I have been fascinated by the Oasis class ships since they were first announced, and just returned from an absolutely fantastic 7 day Western that surpassed my expectations in every way. I haven't sailed on Royal Caribbean for quite a long time, but I've always considered them my favorite cruise line; now I remember why...
The ship was completely sold out, but not once, from embarkation through debarkation, did I ever feel that it was crowded. In fact, at times I found myself saying "where is everyone?" The ship is gigantic and gorgeous with something for every age group, and the layout of the neighborhoods seem to subtly sort out the ages and interests of the passengers making things quite pleasant for everyone. The ship is easy to get around despite its size, with very well thought out arrangement of restaurants, attractions, and deck activities. Nothing feels too far away, and again, nothing felt crowded.
Here's a quick run-through of major items from the cruise:
1. Embarkation/debarkation: FAST & PEACEFUL! I went from taxi to cabin in 15 minutes. There was no line checking in, and the massive check in area was well organized to eliminate the possibility of one long line forming. For comparison sake, it took me over an hour to board the Epic last year, even with special boarding privileges. Oasis debarkation was even faster. I elected the express option and simply walked right off the ship with my bags and waited no more than 5 minutes at customs.
2. Deck areas: ORGANIZED VARIETY! Again, that subtle organization and layout kept the families with kids, young adults, and us middle-aged and older serenity seekers in our places without making it obvious. There was never a shortage of deck chairs (and variety of them) in any of the areas, and the decks and pools were immaculate. Beverage service was plentiful and quick. I spent most of my time at the Solarium. The semi-open glass roof and walls provides just enough cover to shield the wind and elements while giving the option of full sun or shade. It is quiet, peaceful, and simply delightful with a 16+ age limit that seemed to be well enforced (unlike Epic's adult area). Just outside the Solarium is a hot tub that is slightly extended past the deck line to feel as if it is over the sea- don't miss it.
3. Dining: BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, CLASSIC AND FREESTYLE! There are many options for both free and upgraded dining, both in food type and venue; it's all about finding what you like and going with it. The dining room offered the traditional main and late seating (for those of us who enjoy meeting with people each evening at the table and getting to know our servers over the week) or an any-time option. There were typically 5 daily entree choices along with 5 every-night "classics". All of the food was very good. The upgrade restaurants were simply outstanding. Chops served up some of the best steaks I have ever tasted. The Windjammer buffet and various cafes around the ship were excellent. Food and beverage service was fast, friendly and plentiful.
4. Cabins: COMFORTABLE! Excellent, ample closet space. Comfortable bedding. Great water pressure in the shower and plenty of hot water. Balcony was comfortable and private enough. Cabin attendants were terrific and very friendly. I spoke with a gentleman in a Loft Suite who stated, "It's the first cruise I've ever been on where I felt I had too much room!" My only quip was the absence of a coffee maker; I was told you have to book a suite to get one.
5. Entertainment: THRILLING! The production, ice-skating, diving, and comedy shows were all excellent. Hairspray was very well done. The diving show was amazing. Don't miss any of the shows, they are all well worth your time. The daily "street-fair parties" in the promenade were fun and a bit hokey, reminding me of something that you might see break out walking around Disneyworld, designed to lighten you up and make you smile and maybe dance around a bit. Casino was well run and professional with a large variety of games; it was very spacious with a full split between smoking and non-smoking sections. Nightclub entertainment was great for jazz and dance club music, but there was an absence of a rock or country band; the band that played a variety of music in Dazzles club was not so hot. The solo and duo performers in the Viking Crown Lounge and dining room were excellent and perfect for the rooms.
6. Shopping: GREAT DEALS! Sale events vary throughout the cruise. There is again quite a bit of variety, accommodating buying the basics to the very upscale. Watch choices and prices were excellent, with some brands marked well below the best offers you'll see on land or on the web.
One final comment I'll make is on Central Park. This gorgeous area in the center of the ship offers a nice "getaway" from "being on a ship". You'll walk down the peaceful stone walkways through nicely colored plants and flowers with the upscale restaurants on either side. The Park Cafe also offers a great place for anytime food and dining either inside or outside. It is truly one of the most relaxing places on board, and is a beautiful place to stroll both day and night, providing an instantly refreshed feeling for returning to the other great areas of the ship; it makes a huge difference being able to have this change in atmosphere now and then.
I've been on many ships and itineraries over the last 30 years. This is one of the only ones where I actually said out load "I'll be back" as I walked down the gangway to leave her in Fort Lauderdale.