I decided on the title for this review while we were walking Central Park on our Oasis cruise to Labadee, Falmouth, and Cozumel. As if the ship wasn’t extravagant enough, somebody actual thought to pipe the sound of Crickets into Central park! This attention to detail was reflected in every inch of ship design, and given the massive size of the ship it is almost unbelievable.
A little bit of background, I have been following the Oasis since before she was built. DW and our kids have been able to cruise often, in part by avoiding the expense of airfare, sailing from local ports where Oasis and Allure do not call. That changed when our son won a free cruise for two playing Bingo on the Navigator last November. A couple of unexpected changes at work for DW & I and the stars suddenly aligned for us to make the trek to Port Everglades on two weeks’ notice. DW and I (mid 40’s) left the kids home with Grandparents for a hyper-romantic getaway – our 22nd Cruise. We could not help but draw comparisons between the Voyager Class and the Oasis and we will share our perspectives here. The review will also cover our awesome shore excursions and our impressions of the beverage package, dining and wonderful entertainment.
One of the downsides of booking at the last minute is it’s tough to get reasonable air – we did something that might not be for everyone - but it worked for us: We flew Allegiant Air in to the Orlando Sanford airport and rented a car for the 3&1/2 hour drive. We got a direct flight in the night before and split the trip down with an overnight in Vero Beach. We had a 3pm flight out of the same airport on the way back so we asked for an early debark and were back at the airport 3hrs early. Sounds a bit arduous, but the round trip air was about $250/pp with the taxes plus 3 bags at $20 each. It is tough to beat that from our backwater airport in South Texas. The drive time was less than our connection layover time would have been so we actually got home sooner than we would have with a flight out of FLL.
National and Alamo run a free shuttle from the airport to the ship. We dropped our bags at the port first then doubled back. Our two, one-way rentals were cheaper than parking would have been if we had driven our own car. We noticed that Thrifty and Dollar have centers just our side of the port so that might be an even better option for some.
We started the embarkation process at noon and were on the ship by 12:15. Our keycards were ready with our choice of beverage package indicated. Our first impression of the ship was that it was even more fantastic than we thought it would be and we held that impression through-out the cruise. We liked the promenade on the Voyager class ships – loved how they used the extra width on the Oasis. It’s the same only bigger and better - with day-light from central park above. Speaking of Central park – awesome. The boardwalk – so unique and well thought out. We stopped by the dining room for a peak and got assigned to a well-placed table for 4. When we made it to our stateroom, we noticed many tweaks from the Voyager class cabins : having the cabin entry door swing out – what a great idea. Turn the closet and put in sliding doors – how come nobody ever thought of that before? Same with the tweaks in the bathroom. Trading counter space for floor space – brilliant. Couple of extra feet on the Balcony – WOW. We were deck 10 all the way aft, our neighbors in the wrap around suite just aft of us seldom ventured around to our partition and the folks in the room forward were almost never out either - so our private balcony was about as private as it could be. Food at the windjammer and mdr was ok on day one, but about the only thing that was not better than the Navigator. On time sail-away – can’t believe how stable and smooth the ship felt when we were underway – never would have known we were under power if not for our spectacular view
SEA DAYS - We had sea days on days 2, 5 and 7. Too much to remember what happened when. The $40/day beer and wine package was a winner for us (probably why we can’t remember what happened when). No problems with service (but you sign for each drink –except in the MDR) and pre-paying this sure kept our bill down at the end of the cruise. I know we did room service the first day (and on the port days) and it was always accurate and arrived at the front end of the ½hr delivery window. We grabbed breakfast at the central park café on day 5 (they definitely captured the NY attitude in there) and Giovani’s for lunch on day 7 - at Giovani’s, the lunch menu is the same menu as dinner (but its half the price). We found the free coffee at the donut shop to be most convenient on the days we did not do room service and just wanted to relax on the Balcony before going to lunch or shore . We brought our Tervis Tumblers so only one trip was required – but they have decent sized “to go” cups there. Pools deck never felt crowded nor did the sports deck. We did one afternoon in the Solarium which was huge and very well appointed. Lines for flowrider, zip line and rock wall were never very bad. Note: even if you pre-signed your waivers you still have to go to the stand to get a wrist band. In the Spa, we did the Rasul mud bath and were very impressed with the entire complex - the mud bath facility was especially nice. Our only rain was one massive thunderstorm: At the end of “Splash” (the comedy water show) there was a loud thunderclap and torrential rain came out of nowhere. As a result, we found the walk around promenade and the sitting area behind the Aqua theater stage. This was really neat spot that we might have otherwise missed. Close to the water, it had the feel of a smaller ship.
