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.
Nothing can prepare you for the grandeur of the Oasis. Checking in is a snap. We went from dumping off the bags, parking, checking in and getting our SeaPass cards and onto the boat within 10 minutes.
Walking into the side of this ship and onto the Promenade is like entering a different world. You can never wrap your head around how they built everything onto a cruise ship and most times you don't really remember you are on the water in the middle of nowhere.
The rooms had plenty of space and the beds put together created a King size bed. The bathroom was very functional, but remember...the toilet system is different than at home. You can't flush wet wipes down there. Don't ask how we found out...ugh. haha.
The food on the boat was the best I have ever had on a cruise. If someone says I am not being truthful, then they must be very prudish...we were impressed and this was the 11th cruise I have been on. The wait staff did EVERYTHING to keep a smile on your face as did all of the staff.
The entertainment was the bestI have ever seen on board any vessel and it was as glorious as going to Vegas! Even the casino was lively and a happy place to be unlike other ships where some of the casinos can be kinda dank and depressing.
The ports of call were great since we had a dock at all locations (Labadee, Costa Maya and Cozumel). It would be a nightmare to use tendered boats to get almost 5000 to shore...and back.
We enjoyed this ship soooo much, we booked the Allure of the Seas for 2012.
Nobody keeps you happy and entertained and fulfilled like Royal Caribbean.
Just returned from an "escape" aboard the Oasis of the Seas. (FYI- the date piece on this site has not been updated for 2011. Our trip was January 8, 2011) I have never submitted a review, but this time I feel compelled. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale two days early because of the snow in the North so we were ready for our Saturday departure. We arrived at the pier by 11:15AM and we were onboard in 30 minutes. The husband and I then explored the ship for a little while but got tired of carrying our carry-on bags. While the cabins weren't ready until 1PM, our great cabin steward allowed us to hang out on our balcony until the cabins were released!
The Oasis is indeed a grand ship, but having been on five other RCI ships, I have to share that it is the same as the others only much larger. Sorry, people but besides for the zip line and flow rider there isn't much else "new" to do onboard. There are the pools, multiple shows and restaurants, but they are all needed to accomidate the increase inpeople. Central Park is beautiful but after walking through it a few times, been there, done that. The Boardwalk was cute but by no means a real boardwalk atmosphere.
Our cabin was on deck 12 aft. It was great for watching the Aqua Theater and seeing the ocean and boardwalk. If the door was closed tightly, you could not hear anything, but sitting on the balcony, it was not a quiet experience. But that is to be expected.
The daily activities are not anymore special then on other cruises. As a matter of fact, they are heavy in Spa activities and open type programs. Not too much is special. I know there are fans of the Cruise Director, Richard Spacey, but I found him to be immature and disconnected with the guests. His antics are funny, but grow tiring after awhile. I wonder if people would take im seriously in the event of an emergency? Also, his staff LOVES to make constant announcements on the PA system, which get tedious and annoying. BTW - they cannot be understood in the Boardwalk area.
Food was medicore. We ate in Chops, Seafood Shack and the Japanese place. In Chops, we ordered the filet and sent it back. It was baked, not broiled and dried out. Kudos to our head waiter in the MDR. After talking to him about our experience, he got us a full refund. Seafood Shack food was no better than Red Lobster. The ribs were great-not a usual choice for seafood lovers. The Japanese place had low quality, pre-sliced sushi. I understand the galley is trying to feed 6000 people a day, but the quality of the specialty places needs to be better then the main dining room! The Windjammer is just that, jammed! We had many a breakfast in the Solarium. As a note, RCI should not allow young children in the MDR at the late seating. There were strollers all over as well as children either running around or sitting on the tables-very dangerous and inappropriate.
Ports of call were a waste of time. We knew we were going on this cruise for the "Oasis" experience, but Labadee and Costa Maya are plastic worlds. They are custom built places that are there to just suck your money. Costa Maya is a gathering of souvenir shops and a pool. I did purchase items to help the people from Haiti, but that was it. Cozumel is basically the same. The town is one big jewelry mall with shop keepers begging you to look at their merchandise.
Needless to say, this cruise was a great escape from the cell phone and internet. We did relax, but the ports lend much to be desired.
I will say the crew on Oasis go above and beyond. They were friendly, helpful and always tried to accomidate you.
Departure was fine. The gangway got a little backed up but when you have 6000 people leaving, many of which don't listen or follow directions this is to be expected.
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.
We had a balcony on deck eight on the 20 through 27 February 2010 sailing. This was not our first Royal Caribbean cruise and we have multiple cruises on Princess, Holland, Celebrity and Norwegian.
First; the Oasis of the Seas is a Royal Caribbean ship. They follow the standards and practices of Royal Caribbean. The things you liked about Royal Caribbean before, you will like on this ship. Those things you think Royal Caribbean needs to improve need improvement on the Oasis. If you are new to cruising, read the professional reviews to find out what each cruise line is like. Ditto the ports.
Other than a large flat screen TV, our cabin was a standard four to four and a half star cruise ship cabin. Shampoo and soap only in the bath. A five star room has shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower caps, and other items.
What we consider Royal Caribbean’s already marginal cuisine was further degraded on the Oasis by the presence of, and here I'm guessing, and Indian chef. I say that because there was a lot of Indian food and curry everything. If you like Indian food, especially curry, then youmay have enjoyed the food. If, on the other hand, you are like me and doubt there is enough water or boards to force you to endure curry, then an already limited menu was further degraded. I'll just say this about the food; this is the first time I lost weight on a cruise.
They seemed a bit more disorganized than we have come to expect from all cruise lines. Nothing spectacular, just numerous small things. They had regular, skim and chocolate milk the first three days, then no chocolate the last four. We booked transportation to the airport on board. They did not give us tickets. Said we did not need them. Just show up and we would be on the list. We did and we weren't. Two mornings we asked them if they had bananas while breakfasting in the cafeteria. Both times the said yes, but did not have then out for breakfast. Salad makings at lunch with no salad dressing out. No self serve hot water. No iced tea before lunch. I should mention that a very friendly staff rectified the issue most or the time. Couldn't help me with the tea, but did find salad dressing and bananas. An unforgivable was no post cards of the Oasis of the Seas.
Serving sashimi or sushi without wasabi is, and was, unacceptable. They had wasabi in the Japanese restaurant, but not in the Solarium bistro. The Solarium bistro is a specialty restaurant we tried one night. Place was uncomfortably warm.
The cafeteria has several "food islands". The one marked International was all Indian food. The one that said Asian was fried rice, miso soup and Indian food.
Enough about the food, the real attraction is the Oasis of the Seas. Even though the ship is huge, with 5,400 paying guest we thought it would be like Times Square on New Years, It wasn't. The Royal Promenade on deck five gets crowed when they have an activity such as the Disco show. Central Park on deck eight never seemed to be crowed. Although to be fair, there is not much to do in Central Park. No more than normal cruise ship crowds anywhere, and generally less that normal cruise crowds.
Royal Caribbean has a reputation for the best entertainment on the seas. There was nothing on this cruise to diminish this reputation. They did do something I had not seen before. Many of the shows require "tickets". You need a reservation and your on board account card is your ticket. Not by specific seat, but by show. This seemed to work very well. They had a small intimate 100 seat comedy club. Try to imagine 5,400 people trying to get in to a 100 seat club without a reservation system. The show featured two comics. Both were outstanding. Ice show was outstanding. As was the water show, and the production show. The Ice show intermission show was a sand-on-glass artist that would be better seen than described. Ice Show Video
Hairspray was the full Broadway production.
The casino is a standard, but much larger that normal, shipboard casino. A nice touch was designation one side of the casino a no smoking area.
There are two wave riders aft on deck 15. Watching the boogie board want-a-be’s wipe out was good entertainment. The much touted Zip line was, as one of the comics put it, "the most exciting four seconds of your cruise".
A lot of technology in use on this ship. The ship has two banks of six elevators fore and aft – 24 in all. On each deck every bank has an approximately two foot by four foot touch screen with several interesting menus. One is find you room. Touch room locator, enter your room number, touch enter and a map to your room is displayed. Entire display has several language options.
Another very cool use of technology is in the photography department. If you are new to cursing, it is easy to have 50 photos taken on a seven day cruise. No more looking through thousands of pictures looking for yours on the Oasis. They use your on board account card at many of the picture taking places. Where they don't, they use face recognition technology. All of your prints are in a folder assigned to you.
Embarkation went smoothly considering the number of guests boarding. Getting to the ship was a bit slow. The 10 minute ride to the pier took 35 minutes. Twenty of those minutes were sitting on the bus getting into the pier. Re-boarding at the ports also went smoothly. Disembarkation was unnecessarily complicated. There was a woman that insisted you have your Passports and US Customs form in your hand before she would let you into the luggage area. You do not need these until after you pick up your luggage. Most people knew this and did not have said documents readily available. They had to hold up the crowd while they got them out. Also, luggage retrieval could have easily been better organized. I fought my way down an isle of 14 stacks of luggage and then back out the same way. Exiting behind the luggage would have greatly eased the flow of bodies and luggage.
Royal Caribbean has a new policy of encouraging interaction between guest and crew. Our cabin attendant wanted to engage us conversation every time he saw us. Not the normal "good morning", or "how was your day" but he would tell us about his day, why he liked his job, the food, the ship, etc. Our waiter read us the Chef’s recommendations from the Chef’s recommendation portion of the menu every time we dined in the main dining room. Not an illuminating expansion of the menu, just read what was printed. While I consider myself a long way from being a snob and have actually worked in the Philippines and Thailand, there is just not that much that I want to discuss with a Filipino and/or Thai cabin attendant / waiter / assistant waiter / busboy. None of the 4 to 8 staff that engaged us in extended conversation daily had ever shorted the market or knew who Big Papi was and what he might do this season. Imagine that!
