and very uncomfortable benches. We tried a bench in the center first, but it was not comfy at all so we moved to a lounger on the side. We ordered a few more drinks and waited. The place filled up and the show began. I couldn't see much over the head of the person in front of me, but much of the show was aerial or staged high above the water, so it was OK. The show was fun, not really much substance, just a lot of high diving and gymnastics, but the cast was great, very fit, very good at what they did, and it was a nice 45 minute diversion. After, the crowd poured out into the Boardwalk area and for the first time I felt the weight of so many people upon me. But it was quickly over as the crowd dissipated.
HAIRSPRAY We were lucky enough to be on the ship the night the cast of Hairspray was live on the Tony Awards. It was a lot of fun being part of that and the show after, which started at 11pm was very good. It was a 90-minute reader's digest version of the Broadway show, but all the good songs were there. There were entire sections that were redone for the shorter version, and for someone who had never seen the Broadway show, it might be a bit confusing as most of the book was gone and segues left out lots of information, but the talent was excellent and the energy was great. Only the guy playing Edna was sub-par. He wasn't funny at all and every one of his lines landed flat.
COMEDY CLUB We saw two acts, Kivi something was the second act, and he was truly hilarious. This guy is going to be a big star. His set was easy, natural and achingly funny. The other guy was just OK. The club is nice, small and fun to see comedy. Highly recommended.
HAIRSPRAY CAST ROCK AND ROLL SHOW Six members of the Hairspray cast performed a 35 minute set of tunes with a big band. If this show is offered, don't miss it. They were incredible.
COME FLY WITH ME A cirque du soliel inspired show, completely bizarre story that made no sense, but it didn't matter. The acts and dancing was great. The cast, same as the other shows, was fantastic, with songs, acrobatics that were amazing, flying through the air, wonderful visuals made for a very entertaining show very different from anything you would see on another cruise ship.
ICE SHOW Fantastic. I didn't know what to expect but it was wonderful for all ages. The woman who does the improvisational sand designs is incredible and worth going just to see her. The skaters were first rate, with lots of triple axles, and beautiful costumes. Not sure about the story, but they basically use the Hans Christian Anderson stories to inspire costume and scenic ideas and then just skate beautifully. There are solos and duos. The show lasts about 45 minutes and is really terrific.
DISCO PARTY The disco party was not something I thought I would go to, but I was on the Royal Promenade and it started. It was great fun. First they had two singers doing a set of disco tunes and they were great, followed by several crew members and the cruise director donning seventies gear dancing to the oldies. It was so much fun. Don't miss it.
HEADLINER SHOW They had a five voice men's acapella group. Their gimmick was that they created all the sounds we heard with their voices. They were incredibly talented and amazingly versatile in creating instrumental sounds with their voices. But despite their talent their choice of material and their endless audience participation activities grew tiresome fast. I don't go to see the audience sing and carouse, I want the performers to dominate. I realize many enjoy the participatory aspect, but I find it amateurish and irritating.
LABADEE We got off the ship at about 10am and took a walk around. There are lots of lovely beaches, three places to eat, lots of activities, a fearsomely long zip line from the tip of a mountain back to the beach. The island area is very disconnected from the rest of Haiti and could have been anywhere. But it was nice. We spent less than 20 minutes there and returned to the boat where we had the entire place to ourselves. There were five people in the gym, the Jacuzzis were empty â€“ heaven! The solarium Jacuzzis, always very busy, were empty, but the main pools seemed busy, but not packed.
JAMAICA Terrible port - basically a shopping mall filled with T-shirt and jewelry shops made specifically for the cruise lines. There is a gated entrance into the city to keep the locals away. There is a shopping street immediately outside the gate and it is sketchy and a bit scary. Within 30 feet I was offered drugs, drug paraphernalia. We went out for a minute and returned immediately to the ship. This is a sad place, where the poverty of the island is very apparent and the segregation of those on the ship from the island people is obvious and uncomfortable. I have no idea why they stop here. But the ship was empty again, although not nearly as empty as in Labadee. I overheard many people talking about how bad the port was.
COZUMEL My favorite port, or should I say, the only port that seemed safe and had something to do. We took a $7 taxi ride to the Forum Shops where we were able to use free internet. Then we strolled along the main street filled with jewelry, watch, souvenir and T-shirt shops, as well as many restaurants. Once done, we taxied back and had lunch. It is a fun port and worth a visit. The watch shops actually offer pretty good buys compared to buying full price in the USA.
