A brief history:
Together, we have only sailed with Carnival, on the Legend, the Sensation and twice on the Dream. We have always booked thru Carnival, and have never used a travel agent prior to our latest Cruise on the Oasis. We have always booked a Balcony and sailed for 7 days other then the Sensation booking which 4 days was all that we could talk our parents into for their first cruise.
If you don't wish the long read, skip down to our Overall review below.
With the "You get what you pay for" mentality, and considering Carnival is typically priced at the bottom, we had the expectation that a Royal Caribbean cruise and especially on their newer Oasis class ship, we would experience a higher quality all inclusive cruise vacation. This is the basis for our review.
The Ship - Oasis of the Seas:
Without a doubt, this is one impressive ship with a nice variety of shops, activities, restaurants and many other venue's to suit your fancy. The double Flo-Rider, double Rock climbing walls, zip line, aqua theater, Ice skating rink, etc. the list goes on, are very nice additions.
We sampled the two different menu's at 150 Central Park while enjoying the Royal wine pairing the first visit which was fabulous and our servers were outstanding. Here we learned and and experienced different kinds of salts which was very interesting.
Next we tried Chops Grill which was very nice, and we ran into our server a couple of days later down at Sorrento's who made a point to come over and greet us.
We visited Giovanni's Table later and enjoyed yet another delicious meal, but we weren't especially pleased with the desert options. Yet again, our server was great.
Like I mentioned above, we visited Sorrento's where my wife tried their pizza. She said that it was really nothing to write home about.
Johnny Rockets, a 50's style and themed diner wasn't too bad either. The burger's were large so we weren't able to finish them. Our server was concerned that we didn't like them but we told her they were good but she decided to only charged us for one anyway.
Keep in mind, 150 Central Park, Chops Grille, Giovanni's Table and Johnny Rockets are not all inclusive. There were other restaurants but we didn't try those.
We ate at the Main Dining room twice which was a different menu and not bad at all. I want to say that I prefer Carnival's menu based on our two dinners there, but I can't since we only ate there twice. My wife however is steadfast that she prefers Carnival's menu, but she also loves Carnivals Chocolate Melting Cake. With that said, I imagine Carnival's or any other cruise lines menu would get quite old if that was the only cruise line you chose if they didn't change it up often.
Unless we missed it, Royal Caribbean doesn't arrange your table napkins in various designs. A neat little touch that we missed.
As a slightly hefty guy, I've been known to grab an ice cream cone when walking by the soft serve machines when sailing on Carnival. While near the not inclusive Ice Cream shop on the boardwalk, we asked if there were any free ice cream machines on board to which we were told no by one of the staff. So after purchasing Ice Cream from the shop on-board a few times, we find out near the end of our cruise that there is indeed soft serve machines by the main pools but only open from 11am-6pm.
We like to book Mid-Ship with a balcony and make sure there is only other rooms above or below as well as on either side of us and have so far had no issues with noise, this cruise included.
The bathroom felt a little smaller in general but I think it was really just the shower that was smaller. On this ship, the shower has cylindrical smoked plastic walls with sliding doors. I swear people next door or in the halls thought we had a bass drum in our room with elbows and knees, and foreheads hitting the walls of the shower! All jokes aside, Carnival's old style shower curtain felt a little more roomy.
The Ocean facing Balcony was definitely bigger than what we have had on Carnival but a lot less private. My wife felt that she had to close the curtains to change because she felt the neighbors could easily glance in the room with little to no effort.
Our bed, two twins together was well worn and each twin was cupped shaped. We should have but didn't mention this to our room steward.
My wife missed the Chocolate every night and was bummed that we only received two towel animals the whole cruise. I personally didn't care, but the thought is nice.
Our room steward was a really nice guy who kept our room in good order. No complaints there.
One bad thing about a room in the center of the Oasis is you will have a very long walk to either of the elevator areas since this is such a large ship. We did notice on our long walks to both ends of the ship, there were always vacuum's, carts etc. in the halls pretty much at all times.
Reservations and Entertainment:
Probably our biggest turn off, is the requirement of reservations to shows. With an unknown daily itinerary, reservations can force you to miss something you would have otherwise chosen to schedule for later. As silly as it is, we enjoy the Love and Marriage show. The same night we had reservations to the comedy show and had to miss it. Luckily they had one last Comedy show at the end of the cruise for those without reservations.
Speaking of the comedy shows, I should really say show, there were two comics on board that had 1 family show and one adult show. I have to assume this as we were only able to have one booking for a comedy show where I would assume one comic opened while the other closed and this was the same show performed every night. Otherwise, why would I be limited to only one show. If it's space, I can understand because the comedy space seemed rather small. I think we are spoiled with Carnival where there have been more comics with more shows with no reservations. We did enjoy the show that we attended tho.
The seating in the theater was a little cramped. For such a big ship, the Oasis fails in comparison to the Carnival Dream where it has bench style seating with mini tables every few feet between each row. The Come Fly with Me show was really good but the other shows seemed a little weak and borderline corny.
The Aqua Theater was neat with some really talented performers. I'm not sure if it was soot from the engine stacks or something else, but the aqua theater seating was covered in small black specs that stained our shorts. We ended up bringing the pool towels with us to cover the seats to keep that from happening again.
The wine sampling at Vintages was quiet, seemed secluded and very enjoyable. The attendant was informative and attentive.
While we both wanted to do the Rock climbing wall, two of the three random times we wanted to experience it, it was closed. When we were finally able to sign up, it was fun and as I told the guy working, "That's rough on a fat boy!" I did ring the top bell by the way, but my arms were like jello when I was finished! My wife was able to get to the first bell and that was good enough for her. She said her fingernails were too long for some of the grips or pegs.
I don't even want to talk about my 2 attempts at the standing Flo Rider! Looks like a blast and was fun to watch! A lot of those guys and girls make it look easy. I just knew I was going to shred it when it was my turn. I failed horribly but had a blast!
The Soda sticker/Cup:
On the Oasis, not sure if it is the same with other Royal Caribbean ships, they employ drink machines for you to use to refill your cups or you can have your server bring you drinks while you provide the sticker as proof you have paid for the service. There were always problems with at least one of the machines. Note: If you wanted to fill your spouses cup for them, don't think that you can fill the cup until the foam reaches the top and try to save time by removing your cup to fill theirs while you wait for the foam to recede. This will net you a penalty of 15 minutes. Just wait for the foam to recede and then continue filling the cup one at the time. My wife taught me this. When this happened she went to the bar and the bar tender gave her attitude when she asked him to finish filling up the cups. While we typically purchase the soda cards on our Carnival cruises, it is nice to have the option of bringing a case of your choice of soda on board with you there, where as you cannot on Royal Caribbean.
Embarkation and Debarkation
In the port, this little ole lady took our information and provided us with our Sea pass cards. I spent the cruise with my wife's picture associated with my card and it wasn't until halfway thru the cruise that I figured out that was why i was always asked for my name upon boarding the ship. Other than that, boarding was fast and seemed efficient. Debarkation however took a bit longer but from what we heard was not the norm for RCI. It didn't seem any longer than debarking with Carnival so maybe that is a plus for RCI.
While we had a great time on board the Oasis of the Seas, we did not however feel like we received the best bang for our buck. This is definitely an impressive ship and we are glad we sailed on it. The staff for the most part was very pleasant. Just be prepared to come out of pocket a little more once you board if you wish to experience what the Oasis has to offer. What we paid for we enjoyed. We decided to not play at the casino or bingo which we normally do to help compensate. The bottom line is, we had a good time and enjoyed ourselves on our anniversary.