Background: My wife(age 27) and I (age 32) got married onboard Liberty of the Seas in 2008. I have sailed 5 times now and she has sailed 4 times, all on Royal Caribbean ships. We booked this cruise as a holiday family vacation. Most of the family is scattered across the United States. It was also a surprise to have an Aunt and Uncle joining us. No one knew but us.
Pre-Cruise Hotel: We drove from Michigan to Florida and had a wonderful stay at the Hyatt House Dania Beach hotel. This hotel is about 5 miles from the port. The hotel is new and was clean and the rooms were all suites with kitchens which worked out well for our group of 10. We only needed 3 rooms as 2 rooms had two separate bedrooms and bathrooms each. The Hyatt House includes a full hot breakfast buffet everyday, which is why I choose this hotel over Hyatt Place. Even though Hyatt Place is closer to Port Everglades, the reviews on TripAdvisor were less than great and the hotel does not provide a HOT (you must pay for hot items) breakfast. Only continental breakfast is included at Hyatt Place.
We left the Hyatt House at 10am and arrived shortly after at Terminal 18 to board Oasis of the Seas. We had to wait a few minutes for the rest of our group to arrive. Once all together, we entered the terminal and proceeded to go through security and check in. Check in was lightening fast as everyone has already said. We did a group photo and then went upstairs to sit in the GOLD section awaiting to board the ship. Boarding happened at 11:30am and I'm guessing we were among the first 500 people onboard. We made a beeline up to Park Cafe and had a lovely lunch before the rush.
Crowds: I know this is a big issue with many folks. If you have traveled on a Royal Caribbean ship before you know there can be come crowding issues when a show lets out or near the elevators after dinner. Oasis was no different. But over all the ship was NOT crowded and there is plenty of room for everyone to have space to do as they please. There were 6,189 guests onboard and the ship was marked as full and no upgrades were available.
During parades the Royal Promenade was somewhat crowded, but nothing like some people have mentioned. The 2nd floor of the Solarium (Deck 16) was probably the least crowded. We always found a lounge chair in the sun and that was the best place to be outside. Not windy at all.
We had large interior staterooms for everyone in our group next to each other on Deck 9 and they were wonderful. Our stateroom attendants were a joy and we were sad to say goodbye to them at the end of the week.
Oasis has the new menus for lunch and dinner and they are also wonderful. The food selection, presentation and quality seems to have gone up. We never went hungry were always satisfied with whatever we ordered. Service in the main dining room was excellent as well.
We also dined for lunch at Johnny Rockets, Solarium Bistro, Park Cafe, Cafe Promenade and Sorrento's. All were great and I would recommend you visit various places to take advantage of all the great food onboard. Lunch in the main dining room is great too on sea days. We did not eat in the Windjammer Marketplace or dine at any of the specialty restaurants.
Entertainment was outstanding. Hairspray was first class, a great production. There was some type of mechanical problem in the middle of the show and the production had to be suspended for a few minutes, but it was fixed and the show continued. Come Fly With Me was great as was Oasis of Dreams Aqua Show. The Ice Show is also not to be missed. We did not go to the comedy show.
We did express walk off and would recommend that to everyone! It is so easy and you don't have to give up your luggage the night before. The only downside is you have to get up early (for us it was 5am) because express walk off is from 6:15am to 7:30am. Breakfast is provided in the Solarium Bistro, Windjammer Marketplace or the Main Dining Room. We met at the dining room at 6:15am and had our last breakfast and then left the ship. We were on the road back to Michigan by 7:30am. Overall it was a wonderful week and we can't wait for our next cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship!