This was our first cruise. As this was our first cruise, it will be very hard to go on any other ship. As a matter of fact, we are considering doing a Back To Back on the Oasis, doing a Western Caribbean and ending with the Eastern Caribbean sailings.
If this review reads like someone from RCI wrote it, I'm sorry. My wife and I have traveled extensively and I have over 3,000,000 miles on American Airlines. We have been in Scotland, Spain, England, Wales, France, Holland, Singapore, West Africa, East Africa, India, most of the US and the Caribbean, so we do have some travel experience and a lot of different vacation experiences. This was our best vacation in our 30 years of being married. We celebrated our 30 year anniversary on the second day of the cruise. The head waiter and several of the wait staff brought a cake with candle and sang for us. Totally embarrassed my wife, but we loved it.
First, I would like to address the "size" of the ship. Yes it is a massive ship when one sees it for the first time. However, it is not the outside size of the ship, but what the "shell" of the ship contains that is amazing,
* a fully equipped 1,400 seat "Broadway" theater (that is also a 3D movie theater),
* a huge outside water theater,
* an ice skating show theater,
* a Main Dining room that emcompasses three stories, that serves 5,000 hot meals in a little over 3 hours every night,
* a Central Park with over 12,000 live plants/trees,
* a Boardwalk with a hand-carved carousel
* a three-story Royal Promenade that stretches almost the length of a football field situated in the middle of the ship
* and enough sleeping capacity to house over 6,200 passengers and 2,200 crew.
To put this last item in perspective, the town that I grew up in, Lee's Summit, MO, in 1960, had a population of 8,250. There were more people on the Oasis of the Seas (8,400) than in my hometown. This is in a space only 1187 feet long and 208 feet wide in 17 decks. This is an amazing feat. The crew of the USS Ronald Reagan is only 5,400 people.
Even with all these people, we never felt like we were in a crowd. The only exceptions were the parades held in the Royal Promenade and the first formal night when you could get your picture taken with the Captain. Even then there was only a 10 minute wait.
I would like to address one of the misconceptions that people talk about regarding the Oasis and I assume the Allure. I was told many times during the week that people felt that service was more "personal" on smaller ships. As I thought about this, I began to think about the fallacy of this kind of thinking. In speaking with the Captain, as well as the Executive Chef and the person responsible for all of the china (dishes) for the Main Dining Room, I asked whether or not the passenger/crew ratio stays constant no matter the size of ship. They said that the normal ratio is 2.5-3:1 and that does stay constant. This is a business decision and doesn't change to a greater ratio of passengers to crew just because the ship gets bigger, or conversely, a higher crew to passenger ratio as a ship gets smaller. My point in saying this is in my opinion, that it is a "perception" that you get more personalized service on a smaller ship. It ain't necessarily so (as the song says.) I am not comparing the Oasis to one of the luxury small vessels, only larger ships from most of the larger cruise lines. I was told that on the Allure and the Oasis, the ratio of passenger to crew is even more weighted to a higher number of crew to passengers because of the sheer size of the ship.
I had read most of the reviews and information re: Oasis of the Seas here on Cruise Critic. I had signed up for the Meet and Mingle and Roll Call. These relationships laid the ground work for a tremendous experience and I would recommend that everyone do this, even if you just lurk and follow the different threads for the cruise that you will be going on. I would also recommend going to the Meet and Mingle sponsored by RCI early in your cruise. We did a gift exchange that was well-received. We ran into fellow M&Mers later in the week.
I am not going to do a "meal by meal/day by day" review, but will outline those things that stuck out in our experience.
****Embarkation, Checkin & Sail Away--arrived at about 12:00, dropped off my wife with luggage while I returned the rental car. When I returned we went straight to our respective window and were registered, given SeaPass cards and was on the boat within 10 minutes from the time I returned from dropping off car. Our luggage was delivered by 2:30-3:00 pm. We were unpacked and on the port side waiting for departure. As our first night meal was scheduled for 5:30, we were not up on deck for Sail Away. It was so smooth that my wife didn't believe that we had left port when we finished dinner.
****Dining: We did My Time Dining for the entire cruise. With the exception of one night we ate at 5:30. Our table (either 20 or 21) was ready every night, all we had to do was walk in, give our stateroom number and we were seated immediately. We did NOT eat at Specialty Restaurants. ALL of our dining experiences were exceptional. We did NOT have a bad meal or service at any of the venues: Park Cafe, Johnny Rocket's, Promenade Cafe, Main Dining Room and Windjammer. The only wait longer that 1 minute was at the Windjammer where it took us about 3 minutes to find an empty table.
