Cruise Critic answers your most frequently asked questions about Oasis of the Seas, one of the world's largest cruise ships.
Q: What's free onboard Oasis and what's not?
A: Most of the better dining venues on the ship have per-person surcharges, including Giovanni's ($20 for lunch, $25 for dinner), Sabor (a la carte), Izumi (a la carte for sushi, $25 for hibachi), 150 Central Park ($40) and the steakhouse Chops ($39). The main dining rooms and Windjammer Marketplace are included in the cruise fare, as are the Park Cafe, Boardwalk Bar (food) and Wipe Out Cafe. In terms of onboard activities, there's no additional cost to use the zipline, carousel and rock-climbing walls, or attend shows at the ice skating rink, the Comedy Club, the AquaTheater (reservations are required, though) or Opal Theater ("Cats").
Q: With so many people onboard, does the ship get crowded? Will I have to wait in lots of lines?
A: Part of what makes Oasis of the Seas so groundbreaking is that it can feel relatively quiet, despite its size. The neighborhood concept helps control crowds, as does the ship's reservation system for shows and dining. For the most part, you won't feel like you're crammed in.
You will invariably run into lines in some areas of the ship, however. The buffet, Windjammer Marketplace, can get extremely crowded during peak dining hours, for example. And despite having a ticket, we felt like we were in a mosh pit as we waited to file into the AquaTheater.
Q: Is it easy to find my way around? Will I get lost?
A: Oasis of the Seas is divided into distinct neighborhoods, which makes navigating the ship easier than it might seem. Most activities for families are concentrated in the kids club area, on the Boardwalk or near the pools. Adults will prefer the two-deck Solarium or the quiet, leafy Central Park. If you do get lost, maps are available at all elevator docks, with touch-screen Wayfinders also in prominent locations.
Q: How many pools are onboard?
A: Oasis of the Seas has four pools, concentrated on the port and starboard areas of Deck 15 and separated by the open-air skylight to Central Park. The four include the Main Pool, the Beach Pool, the Sports Pool and the H2O Zone Water Park. The Solarium also has a thalassotherapy pool with fountains and jets, but it's only available for cruisers over 16. Nine hot tubs are scattered around the ship.
Q: Is the ship family-friendly?
A: Yes! Royal Caribbean went the extra mile on its Oasis-class ships, with one of the largest kids areas at sea. Oasis of the Seas divides young kids into three age-appropriate groups, and has a Royal Babies and Tots program for the youngest cruisers. The partnership with DreamWorks is robust, with characters showing up around the ship and leading kids in frequent parades. Teenagers and tweens also have their own club, plus a variety of activities onboard such as the FlowRider surf simulator, rock-climbing walls, an ice skating rink, a mini-golf course and a zipline. Plus, there is also a variety of cabins that appeal to families.
Q: With so many people on the ship, how is the service?
A: We found the service mixed. In the main dining room, waiters seemed overworked and often delivered the wrong plates. Bartenders were also inattentive. Cabin steward service seemed to depend on where you were on the ship. While we received regular towel animals, others in our group didn't get any at all.
Q: Are there photos of the various cabin categories available? There are 37 different types, and we're trying to determine which cabin to choose.
A: Yes indeed. You can check out a bunch of the categories in our Oasis of the Seas photo gallery.
Q: Can we access the Internet onboard from our phone or laptops?
A: Oasis of the Seas installed Voom, its super-fast Wi-Fi, during its 2014 refit. The cost is $15 per day, per device (with 50 percent off a second device, per person). The Wi-Fi is a highlight. We found that it always worked and was fast enough to pull down larger files and stream movies.
Q: How many outlets are there in standard cabins? I want to bring my electronics.
A: In typical cabins, there are three 110-volt (U.S.) outlets on top of the desk and one 220-volt (E.U.) outlet also on the desk.
Q: Is there a 24-hour buffet?
A: There's not 24-hour service in the Windjammer Marketplace (buffet venue), but the round-the-clock snacks, desserts and coffees offered in the Cafe Promenade, down on the Royal Promenade, definitely suffice. Sorrento's Cafe has pizza available 24/7, as well. You can also order room service on a 24-hour basis, but be advised: there's a $3.95 fee between midnight and 5 a.m.
Q: Are there Ping-Pong tables? If so, are they protected from the wind?
A: Oasis of the Seas has the first Ping-Pong "courts" we've ever seen. There are two areas: one has a table surrounded by a circular Plexiglass wall and reminds us a little of a squash or racquetball court, the second area has three tables, all enclosed. These are located up on the sports deck, adjacent to the basketball court
Q: Is Oasis of the Seas the ship for me?
A: Choose Oasis of the Seas if you are traveling as a family with kids or teens, you like lots of activities on the cruise ship and food is merely fuel (or you don't mind budgeting for a better dining experience). You won't like Oasis of the Seas if you dislike malls, you're a foodie, or you like exotic, off-the-beaten path ports.
--By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor