My husband and I sailed on the Oasis of the Seas, May 12, 2012, Western Caribbean. This was our 7th cruise and we've sailed on the Explorer, Adventure, and Serenade with RCCL. We are from Arizona and flew into Ft. Lauderdale Thursday evening, to spend an extra full day on vacation before the cruise! We stayed at the Marriott Harbor Beach and enjoyed the resort - we would recommend it if you are spending extra time in Ft. Lauderdale. Our room had a view of the intracoastal waterways, mansions, and yachts -- and if you looked far to the left, you could see the red and white smoke stacks at the pier, where the Oasis and Allure dock. Saturday morning, I rushed to our balcony to see if the ship was there, but it was too far out of view. My husband took us down the hallway and out a door to the stairwell -- and there she was! Very exciting to see after all of our planning!!
We do have several videos posted on YouTube -- search under SEIMANT -- that's my husband's user name -- and you will find our Oasis videos, including a cabin review, Coast Guard rescue at sea, Cozumel dive, and manatee encounter.
Of course we had to be at the ship early! We left the Marriott around 10:20 or so. One of the bellmen at the Marriott offered to drive us over in the hotel's Escalade. "Pay me what you think is fair," he said. Very nice, so off we went! He was a very sweet gentleman who knew some of the crew members on the Oasis and gave us lots of tips. We dropped off our luggage with one of the porters, and continued inside to check-in. We went through security, and sat in the waiting area until boarding started. Suite guests and those with high Diamond status, etc., boarded first. I didn't check my watch, but we were probably onboard a little before 11:30 AM. There are two gangways to board -- and the entrance is wider than on other ships. They both open up onto Deck 5 -- The Royal Promenade -- one near the Starbucks and the other at the Rising Tide bar.
For sailaway, we went to deck 12 aft, port-side. My family could see us online from the Port Everglades webcam. My husband even took some photos of the wonderful gentleman who manages this webcam at the condos -- a website so many of us enjoy and appreciate!
Our cabin was a balcony (category D4) on Deck 6 -- 6164. It was an adjoining room and it was near the forward port-side elevators. There was additional noise from both. Each time our neighbors entered or exited their cabin, it sounded like it was OUR door opening and closing. We could also hear their voices through the adjoining door. The elevators were not loud -- but our room was right at the hall entryway -- so if people were loud, we could hear them. It was kind of a 'busy' part of the hallway. We loved being on deck 6 -- closest balcony deck to the ocean. Our view was perfect -- the lifeboats beneath us did not obstruct our view at all. You could only see them if you chose to look down over the railing. Our cabin had the sofa by the balcony with the bed near the closet, which did not bother us. Our cabin was clean, but not immaculate. There was one bathrobe in the closet. We did take an air freshener, which we set up above the closet doors, at the air conditioner vent so the room smelled nice all of the time. We didn't meet our cabin steward until the 3rd day of the cruise. He was nice and the room was kept in good condition. We had plenty of space for our clothes and personal items. The blow dryer was fine for me, and there are plugs under the vanity for camera chargers, curling irons, etc.
No matter how many photos or videos of the ship that you see, everyone will be shocked and amazed their first time on this class! We enjoyed the solarium, pool areas, Central Park, 'secret' areas on decks 11, 12, 14 aft port side, as well deck 6 and 7 aft (good for the aqua shows), winglets accessible on deck 14 front port side, and the chairs on the jogging deck aft, watching the wake. Our favorite areas were the Boardwalk and Aqua Theatre as well as the bleacher area for viewing the Flow Riders.
The popular question regarding crowds: during the first half of our vacation, I was feeling the 'crowding'. But I do not think it was THIS ship. I think it's all ships, unless you are fortunate to travel on one with a huge space-to-guest ratio, which is probably going to be a luxury cruise. I found myself thinking about our land vacations, and having so much personal SPACE at the resorts, and I craved that at first. After the first few days, I dealt with the feeling of crowds and got over it. The thing that bothered us most was being in tight areas (lines, elevators, on the Promenade during a busy time) -- and so many people cough and sneeze all over without covering their mouths!! I sneezed way more than usual on this ship, and it seems like others did too. But after a while it was funny (not in a good way) at how many people do not try to cover their mouths. Right before debarkation, one lady walked by us and sneezed all over, then she walked a few steps away and did it again. Her hands were at her side this entire time. She turned around to walk back our way again -- closer to us -- and her face scrunched up getting ready for a sneeze. "DON'T YOU DO IT" my husband firmly said and pointed his finger at her. It stopped her mid-sneeze and thank goodness! Luckily there are hand sanitizers everywhere -- not just at the restaurants. They were even outside the Coach purse store! It's funny that there are about 3-4 hand sanitizers at each entrance of the Windjammer, with greeters right behind HOLDING more hand sanitizer in large bottles, to try to catch those who skip it. We used it frequently, not just before eating. Those who have gotten sick on vacation (especially cruising) appreciate this.
The Flow Riders were so much fun to watch. My husband tried it and had fun. I finally got up the courage to schedule a lesson for our last sea day, but no one else enrolled so they had to cancel the class. So do it early, even if you are nervous like me!
We had anytime dining, which was fine -- because we purchased the Chops package for $50 to try some of the specialty restaurants (it includes three). Service was good-to-very-good pretty much everywhere. We had one waiter at the Solarium Bistro who really stood out as excellent. We tried the following:
150 Central Park -- it was $40 each (plus more for the wine package). They have one menu for days 1-4 and then the menu changes for days 3-7. The food was really good, although it might be a bit too 'fancy' if you are not used to it. We enjoyed some of the items, and others were a little over the top for us, but I tried everything. I recommend looking at the menu to see if it sounds good to you, and then give it a try!
Chops Grille -- this was probably our favorite for dinner on the Oasis. We would try it again.
Giovannis -- was good, but I think if we could do it again, we'd order different items. We liked Portofinos better (on the ships that still have it!)
Solarium Bistro -- we had the specialty dining for dinner here, with the best waiter for our entire cruise. I meant to give him a WOW card, but I couldn't find my card. His name was Budi, I think. The food was good -- worth a try. We also ate here for breakfast and lunch once. It's like a mini Windjammer during the day, but nice to have another option onboard.
Main Dining Room -- we ate dinner here twice, and it was pretty good. Dining staff was definitely a bit stressed. It did not bother us because we tried so many places to eat. We do enjoy getting to know the same waiters, but it was okay this time. We never made reservations and actually did true anytime dining -- no wait as long as we were there by 6:45 PM or so. We also had lunch in the main dining room twice -- we love the Tutti Salad Bar.
Park Cafe -- we had breakfast and lunch here (if I remember correctly, they were not open for dinner). That famous roast beef sandwich -- my husband was sick of hearing me talk about it, and thought all the pictures of it online were a bit odd. So of course I had to try it and see what it was really about. It was quite tasty and he even took a bite and was impressed. We agreed it was the au-jus that really made it special, and the bun. We also enjoyed their salad bar (similar to the Tutti salad, but smaller), and paninis, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc. For breakfast they had bagels, lots of fruit, yogurt, and cereal.
Vintages -- we tried the tapas and wine and this was a fun treat. The waiters in Vintages were also very nice.
Johnny Rockets -- we had breakfast here and it was okay. The French Toast was too sweet for me though -- I will try something else on their menu next time.
Donut place -- they serve coffee and had a variety of donuts -- had to try it once.
Wipeout Cafe -- up near the sports deck -- offered hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, nachos, etc., and also had the soft serve ice cream machines (there was another one by the main pool area).
Promenade Cafe -- I wake up early, so my special ritual is to get my hubby coffee and a morning pastry. Then we enjoy our coffee on our balcony. We also enjoyed the oatmeal ranger cookies and brownies here later in the day.
Sorrentos -- pizza. Something about this pizza I just love as a snack. It's not the best pizza in the world, but I sure am happy eating my slice. Must be a cruise thing. My husband takes a photo of me now on each cruise with pizza.
Windjammer -- normal Windjammer to us! Maybe it was smaller, but it didn't bother us. It seems like they closed early though -- maybe 9 or 9:30 PM?
Room Service -- we had room service for breakfast twice. We received a courtesy call before they arrived, and it was delivered on time (or early). Typical room service ship breakfast -- but nothing beats it from your balcony!
We never tried the Seafood Shack, Izumi, Cupcake Cupboard, ice cream shop, candy shop, or Starbucks.
We saw Hairspray, the Oasis of Dreams (aqua), Splish Splash (aqua), Come Fly with Me, Frozen in Time (ice skating), and one of the Dreamworks parades. All were fantastic! We were amazed at the quality of the props and costumes, as compared to other shows we've seen onboard. We did make reservations for all of the shows as soon as they became available online. Note -- even with reservations, the lines start forming to get into the venue 30-45 minutes prior for the best seating.
Ports of Call
Labadee, Haiti -- this was our second visit to Labadee, and it sure has changed in 10 years! We were off the ship early, and the very first to arrive at Nellie's Beach. There is some snorkeling here, if you are facing the water, to the right side under the cliffs where the cabanas are perched. We did not check out Columbus Cove Beach, but I know it's much larger with the aqua park. Adrenaline Beach, under the zip line, is noted as not being recommended for swimming. It must vary depending on the water, because we were surprised to see everyone having just as much fun in the water there, although it was rocky. The BBQ was fine -- but crowded to find a place to sit and eat on the picnic tables. They have several stations to eat, so there may have been others that were not as crowded. Nellie's Beach was nice and sandy, with clear water. It did get crowded and 'stirred up' eventually, but it was still a beautiful day.