For us the Oasis of the Seas is a "been there, done that, got the T-shirt" experience. We are glad we did it, but do not see us doing it again.
My husband and I are avid cruisers and we made our reservations more than 18 months before actually sailing on the Oasis. We took the 7 day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to St. Thomas, St. Maarten/Martin, Nassau, Bahamas plus 3 days at sea. We traveled with two other family members and two friends. Here is our review.
Embarkation: We arrived at the port around 11 a.m. and quickly checked-in with no delay and boarded the ship. Our rooms were not available until 1:00 p.m. so we rolled our carry-on with us as we explored the ship. We embarked right into the middle of the Royal Promenade, which resembles the royal promenade on the Voyager class ships. We began at the top deck and worked our way down.
The Oasis is made up of "neighborhoods" which I will briefly describe:
Solarium/ Sports Deck: There is a huge partially domed Solarium in the front of the ship. This area has multiple levels, is beautifully laid out, and has palm trees and tropical plants. There is a small pool (3-ft. deep) that is warm, plus two hot tubs. Covered verandas are furnished with large, beautiful "TommyBahama" style chairs with thick cushions and matching ottomans--perfect for reading a book or taking a nap. There are 10 cabanas along the very front of the Solarium that are like giant "Papasan" chairs with convertible tops. They are highly sought after and, unfortunately, a few selfish people grab them early and "hog" them all day long, leaving their belonging in them while they go about doing other things on board. There is a policy against such obnoxious behavior, but it needs to be better enforced. Also in the Solarium is the Solarium Bistro, which serves breakfast and lunch "healthy" fare but turns into a chic bistro at night for a surcharge. Located in the Sports Deck area is Izumi, the Japanese specialty restaurant available for a surcharge. We did not get a chance to eat at Izumi but our friends did and said it was outstanding.
Adjacent to the Solarium on both sides of the ship, in a part of the ship that cantilevers out over the water, (inside the glass area) are two huge "infinity" style hot tubs with big-screen televisions. You can sit in the hot tub and look at the ship as though you were alongside it. Also on the sports deck are several other pools, including a cute kiddie aqua park that features fun slides, water guns and fun things to entertain them for hours and a "beach" pool plus sun decks and plenty of beach chairs.
Beach towels are large and thick and have the Royal Caribbean name on them, which makes it feel like you are at a resort. You have to "check out" the towels and return them to the towel kiosk. The rest of the sports deck contains many amenities such as: full-size basketball court; miniature golf, ping pong tables; shuffleboard; rock-climbing wall; zip-line; flow-rider wave machine for surfing or using the boogie board. Everything is well laid out and spacious. Also on the sports deck is a dining venue called Wipeout Café plus a small beach shop that sells beach wear, suntan lotion, and other things. A free soft-serve ice cream machine with cones is located near the pools. Although it can get crowded, there were always lounge chairs available.
Vitality Spa and Fitness Center: The spa is huge and takes up 2 floors. There are the usual offerings plus additional special treatment rooms. The relaxation room could comfortably seat 16 people but was never that crowded. There is also a nice salon. I had a massage, pedicure, and reflexology as I am a spa junkie – my guilty pleasure on cruises. Located within the spa and fitness area is the Vitality Café where you can get a healthy snack, energy drink, or smoothie, and specialty coffee drinks. Some of the items in the café are free and some cost extra. The fitness center was huge. I never had a problem using the equipment, much of which is state-of-the-art. There are plenty of classes and lectures to attend, or you can do your own routine, which is what I did. There are some bikes available (for an extra charge) that have simulated interactive biking courses, which looked interesting. The fitness center has a stairwell that takes you down to the promenade deck, which is essentially a jogging track. Along the way are motivational signs and reminders to stop and stretch, and informational markers to let you track your distance.
Boardwalk: The Boardwalk is very cute. There are 2 dining options available for an extra charge: Johnny Rockets diner and Seafood Shack. We ate lunch at the Seafood Shack and enjoyed several different appetizers and entrees. The carousel is beautiful and I was dragged aboard by my Mother in Law --- and have to admit --- it was fun to ride it with the kiddies and their grandparents---very authentic. There are some shops on the Boardwalk such as: ice cream parlor; donut shop; old-fashioned candy store with many nostalgic candies; a gift shop with items for the beach; cute children's beach clothes, etc. Along the Boardwalk are decorative items you would find in a real boardwalk, such as pop-corn machines, "funhouse" mirrors, and so forth. Even "Voltar" is available to tell your fortune. The Boardwalk has about 5-6 stories of "inside" cabins that overlook it. I would imagine those who took rooms overlooking the Boardwalk would be reminded of summers at the shore, as that is what it looked like to me. Those rooms were quite noisy, however, as I was told by fellow cruisers. At the very end (aft of the ship) is the fabulous Aqua Theatre. This theatre has stadium seating (comfy) and a stage with a 17 foot deep pool --- various diving boards and platforms, lighting, and 2 big-screens for movies and other special effects. The evening performance put on by former Olympic swimmers and acrobats was spectacular. The Aqua Theatre was flanked on either side by the Aqua Suites. I was very enthralled with the Aqua Suites for several reasons. First, the suites were stepped such that the lowest one had the largest balcony and the balconies decreased in size as you went higher. The balcony for each suite was a large wrap-around style balcony that appeared to have built-in outdoor bars. I would guess that the view of the Aqua Theatre, as well as the ocean view on the other side, was stunning; however, noise would definitely be an issue. There is also a 30 minute evening water show set to music (like at Bellagio in Las Vegas) that was very dramatic and well done. Those in the Aqua Suites were on their balconies viewing the water show and appeared to enjoy it.
