Mrs lake4fun has wanted to cruise on the Oasis or Allure for several years now. I had a preference for smaller ships as I am not a fan of standing in line with large crowds. Since we were celebrating our 25th anniversary this March, I gave in and booked us on the Oasis of the Seas. Overall we were extremely pleased (and surprised -- me at least) by efficient and organized operations on the Oasis of the Seas.
We have cruised in and out of Ft Lauderdale many, many times and have always flown in day of departure and out on our return day. It was every bit as easy this time. We landed around 1:30PM. Once we pulled our luggage from the airline carousel we were in our room aboard within 45 minutes. We took a $12.50 cab ride from FLL to the cruise terminal and dropped our luggage with the cruise line luggage handlers at the terminal. When we arrived at the terminal it was busy but not overly so. We are RCCL Crown & Anchor members so there is a special door and line for C&A members. There was no line at all in the C&A entrance. We could see the regular line and there were no more than about 30 or 40 people waiting to go through security. Once through security we did not encounter a single line. We walked right up to a check-in agent and had a Sea Pass within minutes.
We then walked right onto the ship to the usual pleasant RCCL staff welcoming us aboard. Walking onto the Oasis is an awesome experience. The size and scope of the interior and what they were able in put inside a ship is most amazing. We decided to check to see if our room was available -- and it was. I also noticed that luggage was being delivered to the 8th floor. Our bags arrived just after 3. We were told that we had 6,000 passengers this cruise.
We stowed our carry-on bags in our room and set off to get some lunch and explore the ship. Because every RCCL ship has the Windjammer, we headed there for a quick lunch. The Windjammer fare was exactly as expected. Lots of nice options. However, this is one of two venues on the Oasis where you saw a crowd. I will add that I never had to stand in line to get in or get food in the Windjammer, it was however always very busy and finding a seat was difficult. I wish to point out that in our experience the Windjammer is busy on all of the Royal ships and at certain times finding seating can be difficult. The good news is that on the Oasis, there are so many other lunch and breakfast options that we only used the Windjammer a total of three times. The Park Cafe wound up being my favorite lunch and breakfast stop and the Mrs liked the healthy lunch options in the Solarium Bistro.
We were very impressed with the public areas on the Oasis and quickly decided that we may not be able to see it all in a 7 day cruise. I suppose one could explore the entire ship in 7 days easily enough, but our cruising preference is to find a place in the sun by a pool. We rarely move from the pool deck when at sea and then tend to do shore things in port so that limited our time for exploration.
While I'm on the subject of the pool side experience, I will point out some issues that we saw/experienced pool side. The issues were not with the cruise staff, who in fact are exceedingly pleasant even in the face of unreasonable people. If you ever cruised, you know that a day at sea is a busy day on the pool deck. I tend to be an early riser and go early to get breakfast and -then- to get deck chairs. The Oasis has so many pool options that one could always find a chair/lounge. The most popular pool was what we called the 'beach' pool where the deck slopes to the pool and you can have your chair at the waters edge. Many expected to go up early, put a towel on a chair, go to breakfast, back to sleep, sometimes returning an hour (or hours) later expecting to have the chair that they 'reserved'. The beach pool was so much in demand that the staff enforced the no-reserving-deck-chair rule that you will find on almost every ship. All I can say is, it's about time.
I did feel great compassion for the pool staff working to make sure the rules were followed. We experienced this directly as abusers returned to find the Mrs and me on the chairs that they toweled. I found the deck chairs empty at 7:30AM and sat down with my kindle in hand. At around 9:30AM the couple returned complaining that put their towels and bags on the chairs at 7AM. They had been gone for over 2 hours. We sincerely appreciate RCCL's trying to make the pool area work for everyone. The staff was good at keeping track of this. When we would go for a dip in the pool or to the bathroom, we never had a problem. The staff were always aware that you were close by and asked when they were not sure. Also I will note that even though we had 6,000 on board there were always chairs available on the pool and sun deck areas. The area around the beach pool was the only contentious area. It was our experience that you could easily find a place to be in the sun about any time of day.
The Oasis is a relatively new ship so everything was in good working order, bright and clean. We tried most of the dining venues.
Windjammer: Almost exactly as it is on every RCCL ship. Very popular and very busy at peak breakfast and lunch times.
Park Cafe: Far less busy and very good fr breakfast and lunch. The Park Cafe is not a buffet - more cafeteria style with a create your own bagel area in the morning and a salad area in the afternoon for lunch. The nice part of the salad area is that they would toss your salad for you. They always had freshly carved roast beef with fresh-baked rolls that made an incredible sandwich. RCCL provides nice paper cups with lids for to-go coffee in most of the venues. Since the Park Cafe and our room were both on the 8th floor, I could grab coffees easily on my way to the pool deck in the morning, which I really liked.
Promenade Cafe: Complementary Seattle's Best Coffee available 24 hours along with cookies and other goodies. Paper coffee cups, hot cup insulators and lids made getting a to-go coffee a breeze.
Main Dining (late seating): We experienced a much-improved menu. We enjoyed the quality and variety. The only less-than-great menu item is the lobster. All other items were exceptional.
Park 150: This is unique to the Oasis. A fixed menu for a cover charge. We did the wine parings which was an additional $75. Park 150 was by far the best diner experience we've ever had on a cruise, period. Incredible experience with superbly prepared and presented food.
Giovanni's Table: Our second-best dining experience on the Oasis. Smaller cover charge than Park 150 or Chops. Considering the small cover and quality, I would probably visit Giovanni's over Park 150 if cost is a concern. Very close in food quality and presentation for a lot less.
Chops Grille: This was our big disappointment on this cruise. The service was great but the steak was not as good as what I've come to expect. We like rare/medium rare steaks and although ours was perfectly cooked (rare), it had little flavor and was even a bit dry. Not bad enough to complain but we will certainly think twice about another visit to Chops.
Wipe Out Cafe: This venue is a best kept secret. On the pool deck aft, it was a great alternative to the busy Windjammer. Burgers, nachos and the like, a great choice for lunch for sure.
I'm not providing any port reviews. We've been to these ports so many times that we barely left the ship except for Cozumel which we love to visit.
The things we loved on the Oasis:
1. The running/walking track - on the 5th floor and away from the crowds that tend to make running on the sun deck a problem A+
2. The number of things to do on the Oasis. Great entertainment and never a line for any of the things we did.
3. Coffee - was Seattle's best and I made only one trip to the Starbucks - it was tat good.
4. The staff except for the sourpuss at the excursions desk. She was a stark contrast to the entire rest of the staff. I guess everyone can have a bad day, but she was a disappointment.
The things we could do without:
1. Chops - disappointment as stated above.
2. 7 days is probably not long enough. We met a couple that did a back-to-back and that was probably the right thing for this ship.