We began our cruise vacation by flying into Ft. Lauderdale the night before our Cruise. When I booked our cruise, I did not realize that we booked during spring break. Ft. Lauderdale was somewhat crowded, but it was still enjoyable, and it did not dampen our spirits. We stayed at the Westin Beach Resort, which was real nice. Around noon on the day of our cruise, we decided to check out of the hotel and catch a cab to Port Everglades. During our wait, we found out that the Hotel offered a shuttle to the Cruise Terminal, which we decided to take, and it only cost $8 per person. The shuttle was worth the price.
I didn't realize the true size of the Oasis of the Seas until we drove toward the terminal. It is BIG. I have been on 5 cruises before this cruise, all on Royal Caribbean, 2 times on the Navigator of Seas, 2 times on Adventure of the Seas, and once on the Brilliance of the Seas, none of these ships and none of the ships docked near the Oasis, compared in size.
We dropped off our luggage with no problems. The only delayed we had from this point forward, was we waited in line to clear security for five minutes. It took four minutes to check in, and three minutes to get aboard the ship. Both my wife and I were impressed on how passengers were being process. During the cruise, we were told that the ship had 6,250 passengers and crew.
We began our tour of the ship. The Promenade was very big and beautiful, and it was full of the crew attempting to sell you drink packages, etc. We decided not to purchase a drink package because we wanted to determine how much we'd actually spend on alcohol. If I would have bought a drink package, I would have purchased the top package because I drink top-shelf alcohol. This package would have cost $65 dollars per day, meaning I had to drink about 7 alcohol beverages each night, and about 49 during the whole week. I am glad I did not buy the package because I never reached half the total of all types of beverages. The package offers soda, bottle water, juices, fresh squeezed orange juice, specialty tea and coffee, beer, and spirits. Several of crew members said that often persons that buy the package over drink in an attempt to get their money's worth.
We went to the Windjammer to each lunch. It was crowded because there were few venues open for lunch during embarkation, and we waited about ten minutes to get a table. Windjammer had the typical food that all the Windjammers have. It was okay, but this was the only time during the cruise that we ate there. For lunch, on the ship, we ate at the Park Café, which is a gourmet sandwich and salad shop located in Central Park. The food is complimentary and was DELICIOUS. The roast beef sandwiches are carved and made as you wait, and they have a salad station that a lets you order the ingredients that you want in your salad. The Park Café also offers packaged sandwiches. I ate the egg salad twice, and it was delicious. They also serve soup, freshly cut fruit, bags of Lay's brand potato chips, and fresh baked desserts. We also ate lunch at the Main Dining Room one day, and it was good. On the other days, we ate on shore when we were in Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.
After lunch on the first day, we were able to go to our cabin. We had a balcony facing toward Central Park. The view was nice, but as you can assume, it lacked privacy because of the other balconies that face you. In retrospect, I wish I'd of got a cabin facing toward the ocean. It was nice having a sliding door because we would leave it open at night and when the cabin became warm. The size of the cabin was large enough for us. The bathroom seemed larger than other bathrooms on the above ships. Our Stateroom Attendant, Phyllis, was awesome. I was able to let her know what I needed, and she obtained it for me.
We went to the pool after we dropped off some belongings. The ship has 5 pools. The Solarium Pool, which is a pool that is reserved for guests 16 years and old. The Solarium Pool has nice lounge chairs and is partially covered. The beach pool, which is sort of like a beach because it has salt water and simulated small waves that go under the lounge chairs, and many umbrellas. The Sports pool, which is used for water sports, e.g. volley ball, etc., and lap swimming. The main pool, which is a general pool and hot tub. And lastly, the Kid's pool, which has slides, water cannons, a wading pool, and splash pads. I did not care for the way the pools are set up. The pool decks had a cramped feeling. They are not situated like the typical pool areas in the above ships. Also, the band that played at the pool was lousy, which in my opinion put a downer on the party. When the band is good, you get into the music and want to party. Not so on this ship. We were able to able to hear the band from our cabin when the door was open. We had to close the window.
