We arrived at Port Everglades around 11am. The new terminal 18 is nice, wide open spaces, plenty of room to accommodate the number of guests that will be sailing on Oasis. Layout is more logical than in some other terminals I’ve been in.
We began boarding Oasis around noon. Boarding is done on Deck 5, the Royal Promenade deck. While boarding the first thing I noticed is that the outdoor space on deck 5 is limited to the jogging track, and is barely wider than the 2-lane jogging track. No deck chairs or space to enjoy the outdoors on this deck. There are no muster stations outside that I could see, apparently all muster stations are inside the ship, so no more baking in the afternoon sun during muster!
As we walked onto the ship we entered directly in to the Royale Promenade. Very wide, spacious, and beautiful, but I’ll write more about the promenade later. We wanted to head to our cabin to drop off our overnight bags. Our cabin was 9156, port side, forward so we headed to the elevators towards that end of the promenade. We were pleased to see there are 6 elevators on port side, 6 more on starboard, so 12 elevators at that end, and same at the other end, so 24 elevators that we saw, there may have been more. We got to deck 9 quickly. One cool feature at each elevator bank is an interactive screen. You can touch the screen to “Find your cabin” (enter your cabin number and it shows you on the map where you are, where your cabin is and how to get there), or you can view that day’s Cruise Compass, or find a restaurant, etc. It’s a very cool, and very handy feature! We had to use it more than once to find our way back to our cabin! LOL
Once at the cabin the first thing we noticed is that the cabin doors are offset from the hallway a bit further than on the Freedom or Voyager class ships, and that is to allow room for the door to open out, rather than in. What genius! This small change seems to make a big difference inside the cabin. We entered the cabin and it seemed basically the same as any other standard balcony cabin on a Freedom or Voyager class ship. Right away we also noticed that the bathroom door opens out into the cabin, rather than into the bathroom – what a difference that makes! The bathroom, while probably the same physical size as those a Freedom or Voyager class ship, just seems larger since you don’t have to deal with the door opening into the bathroom.
It may be an optical illusion, but the bathroom counter seemed narrower and the sink smaller, but it was adequate. As on other ships, very limited storage space in the bathroom. It also has the same basic curved shower stall, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it is a little bigger – not by much, but a little bigger. That may not mean much to some, but for a “fluffy” guy like me, every little bit makes a difference! On Freedom if I dropped the soap I had to open the shower door to bend down and pick it up, not so on Oasis, so it is definitely a little roomier. (And the ladies may be happy to learn that there is a foot bar towards the bottom where you can rest a foot, presumably that will make it easier to shave the legs – like I know anything about shaving legs! My only disappointment is that the shower head, while basically the same style as on Freedom or Voyager class, no longer slides up/down on a pole, it is at a fixed height. But, still very adequate, and the hot water definitely gets hot.
The cabin itself has the same basic layout, it seems to be slightly longer but also narrower than Freedom or Voyager class balcony cabins. A carry-on size bag on wheels barely, and I do mean barely, could be pulled through between the foot of the bed and the wall. The closets definitely seem smaller, so for all those who like to take lots and lots of clothes (pointing at myself for one, took over 20 shirts on Freedom at the end of October!), be forewarned, there is not as much closet space here! The closet doors slide open, rather than bi-fold out into the cabin, so I found that to be nice. But, the closet doesn’t seem to be as deep so there is definitely less storage space there. There is also less drawer space in the vanity area where the desk, TV and such is located. On Freedom/Voyager class you had drawers on either side of the desk, here there is only 1 set of 3 drawers. I was shocked to find that electrical outlets are nowhere to be seen on the desk area. But, after some searching, we finally found them hidden under the desk, which I felt was very inconvenient. You had to crawl up under the desk to be able to see what you’re doing to plug something into an outlet. Bad design choice in my opinion. But, at least there are outlets that are functional, just a little inconvenient.
Our balcony was nice sized, seemed comparable in size to the one we had on Freedom 2 weeks before, but a little narrower since the cabin itself is narrower. Was pleased to see 2 comfortable chairs and an actual patio table on the balcony – not a cocktail table, a regular height table you could actually eat at if you ordered room service and wanted to eat on the balcony. Kudos on the balcony table!