Our meals and service in the Main Dining Room was exceptional. Our Waiter and Assistant Waiters, Francisco Pereira and Nelvin Rodrigues (both from India and the Portuguese area south of Goa) were fantastic. Every meal was made special by these great individuals. I know everyone says that the food in Main Dining Rooms on cruises is more than often tastes like it was mass produced. On the Oasis this is not the case. EVERY meal was served hot and presented perfectly. Make sure you try the Apple Bread Pudding as well as all of the chilled soups on the menu every night. I called them smoothies without the alcohol. They should serve them with a straw.
Yes, the roast beef sandwiches in the Park Cafe. The individually created tossed salads were also fantastic.
Breakfasts are great at Johnny Rocket's, the Solarium, in the MDR and the Windjammer.
For a casual lunch experience try the MDR. Either menu or buffet.
****Entertainment - Totally FANTASTIC.
* Hairspray was perfect. Had never had the desire to see the show in NYC, now wish I had seen it. Have bought the DVD of the musical since I returned.
* Come Fly With Me - Unbelievable the feats that the acrobats do. Don't miss.
* Oasis of Dreams/Splish Splash - These water shows will leave you with your jaw permanently dropped. Diving from 40 foot towers into a 17 ft. deep pool on a ship moving at 22 mph is a scary thought but these guys do it numerous times during the course of these two shows.
* Frozen in Time - Ice skating show. What they do in an approximately 50' x 60' space is mindblowing.
*Ronn Lucas - Headliner show was fun. He is a ventriloquist from Vegas. Great show.
****Ports - See my review of individual ports below. NO EXCURSIONS PURCHASED FROM RCI.
****Debarkation - We were the in the 8:45 - 9:00 am group (number 25) for debarkation. We had placed the new luggage tags on our bags and placed them outside our stateroom door on Friday evening. From the time we left the gangway and entered the terminal until we were in our rental car from Sixt Rental Cars (about two mile cab ride from Terminal 18) and on our way to Orlando was 1 hour and 15 minutes. This is a testament to RCI and the processes they have in place. Also, there was only 2 officials on duty for the Customs check.
****Best Things We Did on Board, Other Than Those Listed Above:
1. All Access Tour - This cost $150 per person, but was totally worth it. This is a 3 1/4 hour tour of the ship from the lowest deck (not Deck 1, but Deck 0) up to the Bridge. Started with the Stage Manager of the water theater. Went on stage and received complete breakdown of how the water shows work. Then went to Main Dining Room and tour of food preparation areas. Next we went to the food storage areas, including the large refrigeration areas. There are multiple refrigerated rooms based on type of foods. Then to I-95 the "road" that runs the whole length of the ship where everything is loaded on to the ship. Then further down to engine control rooms. Next on tour was the laundry area. Then to the HR department and a presentation by the Training and Development Director of the training/hiring procedures for the ship. We then started working our way up to the crew dining room and recreation areas in the bow of the ship. The crew bar is right below the Helipad and is called the Heli-Bar. Our final stop of the tour is the Bridge where we shown the control area on the Port Wing that hangs out over the side of the ship. We then were allowed to sit in the captain's chair and have our picture taken. We were then given a special carry bag with a Royal Caribbean apron as a souvenir. Well worth it and highly recommend it. Have to wear closed toe shoes and long pants, due to steep stairs and ladders.
****Backstage Tour in Theater
This was an opportunity to hear from some of the stars of Hairspray and the stage manager for the theater. This is a free event.
Great presentation by the Captain and an extended Q & A with the Captain.
****Great Sales in Royal Promenade
Self Explanatory. There are sales every day including watches, cameras, hats, jewelry, diamonds, etc.
****THINGS I BROUGHT THAT I DIDN'T NEED, BUT WERE RECOMMENDED
Too many clothes
****THINGS I'M GLAD I BROUGHT THAT WERE RECOMMENDED
Over door hanging shoe holder for holding things
Magnets for hanging things on wall
Cruise Critic Door Sign
****Things We Would NOT Do Again -
* Bingo. Waste of money. Our choice, not pushed on us by RCI.
* Soft Drink Package - Would bring on our own Diet Cokes our just drink iced tea. With three days in port, it is hard to drink $55 of soft drinks per person.
****WOULD I RECOMMEND OTHERS TO CRUISE ON THE OASIS OF THE SEAS
I would recommend without reservation.