Length: 1,186 ft
Passengers (all berths): 6,264
One of two "largest cruise ships in the world" at 220,000-tons - a spectacular cruise experienceBest For People Who Want
Bragging rights to a ticket upon the world's largest cruise ship. The feeling of a city-at-sea; Mass appeal to children of all ages; non-stop nightlife, extensive sports equipment, wide variety of onboard entertainment optionsShould Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
A small ship with lots of quiet spaces; single, open seating or intimate dining; a close-to-the-sea cruise experience.Onboard Experience
Oasis of the Seas, at 220,000-ton debuted November 30, 2009 as the biggest cruise ship in the world ever built by at least 30% - both in size and in passenger capacity. But lest you think Oasis is just an expanded version of any other cruise ship, a thought that does not appeal to some people, let me explain that Oasis is not just another cruise ship. It is a completely new design in ships unlike anything ever built before. Whereas previous Royal Caribbean mega-ships feature one area that the company now refers to as a "neighborhood," the open indoor expanse called the Royal Promenade, Oasis of the Seas has seven such neighborhoods including; a larger Royal Promenade, Central Park, the Boardwalk, the Entertainment Zone, the Youth Center, the Sports Zone and the Spa and Fitness center.
The two new open air neighborhoods, Central Park and the Boardwalk, are what make the ship truly unique in design, aside from her overwhelming size, of course. Central Park is wrought with living trees and rambling vines - surrounded by cozy shops and cafés. The Boardwalk is a mini-Coney Island a busy fun-zone with a real carousel, free donuts, a candy store, ice cream parlor and two restaurants, Johnny Rockets and The Seafood Shack. At the far aft end of the ship is an "AquaTheater" for swimming during the day and spectacular water-themed production shows at night.
Also on the Boardwalk is the free carousal, a lovely, authentic merry-go-round from the early 1900s with a classic menagerie of wooden animals to ride from frogs to zebras, ostriches, lions and bears. Towards the aft end of the Boardwalk is the ultra-impressive AquaTheater - the venue for the water-based shows featuring water acrobatics including extreme high dives, a trampoline and even synchronized swimming. This venue has the potential to be one of the most impressive shows on the ship, but was not quite ready for the first cruise we sailed upon. What was supposed to be a 45 minute show was only 20-minutes, and it was obvious that many parts were still just in the rehearsal stage.
One little item many people will notice and wonder about are the red/green "traffic signals" embedded in the rock climbing walls across from the theater. Those are actually there to tell the divers the pool is clear of underwater movable platforms and equipment, the green light meaning it is "all clear" to dive from the 58-foot platform.
Right now, there is just one AquaTheater show offered, the more highly choreographed and interpretational "Oasis of Dreams," while "Splish-Splash" is described as a "comedy diving show." which should be ready in March 2010. During times when the AquaTheater shows on not being performed, it has been said Royal Caribbean will allow passengers to swim in the pool. Right now the pool is closed for rehearsals, however. They will also occasionally show "fountain shows" featuring several computer controlled fountains with colored lighting effects that are programmed to "dance" to various songs.
The two uppermost decks comprise the sports zone with two flo-rider surfing machines, a complete kid's water park, a "beach-entrance" pool, a miniature golf course, ping pong and basketball, rock-climbing, two swimming pools and an adults-only serenity area with two hot tubs cantilevered over the sides of the ship. One of the most unique features is the zip-line with takes you an a 5-second ride over the boardwalk. This is a free activity, as are all sports activities on Oasis, but it requires signing a waiver and putting on all kinds of gear. In the end it took the staff about five to ten minutes to suit up each individual, and there were dozens of people in line. Not worth the wait for anyone who has ever ziplined before.
Not far away from the Sports Zone you will find one of the largest youth zones at sea - planned so the youngsters can enjoy the sports facilities without having to wander far from their dedicated facilities.
During the day, the Solarium at the forward end of the ship offers health-conscious cuisine with no serving over 500 calories. At night, the same space becomes a health-conscious full-service restaurant charging $20 per person. It is fully possible to eat vegetarian or even vegan on Oasis of the Seas.
Video: Flowrider; Oasis has two of these.