When we boarded they handed out a booklet on the features of the ship, and it was a “walking tour” type booklet. First was to make your way up to the Solarium on deck 16, forward. So off we went. The Solarium is on 2 levels and very nice! Lots of open space here, a bar and a bistro café as well. They had these large “cabana” type covered chairs, very cool. We next made our way to the open deck where we could look down onto the pool deck. Plenty of deck chairs on 2 levels. However, space seemed cramped. There aren’t wide walking paths like on Freedom/Voyager class, so it seemed a little cramped, but still comfortable. On 16, mid-ship, there is the Mast Bar on Port side, and the Sky Bar on the starboard side. Windjammer is on 16 more aft, and behind the Windjammer are the basketball courts, mini-golf, flow riders, and the zip line. The zip line just crosses the Boardwalk area, so it’s a very short ride.
While there we stopped in the Windjammer for some lunch. Very nice, but it is definitely laid out differently than we’re used to seeing on the Freedom/Voyager class ships. Honestly, it felt rather cramped, not as much open space or seating area. However, there are many dining alternatives on board so hopefully it won’t be an issue. The food was good, basically the same type of food as we’ve had in Windjammer on any other RCCL ship.
The Viking Crown Lounge is on deck 17 directly above the Windjammer. It looked nice, but didn’t seem to have that intimate feeling as in the Viking on other ships. It also was not quite finished, men were still busy doing tile work and touchups in a couple different areas there.
The main pools are on deck 15 – I lost count of how many pools there are! One has a “beach” area where you can sit in lounge chairs in the water. The adult pool areas and kiddie pool areas are on opposite sides of the ship. Those without children may appreciate that more than those with children. On deck 15, mid-ship, is the Sand Bar and Pool Bar. More aft is the teen’s area, Living Room, Challengers arcade, Fuel disco, etc., and behind that is the sports courts and Dunes golf.
We went down a deck or two so we could see a Crown Loft Suite and a Royal Loft Suite. Both are very nice! The Royal suite is HUGE! Very large, wrap-around balcony with a hot tub. Master bedroom upstairs is very nice, large projection screen TV. Master bath is very large, I think I counted a dozen of us in there at the same time and there was still room for more. Words of caution … don’t shower in the master bath of the Royal Suite while in port! There are windows floor to (almost) ceiling, overlooking the aft end of the ship. If at sea, no big deal, but if in port you’ll be giving a free show! Work was not quite finished in some areas, and the Royal Suite was one of them. I opened the door to the downstairs bath and there were 2 men installing tile and fixtures.
On deck 10 (and 9) is Dazzles, a 2-level dance bar, and very nice! Dazzles has very large windows that overlooks the Boardwalk so it has a great view.
Central Park is on deck 8, very lush. There you will find Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Park Café, Vintages, and more! My only complaint is that it seemed cramped. The sidewalks are narrow and this could limit the amount of traffic that could walk through at the same time.
Deck 6, more forward, is the upper level of the Royal Promenade, and here you’ll find the Diamond club (but we didn’t get a chance to go in), the Schooner Bar, Focus (the photo gallery – where it appears all pictures will be in binders for viewing), and the Loyalty Ambassador/Future Cruise booking office. Note on the pictures … I can see this area getting very crowded with people wanting to find/purchase their photos. This makes the option of using your Sea Pass when photographers snap your pic even more important - that way you can go to Focus, put in your Sea Pass card and pull up all the photos associated with your cabin and have them printed.
Deck 6 aft is the Boardwalk, with the Carousel, donut shop, Seafood Shack, Johnny Rockets and the Aqua Theatre. Very nice area with lots to do for kids and adults alike. We got to see some exhibition diving in the Aqua Theatre pool at one point during the day, it was cool. I heard there was a synchronized swimming performance, but we didn’t catch that.