DINNERS –We had fixed-time late seating and ate dinner in the MDR every night except Cozumel (more to follow on that). We were paired with another cruise addicted couple and enjoyed their company. The Lobster/Shrimp platter on the 2nd formal night was excellent. The pastas were always very good. The meat dishes were so-so at best –seems like they are trying to get you to pay for the premium meats by letting quality slip here. The service was also not on par with our other RCCL cruises – we had a very poor assistant waiter: horseradish and juice lagged the prime rib, sour cream lagged the baked potato, grated cheese lagged the pasta, etc. Gave up on trying to get a beer at dinner, just grabbed one at the bar on the way in and then I figured out if I ordered wine as soon as a saw they guy, I had a decent chance of getting it before desert. Diner to wait-staff ratio seemed to be more or less the same as the Navigator– just think we drew a bad team and that the restaurant manager needs to up his game.
SHOWS – We’ve been to almost every production show on each of our 22 cruises. So that’s like 40 something shows and the top three shows we’ve ever experienced were on this cruise! The water show (Oasis of Dreams) was the best thing we’ve ever seen at sea. We were expecting something like you might see at six flags – but it was so much better with acrobats, sych swimmers, a rising bottom in the pool and a HUGE and talented cast. The Ice show was the best of the 4 that we have seen (and all of them were awesome). RCCL could have taken a cookie cutter approach and put the same show on every ship with an ice rink: but each show we’ve seen has been unique and amazingly produced. The soundtrack on this show had everything from Bach to James Brown to Journey and somehow it all tied together. The “Come Fly with Me” production show was the best thing we’ve ever seen in a main theater. The sets, the visuals, the dancers, more acrobats, decent singers - singing great songs. In fact, the sound tracks to all of these shows were amazing (piped in music in public areas was always spot-on as well). Hairspray was also very well done. Really like how they spun studio B around on the Oasis class so that it opens to a common area with the main theater, comedy club and the disco. Because we booked late, we could not get a reservation for everything – but the standby lines were not bad and everyone got a seat. We saw all the shows and had great seats every time.
LABADEE – They did not have a pier the last time were visited on Voyager 8 years ago. Our starboard side cabin afforded us a view of the whole facility and the boat /jetski parade that ensued upon arrival. We booked a Jet Ski excursion and it was well worth the money. Our guide was excellent, the jet skis were in great condition and the ride was wonderful. After the excursion we found our way to the Dragon’s Breath Saloon which was next to deserted. Our beverage package worked there and it was a very short walk to the Buffet lunch. There was a deserted plaza and castle area that led to very romantic trail behind the saloon that went undiscovered by 95% of our co-passengers – what a special treat. We were so sun drenched by the end of our day here that we missed the repeater party on the helicopter deck – but we thought it was great that they went out of their way to find a unique venue for this event.
JAMACIA – We have a very special beach resort that we frequent from Falmouth, just a $40 round trip cab ride and 60 bucks pp for the all-inclusive day. It is stunningly beautiful and private. Sorry folks, we will not mention the name as we want to keep it that way! All of our embarks and debarks were remarkably quick and easy (and all of them were on time). This was especially so in Falmouth. We were in our cab just 10 minutes after leaving the cabin even though we left at peak time.
COZUMEL – DW & I did Sabor on the Magic a couple of years ago and loved it. We did Nachi-Coccom with the Kids on the Navigator and it was just right for a family with teens. As the ship was in port from 7-7 we went “top of the line” at Aura (by Secrets). We had a wonderful day- we got there early for breakfast and enjoyed the beach and lazy river until lunch. After that, we found our way to the swim-up bar and met 3 or 4 nice couples from all walks of life and just enjoyed their company under the sun until an hour before boarding. We certainly did not take advantage of everything this place had to offer, so I’m hesitant to offer my opinion on the subject, but I will anyway. When we have the opportunity to choose between Sabor and Aura again, we’ll choose Sabor. It shares the same beach (which is a bit too rocky for our taste) the service was better and it was about half the price. We had a big night planned for after Cozumel: Giovani’s followed by “Come Fly with Me”. That did not happen as our “party for two” continued on our balcony thru sail away and then we crashed hard and slept through both. The night was not a wash-out as we recovered with dinner at Johnny Rockets and caught the Comedy show.
The staff a Giovani’s was gracious and understanding of our missed reservation – we were not charged for dinner and were able to walk in for lunch the next day instead (food and service were over-the-top). We were skeptical of the reservation format for the production shows, but ended up being grateful for it as we were able to catch the show we missed - it was fantastic and it would have been a huge shame to have missed it.
FINAL/RANDOM THOUGHTS – Our cabin steward was amazing but in general we were slightly disappointed with the service staff. It kind of seemed like they had made it to the best ship in the fleet so they did not need to go out of their way in most respects. That and the quality of meat dishes in the main dining room were about the only two things that kept this from being a PERFECT vacation for us. The photo system where all of your photos are gathered for you in a slot on a tower is very slick. Casino was nice – we played slots for an hour or so a night and ended up even for the cruise. Disco had great atmosphere. Promenade shops were reasonable and we wish we had more time to experience every venue there and in central park. Great debark at Port Everglades. I believe anybody who likes the Voyager class ships will love an Oasis class ship. It’s not just bigger and better – it is so much more!