Our title and description might sound contradictory, but they sum up how we felt after the cruise. We're glad we did it since we always wanted to try a back-to-back and the Oasis, but we will probably not go back unless with extended family or a group that would like to experience it. Basically, we like to cruise to rest and relax and this is not the ship for that.
Don't get us wrong. The ship is beautiful and truly an engineering marvel. Most of the staff is wonderful. I apologize if I sound mostly "negative". I wouldn't like to discourage future cruisers - everyone should try this class of ship at least once. I would just like to offer my review as CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM as RCI goes into new builds and perhaps rethinks the Oasis Class ships with the alleged third sister.
BACKGROUND - We are an active, bordering on athletic, middle aged couple. We have only cruised together on Royal Caribbean although DW has also cruised on Princess and Carnival. Since we both work in the travel industry, we also deal very directly and constantly with luxury cruise lines such as Azamara, Silversea, Seabourn, Oceania, Sea Dream and Regent Seven Seas.
PRE-CRUISE - We flew from San Juan to Miami and stayed there with relatives for a couple of days before the cruise. Since RCI didn't have a ship out of San Juan this summer, Miami/Fort Lauderdale was our closest alternative and Oasis the top choice.
To beat a horse to death, it is big and beautiful. One of the reasons we were not completely satisfied with her was because of the lack of quiet, peaceful spaces. I mean, other than the stateroom. You could go to one of the "secret" aft balconies but those are quite remote and have no facilities. So, if you needed to go to the restroom or wanted a drink, you would have to take a long hike unless your stateroom was near.
Areas of the ship we would improve:
Solarium - We always enjoyed the solariums on the Radiance and Voyager classes, but not on this one. The Oasis solarium should really be called the Green House. It is very hot in there. And just as noisy as the main pools. Well, except for the reggae band. I think the glass panels overhead just reflect the noise and the heat. I would add more shaded areas and open up more windows. Other than the second level overhang, the solarium had a total of four fake palm trees for shade. I would add more of those, or some of those triangular Australian canvas shades as there are many places to hang them from and/or more tinting to the overhead glass panels. Maybe we just couldn't figure out how to do it, but I would also allow the Jacuzzis to run colder or room temperature water on the very hot days.
Central Park and Boardwalk - Also very hot and in need of more ventilation. Maybe for future class vessels or when these two go into dry dock, they should figure out a way to run a breeze through those neighborhoods when needed.
Hallways, lobbies, elevator banks - Maybe it is just me, but unlike other class ships, there is not always a smooth flow from one area to the next. To exit from the stateroom hallway into the deck lobby, for example, is just a narrow door. If they didn't put a sign on the frame it would be easy to miss. This ship's humps are not really related to or near the elevator banks. We had a beginning of the hump stateroom and had to walk some to get to the elevators. I don't know. It all seems a little boxy inside.
Main Dining Room - I am not sure where the complaints about the MDR come from but we never had any issues there. The food was very good and the service was excellent. In fact, I think the service in the MDR was much better than in the specialty restaurants. Kudos to our servers Erdogan and Kimo (first week) and Judith and Yao Jun (second week) and the best bar server afloat, Domingo (both weeks).
Park Cafe - Very good for lighter lunches and breakfast. Since our stateroom was on deck eight, the Central Park venues were very convenient to us, particularly the Park Cafe. And yes, I can confirm that the roast beef sandwiches are yummy. They also have good salads, fruits, lox and bagels, etc.
Chops - Good, but not so sure if this is much better than just ordering your Chops steak at the MDR. They stiffed me with pricey bottled water when we asked for "just water".
150 Central Park - Excellent experience. You just have to try it if you're a foodie or even a gourmet diner. The wine pairing is just too expensive, though ($75.00). You would be much better off just buying a wine bottle.
Vintages - Excellent. Especially if you love Spanish Tapas like us. I think they could sell this place more if they explained the tapas concept better to cruisers who might not be familiar with it. It is very inexpensive and the tapas are very good. The seats are super comfortable and the decor and ambiance is just very relaxing. If it had an ocean view, we would have probably had found our peaceful hangout place during the day.
Windjammer - Good. We were hesitant about trying it at first since on the capacity boards it always appeared full, but we finally did and they have a system that it is not nearly as chaotic as it sounds from the other reviews. We were usually met by a server at the door who would find us a table first, sit us, and once settled, then we would go and get the food. No running around with your full dishes and drinks trying to find a seat. If the place was completely full they would just tell us and we would wait just a little for seats to open up. The food was just that. Good enough Windjammer fare, although the departure day paella was pretty good.
Sorento's and Promenade Cafe - Guys, these are places just for a quick snack. Never expect these places to be like your favorite NY deli or pizzeria. They are not meant to be that.
Solarium Bistro - Very good. We had breakfast and lunches here quite a few times. Lighter fare. Convenient, of course, to the Solarium.
Wipe Out Cafe - A place for kids, or like the Promenade venues, a quick not fancy at all snack joint. Here is where you find the main free soft serve ice cream (and yogurt) machines.
Johnny Rockets -- Johnny Rockets
Cruise Director -- I don't care what anybody says but Amy is AMAZING. One of the best CDs we've had. And for a ship this big, how can anyone ask for more. Her staff was very good too.
Flow Rider -- I spent a lot of time here. The staff was wonderful. And patient. Even with all my injuries, I kept coming back. There were some amazing dudes surfing here, including a gentleman in his 80s who was very good.
Jogging track -- Neat. Nice, long and shaded. The promenade-ish corner with a few loungers in the back seems like an afterthought and I am sorry that those who like the open ocean view promenades on other ships are missing this feature.