Deck 5 is the main Royal Promenade – very nice and spacious. The layout is definitely different from the Freedom/Voyager class. Bolleros is on the Royal Promenade, as is the On-Air karaoke bar. Schooner bar is on the 2nd level of the promenade. Champagne bar, also on promenade, seems rather understated as compared to other ships, but is still nice. The Rising Tide bar is cool and we did ride it up and down once, but there were some hiccups with it ... when we first boarded the ship and watched it go up it made all sorts of unnatural noises of metal scraping against metal. A couple hours later and they had that resolved and no more worried looks on people’s faces from the noise! LOL
The Cupcake Cupboard was a popular spot on the Promenade, but we never got a chance to do a taste-test for ourselves. Café Promenade and Guest Services are large areas and seem to work/flow well with the volume of traffic.
The Opus dining room spans decks 3-5 (aft) and is very elegant. However, it is not as open and airy as the dining rooms on the Freedom/Voyager class ships. It felt a little cramped as compared, but still very elegant.
The Opal Theatre is on the same decks 3-5 (forward) – we never got a chance to go in, but I’m sure it’s nice.
Deck 4 is the “Entertainment Place” – lots of cool places. There are several clubs (Blaze, Comedy Live, Jazz on 4 club, etc.), and Studio B is mid-ship on this deck. On the Freedom/Voyager class ships, at Studio B you can't get from one end to the other, have to go up a deck to get past it, not on Oasis. A large hall on either side of Studio B to go around it, and that is entrance to Casino Royale.
Casino Royale is easily twice, if not 3 times, as big as on the Freedom/voyager class ships. Plenty of room for lots of people in Casino Royale!
After our tour we had to sit and rest for a bit, so we went to Bolleros on the Promenade for a cocktail.
On Thursday night Rhianna was to perform at 6pm, and the ship was scheduled to depart at 7pm. Well, not sure what happened, but I guess Rhianna did not perform until closer to 7pm, so our departure was delayed.
We went to dinner around 8pm. We had the shrimp cocktail and escargot for appetizers, and for entrée we had the filet of beef with asparagus and mashed potatoes, it was excellent! I had the strawberry cheesecake for dessert … and a piece of coconut layer cake, but it was sugar free so it doesn’t count! LOL The service in the dining room was impeccable, the wait staff very attentive and prompt. After dinner we still had not left port yet, so we met up with some folks in Bolleros, visited with them and enjoyed cocktails. Around 11:00pm I looked at one of the gals and said I think we’re moving. She stopped for a second and said, “Nah, I’m very sensitive about these things, we’re not moving yet.” I needed to run back to the cabin for another no-doze (so I could stay up later), poked my head out the balcony door, and sure enough … Ft. Lauderdale was in the distance, we were at sea! We never felt a thing as the ship moved along! All I had felt earlier was a slight vibration that made me think we could be moving, and we were!
After meeting back up with Rick and the others in Bolleros we decided to hit the Casino since it was now open. We tried our luck at a couple slot machines, but, no big winners here. Oh, well. We finally headed to bed around 2am.
Friday morning we got up at 6am since everyone was supposed to be in certain areas of the ship by 7am for the live broadcast of Good Morning America (GMA). But, we had “motivational issues” and didn’t get out of the cabin until after 7:30am. Unfortunately, they closed all the dining options from 7am to 9am due to the GMA broadcast, they wanted us all to be out and about. We hung out at the Mast Bar up on deck 16 for a while, then went in to the Windjammer to wait for them to start serving breakfast again. If you watched GMA and caught the gal doing the zip line, we were standing at the window in the Windjammer directly above where she landed!
The Windjammer started serving again around 8:45am so we had a good breakfast, after which we headed back to our cabin to get our things together to disembark. We arrived back in Ft. Lauderdale around 10:30-11am, and they started disembarking at about noon.
We can’t wait to sail on Oasis when we have a full week to explore and enjoy the ship! Being on board barely 24 hours was just a tease for us, but I’m very glad we had this opportunity.
My overall impression is that Oasis is phenomenal and amazing ship with lots to see and do. Based on my 24-hour experience, I’m thinking that I might prefer the Freedom or Voyager class ships, but I’ll reserve final judgment until we get the chance to actually spend a week on Oasis in October, 2010!