The choice to embark on the Oasis of the Seas was two-fold. The first was to experience a whole new kind of ship and the largest ship afloat. The second reason was to visit the private port of Labadee, Haiti. More on this port later.
Getting to Port Everglades was extremely easy. It was a fast 15 minute ride from Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood, Fl International Airport. It had been suggested by our travel agent to take a taxi from the airport to the port rather than taking a transfer. However, upon claiming our bags, we spoke with the agents from the ship and they explained the benefits of taking the transfer over the cab. The cab would have been approximately $20 plus meter time for two adults. The transfer was $15 per person. The decision was made in favor of taking the transfer to make it easy financially as the cost was added onto our onboard SeaPass account.
Arrival at the terminal was fascinating! Considering we had cruised before and seen the special on TV, "Ultimate Cruise Ship: Oasis of the Seas", we knew what to expect. Being at the terminal gave it a whole new vantage point. Check-in was fast as usual for Royal Caribbean (except for the part where the computers went down for a few minutes). We got our documents in order and were on our way to the waiting area.
The waiting area was very well organized by the terminal staff. The guests were organized by accommodations and loyalty status. Once the ship was ready to boarded, we were called by section and one row of chairs at a time. Within 10 minutes of being called we were on board the largest cruise ship in the world.
The first major difference that was seen onboard Oasis that was different than other ships we had been on was the layout of the Windjammer. Rather than having one line of continuous steam table, there were three stations of food. It was easier to pick and choose rather than having to wait to get to a certain item, but at the same time it got confusing trying to meander your way through the multiple stations. Over the course of the cruise, I had also noticed that there was no dedicated omelet station where you could order a-la-carte eggs. This option was moved to a new venue on the ship called the Wipeout Cafe, located one deck down.
Dinner was a whole new experience as well. We opted to go with Royal Caribbean's MyTime Dining rather than the traditional seating. Although it was convenient not to have to be at dinner the same time each night, one never had the same table mates. It was either eat alone or sit with someone else for just that one evening. There also was no continuous wait staff that got to know you personally over the week, although you could request a specific waiter.
The cruise staff was phenomenal! They went out of their way for you in any way possible whether in the dining room, around the ship, or in the stateroom. The cruise director, Amy Fickert, was probably one of the best that we've had with Royal Caribbean. The activities manager, Patricio, was also just as great. He encouraged participation in just about every activity and event that was offered during the cruise and almost played Amy's alter ego.
One of the features that I had read about online was that the Oasis and Allure of the Seas had wireless phones available for rent. These phones, based on the Apple iPhone, allowed guests to make and receive unlimited calls and texts onboard ship. (If you called off the ship, ship-to-shore fees applied.) However, due to the number of guests onboard and the demand, there is a very short supply of them. I ended up putting my name on a wait list which never came to be. In speaking with someone at guest services on another matter, he mentioned to me that due to the order in which they are handed out, getting one or more is tricky. So, if you do want one of these great communications tools, grab them before you do anything else upon embarkation.
This review would not be complete without talking about the neighborhood concept introduced on this class of ships. There were 7 with the notable ones being Royal Promenade, Central Park, and Boardwalk. Royal Promenade is the standard street design and centrum that Royal Caribbean has become known for since the Voyager Class ships. It is the other two which changed everything. Central Park is an open-air park onboard ship with shops, dining options, and real plants. Boardwalk is no different. It is what anyone would expect to see at a seaside resort, including a carousel. It is also home to the first aqua theatre at sea with a 17 foot deep pool used for the Oasis of Dreams aqua show. It is these neighborhoods which really give it away that the Oasis of the Seas is the largest afloat!
The last of the things that made this ship immense were the twin rock climbing walls, twin FlowRiders and the ZipLine over the Boardwalk neighborhood. The flowriders (which debuted on the Freedom of the Seas) where divided into two groups, boogie board riders and surfers. It was fascinating to watch both.
Considering the number of people onboard, things went very smoothly. You never really felt smothered by people. I was quite surprised at how fast disembarkation went considering there were 77 groups and all were off the ship by 11 am.
Would I return back to the Oasis of the Seas again?? Absolutely!