This was our first cruise in some time, as we have been doing a lot of other traveling recently, though we are making a commitment to returning to a more consistent schedule of cruising. Royal Caribbean has always been our favorite and will continue to be despite our experience on Oasis. We most likely will never sail Oasis again though we will see what the future holds for this ship.
Our embarkation was a breeze, one of the best, quickest, most stress free I have ever experienced. From drop off to being in our stateroom was probably less than an hour. I was very impressed with the efficiency of the staff in port.
Once on ship it was readily apparent that we were going to be hit up at every turn for additional charges, and we did expect that, however it did get to be a bit daunting after a while and kind of became a running joke with the other couple we were cruising with.
Over all our first impression of the public spaces was the same at the end of our journey as the beginning. This is one of the most impressive cruise ships we have ever seen, and we have made a habit of going on what ever the newest largest ship is with in the first 2-3 years of service.
The Royal Promenade is larger than on the Freedom class ships and more vibrant as it has the large skylights from Central Park above, as well as the Rising Tide bar, which is very cool and you must take at least one ride on this. The space did not feel at all crowded except at initial boarding but since this is the boarding area that is to be expected. Over all getting around the ship was quite easy as not only is the ship very intelligently laid out but there are self service guides to give you directions in every elevator bay. The Central Park area became one of our favorite spots on the ship. It is like being in a park on land, very beautifully landscaped and nicely laid out. The boardwalk area was very much like a boardwalk on land and there was always some activity going on in the area. Though we did not have a Boardwalk facing balcony cabin, I would advise those looking to do so, to be aware of this. The fitness center is one of the best at sea and on land for that matter. It was always busy, but there were plenty of machines still available. The shows were great. And Amy the cruise director was born to play the part.
As for the food and service....... On our first night we ventured into the main dining room for dinner at the second service, we were not even remotely delighted. The food was not very good. I don't expect perfect food on a ship of 6,300 passengers, but this was ridiculous. The chef should be embarrassed. Our soups were flavorless, the spaghetti from Mr. Chef Boy Ar Dee is better. The menu lacked any balance or theme what so ever, and though we ate here only this first night we still looked at the menu on the remaining nights and it was mostly the same lack of balance, theme or direction. As for the service, I have never seen such frantic service in my life. It was ridiculous. When we ordered our soft drinks not only did it take 20 minutes plus to get them but we were each given two or three glasses of each drink at one time. We did later discover why as it was a constant theme in every restaurant on the ship and that was getting refills. Don't expect them, cause unless you ask several times you probably won't get them. The cheesecake dessert tasted very much like the Jello instant cheesecake that you might find at your grocer. Needless to say we did not return to the main dining room the remainder of the cruise.
We did conclude that having 6,300 people on a ship with what we discovered is only 900 total crew in the Food Service department is not a ratio for getting good service in the main areas. We however did find it on the remaining nights as we dined in Giovanni's and Chops the remainder of the cruise alternating each of the remaining evenings between the two. The service here was impeccable and what I would expect based on previous experiences in the main dinning room. The food was also delicious, well cooked, well thought out, and the menu at each very well balanced. There is a small cover charge at each of these locations, but it is well worth it. We did tip our two waiters that we had at these two locations very well for their much appreciated service.
The cabin was very nice, very well kept, very clean, very spacious and we rather enjoyed the cabin in comparison to cabins in the past. The bathroom was really nice with a very good layout and an awesome shower for a ship. Please bring a power strip if you plan on plugging more than two items in. And make sure it has a cord as the outlets are under the dressing table. Our cabin steward was very average. We are accustomed to having a surprise towel animal of some sort every night when returning to our cabin. We only had this luxury as well as chocolates on our pillows on the two formal nights. We did inquire about this and were told that they only do this on two nights now. Again our guess the 6,300 passengers. It was pretty clear that our cabin steward does not like his job, but he did keep our cabin spotless and we never had dirty towels once when we returned to our cabin. Our final minor little disappointment is that not once was our bed turned down. Again not a major thing, but it is the details that make the difference.
We will travel with Royal Caribbean again as we have had many positive experiences with them, though Oasis will be at the bottom of our list of ships to return too, unless of course they are only %50 booked. When we do return we will book ahead of time Chops and Giovanni's for dinner every night on board.