'Midnight on the Oasis' ~ My Inaugural Cruise Review
This was my Lucky 13th cruise on RCI and my second inaugural sailing. The other one being Freedom of the Seas in 2006.
I am going to use a rating system of 1 - 5 WOW's 5 being highest :)
Embarkation ~ 5 WOW's ~ as we approached the pier by taxi from a distance Oasis did not appear overly large. It was not until we got closer up that her massive size became apparant especially her width. Her baby blue hull also sets her apart from the other RCI ships.
We arrived at the pier about 10:20 am anxious to begin our turn on Oasis. Dropped off bags with the friendly and upbeat porters. That 15 minutes from curb to check in was true in our case. By 10:35 am we were all checked in, seapass photo taken at the check in desk and with our yellow souvenir Inaugural Season bag in hand we made our way to the Diamond/D+ waiting area. The check in agent was friendly and helpful.
This is where things got a bit slow. With over 500 B2B cruisers from the Dec 1 sailing they were waiting to find some people that had not gotten off. About 12:10 or so the B2B'rs made their way back onto the ship followed by Suite guests and then about 12:30 Diamond and D+ guests. Were on the ship about 12:35 pm
We entered on Deck 5 at the Rising Tide Bar that was up on Deck 8 but they had the water and light show going. We were greeted with glasses of champagne. Many of the Dec 1 cruisers were there to greet us as we walked beneath the archway of brightly coloured balloons.
First Impressions ~ 5+ WOWs ~ This ship is such a beauty. We walked and checked out the promenade first running into past cruising friends and new ones. There were a lot of press on day passes on this day. With pink boas around our necks we were approached by our first press and asked if they could interview us. It was Inside Edition and we did make a clip on the show on the Monday evening.
We proceeded to make our way to the Boardwalk area. There we said hello to Ken Rush who was being interviewed. We checked out the Aqua Theatre and we were approached by another news team who asked if they could interview myself and friend Janice. He told us he was with Australian news. Since my daughter is married to an Aussie I asked him where in Australia and he said Sydney News. I told him about my connection with Sydney and he seemed happy to have found two people who had actually visited his part of the world. He said we would be on the 6 pm news in Sydney that night so I had to rush to send off an email to my daughter so she would catch it and she did. That was cool and a special memory for me on the ship.
The ship was carrying about 3700 passengers as reported by Captain Bill and was nicely decorated for Christmas with garland, Christmas trees and poinsettias.
Cabins ~ 3 WOW's ~ I was in a D4 Oceanview balcony cabin deck 6. cabin 6570. They are definitely smaller than the other balcony cabins on the other ships. It appears to have less storage space although I managed to find a place for everything without too much effort. Shelving in the closet appears much deeper although the safe is smaller.
Deck 6 cabins (some of them) are right above the lifeboats. When standing at the railing you do not look directly at the water like the hump cabins do. This might bother some but it did not for us If you are sitting on the balcony you do not see the lifeboats.We never sat on the balcony once this cruise..just too much to see and do.
The major difference is the configuration of the cabins. The balconies either have the bed located by the closet or by the window. Ours was by the closet and if my DH was sitting on the bed his knees almost touched the closet. Not much walking space there. We did do a cabin crawl and I personally liked the bed by the window configuration better.
The bed was very comfortable.
Not sure if there is a way when you are booking to know what configuration you have. Many would write about how they loved their cabin to be near the elevators to eliminate walking. I found out how important that is. This was the first time I had a cabin so close to the elevators/staircase and on this ship saw the advantage of that. With only two sets of elevators one very forward and one aft if you have a cabin in between you have a long way to walk. Now walking is good to burn off those extra calories but it also takes extra time so if you want to see as much of the ship as you can in 7 days those extra minutes come in handy :) LOL
Deck 6 I found was a good location as one flight down to Promenade still a great place to hang out in and two walkable flights up to Central Park with more venues to grab a drink or bit to eat. Also for any Diamond or D+ members my cabin was just around the corner from the Diamond Club. Vitality Spa and Fitness Centre was right at the stairwell so close by for those that like to visit this area. It always smelled so nice at that stairwell cause of the spa .
You have a computer keyboard in the cabin to use on the tv to access internet. We tried to use it but was unable to all cruise long. Had to go to the very small area on deck 7 all the way forward just off the elevators to use a computer terminal.
I thought that internet access/speed was much better than I have experienced on other RCI ships.
