We sailed on the Oasis of the Seas 7 night western Caribbean cruise with our two kids (my daughter is 7 & my son is 10) this spring break and had an absolutely amazing time. We had an outside balcony and our room layout (pull out couch) was really comfortable for the four of us (mind you we are all really short!) There was room to unpack (room for suitcases under the bed) and with our room steward packing the bed away each day everything was very comfortable. Our stateroom was on the 6th floor right off of the Boardwalk... I was concerned about noise but there were no issues.
The youth staff and programs were excellent ... my kids made good friends and loved being there (by the end they wanted to be there all the time!) Watch for the talent show and kids pirate parade on ship days... they had a blast. There are morning, afternoon and evening sessions with different themes and organized activities. The kids can also opt to stay with the kids club for meals and they will be brought to one of the restaurants (usually the Windjammer). There were science labs, theater and character events, crafts, games and sports every day. There wasn't a lot of free-play time... everything was highly organized and supervised. There is some flexibility in the age ranges if the kids want to stay with siblings or friends, but mostly kids are encouraged to stick with their age group. It worked out great for my kids.
Entertainment & things to do
We loved the shows. We pre-booked them ahead of time (except we missed out on comedy show bookings... sign up early). We found the quality to be exceptionally good and especially enjoyed Hairspray and the Ice and Diving shows. We didn't do many of the other organized events around the ship but I did do a Zumba class with Cruise Director Amy (super fun) and the parades were great (short & sweet and packed with excitement). There was a comedy diving show one day that was really fun, and we also got to see a 3D movie premier on the ship. We tried the flowrider (super fun), mini golf, skating, played lots of table tennis and swam in the pools. The kids went on the carousel tons of times and ate lots of free (but bad!) doughnuts.
My husband is training for an Ironman this spring so he made good use of the gym facilities and found them to be pretty good. He ran around the track on deck 5 or used the treadmills and spin bikes, and also found opportunities for open water swims on the port days. There aren't any long lap pools for serious swimmers. The fitness classes book up on the first day, so sign up early if you are interested.
We found the food to be pretty good... the dining room was great and we really enjoyed the park cafe but it was pretty busy at lunch time. If you can manage to eat meals at off-peak times dining is a much more pleasant experience. We did my time dining and the lineups were REALLY bad at peak times. I'd recommend the early dining session for families if that is an option (we were too late), and if not I'd make a reservation for every night at the same time with MTD. We decided not to pay for any of the extra fee restaurants but were still quite happy with our restaurant choices. We bought one soda package and shared, but in the end we didn't really need it. We found the included drinks to be fine: coffee, tea, juice, white or chocolate milk in the mornings, + lemonade, iced tea and flavored waters for lunch and dinner. We didn't go to the ice-cream shop on board because we discovered the free frozen yogurt at the Wipe Out Cafe, but we did go to the yummy cupcake restaurant on several occasions! I didn't like the food at the Windjammer buffet but the kids loved it (I recommend the Indian dishes if you eat there... they were REALLY good.) The Character breakfast was fun for the kids (not nearly as well done as Disney but still fun) and we appreciated the fact that we could take some great photos with our own cameras.
In Labadee we opted for a beach day and had a blast playing in the sand and swimming (it was a bit cold in March but not too bad). The included lunch was good. We were planning to pay to play on the water equipment and water slides but the kids were having lots of fun on the free sandy beach beside that area. In Falmouth we did the Dunns River Falls Climb and Green Grotto Caves tour and really enjoyed our experience. Our guide was fantastic and we learned lots about the area. The falls climb was a bit challenging for my kids; My son and daughter are great swimmers and really comfortable in water but found the climb to be scary. We were all proud of ourselves for having completed the climb though. The Caves were pretty cool and the tour was really well done. The vendors at the falls were quite aggressive... we just tend to tell people that we didn't bring our money and were generally left alone! In Cozumel we did the Everybody Loves Rays! excursion and loved it. The Rays experience was really fun, although I felt that there were too many people in each of the groups. The snorkeling experience was a great experience for the kids (who don't have much snorkeling experience) and we had a blast. We stayed for a while afterwards to play on the water trampoline. We opted to take a free taxi downtown when we were done and spent some time wandering around the shops. From the cruise terminal it is an $8 taxi ride to downtown Cozumel and there is a great strip of shops and restaurants to check out. There were free taxi passes available on the ship (to the Emporium Shops) so you just need to pay for a cab on the way back. We aren't really into shopping but there were lots of cool things to check out. We found the cab drivers to be exceptionally friendly and helpful with advice.
Ship size, lineups, extra charges and miscellaneous stuff
The ship is huge but we didn't really have a problem with the crowds most of the time and we loved that there was so much to do on board. It is definitely worth avoiding the Windjammer buffet for breakfast and lunch (go to the dining room!) We tried to take the stairs as much as possible (particularly before and after shows and at peak dining times) to avoid long elevator waits. The pool decks were quite busy during the day and there were long lineups for the flow rider and zipline... best to hit those at off-peak times if possible. There were also long lineups for facepainting and balloon animals on the Boardwalk, but we were there on spring break and there were tons of families on board. We generally avoided the extra fees and charges for things on the ship because so much was already free and included. I did buy a couple of individual photos, but they are ridiculously expensive. Shopping seemed to be a very popular and there were huge crowds for different shopping opportunities on the promenade. I didn't really get it... you can find all of that stuff on land for the same prices.
With a ship that size we did find it hard to find each other occasionally. It would have been nice to have the ship iPhones for communication but they ran out of them really fast on the first day. Lots of people were using walking talkies (also available for sale in the Promenade gift shops)... in retrospect we should have done that.
I would recommend that people pre book their shows and excursions and sign all of their activity waivers. When you get on board register the kids for kids club (14 fwd) & get phones in the card room (14 aft), book your MTD mealtimes at the dining room (deck 5 aft) and sign up for fitness classes in the gym (deck 6 fwd)
Overall an amazing experience and we highly recommend this ship. Have fun!