Think "destination resort" that travels to Caribbean destination resorts by ship! My wife and I booked the Qasis of the Seas March 17th western Caribbean cruise because we had recently sailed on the Allure of the Seas and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The Oasis was everything we expected and more. If you have doubts about sailing on a ship as big as the Oasis there is no need to be concerned. Royal Caribbean has mastered the art of accommodating large numbers of people and providing them a memorable experience. Embarkation/Disembarkation: It took us just 15 to 20 minutes from dropping our bags at the terminal to boarding the ship. We left our cabin at 6:15 AM on disembarkation morning and were in our car at 6:35 AM. We drove to Port Everglades and entered the port, shortly after 11 AM, through the main entrance because terminal 18 is closest to the main entrance. We dropped our bags at the terminal entrance and parked in the lot adjacent to the terminal. The charge was $15 per day. The lot is a two minute walk from the terminal entrance. We provided our setsail pass and credentials at check in where there was no line, had our pictures taken and boarded. Getting off, we used the express system. Customs was a breeze. Crowds: Want to experience crowds and wait in lines? Select peak times to do things. Board the ship between noon and 1 PM. Go the Windjammer buffet immediately after boarding between 12:30 and 1:30 pm. Get off the ship at any port immediately after the ship is cleared. Have breakfast in the buffet at 8 AM and lunch at noon. Use the stand-by line to get into any show. Disembark the ship at 8:30 AM. We made reservations for Giovanni's Table for 12:30 PM on embarkation day. We arrived at the restaurant before noon, were seated immediately and enjoyed being served a very nice Italian themed lunch. There was no crowd or waiting line. Our cabin was available at 1 PM. We eat early, usually 7:00 to 8:00 AM for breakfast and 11:30 to noon for lunch. We selected "My Time' dining for dinner which allows dining as early as 5:30 PM. We made reservations for all the shows we planned to attend and there were no lines for people with reservations. A crew member scanned the bar code on the backs of our room keys/identity cards to verify the reservations. There were always good seats. We got off the ship at the destination ports at least a half hour after the ship was cleared. There were crowds at special events like parades on the Royal Promenade so it is mandatory to show up a little early if you want a good vantage point. There is too much to do on the ship to waste time standing in lines waiting for anything. Ship and Cabin: The Oasis is a spectacular ship! Embarking, you enter on the Royal Promenade which is filled with shops, restaurants, lounges, customer service, a Starbucks and kiosks where you can reserve tours/excursions, reserve a spa treatment or purchase drink cards. The statistics about the ship are awesome! You can read them on the Royal Caribbean web site but they must be experienced to truly appreciate. Central park on deck eight is a peaceful place, filled with plants, restaurants, a rising bar and a couple shops. We tried Giovanni's table for a lunch and Chops Grille for a dinner. The park cafÃ© is a popular lunch spot. The boardwalk on deck six has a lot of action with shops, restaurants and even a working carousel. We tried Johnny Rockets for breakfast, the Seafood Shack for lunch, the ice cream and donut shops, and the cupcake shop. All good! It is also the place for the water shows, complete with high diving and water acrobatics. The Royal Promenade has a lot of favorites; the cafÃ© promenade which is great for morning coffee or a scone, the English themed pub, shops and a pizza place. The entertainment deck on deck four has the ice rink, casino and a couple of clubs. The casino is large with modern games. Our cabin was 6240, nicely located a couple of minutes from breakfast or lunch on the Boardwalk, one set of stairs from the Royal Promenade and our dinner restaurant, two sets of stairs from the entertainment deck and convenient to a large number of activities. It was also located nicely from the express carry off on disembarkation day. No noise and a morning shade location on port days. Dining: The dining options on the Oasis are better than those at many destination resorts. The brochures advertise at least a couple dozen choices. We tried several. The food was very good in every venue we tried. It was prepared and presented well. We tried breakfast in Johnny Rockets, the main dining room express buffet and the Windjammer CafÃ©. Our lunches were at the Seafood Shack, Giovanni's table and the Windjammer. All of our dinners except one at Chops Grille were in the main dining room. We tried an assortment of dishes including filet of sole, sea bass, filet of beef, filet mignon, roast turkey, lobster tails, pasta, eggs, and pancakes. American, Asian, Mexican, and Indian dishes were available. Sandwiches and salads, customized to taste, were abundant. The Oasis is a great place to dine. Ports: We sailed to the western Caribbean that included Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica: and Cozumel, Mexico. They all had a wide variety of water activities, local tours, and shopping. The new Royal Caribbean developed port at Falmouth is a pleasant place to shop and sample local flavor. Labadee has a lot of local color. The big ships like the Oasis and Allure go to ports that allow docking so tendering is a thing of the past. That is convenient for passengers with minimal plans for going ashore. Entertainment: The number of show venues is impressive. In addition to the main show room, the aqua theater and ice rink host excellent shows. Add in the lounge acts, audience participation shows, music, parades, the Dreamworks characters and there is always action somewhere. The casino is in a class by itself for cruise ships. Staff: The staff on the Oasis were noticeably happy. We called it a happy ship. In addition they were very competent and accommodative to the passengers. Kudos to the managers who set the tone, select and train the thousands of staff members. That made the cruising experience even more enjoyable. Conclusion: The Oasis is an excellent ship, a true destination resort offering a huge variety of entertainment and dining options operated by a staff of thousands who seem to enjoy being on board to provide a great cruising experience for the passengers.
Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas Western Caribbean Cruise Jan. 21 â€“ 28, 2012 By Mary & Vincent Finelli
Each January Vincent books our anniversary cruise and this year was no different. We celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary aboard the Oasis. The same time last year we cruised on the Allure of the Seas, in a wheelchair accessible cabin with a balcony overlooking the sea and we thought it would be interesting to try a different cabin site â€“ so this time we booked a wheelchair accessible cabin over looking the Boardwalk. Well, there is an old adage: "Never leave the true and tried road for a new one." Or as the Italians say: "Chi lascia la via vecchia per la nuova, sa quel che lascia, ma non sa quel che trova" (Who leaves the old road for a new one knows what he leaves, but not what he finds). Just a word of advice: If you want a restful and relaxing cruise book the ocean view cabin!
This week the Oasis was fully booked with 6380 passengers (approx. 75% from USA) and 2200 crew members â€“ On the Royal Promenade attimes it was like being in a busy airport or train station â€“ However, we always managed to escape the crowds by walking to the most peaceful place aboard: Central Park, where the many plants, flowers, and the soft background music and sounds of chirping birds and water falls evoked in us a sense of pastoral relaxation.
Due to logistics, Captain Thore Thorolvsen remained a remote figure; we did not have a chance to meet him: The Oasis is too big and too busy for anything else! But we did have the opportunity to meet again Hotel Director Martin Rissley, whom we had known from past cruises. He gave us a warm welcome back to the Oasis on which we had spent 12 wonderful days during her inaugural cruise in December of 2009. It is amazing to see that everything in this huge floating resort runs perfectly: From stateroom to dining room, from casual dining to specialty dining, from entertainment to passenger service, etc., etcâ€¦. A lot of credit for the successful outcome of cruising on this behemoth floating city goes to the great experience of our friend Martin. We were so happy to see him again.
EMBARKATION Considering the huge number of embarking passengers, RCCL has adopted a well oiled check-in process, a large number of check-in booths where passengers are directed by their cabin deck. In addition, priority is given to people in wheelchairs, Suites and "Frequent Floaters" (Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members of the Crown & Anchor Society). So our check-in was expeditious and in minutes we were in our cabin. Here was the first "wow": A telephone call notified us that Vincent had left his wallet at the check-in booth. He went back to retrieve his wallet, thanked the kind lady that found it, but, due to the crowding, did not ask her name, so later he could not mention her for the "wow" employee who made the difference in our cruise! To the special lady: We wish we could have thanked you more appropriately. We are sorry we did not.
SHIP The Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship afloat, was launched the fall of 2009. She was the first of an innovative class of RCCL ships. The second ship of this class is the Allure of the Seas, which was launched a year later. Needless to say, no other existing cruise ship matches this pair in size, shapes or innovations. For a detailed review of the Oasis we refer the readers to the one we posted on this web site in December 2009. This review will be confined to the impression of our return to the Oasis and the difference of our balcony exposure.
