I am 61, and my husband is 55. We are frequent cruisers. We know what we like - we like good service, good food served in a beautiful atmosphere, and nice amenities. Ambience and service are key to us.
Embarkation - simple and efficient. But this ship is gigantic, and I do believe that once things get this large and confusing that staff should be placed on each floor to help passengers to their staterooms. We spent an inordinate amount of time looking for ours.
As for the Oasis of the Seas, I think you can go just so far before you've gone too far, and this size ship may be a stretch for what the crew can handle. We were onboard during Spring Break - I didn't want to go at that time for that reason, but my husband wanted it to include our anniversary which fell on March 18. The ship was filled to capacity which I was told was 6,100 people. Royal Caribbean had promoted making reservations on RCCL's website prior to the cruise for all the shows - for everything. It was a nightmare. I made a reservation at their best specialty restaurant for our anniversary and my husband was told that we didn't have a reservation. I made a hair appointment for the first formal night because quite frankly, the size of the room was limiting. I have fibromyalgia, and I have a seat in my shower at home, so that tiny little cubbyhole didn't inspire me to do my hair in the room. I made the appointment on the phone on the ship on the day we checked in. Anyway, when I went up to get my hair done, the guy at the reception desk looked at me with a smug grin and said, "You're not on Deck 3 - that's not possible." And I said, "I guess I know where my room is - I'm on Deck 3 - it's on my card." I showed him my card. He then looked at his computer, gave me a very SATISFIED smile and said, "You don't have an appointment." So, there I am just before dinner on formal night, sitting in the reception area of the spa after being treated very poorly by this person in the salon. I couldn't take anymore - I just started to cry and cry and cry. (I know - crying seems dramatic, but there had been a lot of other problems prior to this one, and, frankly, I was overwrought.) There was a gentleman sitting across from me who said, "Are you ok - is there anything I can do?" And yes there are a few gentlemen left in this world. I said, "Do you work here?" And he said, "No, but I'll help if I can." He managed to get the spa manager out there. I told her what had happened, and she was absolutely furious. She got someone to wash my hair and blow it dry, but it truly looked worse than when I walked in - I don't think the girl who did it was a hair stylist. I was not charged, and the girl refused a tip. The manager said, "She did the best she could." That remark coupled with everything else sort of told me she wasn't a stylist.
We were treated very poorly on this cruise, and I only need one more cruise on RCCL to be a Diamond member. RCCL had me under the impression that the more you cruised with them the better you are treated. I must have misunderstood.
The outside cabins are tiny - I mean really, really tiny. They are claustrophobic tiny. The air quality in the ship was horrible - our room smelled like a locker room most of the time because of the air - apparently it's not circulated well. So we had all the smells from the bathroom, from dirty clothes, from me sweating out a horrible infection mingling in the room. I truly could not wait to get out of that cabin. If you should decide to go on this ship, be sure and get a balcony at the very least, and make sure the balcony is next to the water outside so that you can get fresh air. The cabin steward did little - he would not remove used glasses, empty coke cans - nothing from surfaces. Our room was the biggest mess - you really couldn't tell he did a thing except make the bed which I think is all he did. And the one garbage can in the room was tiny and would not hold much at all. There was no garbage can in the bathroom because there wasn't room for one. There was a tiny space for tissues and such behind a small door.
The food on this ship was really not appetizing at all. My husband calls it mediocre. I call it just not good. And they repeated courses on different nights which I had never seen them do. I am now talking about what they refer to as the "Complimentary Dining." That means the food in the dining room - the BIG EVENT on past cruises - big beautiful dinners with nice new friends. Oh yes, the dining. I had requested early dining at a table of 10. The larger the table the better we like it. They placed us at a table for two next to a wall in the corner. I told the Maitre D' that I simply could not sit there every night of the cruise - that it would ruin the cruise for me. They took our complaint and said they would get back with us. Night number two came and still no changes. I think it was on the 3rd day that we received a note from the Maitre D' that they could not accomodate us. We also complained to "Guest Relations" with no response at all. We went to lunch that day, and it was on the second level of the dining room. Our regular seating was on the first level. As we left the dining room I told my husband I was going to talk to the person in charge there - it didn't hurt to ask, and it was a different person. This person immediately took care of our request and seated us on the second level at a great table for 6. We did give up early seating for late seating to get the table, but we had told Guest Relations we were willing to do that with no response. Now, here comes the rub. With so many alternative dining selections on the ship, people were running to and fro, so we never really made a connection with our dining companions. None at all. This was one of the most disappointing aspects of this cruise.
