Sail Date: Maiden Voyage on December 5, 2009
Embarkation/Disembarkation: These two processes are so streamlined that you spend less than 15 minutes coming and going. So for those who have firmly and negatively said no way...this is not valid reason for not sailing on this magnificent ship.
First Impressions: as you drive up to the ship it does not initially appear to be bigger than the Freedom class. However, this is deceptive once you get closer...she is a beauty and BIG!
Walking in on the Promenade level leaves you breathless and all you can say is WOW! In fact, we kept saying it over and over again like a broken record. The champagne was nearby and flowing a focal point on that deck was the Rising Tide bar; it was rather like a Star Trek encounter.
Everything looked and felt new although a number of special guests had already experienced her we were going to be and were the ones to be spoiled in the days ahead: thank you Crown & Anchor & Royal Caribbean for our many gifts! It was hard deciding which direction to turn to but we headed up the stairs towards the BOARDWALK! The floor above gave us a vantage point and a sense of direction.
For those who think they will never sail the Oasis class because of the crowds consider this ship because of the 7 neighborhoods. There are so many places to be and so many options that we never felt overwhelmed. Of course, on the maiden voyage, the number of passengers was reduced but even then at full capacity I don't think crowding is a cause for concern.
Dining: the options are endless! However, not everything comes without a cost but it's well worth splurging. For breakfast, try Johnny Rockets with its good ole American style food at no cost. Also on the Boardwalk you can find the "Seafood Shack" and that extra splurge was worth it...we did lunch. The downside if there is a downside is that there is no air conditioning just fans. Central Park has three new dining features - Giovanni's Table, 150 Central Park and Park Cafe. We loved the last two but Giovanni's Table had a rather negative attitude via their host/maitre that seemed more consumed by his reservation system than coming by and being gracious. If you want a romantic meal do not come here as the acoustics were horrible! The menu reminded me of "Italy" but do not be swayed by the recommendations...select what you really want. We had the antipasti plate and the freshly sliced prosciutto was delicious, the crab ravioli was disappointing but I love the meal. FYI, the restaurant serves family-style which is a nice way of sampling lots of different dishes.
150 Central Park was beautifully and elegantly decorated. The prix fixe menu was unique; be ready to have your palate stretched and do keep an open mind. Chef Keriann truly is innovative and who would have thought of having a beet sorbet as part of a sampling menu? I look forward to sampling some of her other offerings someday and she is also from my hometown! The specialty martini sounded rather bizarre but was a delicious concoction; kudos to the creator. We felt as though we were getting our vitamins via our martini and our recommended dose of vitamins. All in all dine here with a very open mind.
Our favorite eatery in this neighborhood was the Park Cafe! The roast beef sandwich was the best I have ever had and we managed to sneak over here more than once. This cafe also offered other sandwich offerings, two different daily soup offerings, a salad bar that you could have created with different offering daily and of course a selection of yummy looking desserts. The Promenade had the same Voyager class options from Sorrento's Pizza and the yummy Cupcake Cupboard. You never can go wrong with any of the optional choices. The Windjammer has altered its menu to include more offerings for the Asian cruisers; I saw fried rice and salmon for breakfast. A plus is that the bacon is so much better now that is if you like crispy bacon. All in all, I prefer not eating in the Windjammer.
Main dining was our choice for dinner and we had a wonderful waiter and assistant waiter: Wilson and Christopher. We felt bad that we were not there every night since we had reservations at Giovanni's Table and 150 Central Park!
I highly recommend booking your entertainment options prior to sailing! However, it appeared relatively easy to book events once onboard. We loved the ice show, the Nelson Twins, the Aqua show despite the downpour at the end and the production show. It was nice having a "Broadway" option via "Hairspray" as an alternative to the usual show options; grazie mille!
Improvements: Kudos to Royal Caribbean in improving the photo experience. Our Sea Pass cards now come with personalized id numbers allowing you to view your photos at Focus and then easily find your own photos contained within a folder. Gone are the days when you had to fight fellow passengers and paw through photos to find yours. THANK YOU isn't sufficient enough to express my gratitude to eliminating this once horrible experience.
The touch screens available on each deck (mid-ship) allow you to find your cabin, check on activities, the availability of the various dining spots etc. made our lives so much easier. It is really hard to get lost now!
NO MORE SHOWER CURTAINS! Thank you for eliminating those we were in a D1 hump cabin but had the opportunity of touring other cabins in our cabin crawl one of the most impressive was the aft Aqua Suite! The Grand Suite which is normally impressive paled in comparison. Sadly we did not have an opportunity to look at a loft suite...someday perhaps. Also in the shower is a foot level stand which makes shaving your leg so much easier.
The casino is so much better now that there is a smoking vs. non-smoking area! The spa area, Vitality is humongous and very welcoming with more of a relaxed atmosphere. For adults only, the Solarium area is an "oasis"...one afternoon I came across a complimentary upper body chair massage. The cantilever hot tubs now come with a large screen tv!
In closing, I highly recommend experiencing the Oasis of the Seas for the many options available. Have an open mind and be awed and have your "WOW" experience; trust me you will say that more than once. Also, make sure you have time to claim your childhood...I rode on the carousel!