During, the evening we visited the Casino, and we had a great time. The Casino is very large and is divide into a smoking and non smoking area. The slots were tight, but I was able to hold my own on the tables. We had reservations for all the shows, but we only attended the Broadway hit, Hairspray, the Aqua Show, and the Ice Skating Show. They were all excellent. At night the Promenade is packed, but the traffic flowed nicely, and I never felt like it was too crowded. There are several bars on this ship, and it was never difficult to get a beverage. I went to the Jazz Bar, and music was good. The Latin Bar musicians were bad. Again, had they been better, people would have partied more.
We ate at Johnny Rockets on one evening (which was good, but there is a slight charge), and we ate at the Main Dining Room, during the late seating on six of the evenings. The food on the first couple of nights was okay, but as the week progressed, the food became better. The service the first few nights was slow, but it improved after I spoke to the head waiter, who went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that the service was better on the remaining nights. In fact, he sent chocolate covered strawberries to our cabin. Nice touch. For late night snacks, we also ate sandwiches and pastries at the Promenade Café and pizza at Solerno's . Food at both locations was good. The ship has over twenty-five locations to eat. They serve breakfast and lunch at several of these locations, which keeps the Windjammer from getting overly crowded. There are several specialty restaurants, which charge. We tried to eat at one of restaurants on one evening, but we could not get a reservation. The ship had a Starbuck's, and every morning we bought coffee and a Danish. We never ate breakfast at the various venues.
This ship is so large that it took me up until my 3 days to become comfortable walking around the ship. The nice thing about this ship, is that in the lobbies, near the elevators, there are interactive monitors that allow you to find your way around the ship. The ship is divided into several neighborhoods. The Boardwalk was neat and had a lot of activities for children. The outdoor theater was awesome, and it was relaxing when we watched the Aqua Show and movies. The Sports area was neat. It had a zip line, flow riders, a mini golf course, basketball courts, and an area to play ping pong (all free). There is also a restaurant called the Wipe Out Café in this area. The food was free here, but we did not eat here. The kids and teen areas are located around this area, and they were real nice. We visited them with the thought that we'd be traveling on a cruise with our grandchildren in the future.
The ports that we visited were Nassau, Bahamas, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, and Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. I have been to all these ports on two prior occasions. Nassau cleaned up its downtown area since the last time I visited the Island, and the locals were a lot friendlier than on prior visits. We did not take an excursion on this island, and we decided to shop at the Straw Market and downtown. We ate at Senor Frogs, which was good. We took a beach excursion on St. Thomas to Megan's beach. The beach was crowded, but it was nice. It rained while we were there, but my wife and I stood under the trees until it stopped. On St. Maarten, we took the water taxi to Grand Beach and rented a chair and umbrella for $25. The price include 5 drinks. Every time I travel to St. Maarten I rent a chair and umbrella on the beach. This is my favorite island to visit. St. Thomas is more beautiful, but St. Maarten has a certain Dutch charm that I enjoy. The only complaint I have concerning excursion is that on one beach excursion we booked for St. Johns, we were going to be dropped off at the beach, and we had to pay $6 extra dollars each to hire our own taxi to return to the ferry. Come on, the reason we book excursions with the ship are, so we don't have to worry about getting our own transportation. We got our money back, and we did not go on this excursion.
Disembarking on the last day was easy. We chose to use the Luggage Valet program, where we paid $20 dollars per bag to have our luggage sent to the airport. The day before we left, luggage tags and our board passes were delivered to our cabin. It was nice because we did not have to go through the "search for your luggage drill" that happens after each cruises. We took an excursion to the Everglades, which was fun, so we were allowed to leave early. The lines to leave were crowded because of the lack of staff in US Customs. We where warned that it would take longer to clear customs because of the USA budget cut backs.
Overall, we had a very nice vacation. I will continue to give my business to Royal Caribbean. I am only two cruises away from being a Diamond Member. In my opinion, the Oasis is a very large beautiful ship.
If I take my grandchildren, I will take them on one of these larger ships because they are super kid friendly, and they are themed after the Dreams Works animated characters. But, I prefer the charm of the smaller ships. The service was good, but the service people are stretched thinly. We heard rumors that the staff work twice as hard on the large ships. It is amazing how passengers are dispersed throughout the ship. I never felt that I missed out on anything because there were too many people.