The Oasis Royal Promenade is longer, taller and wider than the Freedom and Voyager-class ships. Here you'll find the boutiques found on the Freedom class vessels, including the Mondo Coffee Bar ($2.50 per cappuccino but plenty of free regular coffee plus delicious free pastry and sandwiches); Sorrentos for free pizza and pastries anytime; a champagne bar, and various gift shops. Missing from previous ships are the Ben & Jerry's ice cream stand and "A Close Shave," male tonsorial parlor charging an outrageous $72 for a shave. The English-style Globe and Atlas Pub for beer lovers is still there, it features a live acoustic guitarist playing favorites, and the On Air Club which is mostly a karaoke club and live music lounge is right next door. Up above the Royal Promenade is another level for strolling with additional shops and nooks. Here you will find the traditional Royal Caribbean Schooner Bar, but for the first time it feels more like an afterthought rather than an important room. The main feature of the Royal Promenade, however, is the Rising Tide Bar, a lounge that is also an elevator between the Royal Promenade and Central Park, two decks above it. It boards every 15 minutes and takes about five minutes to complete the ride to the other level.
Central Park, the other large outdoor area other than the Boardwalk, features the Parkside Art Gallery, the Vintage Wine Bar, restaurants such as Giovanni's Table, Chops Grille and 150 Central Park. There are cozy walkways around the skylights for the Royal Promenade below with live trees and vines. Tiers of staterooms with verandahs line both sides of the Boardwalk and Central Park.
This is an active ship, but even those who can't do all of what Oasis offers will enjoy watching those who can. The 40-foot-high rock-climbing walls are immense. There is an ice-skating rink for recreational skating as well as for Ice Capades-type shows and a mini-golf course. There's a three-story dining room and one of the biggest casinos at sea.
There are literally miles of public corridors, but the hallways are occasionally "jiggered" so you don't get a sense of the full distance, plus excellent interactive signage precludes anyone from getting too grievously lost. These interactive computer screens will tell you exactly how to find anything you want. You tell it where you want to go and it instantly displays a map on how to get there. However, after a simple "let's go see the ship!" comment leads you out the door, by the time you return to your cabin you will feel like Marco Polo.Decor
Despite the massive size of the ship, the one thing you will notice is that Royal Caribbean spared no expense in designing the ship. It is a strikingly beautiful ship, not just in size but also in detail. The design of the ship is the best "work of art" on the ship. There are cantilevered hot tubs, arching balcony balustrades, crisscross beams, tons of glass and beautiful plants, woodwork finishings and tasteful finishings everywhere. The atriums boast tall modern sculptures rising several decks. Glass elevators in the vertical atriums at each end of the promenade make for breathtaking views of the interior of the ship. The size alone here is not the attraction of the ship, it is that they managed to finish every single detail in an eye-pleasing manner that is most impressive.Public Rooms
The breathtaking Royal Promenade, longer than a football field and wider than three lanes of traffic, and another deck taller than the Freedom-class ships has natural light streaming in through skylights in the roof. There are not as many inside staterooms to the Promenade as they are on Voyager and Freedom-class vessels. Those windows were almost always shuttered anyway, so people on the outside could not see what was happening on the inside. The mall is always dazzlingly illuminated, unless the lighting effects are turned on for the Mardi Gras-style parades complete with stilt walkers, streamers and confetti.
Video: Promenade Parade
The enormous Casino , through which passengers must pass on deck four to get the Ice Rink called "Studio B" and the Opal Theater main show lounge, is gilded to within an inch of its life, with nearly hundreds of slots and tables for blackjack, craps, roulette and Caribbean Stud Poker. There are banks of gaming tables, twice as large as most cruise ship casinos. There is no live poker, but there video Texas Hold'em games.
Video: Royal Caribbean Ice Show
Further along (aft) you find "Entertainment Central," a first for Royal Caribbean."Comedy Live" is the first dedicated comedy night club at sea. There are three "family oriented" shows each night and an "adults only" show close to midnight every night. You also find "Jazz on 4," which features a house jazz band doing several sets nightly. Across from these two show rooms is "Blaze" referred to as one of the "hottest nightclubs at sea." We have to say it is a welcome departure from the supercilious dungeon-like atmosphere of the Voyager and Freedom-class vessels for the nightclub in the same spot. This area was actually something of a dead-zone on those ships, but Oasis has brought it to life nicely.
The gorgeous Opal Theater, a state-of-the-art 1,350-seat show lounge, is where guests will see the "Las Vegas-style Production shows" on the ship. While it is not any larger than on any other Royal Caribbean ships, it is the most beautiful theater they have ever made. This is the lounge where they will show "Hairspray" (the fully licensed Broadway version) as well as the original acrobatic show "Come Fly with me." They also feature special entertainers who come in and work the ship for short periods of time.
