The beginning: In planning for our cruise we decided to extend our stay in Florida a few days before the cruise and a few days after, luckily our best friends, who were going on the cruise live in Florida, not too far away from Ft. Lauderdale. Our group consisted of 11 people, family and friends, age ranges from 12-75. How many people can say they traveled with their parents and in-laws and not only did everyone get along, we had a blast. Even though we got the e-mail that says not to come too early for check in, our friends very experienced cruisers, said let's just ignore that e-mail. Tip that some people do not know, for this ship, they allow each room to bring on two bottles of wine. Do not bring that wine to dinner to have them uncap, that will cost you $25.00, ask your steward for wineglasses, bring it to dinner in your own glass.
Embarkation: For such a big ship, could not have been more smoothly. Our friends drove to the dock as soon as we got there it was raining really hard, but there were so many people directing that even with the rain, it was still so easy. We did not wait in any lines at all for embarkation got there at 11:30, by 11:45 were walking to the windjammer for lunch. At the windjammer we were told very busy and maybe to go to a different venue, we decided to wait. They did something that I have never seen before, because they were busy, they seated you, no looking for a table, walking around endlessly. The food there was fresh, plenty of it and not to crowded, especially once you realize there are two sides with the same food on both.
Ship Information: Comprehending how big this ship is was hard to grasp, prior to seeing it. Seeing the ship in port next to the other ships really leaves you in awe. If you are worried about being sea sick, this is not really a worry on this ship, too big to feel movement, some were happy about this, some missed the gentle rocking to go to sleep. Even though this ship is the biggest one I have ever been on, I found it very easy to get around. The layout makes it very easy to know where you are and where you need to go. There are a lot of interactive screens all over the ship, tells you where you are, give you the menus of the day and lots of other helpful information. The neighborhood concept is quite different. Our favorite neighborhood was definitely Central Park. Least utilized was the Boardwalk, I think they could revamp this to make it more of a hot spot. Great secret spot on the cruise, aft on deck 11, a public balcony, which no one really goes to. We watched the funny dive show in the Aqua Theatre, on this deck, great view and very private.
Cabins: We were able to go to our cabins at 1:00, and by 2:00 we had our luggage. Our cabin was a Superior Ocean View with Balcony, our view was amazing and room noise was very quiet, even though we were near the opening that leads to the stairs. Our friends had a balcony room on the Boardwalk-that was also a great view; they could see the zip line up close, still had a view of the ocean and a view of the Aqua Theatre. The pros of the cabin: yes the shower is small but has a rounded door instead of a curtain, so water did not spill out all over, a little place to put your leg for shaving, very helpful and cabins were well designed and roomy enough for two adults and a child. Things to note regarding the cabin and amenities, cabins come with a hair dryer only problem with that is you have to hold the button to keep it on, not a bad thing necessarily just something to know in case you are picky. If you have a cabin with a balcony, and you don't want your air conditioner to turn off make sure you keep your balcony door closed and handle in the down position, otherwise your air conditioner turns off. Also regarding the air conditioner, if you turn the master switch off that is outside of the bathroom that also turns your air conditioner off. There was not a lot of drawer space, so I would suggest bringing some hanging organizers with you. There are no outlets in the bathroom only on the desk area in the room. To make our room more spacious, we moved the round table into our closet gave us more walking around room. On the first day of the cruise we asked our cabin steward to make up the sofa bed with extra pad to make it more comfortable for our son.
Muster Stations and Announcements: They do this better than most. You are assigned a spot on the ship, you go there give your sign and sail card to check in and then sit through a quick video. Announcements are very hard to hear and understand, so hopefully no emergencies happen, because you might miss it.
Dining: We did my time dining and wound up eating every night around 7:30. Our server in the dining room was amazing; she was so friendly and just wanted to make our experience wonderful. The food in the dining room was decent but all of us said it did not WOW us. I hate to say this but I think the food in the dining room is not as good as it has been on other ships, because they really want you to go to the pay restaurants on the ship. I know some people do this and have great experiences but for us that is not why we go on a cruise. That being said our friends did go to Izumi's, the sushi place, for lunch and gave it two thumbs up, the food was delicious and they said it had great views. The other big hit was Johnny Rockets for milkshakes. Before the cruise, I kept reading about how good the roast beef sandwich at Central Park Cafe was. First day after exploring the ship for hours, I decided I had to try the sandwich, even though I normally don't even eat roast beef, okay it really is as good as everyone has said on the reviews, it does melt in your mouth. Another must have item especially if you are trying to eat somewhat healthy is the make your own salad. The Solarium serves a lot of healthy fare and was a quiet spot especially for breakfast. Hot spot for kids is the Wipe out Cafe, not good for breakfast but for lunch was a hit. In the Wipe out Cafe, a good secret spot for getting your frozen yogurt, there are two spots near the pools that get crowded but a lot of people don't know there is one inside of the Wipe out Cafe and the line for that was never long. Sorrento's Pizza is another favorite for families, make your own pizza was really good and very fresh ingredients. My review will not be complete without mentioning the cupcakes. I was a little skeptical about the cupcakes, having spent a lot of money at cupcake stores only to be disappointed. This was not the case with the cupcakes on board; they were really good and worth the money. They do have classes to learn to decorate your cupcakes, it is more geared to little kids, and I don't think worth the money.
