Here are just some general observations about our western Caribbean cruise last week on the Oasis of the Seas. For a little background, we are a family of four (kids 12 & 14), this was our 8th cruise (7th on RCI), second time on Oasis, and second time to these ports with the exception of Labadee which we've never visited.
Embarkation went very smoothly, even though the computers in the terminal were down when we checked in, no issues. Boarding began around 11:30.
Once onboard we went directly to the Card Room/internet office to rent iPhones. It had sounded like a great idea, so we could text each other about locations, but after the 3-day trial period we returned them (at no charge). The kids didn't want to carry them around, particularly if they were going to the pool or to play on the sports court, and we often weren't able to "connect to the server" anyway. I liked the feature that showed each phone's location on the ship's map, but it wasn't enough to warrant keeping them. We reverted to using the room's voicemail system to leave each other messages and it worked just fine.
DH & the kids all got the soda package, and loved the freestyle machines... when they were working.
We had two connecting D2 oceanview staterooms with balconies on deck 9. One had the bed next to the closet, the other had it next to the balcony. Consensus in our group was that the one with the bed next to the closet felt bigger, although I preferred the other configuration. Our stateroom attendant was very pleasant & helpful, and made towel animals probably 3-4 times during the week, but didn't put the same creature in both cabins, so I felt like he was doing double duty. We kept the door between the cabins open and requested that the balcony divider be opened as well. Since this was our first time with two balconies, I was surprised to find that they don't actually completely open up into one large balcony when the divider is removed; instead, the front half of the divider folds back, but there is still a ~3-foot section of the divider that remains. It was fine, just not what I expected. We did request and receive a lounge chair for our balcony, although I've heard this can be hit or miss. We made the request of the housekeeping supervisor for our deck (walks around with a clipboard usually) rather than the stateroom attendant, but I can't say whether this played a part in the response -- we were just grateful for it!
Our Roll Call had an informal gathering at the Sky Bar Saturday afternoon which was a lot of fun, we had a great turnout. We had our actual Meet & Mingle on Sunday morning, which was also well attended.
Weather was fine on Saturday, but Sunday was cool & overcast as we were sailing through a cold front. Instead of being able to sail out of it, the front actually caused rain & 50 mph winds in Labadee on Monday, so the port call was cancelled. We were pretty disappointed since I've heard great things about it, but you can't control the weather.
The Captain & his Officers were more "visible" on this cruise than on any I've taken in the past. He was quite personable and was a good sport about participating in onboard activities. The cruise director, Amy Fickert, was good -- she was always around, but not enough to get annoying.
In Falmouth we went to Red Stripe beach for a few hours. It was very laid back, barely 10 minutes from the port -- a small beach with changing & restrooms, small bar & grill, DJ playing music and games. It was just what we were looking for. We were invited to a Crown & Anchor champagne sail away party on the helipad just before leaving Falmouth (originally scheduled for the Labadee day) that was very nice -- again, the Captain and his Officers were there. It was cool to get out onto one of the "forbidden" places, but it was incredibly windy. In Cozumel we did the Amazing Race excursion and had an absolute blast. It was hot running around, but we had so much fun!
Entertainment was generally very good; the ice show was spectacular, as was the show in the Aqua Theater (Oasis of Dreams?) and Hairspray. The comedians were good; I know those shows book up fast, but we went to the midnight show and the place was barely a third full. The headliner, Scott Record, was okay, but the "Unexpected Boys" (a Four Seasons tribute) were terrific; we actually went to their show in Dazzles and again in the Crown Viking lounge because they were so good.
DH and DS both went for a group lesson on the Flowrider (they both had done it before but wanted a refresher) and had a great time. The first afternoon, just before/after sail away is a great time to book this. The "best of the best" competition at the end of the week was very entertaining and quite impressive!
DD and I had mani/pedis done in the spa; it was ridiculously expensive, but I considered it a splurge, and used the $$ that we would've used on excursions in Labadee. As is always the case in the spa, they tried to sell me a bunch of expensive products, but I expected that. On the flip side, my DS decided his buzz cut was just a smidge too long, so I brought him in for a haircut -- they did a great job and it cost less than it does at home!
My kids were pretty underwhelmed with the teen club (they are both in the 12-14 group); they said the staff was barely noticeable and activities weren't organized. Both ended up hanging out either together or with us instead.
My Time Dining was a bit of a disaster the first two nights, with lines running out to the elevators, for both people with reservations and those without. Whatever the glitch was, it seemed to be worked out by the 3rd night and things went much more smoothly. We had a terrific waiter/assistant waiter pair, so we requested their section each night, therefore any delay at that point was of our own doing. The food was generally good -- I wouldn't call it 5-star, but certainly 3.5- and even 4-star on some nights/dishes. Aside from the dining room, we ate in the Windjammer a few times (everyone was happy with the food there), had lunch at the Solarium Bistro the first day, Park Cafe almost every morning for breakfast, and Wipeout Cafe for a couple of the kids lunches. We didn't go to any of the specialty restaurants this cruise. Snacks were generally from Sorrento's, the Promenade Cafe, the Donut Shop, and the candy store :) For the most part, the only food-related complaint I had was the coffee -- yuck! I couldn't get a decent cup of coffee anywhere (not a Starbuck's fan, but Seattle's Best is usually good). In the grand scheme of things, even for someone with a caffeine addiction, that was a pretty small complaint.
We had one "Wow" card in each cabin that is supposed to be used to recognize a crew member who goes above & beyond and makes a positive impact on your cruise. Unfortunately we had two cards but three staff who we wanted to recognize (good problem to have I suppose). We tried to get an extra one from Guest Services, and even from the Diamond Concierge, but no dice -- they all said, "just put it on your comment card, that counts more." However, when we did give out the two we had, the crew members were very grateful and said the cards are entered into a drawing for $1000 or an iPad, etc. We mentioned all three on our comment cards as well.
We used the luggage valet and will definitely use that again -- put the bags outside the door on Friday night & didn't have to deal with them again until we arrived back home at Logan Airport -- it was very nice to go through the customs line with just our carry-ons. Disembarkation was smooth & uneventful. We grabbed a cab and went to the Sawgrass Mills mall to kill time until our 5:30 flight home.
All in all, it was a terrific cruise, and while we love the Oasis class ships, we're thinking our next cruise may be on something smaller, just so we can see different ports -- our last 3 cruises have been either Eastern or Western Caribbean.