Diamonds in December Event ~ 5 WOW's
RCI had announced not long before the cruise that they would be holding special events and special gifts for the inaugural sailing and the other sailings in December. They did well on this one. They did much better than the Freedom inaugural where they dropped the ball on that one with no special recognition.
They had a list of special sailings where you could choose on a 7 day cruise either $300 balcony discount or up to triple onboard credit (max $600 per stateroom) on these select sailings. Loyalty Ambassador was very busy and were doing bookings as late as 10 pm the last night onboard.
Some of the gifts we received were commenorative bottle of champagne, commemorative coin, inaugural fleece blanket, pens, Savor Cookbook, Artbook and Cruise in Review DVD and tote bags.
The repeaters party was held on one evening at 5:15pm in the Opal Theatre for all Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Diamond Plus members
Staff ~ 5 WOW's
Some of the best staff I have experienced on a RCI ship. Very friendly, eager to please and serve. One of the best room steward and waiter I have had in a long time on RCI. Great Guest Services staff especially Hayley who helped me out a few times.
Ken Rush and his staff do a great job. They sure have their work cutout for them on this ship with so much going on. Quest for instance was at 12 midnight. At midnight Ken asked everyone to stand a raise their glass and to take a moment to celebrate with family and new friends on the incredible time you have had...to life :) thus Midnight on the Oasis
Entertainment ~ 5+ WOWS
Without a doubt in my mind some of the very best entertainment I have enjoyed. The entertainers are top notch from the amazing divers, skaters, singers and aerealists. Aqua Theatre show took my breath away with the high dives. We were lucky and the show we watched went on schedule. Some were canceled because of technical difficulties.
Hairspray totally enjoyable and very professional. We were the first audience to see the full Come Fly with Me show. I was very impressed with this production show especially the special effects. Best ice skating show I have seen on RCI ships.
I had pre booked my entertainment and had no problem when I showed up and they scanned my seapass card. We noticed that if you did not have a reservation a few minutes before the show they would allow those without reservations to enter.
There is a desk/box office to book onboard in the Royal Promenade.
I only saw the one parade Lollapolooza parade on the last day at 12 noon. It was a fantastic parade full of colour and fun music. Best spot for watching this is in front of Focus the photography shop or Sorrentos.
Dining Venues ~ 3.5 WOWS
I dined main seating in Opus Dining room deck 3. The food was excellent some nights and just okay other nights. I did find though that it was always hot and we were served quickly.
We dined in the main dining room on 5 evenings and did not see any singing or parades by the wait staff. The wine dispensing machines were only available on deck 4 & 5. I liked the idea of small bar areas as you enter the main dining rooms.
We tried Johnny Rockets twice for breakfast and this is complimentary. It was good with a nice menu made to order and served to you. We ate outside on the Boardwalk both times. I do not think people realized it was a comp breakfast and there was hardly anyone there so it was a quick and relaxing place for breakfast.
We did not even get to the Windjammer Marketplace until Day 5. We had breakfast there and found a great spot looking aft right out to the Aqua Theatre and breakfast was good and we were served our juice and coffee table side very quickly. I actually like the Windjammer Marketplace. If you go all the way aft in the seating area you will be away from the hectic food serving area.
Our first morning we went to the Solarium Bistro for breakfast with lots of healthy choices like turkey bacon, sausage, granola and fresh fruit. Very peaceful and quiet area to enjoy breakfast.
One of our favourites was the Park Cafe in Central Park..on recommendations from friends Tobi and Phil we tried the delicious roast beef sandwich. We went twice to enjoy this and also they have a great salad bar that they will toss the ingredients for you. Did see a few RCI employees including Adam Goldstein having his lunch there. Great place.
Of course enjoyed a slice of pizza at Sorrentos and the made to order pizzas looked very good as well. Sandwiches from Cafe Promenade and Mondo Cafe were fresh and good for a light lunch.
The Cupcake Cupboard was one busy place and I enjoyed some Red Velvet Cupcakes that a friend sent to the cabin as an onboard gift. I also went and tried a Turtles cupcake which was so yummy. They were also running a cupcake making class and had a friend do that and made a cupcake that looked like a hamburger and fries and saw one class making a lion cupcake. Not sure of the price but I thought it was about $10. but don't quite me.
