Oasis of the Seas- Eastern Caribbean- Oct. 6-13, 2012
PRE-CRUISE: We flew into FLL on Friday and spent the night at the Hyatt Place Hotel- 17th St. Convention Center. Some of our group drove down from Tampa on Friday night and were able to park their cars at the hotel for the entire week by booking the hotels "Stay and Cruise" Package at a rate of $154.00. The hotel was very nice. The rooms were quite spacious, and there was a limited bar and food service available 24 hrs a day. Included in the room rate was a decent buffet breakfast. The hotel also had shuttle service to/from the airport and cruise terminal, however we opted to take taxis as you could see the ship from the room. The hotel was also within walking distance to many shops, bars and restaurants, the closest of which was an Outback Steakhouse.
EMBARKATION: We left the hotel via taxi at 10:30am and were at the cruise terminal within minutes. Check in was a breeze, and boarding began shortly thereafter at around 11am. As I was escorting a group, none of which had been onboard Oasis before, I had made arrangements with RCCL to conduct a tour of the different cabins and suites. We were met by an RCCL Rep in the Champagne Bar immediately after boarding and were taken directly to Deck 17 to view the Crown Loft and Royal Loft Suites before continuing on to the other cabin categories on the lower decks. Following the cabin tour, we stopped by Park Cafe for a quick lunch before our cabins were ready at 1pm. Park Cafe was quite busy, however we had no trouble finding seats outside Vintages in Central Park. Cabins were ready at exactly 1pm and our luggage was waiting for us upon arrival.
STATEROOM: We all had Category D1, Oceanview Balcony staterooms, spread out between Decks 6 and 14. The bed was by the balcony for everyone except us. Our bed was by the closet and given the choice, I would prefer to have the bed near the balcony. With the bed near the closet, it made access very difficult as there was limited room between the bed and the closed. While this category of stateroom is a bit larger on Oasis than on the smaller ships, there was much less storage room than on the other ships in the fleet. With only 2 drawers in the vanity, and virtually no cabinet space, finding a place for our clothes was a challenge. The closet contained a row of "cubbies" for storing clothes etc, but the overall design of the cabin took some getting used to. The only other major issue we had with our cabin was with the A/C, or should I say lack of. It was always warm to hot in our room, we kept the Master Switch turned on all week and made sure our balcony door was always closed and locked to avoid having the A/C turned off, however it never really cooled off in our room. We did call maintenance on 2 occasions but they said nothing was wrong, so my guess is this is an issue with the design of this ship. We received excellent service throughout the week by our Cabin Attendant (sorry I can't recall his name) from Bali. Towel animals and pillow chocolates were left only on the 2 formal nights which was fine with us.
SHIP: More than enough has been said about the Oasis, and having previously only sailed her during one of the 2 night pre-inaugural cruises, I can say that when everyone says this ship does not feel crowded they are correct! We had a sold out sailing, and it was remarkable how well the ship handled that many people. Except for Muster Drill, you really had no idea there were over 6,000 people onboard. Finding a deck chair in a desirable spot near the pool was never an issue no matter what time you went to the pool deck. It was always very easy to find a spot in the Solarium, or anywhere else on the ship for that matter. The only real lines, were at Guest Relations, and they moved swiftly. The ship was in immaculate condition, and it was nice to see the foliage in Central Park looking so lush after 3 years of growth.
FOOD: We went on this cruise with the plan to not set foot inside the Windjammer and I'm happy to report that mission was accomplished. There are plenty of alternate places to grab a quick bite and we took full advantage of those. Park Cafe and Solarium Bistro became our preferred places for breakfast and lunch. Afternoon snacks were taken from Sorrento's or Cafe Promenade and a few of the group made it to the Wipe Out Cafe for a Pretzel Dog or soft serve yogurt. We tried breakfast in Johnny Rockets one morning and it was quite good and fast. One afternoon we went to Vintages to try the Tapas menu and for $19.00 we had more than enough food for the 4 of us, and it was all very tasty.
We also took advantage of the dining packages that were available, which limited us to the MDR on only the first and last nights of the cruise. We booked the Chef's Table ($95.00 per person) and also the Central Park Dining Package ($60.00 per person) which got us dinners in Giovanni's Table, 150 Central Park and Chops Grille. Additionally we also booked Giovanni's Table for lunch on the last day for $10.00 per person. I'll break down our experience by dining venue:
MDR- Only ate here on first and last night, and was not impressed with the selection or quality of the food. Given the new menus rolled out a few weeks before our cruise, I was expecting more. Service was excellent and yes, we did tip our MDR staff the full amount even though we only ate there 2 times.
Giovanni's Table: One word.. excellent! The food and service was wonderful. So much so, that we decided to return for lunch on the last day of the cruise. If you decide to dine her, be sure to go HUNGRY. You will receive more food than you'll know what to do with. We had an excellent waiter, Patricio from Chile, who brought us the appetizers, antipasta and pasta courses family style, and he brought out one of everything. We only had to decide on our main entree, as again, desserts were served family style and one of everything was placed on the table. Everything we sampled was delicious and for $20/dinner and $10/lunch it was a bargain.
150 Central Park: Nice but not great. I think our enjoyment of this restaurant was spoiled by the fact we could not understand a word our waiter said. He also rushed the meal, not leaving us much time in between courses. Having said that, the food was very good and beautifully presented, except for the dessert (cheesecake) which looked and tasted like curdled cottage cheese. We all were in agreement that this would not be tops on our list of restaurants to return to anytime soon.