Entertainment: Do your homework and book your shows in advance, they really treat people as second class citizens if you don't have a reservation. So my suggestion, make reservations for everything, if you don't go that is fine, but they only let people in without a reservation after everyone else. For all shows 15-20 minutes early is what I recommend and you will still have a good choice of seats. Comedy show, pretty funny, for novices of comedy shows, if you don't want to get picked on DON'T sit in the front row. Dive show, while I appreciated the talent I personally found it a little slow, music was slow and would have liked some kind of story line. I am not one to love shows; some of the others in my party loved all of the shows and thought they were some of the best they have seen on a cruise. The show I liked the most was the ice show. The music was fast paced, the costumes were pretty and funny and they had a story to it. Adults and kids all enjoyed this show, this is the only show that all of us stayed awake during. Bingo is not for everyone, I enjoy it but it does get costly, on my next cruise I am going to just play on the last day. This cruise was the first one I have ever been on where it really was not very crowded for Bingo, my one suggestion for Bingo is they need to mix up the games, they played four corners and 11 people won within minutes, just took away the enjoyment of playing.
Activities: Zip line was a lot of fun, I was dared to do it before I left on my cruise, decided a dare is a dare and on the last day finally had the courage and did it. The ride is only about 9 seconds but what a rush. There is a weight requirement for this, you have to weigh at least 75 pounds and if your kid is close, trust me they will weigh your kid before they allow them to go. This is for your kid's safety if they do not weigh enough they could get stuck in the middle. My son was only 71 pounds, so he took the pictures of the rest of us that went. Flow rider, kids and dads loved, was so proud of the 4 people in my group that took on the flow rider, gave us a lot to laugh about later on. One tip for the flow rider and the zip line, if it happens to rain on your cruise, as soon as it stops head up to either one, the lines will be a lot less of a wait. The ages of the two kids with us were 12 & 16, they loved the miniature golf, participated in the basketball tournaments and also rock climbed. They were never bored on this ship, except when they fell asleep at some of the shows. Many reviews I have read complained about the location of the gym, I did not find this to be a problem, it did get crowded even early in the morning, but there were always machines available and although it did not have wall to wall windows, when you were on the treadmills there was still very good views to be had.
Service: The service we received on the Oasis was extraordinary. There was not one single person on the ship that did not provide excellent service. Even just workers you encountered in the hallways always had a smile and a friendly greeting. If you happen to be what is known as Diamond for Royal Caribbean's loyalty program, you are in for a real treat. The Diamond lounge is where it's at, you get great food, good coffee, but beyond that the service is first class. Carolina is the manager of this lounge and takes care of the Diamond Level guests, she is so helpful, friendly and really top notch.
Ports of Call: I am not going to give a summary of all of the ports of call. I will just highlight one of the excursions we did that we really enjoyed. We did a snorkeling and beach catamaran in St. Thomas, booked through the ship. The people that run this excursion were funny and you could tell they enjoy what they do. I have never been snorkeling before and was a little apprehensive but had a great time. After the snorkeling you go to a private beach, where you can buy food and enjoy rum punch. The adults and kids all loved this tour, it was fun and relaxing, the water felt like you were in a bathtub. Getting back on the ship from any of the ports of call, you will experience a line but it does go pretty fast, just have some patience and it is really not too bad.
Unfortunately after seven fun filled days you know what comes next the worst topic Debarkation. We decided to get up early walk off the ship carrying our luggage ourselves. This process was so easy, nice not to have to put your luggage outside your door the night before. Our friends live about 40 minutes from the where the ship docked, we were back at their house by 7:30, so to say it was easy and fast to get off the ship was an understatement. Some family members were flying back home the same day, they were also impressed with the ease of getting off the ship and had to spend awhile at the airport because of being able to get off the ship so early.
This ship was such a good experience, makes me want to go again, maybe we will try the one inch bigger Allure of the Seas next time.