There are several other entertainment venues sprinkled throughout the ship: Along the Royal Promenade you have the Brit-like "Globe and Atlas" Pub. Next Door is "On Air" which we mentioned features karaoke as well as "family disco dancing". Across the promenade is "Boleros" which features Salsa music with a live band all night long. This became the favorite hangout for the Latino crowd onboard.
On the upper tier of the Royal Promenade is Dazzles; a ballroom with a live orchestra and a commanding view overlooking Central Park which is stunning at night.
In fact, one thing you have to notice about Oasis is the manner in which every room seems to take on just the right number of passengers, no place was so crowded no one could get in, and no place was so quiet no one wanted to go there.
The best spots for being alone with a book and a fantastic sea view is the Viking Crown Lounge high atop deck 17. Nearby is the Loft Lounge and the Pinnacle Chapel. There are cabins on this deck around the observation lounge, a first for Royal Caribbean, and even on the level one deck higher, deck 18! Personally, I'm too faint hearted to sleep comfortably up there.Cuisine
We found the food and service in the Opal dining room to be surprisingly faster and better than we expected. The key is that so many people choose to eat in many alternative dining spots. Our food arrived hot and in a timely manner.Restaurants
The ship's elegant main restaurant, the Opus Dining Room is three decks tall and features a stunning crystal chandelier and a grand, three-deck staircase. Breakfast and lunch are both served in the dining room, but people are seated by the maitre D' filling up each seat of one large table at a time - you will be seated in close proximity to strangers. For dinner, the bottom deck (3) is reserved for people who prefer old-style pre-assigned dining with the same table and waiters every night, first seating is at 6:15 pm and second seating is at 8:45. Decks 4 and 5 offer "anytime dining" where guests can arrive for dinner whenever they please during the hours it is open, generally from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm.
The vast Windjammer Lido deck restaurant is for casual buffet-style meals. It is surprisingly uncrowded most of the time, due to the large number of alternative options for coffee and pastry one can find all over the ship. Breakfast is probably the busiest meal, but the buffet is also open at dinnertime for those people who just want to pick up a fast, casual dinner. Nearby you will find the Izumi Japanese Restaurant, open only for dinner and with a la carte pricing. Also on the Sports Deck is the "Wipe Out Cafe" with freshly cooked hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, etc., all free.
Central Park is the home of the finest dining venues on the ship. Giovanni's Table, the alternative Italian restaurant, is a lovely intimately-lit venue with family-style servings for lunch ($10 per person) and dinner ($15 per person). Chop's is a staple Royal Caribbean grill for steaks, chops and large lavish desserts. Well worth the $25 service fee.
"150 Central Park" is the finest dining on the ship, headed up by executive chef KeriAnn Van Raesfeld who was named "best young chef" in the world in the world culinary congress in Dubai on 2008. The restaurants typically serves an 8-course tasting menu for $35, not including wine. Two different wine-pairing packages are available offering a drink along with each course. One is $55 and the other is $75 per person. The food is exquisitely delicious, but on our meal the portions were disappointingly small and several items promised to us on our menu were not served (the explanation being that the ship had run out of certain ingredients). This is not an acceptable excuse, and we expect Royal Caribbean will not let this happen on future cruises.
One of the best surprises, food-wise, on Oasis is the no-charge "Park Cafe". One can go to this small deli-style cafe at any time and place an order for a freshly made sandwich. They hand you a number and allow you to select any seat. Of course, being daytime in Central Park there are many al fresco tables available. Your order will be made; meat sliced and cheese grilled on the spot, and brought to your table - no charge. You can even grab a bag of Lay's potato chips to go with it.
Inside the Royal Promenade you find "Sorrento's Pizza" with ready-made slices, or even better, you can order a pie made to your specs on the spot, no charge! They have the ingredients for you to see; anchovies, mushrooms, onions, olives, pepperoni, etc. I heard these pies were delectable, but since most people can't wait, the slices of different styles were more popular.
Cafe Promenade has fingers sandwiches, pastry and hot tea or coffee; all free. Mondo Coffee Bar has pretty much the same offerings, also free, but more seating.
The Cupcake Cupboard may be one of the most controversial subjects on the ship. The cupcakes are delectable, heavy on the frosting and with toppings like coconut, chopped peanuts, chocolate chips, etc., but the price is $2.50 per cupcake! Never have I heard so many complain about the cost of a cupcake. But they are delicious.