Falmouth, Jamaica -- we took a land vacation to Jamaica 2 years ago and really enjoyed it. This time we purchased the Chukka Beach Break (without lunch) through the ship. Our meet time was 10:15 AM. We sat and waited with all of the other tours, and people began to get a little irritated -- one person asked if our 3 hour tour was going to be shortened due to our long wait time, and she never got a clear answer. The Jamaican representatives were very confused, and put people on wrong buses. The Chukka Beach Break (with lunch) was loaded onto a bus. About 20 minutes later they finally loaded us into a van, and we sat and sat, and they told us we were on the wrong van and to get off. This continued to escalate as buses were packed in the excursion lot and unable to leave due to chaos and the traffic in this small parking lot area. Ultimately, several families and couples -- including us -- said forget it, we want our money back -- it was around 11:30 by that time, and Chukka/or whoever was assisting was still scratching their heads trying to figure out how to get us on the correct bus and on our way. Luckily a RCCL representative was nearby and he took our information and did refund our tour. We were all disappointed, hot, cranky, and I could not even get in the mood for shopping around the Falmouth pier area. We got back on the ship and enjoyed our day there instead. If we ever go back to Falmouth, we'll arrange for an outside tour, or take one of the taxis and skip the excursion area until they figure out how to organize the tours.
Cozumel, Mexico -- this was our 2nd visit to Cozumel. We enjoyed the Chankanaab park on our first visit and decided to return again. The park is a short cab ride -- approximately $10, from the International Pier, about 5 minutes away. We were off the ship early and one of the first visitors at the park. We decided to do a "swim with the manatees" excursion, and it was $58 purchased at the park, which included admission. Our tour was set for 10 AM (11 AM ship time; Cozumel is one hour behind), so we decided to find some chairs with an umbrella, and hopefully do a little snorkeling. We brought our masks, but wanted to rent some flippers. Because it was so early, most of the stands were not yet open that rent the gear, life vests, etc. One of the dive shops onsite was just opening and we stopped to talk to the scuba guides. They were very nice and offered to take my husband out to dive for an hour -- only $50. I quickly told him, 'go, go, do it!' because although he's not certified, he has taken many dives -- and this was a private scuba dive with the guide because no other customers were there yet! Favio was the guide and took my husband out -- his favorite dive ever! We left Favio's email address on the Cozumel snorkel video, if you see it on YouTube -- highly recommend him at Chankanaab. While hubby was diving, I relaxed on my lounge and enjoyed my book.
Soon it was time for our manatee encounter. We walked over to the dolphin/manatee area and our group had 6 people total. The trainer took us into the water where we could stand on the platform, and told us a little about the manatees -- they had 2 adults who were rescued and 1 young one. We could touch them as they swam by and everyone oooh'd and awww'd. Then we took the obligatory photos (which we all purchased afterwards, of course!). They do allow water cameras, and you can see our manatee video on YouTube as well. After a few minutes on the platform, the trainer gave us each a couple of heads of lettuce and said, 'go ahead and swim out there with them'. So off the six of us went, floating and bobbing in our life jackets with the manatees while we fed them lettuce. It felt like we were out with them for a long time -- a half an hour? The trainers were with other tours nearby, so we were alone with the manatees (and fish, which are aggressive for the lettuce, by the way), but we never felt scared or in danger. We had much more interaction time with the manatees than those with the dolphins. It was really fun!
Afterwards, we snorkeled some more, enjoyed the park, had some nachos, and soon it was time to get back to the ship. My husband kept saying, "I love this place, this was the best day!" Cabs were onsite and available to get back to the ship.
A few days prior to the end of the cruise, a note was left in our cabin to provide our preferred debarkation time. I believe we chose between 8:45 AM -- 9:00 AM, as our flight left from Ft. Lauderdale at 12 Noon. Our room steward then left the appropriate numbered bag tags for us -- we had group 43. We had breakfast in the Windjammer, and then waited for a while on the Promenade Deck near the Champagne Bar, and then decided to get off the ship around 8:20 or so. On previous cruises, we've always found our bags right away and figured they would be ready, even a few minutes early. We found they are a bit more strict here, and luggage only through group 40 was available, with the rest roped off. We could 'see' group 43, but were not allowed to get to it. We were re-routed to a waiting area above the baggage hall with the other 'naughty' people who tried to get off the ship early. A very strict employee kept us seated and away from the escalator until our baggage groups became available. It wasn't a big deal, but this is the first cruise we've been on that has really followed the bag tag number process! It helps with the organization process, but others seemed a little surprised too at the rigid schedule. You can do self-debarkation if you don't mind carrying all of your luggage off the ship.
We took a cab to the Ft. Lauderdale Airport -- approximately $15. Check-in at American Airlines was quiet with no lines, but the security lines were long. Note at this particular terminal, there is very little to find to eat before your flight. Flights went well and we were home in Arizona by 5:30 PM. We had seats on the left, leaving Ft. Lauderdale, and I was able to take a few pictures of the Oasis from the air. We are already talking about our next cruise, and I think we were spoiled by the amenities, shows, and dining options of the Oasis class! We look forward to trying the Allure, or cruising on the Oasis again!