CABIN Our stateroom was a wheelchair accessible cabin with balcony, # 14303, on deck 14, the top deck with passenger cabins. This cabin was similar to the one we had the last cruise on the Oasis, #14166. The major difference between the two cabins was that the first one overlooked the ocean and this one was above the Boardwalk. Needless to say, it lacked privacy since it was facing the cabins on the starboard side and the Sports Court on deck 15, with constant passenger activity. The first time out on the balcony, Mary was startled by two dangling legs whizzing by. Yes, the Zip Line went right by our balcony. The balcony was a bit smaller than the one we had before, thus we did not ask the steward for a chaise lounge for Vincent. No matter, we soon realized that for privacy we would have the drapes closed during most of the voyage and the use of the balcony was limited to very little time, since Vincent could not enjoy relaxation due to the noisy activities on the Boardwalk below, nor could he be lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean's waves. Moreover, he could not stargaze during clear nights. Don't let us deter you from booking a cabin overlooking the Boardwalk, since your preferences may be different from ours and you might enjoy looking at the Aqua Show or watching the people having fun below.
Wheelchair accessible cabins on this ship have no automatic door openers, which facilitate the handicapped passenger to enter and exit the room. On a few ships we have enjoyed the automatic openers (see the Solstice class ships), thus we suggest that such convenience should be used on all ships. However, on the Oasis the wheelchair accessible bathrooms and most of the doorways are equipped with automatic door openers.
SERVICE & FOOD Despite the high number of cruisers, service is excellent under H.D. Martin Rissley. In the Opus Dining Room, Head of Restaurant Operations Oliver Dzalevski, gave us an excellent table near the entrance. Head Waiter Jay was on the ball and our waiters were terrific: James Francis, Michelle Edwards and MacArthur couldn't have been sharper!
As usual RCCL has tremendous portions and excellent meats. We feasted each and every meal. We also enjoyed Giovanni's Table, the upscale Italian restaurant and its special atmosphere, music and service. We lamented the absence of Chef Marco Morrama, whom we met on the previous cruise, but now he is on the Allure. He has an exquisite touch with authentic Italian cuisine.
The abundance of venues for food and the hot cookies and scones are still very popular and much appreciated on RCCL ships. The Concierge Club Lounge is unique to RCCL and it is a positive perk for Suite passengers and Crown &Anchor advanced members: Complimentary specialty coffee (Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, etc.), pastries, juices and fruits are available for breakfast and through the day; and hors d'ouvres and drinks are offered before dinner in the evenings. This cruise Ricardo Mock and Allan Fajardo shared the duty of Concierge and were very helpful to us regarding reservations for shows and specialty dining, etc. The Concierge Club Lounge is also a nice place to meet people and make new friends. We were fortunate to befriend a couple of very interesting people from California, Sandy and Dennis, with whom we spent some nice time conversing about the cruises and other topics of common interest every evening during our pre dinner cocktail hour. We promised to keep in touch with each other, but have not yet been able to do it, first due to a computer problem and then to some health problems that afflicted us. We promise to get in touch with them as soon as possible.
ENTERTAINMENT Amy Fickert from Springfield, Ohio is the youngest Cruise Director of the RCCL fleet. Attractive and outgoing, she rallies the passengers for the many venues on board: sports, exercise and poolside activities. She introduces the major theater shows and she hosts "The Love and Marriage Game Show" on Monday evenings in the Opal Theater. There are several shows performed in the Opal Theater which require reservation. Some shows are presented several times, so if you miss them on the first day of the performance, you can catch them on the second or third time. The Headliner Showtime "Mosaic" and the production shows "Hairspray" and "Come Fly with Me" are currently shown in the Opal Theater. A stand up comedy show is offered every night in Comedy Live, deck 4.
In Studio B there is an Olympic quality ice skating show, "Frozen in Time" which is based on Hans Christian Anderson's tales, just fantastic! Don't miss it. At the end of the ice show there is an interesting attraction: A young lady and her assistant who tell stories using sand painting or sculpturing â€“ unbelievable, touching the sand on a screen with rapid motions of her hands and fingers she created numerous changing scenes with characters and animals, etcâ€¦.
There is live entertainment all over the ship, including classic string music, jazz and dancing. Go out and find your favorite entertainment.
PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Depart 5:30pm
Day 2. At Sea
Day 3. Labadee, Haiti Arrive 7:00am Depart 4:30pm
Day 4. Falmouth, Jamaica Arrive 10:00am Depart 6:30pm
Day 5. At Sea
Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 6:30pm
Day 7. At Sea
Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Arrive 7:00am
DEBARKATION Debarkation was just as efficient as embarkation. The passengers in need of wheelchair assistance met in a designated area on deck 5, where a coordinator indicated the order of debarkation according to the passenger's luggage tag color. In less than fifteen minutes we collected our luggage and went through customs. Within half an hour we were on our way home.
CONCLUSION This was a good cruise, but not as great as the last one on the Oasis. The big disappointment was the selection of our cabin with the balcony facing the Boardwalk, rather than the ocean. However, Oasis and Allure offer alternatives that other ships do not have, most of their inside cabins have balconies or windows on Central Park, Boardwalk or the Royal Promenade.
Our next cruise will be on the MSC Poesia, a new cruise line for us, and on March 17th we'll return to one of our favorite ship, the Grand Princess. Happy Cruising!
CABINS The best cabin I've ever had on any cruise ship, period! We had a balcony room (10278) which had the good layout with the bed by the balcony door so we had plenty of room to access our closet. The bathroom is well laid out and felt spacious, and the balcony was the largest we've ever had. The balcony was wide AND deep and extremely roomy. I also appreciated the extra drawer space and cubbyholes all around the stateroom. The closet even had two racks for hanging and we had plenty of room for all of our clothes and gear. Bring an extra outlet plug for phone chargers, etc. since outlets are scarce.
SERVICE - CABIN The service on a whole was excellent. Our cabin steward was incredible. I am difficult to impress and he impressed me. I won a bottle of champagne in the casino raffle the second night on the cruise. I wanted to save it to drink at Thanksgiving so I set it down in our stateroom. When we came back in, our steward had brought 2 champagne glasses AND a large separate bucket of ice forthe champagne. We also never had to ask for anything more than once. The first night I requested 2 extra pillows and an extra towel and we had them all week. Another amazing feat: we were called / greeted by name all week long.
SERVICE - FOOD OUTLETS The My Time Dining service was a bit spotty. We sat at the same table every night and had the same waiter / assistant waiter but they just weren't very good. We were practically ignored several nights (waited 20 minutes just to place an order, never got items we ordered, received the incorrect entrees, etc.). Several nights I sat with an empty water glass for over 15 minutes! On "lobster night" I ordered the lobster and a steak since I thought surf and turf sounded good and I asked for them to be served together. Alas, I was presented with the lobster first and only after I finished, they brought my steak -- but they removed my dirty silverware from my plate and set it down on the table to use with my second entree! I was taken aback by that. Normally waiters will bring fresh silverware. I've cruised with NCL many times and they truly "get" the freestyle concept. Royal Caribbean does not. I would not recommend My Time Dining since it's not "eat whenever you want." You have to have a reservation if you want to avoid waiting for a table -- and what's the point if you have to eat at a set time? The bar staff was friendly and the service at the specialty restaurants, including Johnny Rockets, was fantastic.
FOOD It's no secret that I think RCI has the worst food of any cruise line. I'm sad to say that the Oasis is no different. The food is just not good. The food in the main dining room was edible but not very tasty. I made a point to try everything on the "available every night" menu. The sirloin steak was adequate but had a weird texture. The roasted chicken was moist and tasty. Only the salmon was actually inedible and I had to order something else. Some of the menus were better than others, and some of the selections were better than others. Sugar free ice cream is offered in the dining room every night and the flavor changes daily. Food is subjective but RCI still has the worst food in the business.
The Windjammer buffet is absolutely disgusting, and I do not say that lightly. I took photos of the food and I wish I could post them here because a pictures really is worth a thousand words! The food was cold, bland and generally unappetizing. The Windjammer has the same soups / desserts as the main dining room on most nights so if there's something you liked at dinner, stop by the buffet if you need a midnight snack!
Sorrento's pizza had a good variety of pizzas and a made to order pizza bar. Promenade Cafe had poor quality cold sandwiches and desserts. Solarium Bistro had good vegetable options at their lunch buffet and a decent salad bar. Room Service was okay. The spinach dip and caesar salad were the best items on the menu. Avoid breakfast; we ordered it once and the bacon was served practicaly raw. The Boardwalk donut shop was really bad, but it was free.