Central Park: This venue was my favorite by far, perhaps because I am a native New Yorker. It was so pretty and peaceful and …absolutely elegant at night. There are so many plants and park benches that you really forget you are on a cruise ship! There is a winding path that allows you to meander along and take it all in. Central Park has the high end shops (including a Coach purse store) and restaurants. Vintages, the on-board wine bar, was huge. We all met there one afternoon for tapas (small plates of tasty food) and wine flights (3 different glasses of wine based on varietals and/or vineyard) and had a great time. Restaurants in Central Park include: Chops Grille, Park Café, 150 Central Park, and Giovanni's Table. We ate at 150 Central Park for dinner and we were blown away! I felt like a judge on the TV show Iron Chef. There are two menus that alternate depending upon the day of the week. One of our table mates was afraid that she would not like the food because she is a rather picky eater; however, she loved it. The ambiance is very elegant, the service is outstanding, and the food just took our breath away! While my husband and I ordered a bottle of wine, our friends selected the wine-parings and really enjoyed it. There is a surcharge for the dinner and an extra charge for the wine and alcohol but this place is on my list of one of the most fascinating food experiences I have had. If you are a "foodie" and love wine, you really need to go to 150 Central Park ($35 surcharge applies).
We ate lunch at Giovanni's Table (also a surcharge of $10 for lunch and $20 for dinner) but thought it was "just ok." They serve food family style. We like Sabatini's on Princess better. Central Park is also the final destination of the Rising Tides Bar. The bar is a slow-moving elevator that takes you up two stories inside the Royal Promenade and then ends in Central Park under a glass domed ceiling shaped like a wave and reminiscent of Tavern on the Green in NYC. We went to the Rising Tides Bar twice and really enjoyed it, especially at night, with all the twinkle lights in Central Park. Rising above Central Park are several floors of "inside" cabins that have windows overlooking the park and in fact, the cabins across the hall from us were those cabins. We were told by those cabin-dwellers that it was extremely noisy in those rooms. The Park Café was open for breakfast and lunch and was packed all the time. The cafe serves excellent fresh salads that you create and delicious panninis as well as sandwiches and desserts.
Also available for really serious foodies is Chef's Table which is available for a $75 surcharge, including wines. We did not have time to try this but it sounds really neat!
Dining Room and Windjammer Café: The Windjammer is very small. We do like the way RCCL organizes the food stations because it minimizes "traffic jams" and makes it easier and quicker to grab a bite. We enjoyed the variety of food, especially the Asian bar. The Opus Dining Room was elegant and we had outstanding service for the 6 pm seating. We sat next to the Captain's Table and behind it was a stage where musicians played the piano and/or violin during dinner. The menu selections were "good" to "great" and everything as well-prepared and delicious. There is also an anytime dining option, which is a nice alternative.
Staterooms: We had a balcony cabin as did our travel companions. It was located mid ship on deck 12 and was very quiet and adequate, but considerably smaller than the same type of cabin on the Voyager Class ships. We were very space-challenged but managed to hang or fold all our clothes and get our 3 suitcases under the bed. The bed was extremely comfortable. We had a nice flat screen TV but there were hardly any programs available. RCCL obviously does not want you to hang out in your room! The TV was connected to a keyboard, which you could use to monitor your account, review all menus for each evening, connect to the internet for a fee, and learn all about what the ship has to offer, plus it had many other features. Our balcony was huge, and we were able to get the glass partition moved so that we could double the balcony size with our neighbors (travel companions), which made it even better. The balcony was covered and yet was sunny if you stood by the railing. The railing was higher than usual so that when you are sitting, the railing does not obstruct your view. We had a table and two chairs and were able to host the sail-away party for 6 in our room. The bathroom was really tiny with just a small corner stand-up shower, which was smaller than a coat closet. The sink and toilet were so close together that one could use both simultaneously! We are both tall and had issues banging our elbows in the shower just trying to wash our hair! If you are of large girth, you would probably have a problem with the small showers. I understand the junior suites have a tub-shower, which is much larger. The Royal Suite was a few doors down from us and it looked spacious and magnificent. There were some traditional inside cabins but most of what would be "inside" cabins on other ships has windows overlooking Central Park, the Boardwalk, or the inside of the Royal Promenade. In addition to the Aqua Suites, there were Sky Suites overlooking Central Park, which I would probably really like, except for the noise factor. The2 -story Loft Suites are located near the Viking Crown Lounge, as is the wedding chapel and Concierge Suite. Our stateroom attendant was excellent and she did a great job keeping our room clean and tidy. We gave her a big tip.