We dined at Giovanni's table and I was disappointed in parts of it. We had received a bottle of wine from my travel agent in the cabin. We decided to bring it to the restaurant and fully expected a corkage charge. The waitress was not sure how to proceed so she went to the manager to question him. He came over to our table and in an accusatory voice asked us how we managed to bring a bottle of wine from home. He said that it is not allowed and we should not have done that. I told him that I am well aware of the rules and we would not do that and that the wine was a gift from their wine selection for us from a TA. He then said he would have to charge us a corkage fee of $12.00
The menu is served family style here. We selected the antipasto plate, focaccia bread and a caesar salad. There were 3 of us dining. We then chose two pastas to share and both of these courses were very good. I chose the garlicky shrimp which was very mushy and the potatoes undercooked. When asked how our meal was I did tell the waitress but she basically said nothing...onto dessert.. DH picked the best IMO the tiramisu.
We dined inside the restaurant not outside and found it very noisy and difficult to have a conversation and very dark. We all had trouble reading the menu in fact we watch a gentlemen stand up and go to the brightly lit hall by the kitchen to read his menu.
As we left the restaurant the manager was at the front desk and did not even lift his head to say goodbye, or hope your meal was good and /or thanks for coming. I will chock it up to inaugural glitches to work through but this manager did not impress me at all with his impersonal style.
This is the point that I really missed Portofino and the reason I only gave dining a 3.5 WOW
Chef's Table ~ 3.5 WOW
Not something for everyone. First the cost is $75.00 per person which includes wine pairings along with a signed cookbook from the Chef and an apron.
It is a multi course dinner paired with 4 wines including a dessert wine. I have the menu list if anyone is interested but I am sure the menu changes.
This venue seats only 14 people at a large table and has to be reserved ahead of time.I managed to email the Specialty Dining at RCI and got a reservation for Day 4 of the cruise. It was confirmed via email and of course I brought the hard copy with me. When I was on the ship I went to Guest Relations for another matter and asked about the Chef's Table and if I simply show up at 7:30pm at the Concierge Club. She checked for me and a good thing she did cause they were not showing me with a reservation. I went to get the confirmation I had and it was taken care of.
I received the invite in the cabin and it said to meet in the Library at 7:15pm. The sommelier came to meet us and asked us what we would like to drink and then we were escorted into the Concierge Club to the second level up the winding staircase. A very nice venue.
The table is set for 14 and has a very interesting piece of artwork over the table that also doubles as the chandelier. It has forks, knives and spoons on the fixture.
The sommelier comes out to the head of the table to tell us about the wines he is about to serve. The chef also does this to explain the different courses and how he has prepared them. The dinner was very good. I am not sure if it is worth the $150. I have done other similar dinners one was a Savor Lunch on Explorer which was in my opinion the best out of the 3 I have done. I also tried the wine pairing dinner in Portofino on Mariner this past April. I just found the experience a bit too formal. Glad I tried it though and so far my favourite has been the Savor Luncheon on Explorer in Portofino.
I think you are better off to dine at 150 Central Park and order a couple of bottles of wines that you like. There was another couple who had booked it and their name was not on the list so I think they are still working out the kinks as far as bookings go for this.
New Things ~ 5 WOWS
Of course the wayfinding is a great feature. This touch screen not only can help you find your way to your cabin but to a venue, shows the compass and also the availability of restaurants telling you how full they are at the moment.
Also loved the new Photo section and the way to claim all the photos on board. On your seapass card is a photo #. They have about 26 or so towers and a binder in that tower that is your binder and it is indicated on the seapass card. They use photo recognition to print out the photos and simply slot your photo into the binder. No searching for hours for photos. They did have a few photos on the wall to look through like the zipline photos since you have a helmet on and you must take all eyewear off and all jewelery when ziplining.
Some of our photos ended up in our friend's binder. When we boarded we took a group photo so I am thinking that is how it got slotted into their binder. You can also view your photos on the computer screen by swiping your card. Very good idea and saves more precious time so you can see more of this amazing ship.
On the TV in your cabin you can also view your calendar as to what you have booked for a certain evening and of course the usual your seapass account.
Live the Oasis GAme show is a new game show and you get to solve clues and play the game. You are tested on trivia and your knowledge about the Oasis and learn insider secrets. They sell a Live the Oasis guide book which helps you explore the ship. Live the Oasis is a brand new activity that helps you explore the ship, solve clues and enter the game show on the last day.
I just bought the book full of facts about the ship as a souvenir. They are sold at On Air Live in the Royal Promenade just before 10;30am.
