I am an avid cruiser, as is my wife. Together we have complete 7 cruises and not one has disappointed. I have read some reviews that are excellent representations of what the typical cruiser will experience and some that are a bit "over-the-top" critical, like Super8-size rooms, tiny showers, port-a-potty toilets and overall disappointment that the cabin is not larger.
From my perspective, it is all about expectation. One MUST do one's due diligence before taking ANY trip. Would you get in your car and start driving without knowing where you were going? No, of course not. So why would you plan a cruise and not research the 'what to expect' factor. Obviously you must read not only the great and good reviews, but read what people who write the negative reviews says also. Some of the reviews will be weighted toward personal bias but analyzing everything you read will help you decide if a cruise is right for you. One review I recently read said, "...for me, it is more about the destination rather then the transportation...". If that is true, stay away from cruising! A cruise is about the on-board experience, and the different destinations are a bonus, not the main purpose. One way to look at it, where can you go on land and get 7 day accommodations, food, very good quality entertainment, AND a visit to places you may never have been before starting at around $549/person (plus taxes and port charges, depending on the ship). Answer, No Where! This is a great bargain so be prepared to make certain concessions. Yes, the bathrooms in cabins up to and including balcony are small. So what? You don't spend your day in there, or do you? Yes the rooms are somewhat small but you are in there with one other person and not very much, if you want to enjoy your trip, or is being in the room what you are after? My point is, know enough about the do's and don'ts of cruising before you decide to book. This will save the average traveler a lot of time and angst.
Yes, ships tend to be somewhat crowded, especially in places like the buffet (Royal Caribbean calls them Windjammer, as they are usually high up on the ship and have some pretty nice views). Depending on the time of day you go, they can be quite crowded. Fortunately, on ships like Oasis of the Seas and her sister ship, Allure of the seas there are other dining options. For instance, many people have breakfast in the Windjammer and it is crowded. But most don't realize you can get the same food plus table service in the main dining room, sit by the window for ambiance and it is rarely crowded. Same thing for lunch! Another reviewer wrote about the bland food in all areas, including the main dining room. Poppycock! My wife and I, although not accomplished chefs or food critics, enjoy the meals, especially in the main dining room. IT'S INCLUDING IN THE FARE, SO QUIT YOUR BEAFING! Sorry. Didn't mean to yell. Truth is we did dine a couple of times in the specialty restaurants and the food was only better because the choices were different than the main dining room. But we have NEVER been disappointed with any meal we have eaten on-board a cruise. And to those who say portions are small, W-H-A-T? No so. And if you are still hungry, order another dinner. No extra charge, IT'S INCLUDED! There is no limit. If you can't decide between the lobster and the steak, order both! If you go away hungry, it's your own fault (as my wife would say should you have a meal at our place).
Strolling around a cruise ship is fun. Checking out the various areas on-board is quite different than walking through the park on Sunday, unless you happen to be on one of these 2 ships. Then a walk through Central Park is quite nice, and in the evening we experienced a pianist and violinist playing. What a lovely way to end the day. While it is true that there are many people on-board, and the elevators do get crowded, it is no different that rush hour in a Manhattan office high rise elevator, or how about sitting in Orlando, Atlanta or LA traffic trying to get to work? The elevator ride ends MUCH faster and aside from the crowds leaving at the end of a show (no different than any other show you've been to) most of the leisure time you will spend on-board is quite relaxing.
Don't be too quick to judge by the mistakes of others. Do your research BEFORE you book. You'll save yourself a lot of aggravation and probably have a better time as a result.
I hope this will help those who have never been on a cruise before. And for those of you who have had a negative experience and read this, I hope it helps you reflect back on the positive aspects of you trip. After all, memories are what you make them, not what someone else tells you the are or should be.