This is one big ship, and though the nominal capacity was just above 5000, about half the cabins had a third guest and we actually had almost 6300. The large crowd was handled very well, and we found size less of a problem than on a couple of 3500 passanger ships we had been on. There were two exceptions. The elevators were inadequate with a wait of often several minutes and often very crowded conditions. (They need a software upgrade) The Windjammer (the buffet or "lido deck" often had waiting lines.
Every line has its own character, and if what you want is refined elegance, this is not your ship. The atmosphere is more brash exuberance. It is the best ship I have ever seen for older pre-teens, teens, and young adults. The older you are, the closer you have to look to see if the ship fits you. If you find kids bothersome, or do not like more modern music, you may not like the ship. We are 80, but we really enjoy seeing kids having a good time and were quite happy. More
Boarding and final deboarding were the best I have ever seen. We carry our own luggage, and we boarded just before noon, and it took less than 10 minutes before we were seated in the Waverider for lunch. Rooms were available at 1:00 pm. About the same time walking off with our luggage, and customs and immigration were great .. nice folks and fast.
The food in the main dining rooms was as good as I have had on a cruise ship, and they handled special needs such as gluten free and sugar free very well. Gluten free was the best we have seen. The Windjammer (buffet) is not as big as some ships in the 2-3000 range. It was very well run, with good service, but at peak times there were often 10 to 15 minute waits to get in. It was poor for gluten free, and had only one sugar free dessert. There was no omlette bar, no hard ice cream bar (frozen yogurt available at pool), no deli counter where you could get Rubens etc, no Italian or Asian counters though they would often have some food of these types. Selection was limited. We normally ate all three meals in the main dining room. At breakfast and lunch they had both menu service and a very good buffet. We ordered from the menu and picked up items like fruit from the buffet line while we were waiting, and the service was always very good. There were free alternatives to the Windjammer. There was an omlette bar in the Waverider one deck below, a Pizza joint on the Boardwalk deck and the Park Cafe on the Central Park had a very good make your own salad, and a great roast beef sanwich, plus a few more items. There were also pay to play options, including an ice cream shop and a Johnny Rockets hamburger joint on the Boardwalk.
Entertainment was unusual and overall quite good. There were several venues each running several nights. There was a 1 1/2 hour musical, Hairspray. We enjoyed it very much once ... rock musical ... but would not go back. The Phantom or Les Mis it was not. A great ice show. A great diving show. A very good musical/dancing/acrobatic show. A ventriloquist/comedian who was realy great. A comedy club with one quite good comedian, and a second who thought he could make up for a lack of humor with four letter words. You need to get your show reservations as soon as you book. A month before sailing we could get into everything but not at the times we wanted in every case. People who waited til they boarded could not get into some shows at all. However, my impression was that if you were willing to go early and wait in the standby lines you could get into most shows, but obviously not with the better seats.
Activities were largely physical. For the kids there was a lot including a rock wall, a zip line, and the wave rider. For the older folks the pools (three small ones plus one kids pool) were often quite crowded on at sea days, but there were plenty of lounge chairs. Each pool had one or more "hot tubs", and the Solarium, just foward of the pools was an over 16 area with a restaurant, great lounges, and several hot tubs. It was mostly glass enclosed. In the Caribbean, it was rather hot in the afternoon. Would have been great in Alaska, but best in the morning. There was no charge to use it. There was also one lounge on deck 17 that had music at night with the great Standard Time Trio that the non rock generation could appreciate.
There were a few things lacking. There was no afternoon tea ceremony which we like, and my wife was incensed that both sides of the Windjammer were closed at just the hour in the afternoon she liked her tea. There were also few non physical on board activities, even on sea days. No organized bridge though there was a lounge, and no classes for bridge, computers, computer photo programs, et al. The library would have been a joke on a small ship. For us, it was the pool on sea days. While you could buy movies in your in room TV for about $12.00, even Adult Movies (the XXX type), there was not much to watch on the TV except for CNN and FoxNews. No DVD player.
Our cabin was excellent with pleny of room both in the cabin, bathroonm and on the verandah. Had a fridge, flat panel TV, couch, table and plenty of storage. We were on deck 14 towards the rear of the ship, but felt no motion, even during the 40 knot winds of Dorian.
If you have trouble with motion, and my wife does, this is your ship. Only time we detected motion was just a bit going into the theater forward.
Overall, we would give the ship very high marks, but it may not be your cup of tea. Less
Oasis of the Seas Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean