With only a couple minor exceptions our cruise on Oasis of the Seas was a cut above previous cruises we've taken. From the cruise terminal embarkation to debarkation it is apparent Royal Caribbean did an excellent job of addressing the special challenges created by mega-cruise ships.
We arrived at terminal 18 in Port Everglades by Sixt car rental courtesy shuttle from their nearby facility. Sixt also provided courtesy shuttle service to Fort Lauderdale Intl Airport after the cruise. Terminal 18 was built to accommodate the larger number of people who cruise on Royal Caribbean's largest vessels. When we arrived curbside at about 11:00AM a baggage handler immediately checked our bags. We proceeded to check-in and then boarded. The whole process took 10 to 15 minutes tops!
When we got on board the fun was already underway. We entered Oasis in the Promenade “neighborhood” where we were greeted with music and a few Dreamworks Characters. This deck contains several shops, a Starbucks, cafes, plus entrances to the main dining room and theater. It is also where most of the parades and parties occur during the cruise. There were already several hundred people present. However, the Promenade wasn't crowed because of its size. With the exceptions of when there were parades are parties going on, the Promenade neighborhood never seemed crowed to me. There is also an exterior, two lane running/walking track around the circumference of the Promenade Deck.
Lack of crowding was the norm throughout the ship. In particular, I was surprised to find the activities decks were never crowded despite a guest/crew manifest of more than 6000 people! Decks 15 contains the swimming pools, hot tubs, Ping-Pong tables, a mini-golf course, the teen club and adults only Solarium with its own bar, bistro and hot tubs. It is also the access point for the climbing walls and zip line. The combination of large expanse, multiple pools and hot tubs and a full schedule of activities going on all day throughout the ship resulted in something I've never before experienced on a warm weather cruise: Deck chairs were always readily available.
Entertainment was plentiful, diverse and exceptionally good. Royal Caribbean has teamed up with Deamworks to provide “meet and greet” photo opportunities with Dreamworks Characters. Several celebrities from Shrek, Madagascar, How to Tame a Dragon and more were regularly seen throughout the ship. They also participated in the parades and some of the parties. They were a source of delight for the children and those of us who love to see children having fun. I had my picture taken with King Julian. It just seemed right!
The entertainment is diverse. Aside from the Dreamworks characters, we saw a well performed musical adaptation of Hairspray, an Ice Capades type show, a Circue Du Soleil type dance and acrobatic show, A variety music, dance and acrobatic show, diving and water shows and multiple comedy club acts. The gymnists, divers and swimmers were amazing. Many are from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Some are former Olympic athletes. We were also entertained by two parades around the Promenade and a number of deck parties. I particularly enjoyed the disco and 70's parties where we were treated to performances of The Bee Gees, Donna Sommers and Village People music and dancing.
Neighborhoods The Oasis is composed of seven neighborhoods, include Central Park, The Boardwalk, Entertainment District, the adults only Solarium, Fitness Spa, Pool and Sports Zone, Youth Zone and the Royal Promenade.
Central Park is an open air park-like setting located midship on deck 8. It contains several of the specialty additional fee restaurants, the Rising Tide Bar and a boutique. The Rising Tide Bar ascends and descends between the Promenade and Central Park while guests enjoy their favorite adult beverages. Central Park has several nice setting for photos. It is a nice place to stroll or simply set and people watch.
The Boardwalk has a full size merry-go-round, the Aqua Theater, 2 giant outdoor video screens that provide live viewing of Aqua Theater dive and swim performances and recently released movies. There are a few boutiques and a shop where children can make their own teddy bears. Bubba Gumps and Johnny Rockets for fee restaurants are also located on the Boardwalk.
The Fitness Spa is massive. It includes a large workout gym, sauna and steam rooms, various health and beauty treatment services and a health food bistro.
Entertainment Zone includes Casino Royal for gamblers, Studio B where the Ice show is performed and guest can ice skate and jazz, dance and comedy clubs.
Cabins Diverse is the right adjective to describe the Oasis' accommodations. Balcony and/or view cabins overlook the Royal Promenade, Central Park and the Boardwalk. And of course, there are numerous ocean view cabins. We had a ocean view balcony, aft cabin located on deck 10. The room had ample storage. The shower is a bit more roomy than I've found on other cruise ships. It always delivered plenty of hot water.
One point concerning cabins. There was so much going on all the time so that other than sleeping we spent less time in our cabin than so on other cruises. For this reason, I could have been satisfied with a less expensive, well located and quiet inside cabin. Our cabin was located near the elevators. An aft cabin, left us just an elevator ride away from the Opus Dining room, Lido Buffet, Aqua Theater, Studio B, and Fitness Spa all of which are located aft on their respective decks. Aft elevators also have direct access to the Royal Promenade and Central Park.
Itinerary Cruising on Oasis certainly diminishes the importance of specific itinerary for many guest. We took the eastern Caribbean cruise which includes Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. Something In Nassau we arrived in at 10:00AM and sailed at 2:00PM. Practically speaking, this allowed only about 3 hours on shore. Later during the cruise on of the comics gave a very negarive monologue regarding Nassau. I wondered at the time if his views reflect the unstated opinion of Royal Caribbean management.
Excursions We took the SNUBA excursion on St. Thomas. It was generally a ho-hum experience. In retrospect, I would opt for a resort scuba dive. Having done both my experience is resort dive scuba is actually easier, uses better equipment and affords more freedom during the dive.
On St. Maarten we hire Joyce Prince for a 6 hour private tour of the island. Our granddaughter prepared her own perfume at Tijon, located on the French side. We also ate a VERY EXPENSIVE lunch on the French side. Won't do that again. Joyce is an excellent tour guide. She took us to many beautiful beaches and overlooks, and took us to Back Street for shopping.
Dining I left dining comments for last because it is the only area where there is an obvious need for improvement. We ate most of our meals in the Opus Dining Room. I found the breakfast buffet lacking in both variety and quality. The menu items breakfast was a bit better, but still not up to the standard you'd expect with first rate dining. Opus dinner menu quality was generally good. However, one guest we dined with a guest who was dissatisfied with a filet mignon that is offered $15 additional. We opted for a shared table with specific reservations through My Time Dining. It didn't work. At first, we were seated alone. Subsequently, when we showed up at our prearranged reservation time and insisted on sharing a table (we like making new acquaintances) we had to wait. 10 to 20 minutes. After the lengthy wait, on two occasions we were seated alone at larger shared dining tables. Frankly, this was a significant disappointment because shared dining is one of my favorite features of cruising.
That said, I want to conclude by noting the included dining venues otherwise provided exceptional service and good selection and quality food. Some of the paid venues, such as Johnny Rockets serve breakfast for no additional service. The pizza joint on Royal Promenade, in particular, was convenient, fast and served decent pizza.
Conclusion: Simply stated. We had a great time, are ready to go again, amd heartily recommend Oasis of the Seas to fellow cruisers.