First an overview followed by key bullet points at the end. This is our 7th cruise.. and 1st on Oasis. Arrived night prior to sailing, stayed at Hyatt Place Ft. Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port.. worked out great w/their comp. airport pick up... nice, clean property and rooms, great staff and comp breakfast. Hotel had an onsite transportation company that assisted us with our transportation to the port (small fee). Along with our luggage (1 just dedicated to shoes :-) , we took our allocated 1 bottle per wine each and didn't bother smuggling on extra alcohol. As noted in all other reviews... checking in was a breeze... friendly staff and it was maybe 10 minutes, if that, and we were on the ship and ready to have a week of fun! The ship is truly amazing... The décor is very tasteful and tranquil. The unique areas - Central Park, Promenade, and Boardwalk were awesome (with Central Park the fav).. we stayed on the same level as Central Park and how nice it was to walk down the hall in the morning, be in a park setting and enjoy coffee! We had a balcony room which was perfect..the bed was comfortable, the bathroom was orderly and lots of nooks and crannies (small shower.. but all good), there was plenty of storage, closet space and safe (which held our Ipad, wallets and passports). Big part of cruising is enjoying other guests, entertainment, food and drinks. We are huge foodies and I'm sorry to say, but the cuisine on the Oasis was was just ok. Alicia, our server in main dining, was superb. First time we've had early seating and the only memorable item was.. Baked Alaska. We've had the pleasure of dining at some of the nicest restaurants in the US and thought we would try Chops (read many positive reviews) and unfortunately our experience was pathetic... our waiter Auhuan(?) was uncomfortable in his own skin, unseasoned, mumbled and pushed bottled wine purchase to high hell.. after telling him no a few times, he placed 2 bottles on our table and I explained I had a Frank Family & Caymus Cab in my room and was leaning towards a gin & tonic .. he then rolled his eyes at my husband and continued to push the wine. The entire experience at Chops was disappointing from service, appetizers, entrees = poor. Entertainment was great - the highlights were the Ice & Comedy Shows.
The ports were nice.. we've been to Nassau twice before so we just stayed on the boat and explored (heard from others it was pretty junkie), St. Thomas - little run down and looking back - we should've explored the beaches/ St. Maarten was quaint and beautiful. In St. Maarten, we walked from the pier to beach.. shopped and spent remainder of time at the beach...in the water, drinking cold beer and talking with others - great day!
Disembarkation: a joke and I'll tell you why. The "Really" part within the title line was... RC oversold to too large of a private group this particular week which sorry to say, created a very unpleasant experience for everyone else. OmniLife (pyramid-distribution operation selling vitamin supplements +) headquartered in Guadalajara, booked 1,300+ multi-occupancy rooms as their incentive trip for team members from Ecuador, Peru, Mexico ++ . We love meeting people on vacation but we were surrounded by 1,300++ rude, non-English speaking individuals that created a mob-like mentality (down to hoarding, pushing, unhygienic behavior (I won't disgust you with what we saw and had to live thru) + +. Even the Comedians had a field day poking fun at what the non-Omni Life guests were subjected too. Many complained to the RC staff that was sympathetic but at the end of the day - it's down to selling every room and seeing the all mighty dollar/profit. Unfortunately what RC does not realize is, they sold out at the expense of the other guests. Omni Life even flaunted their own canned drinks, while all other guests were not allowed to bring theirs on. As we mentioned to the RC staff, we guestimate about 3% (if that) of the entire OmniLife group would ever vacation with them again on their own dime and because of that, they spoiled the experience for everyone else.
The disembarkation part was nothing more than a final opportunity to be squashed in the ice rink seating area being once again surrounded by rude guests in purple attire (the icing was - having an OmniLife group sit, laugh and not budge an inch from their spot on a small stairwell as the other guests tried to exit). ps - I looked online and saw that OmniLife 2014 may have another incentive/cruise trip to Alaska and oh how we feel for those guest who are not part of OmniLife. Quick Summary:
* If you're flying into Ft Lauderdale - arrive day early to avoid unexpected delays, etc.
* We booked our cruise thru Cru-Con - $2703. for 2 - included gratuity and $200 credit
* Book the Oasis shows inadvance (Ice & Comedy shows are a must)
* Pre-order Evian bottled water purchase
* If appropriate - pre-order celebratory room/decor ;-) (We celebrated our anniversary and the decorations made it extra festive all week long)
* Bring sunscreen & rain ponchos (just in case needed while in port)
* Do some homework.. if you're looking to purchase watches, diamonds or jewelry.. St. Thomas and St. Maarten are the areas to purchase!
* Sorry, but don't bother wasting your time listening to the port/excursion talks... it ended up being an hour of hearing them push their contacts/store partnerships they have in port.. I LOVE TO SHOP.. but BORING! + you receive all information in the daily newsletter.
* Doing it again.. I would do my online homework on what non RC port excursions are available.
* In addition to the gratuity - tip your room steward a few extra upon arrival.. they work hard and are always pleasant. Let them know if you need extra pillows, towels, glasses or ice bucket filled.. and it will be done every day.
* If you have a room near stairwell, clubs, high volume area - bring ear plugs (just in case)
* Bring regular size soap + your own toiletries (their soap was dinky and fell thru the shower holder)
* Bring your wine allotment onboard with you.
* The first day only, you have the option to purchase drink package (we ordered 1 round of drinks.. tab came to about $20 (with automatic gratuity included) and it proved to be worth it for us... we drank A LOT ;-)
* The coffee in Park Café in Central Park was great (and we're Starbuck junkies)
* Have to admit - my husband said the RoastBeef sandwich in Park Café was great (like all other reviews we read!)
* Upon leaving port.. get on ship little early, grab a drink and deck chair (facing back of ship.. we were under the Boardwalk area on the track) towards port and enjoy pushing off and heading out to sea.
* To do over again - I'd pack less.
* After our cruise - we stayed a night in South Beach - AMAZING! Make sure you check out Lincoln Street at night too.. 12am and the place was still thriving.. shops, restaurants and bars! We also took a few days and drove to Key West.. stayed at Hyatt Key West (amazing) .. Key West was nice, but it was a long drive and the beaches are much prettier in Miami vs. Key West
* Have fun!