Ports of Call/Itinerary ~ 4 WOW's
Did not like that the last day on the ship was a port day. We did not arrive into Nassau until 1pm and sailed at 7pm. This meant that I spent a couple of hours doing some packing in the morning. It also means that if you have not purchased souvenirs and gifts by now the shops are closed during the time in port. It meant alot of last minute stuff for passengers to do in the evening hours.
St Thomas was a good day as we decided after some research to check out a different place. Having been to St Thomas numerous times we took a ferry to Water Island the smallest of the USVI. Since we were docked at Crown Bay the marina to take this ferry is a 5 minute walk away and the ferry ride is $10. return pp. We rode over with awesome view os Oasis from the water. We then walked to Honeymoon Beach about a 10 minute walk. The water there was so calm and warm and crystal clear. It was a very enjoyable 3 hours.
Here is a link http://www.vinow.com/waterisland/
Also here is video of what it looks like http://www.jxym.com/node/1062
I had a very interesting experience in St Maarten. As I got off the water taxi in the centre of Philipsburg I was greeted by a local school boy in uniform asking if I was on the Oasis of the Seas. I told him I was and then the rest of his grade 6 classmates with paper and pen in hand ready to ask me all about the amazing Oasis of the Seas. They wanted to know what there was to do and when I started to mention surfing and ziplining they just ooohed and aaahed. They took notes and I stood with them all around me asking questions for about 10- 15 minutes. The 3 teachers were with them and then they asked if they could look at photos on my camera. I asked for their emails and I plan on sending them some interior shots of the ship. Many expressed a desire to go on such a ship. Their last request was to have me take a photo of the whole class with the Oasis of the Seas in the background. What a delightful experience and a wonderful memory I will take with me. Their smiling faces and enthusiasm was contagious. I wanted to take each of them with me to show them the ship in person.
Disembarkation ~ 5 WOW's
you now disembark by numbers not colours. I happened to get #58 one of the last numbers to be called. My flight was not until 1:30pm out of FLL.
I watched from my balcony many cruisers using the Express departure and I could see them leaving at 6:15am. My number was called at 8:50 and in 25 minutes I had left the ship, collected my luggage and was in the shuttle on my way to the airport.
The luggage is now piled under the number sign in the terminal. After you have collected your luggage you line up in between the yellow divider tape and realized as NON US citizens we could stay to the left and walk right on through to special agents for the non US citizens.
The signage in this new terminal is very good in pointing out which way to go for shuttles, taxis. It was a breeze for us. Lots of direction too when you got outside.
Some random thoughts & things I wrote down
~ Casino has non smoking sections. Also only bar in the Royal Promenade that had smoking from what I could see was Boleros.
~ only one zipline per cruiser (for the time being) best to sign up for you time early in the cruise Yes I tried the zipline and it was a blast :)
~ as a Canadian I highlighted my Setsail pass to have my credit card company do the conversion and for the very first time in all my cruises they got it right....yippeee
~ Security in St Maarten did not allow my husband to bring his half empty water bottle back on the ship. He either had to drink the rest of it or get rid of the bottle. Many security check points and were asked 4 times to see our seapass card. The only time we were asked for photo ID was in Nassau.
~ Beach pool had salt water and the rest had fresh water.
~ you have to check out the cantilevered hot tubs...loved those
~ okay for you Henry lovers..he is alive and well and living on Oasis
~ ride on the carousel was enjoyed.
~ no issues with crowds and lots of availability of deck chairs.
I am sailing on a B2B in October on this incredible ship and happy I will have a second chance to check out all the things I did not get a chance to experience. I will be in a Boardwalk balcony close to the aft. I still liked the Royal Promenade the best followed closely by Central Park. Central Park was so nice and quiet and serene. Many times I asked the older more experienced and mature cruisers who perhaps had been cruising for decades how they liked this ship. All of them said they loved it not one of them saying it was too big or did not have a ship feel to it. This surprised me and is testament to the innovation and the amazing things RCI has put on this ship. No crowds and yes we were not at full capacity so will be paying attention to that on my October sailing which is almost sold out. That will be a good comparison. I never said WOW so many times in my whole life as I made my way around this ship. Well done RCI
If you have any other questions just ask away. I am more than happy to answer them. To those going on Oasis in the coming months I hope you have as good a time on this beauty as I did Happy Cruising :)