The roast beef in the Park Cafe was good and I enjoyed the tossed to order salads (these salads aren't as good as the tossed to order salads in the main dining room at lunch time; go there and get big shrimp and premium ingredients like roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and more). The service here was exceptional as well. We couldn't get reservations at most of the specialty restaurants but we did get to go to Giovanni's Table and Johnny Rockets several times. The food at Giovanni's was very, very good. Johnny Rockets had typical burgers but it was fun to munch on them while sitting out on the Boardwalk. Service was stellar at both. The best kept secret on the Oasis is Vintages, the wine bar! They have an extensive tapas menu of very tasty appetizers. We went there on several occasions. Ask for Ramona, she is wonderful and took great care of us. We were in Vintages almost every single night (Caymus cabernet by the glass for $20; combine that with a Gold member 2-for-1 coupon and it's a deal)!
ENTERTAINMENT I didn't like having to make reservations for all of the shows. I made them before we left home for all of the shows but we only ended up going to Hairspray. I didn't like having a set time that I had to be at a show, so we just stopped going. Hairspray was good and fun; not Broadway quality but good for a cruise ship. The sets were awesome! We also enjoyed the improv show (no reservations required) and of course Quest! As an animation fan, I was always excited to see the DreamWorks characters roaming about. The characters pay attention to the kids as well as the adults so I got some great photos. The Dreamworks parade was a ton of fun, and it was a thrill to take a flash mob dance class and then get to join in as the entertainment one evening! Ride the carousel, listen to karaoke, mini golf, flowrider, play music trivia...there was so much to do we didn't have time to do it all! The casino, the nicest I've ever seen at sea (and I live in Las Vegas!), was large with a non-smoking side and lots of fun slots. The Aqua Theater shows fun movies at night (the Grease sing-a-long was a blast). I was sort of surprised at the low quality of the lounge acts and house bands.
GOOD I was most impressed with, aside from the sheer awesomeness of the ship, the attitudes of all of the staff we encountered! Every single employee we dealt with, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, was happy, friendly, smiling and seemed very eager to please. I really feel like the crew of the Oasis tried really hard to make sure we had an awesome vacation. I did not encounter even one disgruntled employee. Not one. That is very rare on any cruise ship and I have never had that happen before. What really surprised me is that the ship never felt crowded. Embarkation and debarkation was easy, and our luggage was delivered to our stateroom about 30 minutes after we boarded. Amazing!
BAD Aside from the food, my only major complaint was the time it took to get back on board after being in port. It was ridiculous, especially in St. Maarten where it took us over one hour to get back on the ship! RCI is serious about security, however, and they x-ray everything and wand you down before you get back on. Don't even think about trying to bring alcohol on board, they are crazy about stopping you from doing that. It was the worst liquor patrol I've ever seen on any cruiseline. I also hope the Oasis will start to sail different ports because our itinerary was overcrowded and not that fun (Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten). Of course, we've "been there, done that" so we were going mostly for the ship!
THE FREAKING AWESOME Select pools and hot tubs are open 24 hours! Yes, 24 hours! We went swimming at 2:30 in the morning and it was awesome (the pools are freshwater, so no nasty salt in your mouth). There was also NO pushiness about shopping or recommended stores or any of that nonsense! I didn't hear one solicitation all week. I also majorly loved Vintages wine bar.
SUMMARY All in all this was a great cruise and I'm ready to sail the Oasis again. One thing is for certain: it is going to be extremely difficult to ever go back to a ship that's not an Oasis class! This ship has spoiled me. Take the Oasis: you won't be disappointed. It is truly an amazing vessel.
My cruise is yet to happen, but I just learned that the fitness center sauna and steam room, which for YEARS have been a standard included feature, are no longer included with the base cruise fare. In order to use those facilities, you now have to pay $30/day or $300 for the duration of the cruise, which represents a 25% increase in the cost of the cruise. This was NOT communicated by the "certified RC reservation specialist" during the booking process and amounts to an airline adding a baggage charge without telling you when you book the ticket! Choose another different cruise line which has more honest, clear communication about fee changes!!!!
The ship seemed even larger than advertised. It was our 13th cruise and we sincerely enjoyed the cruise. The entertainment(there were several venues) was fantastic!! We loved the Central Park area.
The only downsides were: The balcony room over the Boardwalk area seemed a littl small (compared to regular rooms on previous cruises) and we didn't especially like the "My Time Dining" which was all that was available when we booked. But, I would still highly recommend the cruise to anyone.
After waiting for just over two years we finally went on our Oasis cruise. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale early on Friday morning and spent the day at the Lago Mar resort. It was a great hotel located on the beach.
