We flew in the day before so not to have to worry about airline difficulties --- we had reservations at the Ft. Lauderdale Hilton Marina. A reasonable rate was offered and three of us stayed in one room. A short cab ride from Ft. Lauderdale airport under $20 with tip. Only drawback this summer which I was unaware at booking was the restaurants were closed due to renovations and the only place to eat on site was the pool bar. (Not a very good selection for lunch and supper both)We made do because after all we are fixing to go on a cruise! We stayed in a tower room which was nice and up to date and clean. Would not want to stay in the villas as they need remodeling. Next time I would stay on a higher floor in the tower for a better water view. I would stay here again. Walgreens is a few blocks down the street and my daughter and I walked it, but would not walk it after dark just a little too far and felt a touch uneasy for 2 women walking on their own. But otherwise a great place! We felt very safe on hotel property!!
Woke up and left hotel at 10:30 for port. Caught cab right out front with no waiting. Fare was $10-$15 for fare +tip to port. Less than 5 minute ride. We got our luggage with a steward + tip to steward for good measure and we were off to embarkation. Walked right up to desk by 11:00am, paperwork and boarding pictures made, then to Crown and Anchor section(only gold level) for a seat to wait for boarding, was told boarding would not begin until 12:30 in an earlier email, however we were boarding by 11:15 and on ship by 11:25. Cabins were made available after 1pm.
Once onboard we immediately went and purchased on premium beverage package and I would definitely do this again! We waited to purchase once on board as we had some onboard credit to use and this made it quite a deal. I am not a heavy drinker but the convenience was awesome for ordering beverages, service exceptional, and bottomless wine glass a dinner a plus. I did get my money worth as we did not get off for long at ports and I was able to use this package everyday. My next stop after purchasing drink package was to excursion desk to reserve a cabana on Labadee. Since we were not doing any excursions at the other ports we opted to renting a cabana on Labadee if available and on the website prior to boarding it stated to inquire once onboard about Cabanas ... we felt very lucky as we were told at 11:25am when I made it to the excursion desk we got the LAST cabana on Nellie's Beach over the water. It was a pure TREAT!! Will definitely do this again. We stayed the entire day on Labadee, had our own personal attendant to get our bar drinks or cokes for my daughter. The cabana came with our own bottled water, flotation mats for the beach, as well as we had a special buffet with the suite guests. We felt very pampered and will be disappointed in future cruises if we do not get a cabana. The sun can be very hot and having the shade when you want it was great! Plus they had a golf cart to take you back to the ship when you were ready to leave.
We had the late dining at 8:30pm and had show reservations pre arranged for after dinner most nights. My mother in law had a difficult time making the late shows so she might opt for early dinner the next time. This was her first cruise. However, having teenagers the late shows work better for us and gives us more pool time as we do not have to come in early and get ready for dinner. There are some must shows to see ... we always enjoy the LOVE and MARRIAGE show, the broadway show, ice show, and the QUEST. We missed COME FLY WITH ME, but I heard it was great. I enjoyed the casino ... I just play penny slots, but I did win a little then lose a little but overall came home with a little more money about $100 more than I went with plus a tshirt! Yay! My favorite day time activity was lying by the pool. We chose to lay out at the beach pool which was usually crowded but we were always lucky enough to find 2 chairs side by side even when we would not get out there until 11:30 or 12:00 noon.
Sign up the cruise critic Meet and Mingle ... great prizes are given away and you can visit with other cruise critic members if you choose. We did not win any prizes but enjoyed the 30 minute get together.
Lunch once we boarded was enjoyed in the Park Cafe ... awesome customized salads and the delicious roast beef sandwiches ... this was my favorite lunch spot. Breakfast was good in the Windjammer of course, and they move people through for breakfast pretty quickly... I think breakfast was quicker this voyage in the windjammer than my previous cruise on Oasis 2 years ago. We also liked Johnny Rockets for breakfast (two mornings) There is NO service charge for breakfast at Johnny Rockets and you can get your basic breakfast meal of bacon, eggs, toast, hasbrowns, or sausage and pancakes. Back to our late seating eating time ... I come from the old school of cruising and have never tried my time dining but I like the personal attention received from our waiters each night when we are able to get to know them and they get to know us. We loved the new menus in the dining room and our waiters were so nice always allowing us to order however many appetizers we wanted. If they thought we did not eat enough of our entree, they were ready to bring us another one of something different as they thought we did not like it. That was never the case, as all the food was delicious and we were just too full if we did not eat all of our main course. Their desserts were not as good as in the past, but still satisfied our sweet tooth.
A note on the photos on the ship ... our first cruise on Oasis was with our family of four and we had not had family photos made in quite some time. That being said at the end of the cruise I splurged and bought the DVD of all our photos for $360 (2 years ago). This time my daughter, mother in law, and I had quite a few pictures made, however the price had gone up tremendously and was not a deal. The same DVD is now over $600.00. We were given coupon books since we are crown and anchor members for buy one photo get one half off so for $99 we acutally purchased 5 photos of our cruise and took many photos on our own. I plan to make an album from shutterfly as a keepsake.
We attempted to play Bingo one day, but I did not want to pay$55 for a BINGO machine, seems too expensive and takes the fun out of BINGO. I will skip this event in future cruises. The only people that would win were the people with the machines and just did not seem as fun as used to be. Also, during the day all the sales on the promenade kind of get on your nerves when strolling through that area, so I just chose to stay away until later in the evening.
WE LOVED our cruise and will definitely save up for another one on one of these big ships in the Oasis Class. Any questions regarding my review feel free to reply and I will answer if possible.
Disembarking was as easy as getting on the ship. Our time for getting off was between 9:15 and 9:30am and we were at the airport before 10am; Note charge cell phones and Ipads the night before as FLL airport does not have charging stations and everyone is looking to charge their phones. One thing I would like to look into before our next cruise is texting at sea. We turned off our cell phones once we left the FLL port and placed in our safe and did not turn on again until 7 days later. However, they advertised Cellular at Sea if you have AT&T service, but I was scared of charges that might show up once back at home. We have had problems when traveling to the Bahamas with getting back home with a $1000 cell bill and definitely did not want to experience that again. I noticed many passengers constantly using their cell phones so the cellular at sea may be affordable OR they may have a surprise once they returned. I bought an internet package once on board to email my husband daily and it was $24.95 for like 33 minutes. I used like 25 minutes for the week by going to the computer room on the ship on deck 14. Hope my review has been helpful ... we always had plenty to do and were rarely in the our cabin.
Cabin note ... we were in a boardwalk balcony cabin 11323 and LOVED it. Will definitely do a boardwalk cabin again as we could see the ocean plus people watch. Also, we could watch aqua theater shows from our balcony or from the public balcony at the end of the hall. The only way I would choose to have an ocean balcony was if I was lucky enough to have a suite. Some people complain over noise from Aqua Theater, but that was not an issue with us. The only time you would hear noise is if you had your balcony door open.