Entertainment: The entertainment on board was over-the-top excellent. There are so many shows, you really have to manage your time well to see everything in 7 days. In addition to the Aqua Theatre water acrobatic spectacular, we saw the Broadway musical Hairspray; the aerial production Come Fly With Me (like a Cirque du Soleil show); Frozen in Time (a stunning ice show based on the stories of Hans Christian Andersen), the Headliner (an excellent singer-comedian that took us back to Motown and Rock 'N Roll), and two excellent comedians, who performed in the Comedy Club. There are many venues to enjoy in addition to the theatre, including a sports bar, Boleros night club, Dazzles night club, a karaoke bar, and on… and on. The NFL playoffs were taking place during our first 2 days and you could watch from any of the big screens located throughout the ship, or in your stateroom.
Getting Around the Ship: You would think a ship this huge would be hard to maneuver but that was not the case. There are only 2 banks of elevators, and located outside each bank, is a simple-to-read board for each floor telling you what is where AND there is a computerized interactive board that you can use to locate your room or any other place by answering a few questions. The info board also had wait times for the various dining venues so you could decide where to eat based on space available. There were numerous elevators and rarely did we wait long. There were two stairwells (Port and Starboard) behind the elevators. Finally, there were ship's models located near the elevators, (like all RCCL ships have) to help you locate various places by deck.
The Ports: We have traveled the Caribbean and been to St. Thomas, St. Martin/Maarten and Nassau many times so we did not take any excursions on this trip. We walked around and did some shopping and then got back on board. You could disembark in 4 different places so you never had to wait on line. Getting back on the ship was a cinch, too: no problems, no wait, and no effort. It was a breeze.
Overall: The Oasis was not just a cruise ship; it was a resort on water. We were enthralled with the ship for our first two days (both sea days) and had so much fun exploring every nook and cranny. There are some vestiges of a traditional Royal Caribbean cruise experience on the Oasis (i.e., the "newlywed" game show and The Quest) but there was so much more than anything we had ever experienced before on a cruise ship. It really felt as though we were at a resort by the sea. It was a destination in itself! We loved every minute of it and would definitely cruise again on board the Oasis … or check out the Allure when it debuts.
On the negative side, I would say that sometimes we felt like we were being "nickeled- and dimed" with all the surcharges, some of which are unnecessary in our opinion. Still, even if you prefer smaller, more intimate ships, the Oasis experience is unique and unparalleled at this time. I do not know what RCCL has planned for the future but they have certainly outdone themselves this time and have raised the bar quite high, in our opinion. If you are thinking about cruising aboard the Oasis but worried that a big ship would be too crowded or overwhelming, don't worry. RCCL has done a magnificent job of designing the ship to accommodate large crowds. There are so many different interesting and fun public areas on the ship that you never feel too crowded or overwhelmed. It is well presented and well managed. Go ahead and hop on board and experience cruising at a whole new level.
There is an old adage that goes something like this: It's not where you are going, but rather, how you get there. Well, in this case, the Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has constructed the largest cruise ship afloat, which is a destination in itself. Its home Port Everglades of Ft. Lauderdale had to increase its Pier #18 in order to accommodate this behemoth, as did each of its destination ports.
Her 225,282 gross tons, is an increase of more than 65,000 tons over the RCI Freedom Class. It is not just size that is important, but rather the fact that the Oasis has more outdoor space than any other cruise ship: a fact that makes sailing on her so different an experience from sailing on any other cruise ship. Her seven neighborhoods concept makes for a wonder of a cruise --- a vacation like no other. So much has been written in anticipation of the Oasis of the Seas Maiden Voyage, that this review will instead center on our personal experiences while cruising with Captain Bill Wright (a terrific Renaissance man) and our old friend Hotel Director FrancoisWache' and the many new acquaintances we made.
EMBARKATION We looked forward to Tuesday Dec.1st, 2009 for over a year, having booked this cruise on the first day available to Crown & Anchor Society Diamond Members. As physically challenged travellers, we knew that the ship size and number of passengers (over 5,000) could possibly create chaos. However, this was one of the simplest and most orderly boardings we have ever had. Crown &Anchor members and wheelchair passengers had special lines. Each Deck had a special check-in line, thus, cutting down on the waiting.
We arrived in Port Everglades at 12:45pm and had curbside assistance with our luggage, wheelchair and scooter. We were on board and in our stateroom by 1:15pm. There were several venues for Welcome Aboard dining, but we chose the closest to our cabin #14166 portside: the Solarium Bistro on Deck 15 forward. Some good advice is to keep the Oasis Deck Plan handy, which is part of the Cruise Compass' Daily Planner, thank goodness! In the Bistro we had terrific assistance from Manager Melinda. At 4:00pm there was the mandatory Boat Drill which was totally painless: We took the elevator down to Deck 4 and the "On Air" studio, which is part of the Entertainment Place --- comfortably seated, we didn't even have to bring life jackets, since they are kept at the muster stations. We then returned to our stateroom to enjoy the sail away from our balcony.