Chops Grille: Nothing out of the ordinary here. Same great steaks and all the side items you could wish for all excellently prepared and serviced by our wonderful waitress Keisha. Oh, and I must not forget the delicious Red Velvet Cake ? I must mention, our second visit to Chops was not as pleasant due to our very slow, and somewhat rude waiter.
Chef's Table: FANTASTIC!! The best meal we had all week! Per the invitation we received in our cabin, we met in the Library for pre-dinner champagne and introductions. The Manager and Sommelier then escorted us to the Chef's Table which is located inside the Concierge Lounge. Once seated, we were introduced to the Chef, who gave us a brief bit of his background and about the meal we were to enjoy over the next 3 hours. Each course started out with a different wine, expertly described by our Sommelier. As the courses arrived, the Chef gave a fairly detailed explanation of the ingredients and how he prepared the dish. The Chef and Sommelier worked very well together and were quite funny in their presentation of the food and wine. The 6 courses were beautifully prepared and presented and the wines were generously poured. At the end of the meal, each person was given a signed copy of the cookbook and an apron. You were also given a printed copy of the menu and as a little added gift, our Sommelier gave everyone a Trinidadian Dollar bill which is where is was from. This meal was easily worth the expense and we left not only full, but a bit buzzed from all the wine and the shot of Lemoncello that accompanied the dessert.
ENTERTAINMENT: We pre-reserved all of the shows and thus were able to see all of them: Please make sure you pre-reserved your shows online, before your cruise. Those without reservations were turned away from the comedy show all week due to lack of availability.
Hairspray: Very well done by a talented cast of singers and dancers. Not my favorite Broadway show, but it was entertaining.
Oasis of Dreams- Aqua Show: The plot (if there was one) was hard to follow, but in no way did it diminish the quality talent. The aerial acts, acrobatics and dives, combined with the music and lights made for an exciting show that should not be missed.
Come Fly With Me: A very high energy show that combined the casts of the Aqua Show and Hairspray. Be sure to sit in the center section of the theatre get the full effect of the sets and acrobatics.
Comedy Live: The first comedian Rick Corso was not funny at all and I wondered if the entire show was going to be as lame. The second comedian, Phil Tag was hilarious and had tears rolling down our faces from laughter.
Frozen In Time: Easily the best Ice Show in the fleet.
SERVICE: As usual, the service was excellent throughout the ship. Everywhere we went and every crew member we encountered genuinely seemed happy to be onboard and offered service with a smile.
DEBARKATION: We opted for Express Debarkation and carried off our own luggage. The ship docked around 5am and the Express Departure group was allowed off the ship from 6am-7:15am. We left at 6:45am and were outside hailing a taxi at 6:55am. Customs did not scan the passports, but instead just looked at your declaration form and waved you through. We did see a few people being pulled into the "private" room, but I think it was mainly due to their large jewelry purchases.
DIAMOND LOUNGE: Due to over 300 Diamond members, the nightly cocktail hour was moved to the Blaze disco. We did not attend so I'm not sure how crowded it was, or what was provided.
CONCIERGE LOUNGE: We thoroughly enjoyed the use of the Concierge Lounge this week. Being able to order breakfast and lunch off a limited menu made it our preferred place throughout the day. The lounge was quite large and offered comfortable seating with great views of Boardwalk and the Aqua Theatre. The Concierge's Allan and Francis did absolutely NOTHING! Having sailed with Allan in the past when he was on Mariner, I knew not to expect much from him and he did not disappoint. The waiters during breakfast and lunch were excellent as were the 2 nightly Bartenders, Uriel and Cebert, who not only received generous tips, but also those we planned to give the Concierge(s). One the last night of the cruise, several people walked by the Concierge desk without leaving a gratuity, ourselves included. Hint to Allan and Frances... if you expect to receive a gratuity, then get up, mingle and actually talk to your guests when they come into your lounge.
SPECIAL EVENTS: There was a private event for Top Tier C&A members held on the Helipad during Nassau Sailaway. I'm not sure what levels received the invite, but my guess is only DiamondPlus and Suites were invited as there were over 300 Diamond Members onboard and there wasn't anywhere near that number of people in attendance. The party was very nicely done, with champagne and other beverages provided. A lot of staff and officers were mingling and available to answer questions. Of course there was a Dreamwork's character or two, and who could forget the Bagpiper?
The main C&A Welcome Back Party was held in the Aqua Theatre one morning and they were quite generous with the champagne, Bloody Mary's, Screwdrivers etc. We were the Top Cruisers of this sailing and received a nice bottle of Champagne in recognition. Later in the week, we were invited to tour the Bridge and Galley.
HINTS and TIPS: To make the most of your time onboard, be sure to pre-reserve all of your shows and specialty dining in advance. Make sure you electronically sign the waivers for the Zipline, Flowrider, Ice Skating etc when you complete your online registration. Get out and experience the many alternative places to eat and enjoy all this amazing ship has to offer. One week is not enough to experience everything this ship has to offer....Don't try. Instead, decide what are the must see/do items and focus on those.
While I still prefer the smaller ships in the fleet, I thoroughly enjoyed my week onboard the Oasis. Everyone needs to sail the Oasis/Allure at least once in their cruising lives.
If anyone has any questions, I'll do my best to answer.... Happy Sailing!