On the Boardwalk you will find Johnny Rockets (service charge $4.95 per person) and the Seafood Shack (8.95 per person). At Johnny Rockets you get all the food you want including an ice cream sundae. But if you want a shake it costs an additional $5.00. Does that really make sense? No, but that is the way it is. I cannot personally recommend the seafood shack. I had the fried selection of shrimp, calamari and whitefish. Only the whitefish was any good, the other two were mealy and I could not even tell which was which. You also get an appetizer and dessert. The appetizer was a nice crab-based salad with pita chips. The desserts looked good but I skipped it.
I already mentioned the free donut shop. The Ice Cream Parlor, replacing Ben 'n Jerry's, features a number of delicious sounding sundaes like banana splits. The prices are about $5.50 for a special sundae. You can get a simple ice cream cone for $2.25. There is also free soft-serve ice cream available in three places on the ship, but not nearly as easy to find as on the Freedom-class.Service
We have to say that we were remarkably surprised at the level of service for a ship this size. It is obvious that Royal Caribbean has decided to up the ante on service when it comes to Oasis, and we universally found that everyone we talked to was very eager to help us. If they did not know the answer every single crewmember has a walkie-talkie and they can call up anyone they need. Not once did we receive a "that is not my department" style of reply. It was always, "let me see what I can find out for you."
One of the biggest glitches came from the reservation system for the shows, restaurants and shore excursions. People who had made reservations online in advance of the cruise found that show times had been changed once they arrived. There was supposed to be a system to remind you of what reservations you already had, but unfortunately the interactive television service often yielded error messages just when you thought you were close to getting an answer. You are supposed to be able to make reservations for shows, restaurants and shore excursions with this TV system and sometimes it worked, but most of the time it resulted in an error message saying "We are unable to process your request at this time." This was the ship's first cruise, and we hope that this will be sorted out soon.
Room service is surprisingly efficient, usually telling us delivery would be a lot later than it actually was. Be prepared to tip on delivery even though there is nothing to sign. There is a small service charge of $3.95 for delivery between 12:00 midnight and 5:30 a.m.
One of the spottiest functions of the ship so far is Internet access. There are only 10 workstations for public use, five on deck 7 and five more on deck 9, plus four or five more in the card room on deck 14 aft. The TV set in every cabin is an Internet workstation, but the keyboard and mouse which comes with them do not respond to commands soon enough, making them virtually useless for Internet.
About the best thing you can do on the in-cabin workstation is set up a wireless Internet account (no, you do not have to go to the Internet cafés to do this). But for a wireless account you need a laptop. The ship says it has some for rent but that the supply is limited. Bring your own laptop, you will be far happier. The connection is surprisingly good - when the satellite is working properly. We heard rumors that it went down frequently before the ship began regular service, but we do not know that for a fact. We are also hearing that it has improved somewhat since regular service began although we had one day when it was down for over 12 hours.Tipping
Royal Caribbean suggests a per person per day gratuity of $3.50 for the stateroom attendant ($5.75 if sailing in a suite); $3.50 for the waiter; $2.50 for the Assistant Waiter; .75 Head Waiter. These gratuities may be paid in cash or charged to your onboard account. For children sailing as third or fourth passenger in the stateroom, tipping is at the parents' discretion. If you want these charges added to your accounts you must tell Royal Caribbean at least two days before the cruise ends. Otherwise, be prepared to count out the cash and hand it to the people who serviced you personally.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Additional gratuities for room service, spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.Entertainment
To reiterate; the main entertainment is in the AquaTheater, the On Air Club Ice Rink and the Opal Theater. Smaller venues throughout the ship offer dancing and music throughout the night. Without a doubt, entertainment is one of the main attractions for Oasis. It is the first cruise ship to ever fully license the rights to show a Broadway show in its entirety; Hairspray. This classic musical about a Baltimore teen who wants to integrate a local dance show similar to the "Dick Clark" show of the 1960s has a cast of 24 singers and dancers and is a comedy. The cast is extremely talented, and you would easily pay as much as $90 ticket to see this show on Broadway. The show is a little long by cruise ship standards and it bogs down a bit expertly in the middle, but you get the full show as written - and that is quality entertainment, especially for a cruise ship.