SHIP OVERVIEW The statistics of the Oasis are stunning: 225,282 Gross tons (over four times the size of the Titanic), 208 ft. wide (this is no Panamax ship!) 1,187 ft. long (almost four football fields), 236 ft. high above the waterline, all with a draft of only 30 ft. We were shocked when we first saw her in port, she floats so high. With all her size, her cruising speed is 22.6 knots. There are 15 passenger decks, 24 passenger elevators placed both forward and aft, so they are less than a quarter of the ship's length from anywhere on board. Neat! Guest capacity is 5,400 (double occupancy of its 2,706 guest staterooms), but she can accommodate over 6,296 total guests. Her international crew of 2,165 are all eager to please.
The art work on board is so eclectic and numerous (9,800 pieces) that RCI has published a book "Wonder Book: The Art on the Oasis of the Seas." The common theme of this vast collection is "The Wonder of Our World (p8)." There are photographs of everything from tiny micro-organisims to unending fields, all contribute to the wonders we encounter on our beautiful Earth.
Larry Kirkland presents 23 pieces of tiny wonders in "hand forged interior-lit bronze microscopic vessels.... placed randomly throughout" (p100) the ship. The Oasis is so full of art that it is obvious that one cruise is not sufficient enough to appreciate it all: An excellent reason for which to return! An overview of the art does make one take a closer look at our world---- the photograph of a volcanic eruption by Ernst Haas (p108) brings this phenomenon to life. Then, an oil and embroidery on canvas by Nikkie le Nobel depicts an obvious sentiment "I'm so Sorry" (p131), and a sunlit Icelandic landscape photographed by Magnus Sigurdarson (pp120-121) reveals nature. Our world with all its life forms past and present makes up the beautiful art work of the Oasis of the Seas. Take time and look closely, you will be rewarded and touched.
The Oasis has many innovative venues. She has a Flow Rider for surfers, an 82 ft long Zip Line Ride, an Aqua Theater Pool, a Central Park, a Boardwalk complete with Carousel and a myriad of other attractions in its Seven Neighborhoods. This review will describe the seven areas of the Oasis rather than describing the ship Deck by Deck. It is the open air atriums and split superstructures which mandate this review format.
NEIGHBORHOODS One: Central Park is based on Deck 8 with five decks of balcony staterooms opening on to it. It certainly lives up to its name with 2,178 trees, vines and flowering plants, beautifully arranged among winding paths. There are several seating areas – some covered for when it rains (yes, it is open to the sky like a park). There are delightful pergolas covered with blooming bougainvilleas and poles wound with night blooming jasmine. Each type of plant is identified with tags.
This is an ideal spot in which to sit and read among the flowers and trees or even dine "al fresco" at Giovanni's Table ($15 fee) for excellent Italian cuisine under the jovial Senior Executive Chef Marco Morrama and friendly Maitre d' Alessandro, or at 150 Central Park featuring celebrity Chef Kerriann Von Raesfeld ($35 fee).
There are also fine shops featuring designer handbags, sports wear, etc. However, it is the wonder of sitting in an endless garden at sea, which drew us back daily: no crowds, peaceful with an occasional Strolling Scot bagpiper playing soulfully. In the evening there are moonlight serenades with the "Black Pearl Strings" and guitar melodies with Wilfredo Arca.
Two: The Boardwalk is on Deck 6 aft and features a Carousel with 18 hand carved animals; in its entrance are several horses in various stages of carving and painting, both informative and beautiful art. Along both sides are typical Coney Island style shops and stands: Johnny Rockets a 1950's hamburger joint, Candy/taffy shops, coffee and doughnuts and a terrific Seafood Shack ($8 fee). All the way aft is the 600 seat Aqua Theater --- with two shows, one of Dancing Waters (fountains timed to music --- reminiscent of the famous fountains of Lugano, Switzerland). The other show, "Oasis of Dreams," is a water extravaganza of high diving, synchronized swimming, and acrobatic routines: Stunning! This is also the seat of two rock climbing walls.
Three: The Royal Promenade on Deck 5 is retained from the Voyager and Freedom classes of ships and features a village center with coffee shops, Pizza parlors and the Globe & Atlas Pub with music each night by Scott Perham. The on board shops located here have the logo wear, perfumes, jewelry, etc. The Promenade is the site of Captain Wright's Champagne welcome on board party and numerous parades and entertainments. The innovative Cupcake Cupboard provides a unique spot for Birthday and Anniversaries. The biggest attraction is the "Rising Tide Bar" an oval shaped spacious glass enclosed elevator which will lift you up three decks to Central Park. The automobile attraction for this ship is a 1936 Auburn Speedster, a supercharged convertible, with four exhaust coils on each side. This sleek sports car is a combo of black and silver with white wall, wire spoked wheels --- an eye-catching feature of the Promenade.