Now, as for alternative dining selections. This is a thinly veiled attempt to get people's response to paying for meals on cruise ships. We had dinner in the Solarium Bistro on our anniversary which we understood was $20.00 per person, and before we got out of there our bill was $80.00. I don't drink, and I had the Coke package for the week. If this trend continues or is adapted by other cruise ships, the whole concept of cruising will be changed forever. And that concept was always that it was "more bang for your buck" because it's "all-inclusive" except for drinks. I got a cupcake thinking it was free and was charged $2.50 for the cupcake. And it was very dry and not good at all. The best value on the ship was the pizza - there was no charge, and it was always hot, tasty and filling. This ship has as many restaurants or more than a small town, and you have to pay at all of them. "Inclusive" venues were the "complimentary dining room," the Windjammer, Sorrento's (the pizza place,) and the Promenade Cafe where you could get cookies and little sandwiches. Quite frankly, the only thing I could find that was half decent in the Windjammer was the plain old hamburger. The best kept secret on the ship is the Solarium Bistro serving healthy choices which were much more tasty than anything in the Windjammer, and it was a free venue at lunch - a buffet. It was not free at night - that's where my husband and I had our anniversary dinner.
Because we were under the impression that we had to have reservations for all the shows, we didn't even attempt the much ballyhooed aqua show because it showed on the website that no seats were available for any nights. Truth be known we could have probably just walked in. I can't imagine that they have anyone on that ship on the ball enough to transfer all those reservations to an actual hard copy on board. We did see a 90 minute production of Hairspray which was well done, but that was the only show we saw.
Don't let anybody tell you that you don't feel crowded on this ship - you do. There were just thundering herds of people everywhere we went. It was almost impossible to find a quiet corner. We did like the Solarium area, and it was probably the quietest place on the ship.
Let me say this - the dining staff, i.e. waiters, assistant waiters, etc., worked hard and did their best. And the casino staff was for the most part pleasant. I did encounter a blackjack dealer one night who became angry with the reaction of a high strung gambler, and after she had left the table, he said, "Some day I'd like to write a book and call it THAT'S WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU GAMBLE, YOU *******." I thought it a highly inappropriate remark for the dealer to make.
No matter what these ships do to sanitize, it doesn't seem to be enough. Instead of policing the passengers about sanitizing their hands, I feel there should be more emphasis on policing what's going on with the food, etc. behind the scenes. I stood and watched a bartender squeeze fruit into a drink with his bare hands. That's when I began to note whether or not food service people were wearing gloves - some were, some weren't. All of them should be wearing gloves. They are very thin and should not interfere with their ability to perform their jobs. I was getting sick by Tuesday night. Wednesday morning I had a horrible sore throat, and on Thursday I was developing a respiratory infection and had to see the ship's doctor and get antibiotics. The not-so-perfect end to a cruise filled with problems, hateful staff, hordes of people, terrible food, and what seemed like never ending hassles.
If and when I cruise again, I will be backing up in size and tradition. I want a smaller ship (Voyager class was plenty big), I want the traditional dining with multiple dinner companions, and I want to know a few new people when I leave the ship. I usually have a bunch of addresses and email addresses when I leave a ship, but I didn't get the first one on the Oasis.
This ship is impressive to look at, and if it was my first cruise, I'd probably be blown away, but if you are a veteran cruiser, I just don't see how you could like this one. Nothing we like about cruising was there. I'll be staying off this class of ship, and I hope they don't go bigger because they can't handle this crowd.
Debarkation was handled well, but the nightmare began once outside trying to get a cab. You are much better off to secure transportation prior to your cruise so that it will be waiting for you. The lines were not to be believed - at least an hour long.