We checked out at 10:30 a.m. and caught a taxi to the port. We checked in and were on the ship in about twenty minutes. After checking out the various areas on the ship we ate in the windjammer and spent the rest of the day familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the ship. The muster drill was much improved, the stations are located in various venues onboard instead of outside on a hot deck. Ours was in the Champagne lounge and went very well. An added benefit to this is that the outside deck on deck 5 where the lifeboats are is much smaller and really only has room for the two lane jogging track with a couple feet on either side. This allowed for more room for the interior, RCCL was very smart with that improvement.
We were very impressed with the amount of thought that went into thelayout of this beautiful ship. There are so many things to look at and do and they are spread out around the ship. With this layout no one area ever looked crowded and it was hard to believe that there were over 6000 people onboard. We also liked the interactive tv screens near the elevators you could do everything from finding your way around, to seeing what activities were available, and the best feature the restaurant indicator that would tell you how crowded the restaurants were at any given moment. These were also available on the stateroom tv’s.
We did go off the ship in each of the ports of call, however it would have been nice to have had more time in Nassau (only there until 2:00p.m.) Even the locals there were complaining at the early departure of both the Oasis and the Carnival Dream that was also in port that day.
We made pre-reservations for the shows we wanted to see and was very impressed with the ice show, Aqua theater show and the Up in the Air show. We also went to the comedy show, the first comedian wasn’t that great but the second was funny.
My husband and teenage boys really liked the flowrider and spent quite a bit of time on it. It was nice having two of them so one could have stand-up surfing while the other had boogie boarding. They also signed up for the boot camp classes in the fitness center and even though the workouts were hard they enjoyed them. I used the regular fitness equipment and never had a problem with anything. The location was a bit different as we are used to the fitness center being on the top deck with full length windows. It is located on deck 6 with porthole windows on either side.
The Zip line was an absolutely incredible experience, a word of advice is to do the Zip on one of the first few days onboard as the lines get longer on the last two days at sea. My 17 year old son and I rode the Zip as my hubby and 15 year old were to scared. It was so much fun, only wished they had made it longer.
We stayed in an Owners Suite and was impressed with both the layout and size of the room and bathroom. Having two tv’s was also an improvement over the Owner’s suite we stayed in on the Explorer. The balcony was also large with both upgraded table and chairs as well as two lounge chairs. We also had pool towels in our room and they were exchanged for clean ones by our stateroom attendant as needed.
We tried out some of the various restaurants onboard, Johnny Rockets, Seafood Shack, Chops as well as the MDR, Windjammer, Sorentos, Izumi’s and Promenade Café. All were great food, with Chops being our favorite.
We also enjoyed the casino and even though the machines weren’t being friendly it is nice having half the casino as smoke-free (my hubby had pretty good luck on the roulette wheel). A lot of our evenings we spent with the kids playing either mini golf or ping-pong. Both very well laid out towards the back of deck 15. The ping pong tables are in an enclosed area which is great to both keep the wind out and the balls in. There are two areas with 3 tables each.
Overall the Oasis much exceeded our expectations the size of the ship (it is enormous especially when looking at her when walking off in port) and the very well thought out layout, nothing was ever crowded. The only disappointments were in some of the artwork in the stairwells, some of the chromograph pictures were not the most professional looking and didn’t seem to match up to what you would expect to see on such an exceptional ship. Also the lack of some of the people onboard to be able to put there golf clubs and balls away as well as the ping pong balls and paddles. I mean come on its not that hard to put your stuff away, and the amount of ping pong balls being stepped on and squished seemed very disrespectful.
Getting off the ship took longer than we expected. We were able to stay in our room and leave it at our leisure. We had earlier numbered luggage but decided to sleep in and leave whenever we were ready. There were problems with the ramps from the ship to the terminal so the lines were long to get off. It took an hour until we were out of the terminal and in a taxi. I don’t think it normally takes that long though.
This review will get right to the point. The Oasis is hugh, at 225,000 tons, and carries up to 6200 passengers. But it is a wonderful ship and we had a great time!! The Oasis is a family-oriented vessel, with more to do and experience than you will have time to on one trip. The neighborhood design is outstanding, and getting around is not bad as some might indicate. My BW and I are in our 60s'and found the ship organized and well thought out.
The food and entertainment were above average, as was the service.
The Oasis might not be for every cruiser, but don't avoid it just because of its' size. The Oasis is an experience all cruisers should try at least once.