My daughters and I have cruised before on a variety of cruise lines. Most recently, we were on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas. The Oasis is twice the size and has many fun new features, but customer service suffered in many ways and the crowds could be a pain at times.
First the positive aspects of the Oasis:
We loved having so much to do. We were glad that on the 7-day cruise we had 3 days at sea. The ports were interesting, but the ship was the most fun. In particular, we enjoyed the many shows (and even some rehearsals of the water show while waiting to climb the rock wall), the rock wall, the zip line, the ice skating rink, the flowrider and the different neighborhoods. The Boardwalk always had something going on, as did the Royal Promenade. My girls liked the donut shop on the Boardwalk and we all enjoyed some pizza on the Royal Promenade. Our stateroom was near the middle of the ship and was in great shape. I really got a chance to enjoy the balcony on this cruise.
I also have to comment that even with a huge ship, many logistics are handled really well. Boarding the ship was simple and getting on and off at ports was easy. The private island is also managed very well. They had plenty of lounge chairs in the various beach areas.
The things that were annoying or negative included the following:
While the dining room food is good, the service is average. We felt much more pampered on other cruises – with extra food, special tricks and just general attentiveness and discussion with the waiter and assistant waiter. We felt the same drop in attentiveness on the part of the room steward. It was not until the last day that we realized he had not even been bringing us the kid’s program information nightly. On our last (RC) cruise, the steward had also offered small bottles of shampoo and conditioner right away and keep us fully stocked through the trip.
The kids programs overall were disappointing. My 10 year old tried the 9 – 11 group a few times but felt the activities were for much younger children. It might have helped to have divisions by grade since she is already in middle school. Another problem was the limited information on activities. The schedule is “loose” and without much description. More description of activities would also have helped with my 14 year old (the 12 – 14 group). Another problem was that some activities required kids to arrive early or right on time or they would be precluded from participating. This caused problems for us and at least one other family. It would have helped to have such requirements clearly stated in the descriptions. Finally, it is really frustrating that with the kids programs there is a presumption that families choose the early seating for dinner. My kids could never make the really fun stuff because we had the late seating and they wanted to eat with me. The schedule should accommodate both early and late seating families and it does not do a good job at that.
There needs to be an indoor movie theatre and a better movie selection. 3D movies were advertised but there were only 3 and we could only make the showing of 1. There were a few showings movies at the Aqua Theater, but mainly for families with young kids and during the day. We had been used to having a dedicated movie indoor theater with at least 2 showings per day.
Finally, after paying a lot of money to take the cruise, it is always troublesome how many ways RC tries to get passengers to spend more. On this really big boat, there were many more times when they added (or tried to add) an extra fee. I was furious to learn that going to the sauna or steam was not free (as it has been on every other cruise ship I have ever been on). I was told I could pay $99 for the week or $30 a day. The charge was justified by the explanation that “this is a really big ship”. On every other ship, when I have gone to the sauna I have been the only person there. Then there are the excursions that are outrageously priced. I decided to pay for all 3 of use to visit with dolphins and then learned that we could not take pictures, but could buy them at $37.50 each! Add in the cupcakes, ice cream, specialty restaurants, and you can double the cruise cost easily. Charge a little more upfront and ask for less throughout the cruise. It would be nice if every passenger got one voucher to a specialty restaurant. Instead, we ate in the main dinning room and felt somewhat less appreciated than usual.
We had fun because we always do, but the Oasis experience is not perfect. There is a lot of room for improvement.
While it was fun to interact with the dolphins, this excursion was quite a ripoff. We paid $105 each and then learned we could not take any pictures with the dolphins. We could though buy a CD and a few prints for $177 or pictures at $37.50 each!
Fortunately, we did the excursion in the afternoon. We had more fun shopping in the morning in town.
The caves were interesting.
Dunns River falls was amusing, but it has gotten so commercial.
Tip: Either eat a lot before you go or take snacks if you can. There is little in the way of food that will be available to buy during the 5 hour excursion.
Avoid the water park it looks fun but both my kids wound up with cuts and horrible rashes on their legs. They had been in the water already. It was clearly something from the inflatable items.
The island is nicely laid out and there are a lot of chairs available.
The vendors can be very aggressive, especially with kids. If you do want to buy something, know that the first price they quote you may be as much as 5 times what they will eventually take.