The next venue is the AquaTheater which offers a water-acrobatics show in the style of "La Reve" at the Wynn is Las Vegas or Eau by Cirque d' Soleil. The cast has extremely fit divers and acrobats, but the stage itself is the most impressive part of the show. There are three different diving platform on each side, one of 10 feet, 32 feet and 58 feet. The pool is just 13 feet deep but has all kinds of apparatus that allows it to change from a full pool to a hard stage (without that apparatus the pool would be 17 feet deep). There is also a hard floor that recedes to reveal a trampoline for more dramatic acrobatic action. So, part of the show is acrobatic, part of it is extreme diving and part of it is synchronized swimming. In truth, the show we saw on our cruise, the first passenger cruise, was only about 1/2 ready and we did not see many things that will be included later. I am sure the show has promise and will be one of the prime attractions when it is ready, but that could take a month or two.
The third major show everyone should see is in the ice rink theater called "Studio B." The show is called "Frozen in Time," and is based on the works of Hans Christian Andersen. I am not a big fan of ice skating, but I still enjoyed this show a great deal. It is more than just skating, it has impressive costuming and beautiful music and lighting effects. It went off without a hitch, just like Hairspray, and is a must-see event on the ship.
The balance of entertainment was described in the public rooms - Comedy Live has comedians lightly, Jazz on 4 has live jazz music nightly. Boleros has live Salsa music nightly, Dazzles has a live big band for dancing, there is a piano bar and the English Globe and Atlas pub features a guitarist/singer doing requests. Various surprise events happen throughout the day and night - don't miss the parades in the Royal Promenade.Cabins
Oasis does not skimp on balcony cabins. The ship has 37 cabin categories to choose from, many with views unique to Oasis of the Seas. These include the Royal Promenade cabins with picture windows, balcony cabins facing inwards (not to the sea) over the Boardwalk and Central Park, and of course several balcony cabins facing the sea.
Most impressive, and expensive, are the Loft Suites with two decks of floor space, a living room downstairs with a staircase leading to the bedroom above. The best thing about these suites is two decks of floor-to-ceiling, double-height windows; solid glass for spectacular sea views no matter where in the suite you are. You don't have to worry about who is seeing you when out to sea, but be sure to close those curtains at night!
There's lots of storage. Standard amenities include flat panel color TV with CNN and movies; a safe; controllable air conditioning and hair dryers. There are tubs only in the highest category staterooms; most have only showers.Fitness/Spa
The most noticeable thing is that the fitness area no longer dominates the top forward deck areas. On Oasis the bulk of the Vitality at Sea Spa is on deck five. The ship's well-equipped gym still draws serious fitness buffs with its full range of state-of-the-art machines. The two-level Steiner Spa, with its winding staircase, looks more like the lobby of a boutique hotel, albeit with a Greek motif.
There is a jogging track that completely circumnavigates the ship on deck 5. At the stern are a number of deck chairs if you are looking for a really private hideaway. You can reach the jogging track from the fitness center, or through the glass doors in the Royal Promenade.Children's Facilities
Royal Caribbean has made a number of improvements to youth and teen programming. One new program is Adventure Theater, developed by Camp Broadway in New York City to give kids an immersion into the performing arts. On each RCI sailing, teens and kids can learn acting fundamentals, vocalization, and dance techniques during a series of three 45-minute Adventure Theater sessions.
Another innovative program is Scratch DJ101 classes, which are available to all ages, along with special two-hour sessions just for teens on Liberty of the Seas. After their lessons, teens can showcase their music mixing knowledge in a graduation performance that friends and family can attend.
RCI has added new activities for those three to five years old in conjunction with Fisher-Price. Some of the new themes include Chefs on Deck, which involves role playing for preschoolers; Dino Adventure; and Train-O-Mania.
Oasis is the first Royal Caribbean ship to offer a nursery for infants and toddlers 6 months to 3 years. So far, no charge for these services has been announced and this is a great amenity for young couples who want to enjoy their vacation without baby onboard once in awhile. The minimum age for bringing a child onboard is six months.Attire
There are two formal nights per 7-night cruise. In truth, the definition of formal has changed over the last few years and even seeing a tux is pretty rare these days. While just a few years ago the introduction of Freedom of the Seas spurred many gentlemen to dress in tuxedos, we actually saw blue jeans in the dining room on this cruise, and no one seemed to be objecting. Suffice it to say that even on formal nights you can get away with slacks, a collared shirt and a jacket, you do not need to bring the ties or especially the cummerbund if you do not want to. Women still tend to dress more elegantly and almost anything is acceptable for the ladies.
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.