Dreamworks characters -- A neat addition and unobtrusive.
Hairspray -- Top notch, Broadway quality show.
Oasis of Dreams at the Aqua Theater -- Amazing.
Comedy shows -- Very good.
Guitarist at the Viking Crown -- Very good and sorry we had to leave as the bartender had his own sideshow with a few drinkers and we couldn't listen to the music.
Abbacadabra -- Very good. Better than the actual Abba, IMHO.
Lynn the Bag Piper -- Very neat addition. She played in Central Park, and at the beginning of some activities like the C&A helipad sail away party and the C&A aqua show. Everybody loved her.
Overall, service was very good. From the Captain, who took the time to even go from table to table in the MDR to meet everyone, to the great CD, Amy, to the Sports Zone staff, to the great bartenders, to the housekeeping staff, everyone was great.
We only had one issue and it was with security. At the Solarium, some jerk decided that he was just going to share our little shaded area with us and dragged a sofa across the deck and parked it right at our feet, not only blocking access to our chairs, but also blocking the main cross path or walkway of the deck. A bar server initially told him that he couldn't do that, but then another one said he had no problem with it as long as he could pass through. It was ridiculous, not only because the shade was soon gone as the ship continued to move, but other passengers had to negotiate around him and his party to go back and forth across the deck. And there were plenty of other places to sit. But the jerk just had to sit there because we told him what a jerk he was and that he needed to move. His attitude was: "I don't know you, I'll never see you again, I don't care". It was all very absurd.
Anyway, other cruisers saw the absurdity of it all and called security. The security officer that came by could only say that she was new, in training, and would only ask the other party to keep their voices down. I was shocked that she would allow the situation to continue. The jerk kept at it until we nearly forcefully removed him ourselves or as his wife finally talked him into moving. My DW is a New Yorker and she just wouldn't let up. Me, I was just trying to restrain myself from punching an old man. When we finally located a Deck Officer (Pool Staff Supervisor), they had already moved.
My issue here is not so much the jerk and his actions, but the contradictory actions of the bars servers and the inaction of the security officer. The Deck Officer promised he would look into that and correct it.
OTHER FELLOW CRUISERS
I didn't let that jerk ruin my vacation or think any less of the rest of the passengers. We had people from many different cultures and nationalities and everyone got along just fine.
Painless. Consecutive Cruisers were asked to meet at the Blaze disco on Friday for detailed instructions. In case you missed that meeting, they also published written instructions and placed them in our stateroom. We were to meet at the Schooner Bar on Saturday at 9:45 AM, where a couple of staffers assisted us. They basically hand held us off the ship, into the terminal waiting area for in transit passengers, through Customs/Immigration, and back on the ship. I don't think the whole process took much more than an hour. Consecutive Cruisers were then treated to an exclusive lunch at the MDR. All in all they treated us with special care.
PORTS & SHORE EXCURSIONS
Labadee -- RCI has done something awesome here. Many people were remarking that this should be an overnight stop and that we could have a big beach party at night. We missed on cabana reservations so we just went to the beach while waiting for our zip line turn which was at noon. The Dragon's Flight Zip line was AWESOME. Well worth it. The scarier part was the ride up the hill on that military-type truck. After the zip line (the whole process takes a couple of hours), we went back to the cabana beach. Many people had already gone back to the ship so we enjoyed a tranquil rest of the afternoon here.
Falmouth -- We just walked and shopped around the new facilities. Pretty neat area. I highly recommend that you look for Denworth Smith and his original water colors if you're looking for local art.
Cozumel -- We're not into tourist trap strips so we just walked inland until we found real Mexican food. On the recommendation of two ladies at a pharmacy two blocks from the main waterfront street, we found Casa Mission at the corner of Benito Juarez and 55th Avenue. DW has lived in Mexico and she said the food here was close enough. I liked it.
Nassau -- Just walked around town and shopped some. This town needs work. Not enough time at this port to do much. The views of Paradise Island and Atlantis are beautiful, though.
St. Thomas -- We've been here many times so we took the ship's excursion to St. John and Trunk Bay. Well worth the $67.00 per person. Trunk Bay is sooooo beautiful. The shopping at Crown Bay where the ship docks is very limited.
St. Maarten -- We have also been here many times but were pleasantly surprised that the Dutch side has changed a lot and for the better. Everything looks and feels refreshed and it was actually a pleasure to walk along Front Street.
As other have mentioned, the disembarkation on 9/29 was delayed by the CBP agents. We had a noonish flight to catch and if we had followed the numbering system we would have missed it. By 9:45, our scheduled departure time, they were only through numbers 1 -- 5 and we were 36. I don't know if it was a miracle or what, but we received a phone call at our stateroom (we didn't relinquish it until the very last possible moment, with the consent of the housekeeper) and were told to proceed to the gangway regardless of our number. We did, and lo and behold, our luggage was waiting for us in the terminal even if they were just calling number 7 as we walked out of the ship. God Bless the Angel who made that call. Maybe it was the Crown and Anchor staff? Anyway, it worked out for us. Sorry it didn't work out for others.
Again, I hope that my critique is taken as constructive and I don't want to discourage others from trying the Oasis. You just have to see for yourselves and decide if this is the class of ship for you. We do not regret doing this at all. It's just that for future we will look for something else, and that's why RCI has three cruise lines and many different types of ships. We continue to be pleased with the company. This was our first Platinum cruise and turned Emerald on the second week. The Crown and Anchor Society is a decent loyalty program. We did feel the difference between Gold and Platinum. It is also great that we can now use the status on Celebrity and Azamara. We will sure try that as we continue to look for our peaceful place on the high seas.