Four: The Pool & Sports Zone is located on Deck 15and offers more sports activities than any other ship at sea: The Flow Rider is fun for both surfers and spectators, Mini Golf has real turf and unique bronze statues of golfers and a caddy and brightly colored animals for the children. Take the Zip Line across the ship, Whee! There is a basketball court, and ping pong. The Solarium is Vincent's favorite place: Every morning he relaxes in a whirlpool in the adult only spa among plants and flowers. There are also eight restaurants and bars some catering only to children --- try the serve your self ice cream machines.
Five: Vitality at Sea Fitness Center is forward on Deck 6. There is a "Thermal Suite," massage center and gym with over 100 cardio & resistance machines, the longest jogging track at sea (2.4 laps = 1mile). There are classes in yoga and kick boxing and a Health Spa for adults and children with juice and snacks.
Six: The Youth Zone is completely dedicated to children and teens with Adventure Ocean Theater, Science Lab, Video Games and even a nursery at sea. Teens are teated to their own area with an out door deck, nightclub, video arcade and even a Hangout spot. We went through this area several times, since it was located just above our stateroom.
Seven: Entertainment Place has something for everyone: Cruise Director Ken Rush is an old acquaintance who keeps ship activities humming. This cruise there were three terrific shows --- "Hairspray", and the "Nelson Brothers" in the Opal Theater (seats 1,380, be careful in choosing your seat because there are several poles blocking the view of the stage)and thirdly, "Frozen in Time." The Nelson Twins did a tribute to their father Ricky Nelson of Rock and Roll fame. They also showed clips and told anecdotes about their famous grandparents Ozzie and Harriet Nelson of TV fame. Great selections, great voices, and great stage presence. Excellent! Like the Voyager and Freedom classes the Oasis has an ice skating rink and an Olympic quality ice show: "Frozen in Time" is based on Hans Christian Andersen's tales, "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Snow Queen," " The Little Mermaid," "The Red Shoes," and "The Ugly Duckling." Fantastic! Don't miss it. Within this show there is also a new attraction: a young lady who does sand painting or sculpting to tell stories. Breathtaking is not even adequate ---- with a wave of her hand or touch of her finger, she created scenes with characters and animals, etc. Live entertainment all over the ship includes jazz, comedy and string music in the dining rooms ---- delightful.
CABIN Stateroom #14166, a wheelchair accessible cabin on Deck 14, is large, airy and cheerful. However, there is plenty of room to widen the front door to make entry easier, and it would be more helpful if it were an automatic door: Although the stewardess Suleva always helped us if she was in the corridor.
When entering on the right there is a large bathroom with shelves for toiletries a bit too high and too deep to locate items. There is ample room to place a wider set of shelves. The same goes for the drawers below. All the hooks on the door were placed too low, some higher hooks for nightgowns and robes are needed. The shower was perfect with safety rails all around. Next there was a king size bed flanked by two sets of very low shelves, but alas, no drawers for medications. The reading lamp was too far from the bed, one had to get out of bed to shut it off. We think the reading lamps should be exchanged (the one on the left of the headboard moved to the right and then the one on the right moved to the left) thus, it places the switches nearer the bed rather than on the far side. Same equipment just better placement, it means a lot to the handicapped. Next, is a comfortable love seat and a tiny coffee table, too small to be useful.
When entering on the left there is a double maple wood armoire with a set of shelves and a private safe, a refrigerator, and a 32" wide screen TV, a vanity/desk with three drawers, and a lighted mirror and one chair. The far wall is mainly glass and a door to the nice large balcony, with two chairs and a large table to which the lovely Suleva added a chaise for Vincent. He enjoys sitting on the balcony watching the stars at night. The walls are all beige and the furniture all maple wood. There are two pictures: one of a branch of apple blossoms blowing in the wind, and the other a close up of a green banana leaf with water drops. Both are on beautiful sky blue backgrounds. The carpet is multicolored streaks of blue, green and speckled with pink.
Our excellent Stewardess Suleva Bryan-Forbes was not only efficient, smiling but, she also anticipated our every need. Kudos!
SERVICE & FOOD On board of the Oasis, under Hotel Director Francois Wache', the service is top notch. The crew attitude is that it aims to please the passengers. The Opus Dining Room is spread over three tiers (Decks 3, 4, and 5). It has a stunning chandelier set just over the Captain's table. On formal night, we dined with Captain Wright, who enthralled us with stories of the Oasis of the Seas, her sea trials and her Maiden Transatlantic voyage, where she encountered a storm with waves as big as 50 ft high. Great lady that she is, the Oasis sailed safely through it all. He attributes her extraordinary stability to her width and engineering and finds her exquisite in every way. The Captain was born in Miami, Florida and educated in Vestfold College in Norway. He is also an RCI Vice President --- very interesting man.
Dinner was Escargot Bourguignonne , Lobster Bisque, Papaya/Pineapple soup, Beef Filet, Caesar Salad, Shrimp Ravioli and a bittersweet Chocolate Souffle for dessert. Wonderful food, wonderful service, and wonderful conversation, all with the best view of the Christmas garlanded balconies of the Opus Dining Room.
Head Waiters Roscoe and Melinda secured us table #401 near the entrance. We don't like to go throughout the dining room with the wheelchair and the scooter, since it disturbs so many diners. Our waiter was Agnelo and his assistant was Harley Davison. They were both excellent. We had reserved a table for two near the entrance of the dining room; however, the first night the reserved table was occupied by others and we were taken to another table far away from the entrance and not very practical for the parking of either the scooter or the wheelchair. When, we finally were assigned to table #401, we found that it was a table for four and we shared it with another couple. Fortunately, we met a friendly couple Kate and Charlie from Chicago, with whom we had enjoyable dinners and pleasant conversations.
We had breakfast served in our cabin each morning at 7:00am, and it was always on time, hot and delicious (eggs, hash browns, bacon, sweet rolls, jams, fruit, coffee and hot chocolate). There are so many venues at which to eat, plus the Buffet, called the Windjammer Market place. There is 24 hr. room service, a donut shop on the Boardwalk, a fantastic coffee, sandwich, cookie shop on the Promenade and don't miss the delicious pastries at the Mondo Cafe' Bar. And for those interested, the Promenade Bar opens at 7:00am!
At night the Solarium Bistro is transformed into an upscale restaurant with lovely table setting of flowers and white linen covered chairs. We dined there with Hotel Director Francois Wache' and three other couples. It was an unforgettable evening. Just lovely with twinkling lights overhead and interesting conversation. Thank you, Francois! The food is great, abundant and everywhere. The service is amiable and the crew as gracious as their Captain.
ENTERTAINMENT This ship is an entertainment destination. From surfing, to rock climbing, Spa facilities, sports venues to several shows nightly, the problem is to decide which attraction to attend. We were blown away by the live skating show and the Nelson Brothers, but also enjoyed many music opportunities and the on board comics--- Strolling on the Promenade or spending quiet time in the library can be pleasant too. It is impossible to be bored on the Oasis. Sleepless? Join Cruise Director Rush for "The Quest" an adults only game starting at midnight in Studio B on Deck 4. Our dining partners, Kate and Charlie told us it was hilarious. There is something for everyone on board.
PORTS Back-to-back Cruises (Dec. 1-12 2009)
Ft. Lauderdale --- For us this is the closest port to our home, less than half an hour drive. Terminal #18 in Port Everglades has been expanded from 67,000 to 240,000 square feet to accommodate the new gigantic ship. The embarkation and debarkation process has been facilitated significantly by the increased number of check-in desks.
Labadee, Haiti --- Oasis has docked here. Until now, in this port, cruise ship passengers had to be tendered ashore. A large pier has been built and this RCI resort has received extensive improvements, including the new Dragon Trail roller coaster, the "Town Square" where local musician and dancers perform, and the "Artisan Market" with the many wood carved souvenirs, pottery and other artifacts that can be bought at bargain prices.
St, Thomas, USVI --- One of the best shopping ports of the Caribbean, with a new shopping center built near the new pier. A tour accessible to the handicapped is the "Scenic Island Drive and Mountain Top."
St. Maarten --- This island is divided between the Dutch and the French. Many tours visit both sides. Physically challenged guests should consult the Exploration staff before booking a tour.
Nassau, Bahamas --- Here a visit to the amazing Atlantis Hotel Resort with Casino, sparkling white sand beaches and a spectacular aquarium on Paradise Island is a must for the first timers.
CONCLUSION These back-to-back cruises (Dec. 1st to 5th and Dec. 5th to 12th ) represent the 39th and 40th cruise credits toward our Crown & Anchor Society membership, thus it is evident that RCI is one of our favorite cruise lines. We have had some great cruises, but this one has been awesome, mainly for the extraordinary novelties that the Oasis has brought to cruising: The signature neighborhoods, particularly Central Park, Boardwalk and the enhanced Royal Promenade, which are spectacular places we never thought conceivable on a cruise ship.
It was an extraordinary cruise, not because of the itinerary, food, service or any other aspect, but for the Oasis herself that offers to the passenger what other ships cannot offer: her grandiosity. We will still cruise on other ships, small, medium, large, gigantic and enormous, since we are addicted to cruising and love them all. However, we know that certain experience we have had on this ship cannot be matched on any other ship until the launching of the Allure of the Seas, which we have booked for our anniversary in Jan. 2011. For the near future, we'll go back to normal having booked the following cruises: Celebrity Solstice, on Jan. 3rd, Liberty of the Seas, on Feb. 7th, Star Princess, from Rio de Janeiro to Ft. Lauderdale, on March 16th, Crown Princess, a transatlantic cruise to Italy, on May 1st, and the return from Europe with the Norwegian Epic, on June 24th. Happy Cruising!