Oasis 6/26 Sailing Review with Parents in Tow, Good or Bad?
Finally getting a whole week onboard (I was on one of the pre-inaugurals) was something I didn't think I'd be able to do, but the pricing was right and the time was right for the entire family and a friend to get a chance to be on her for more than a couple of days!
Here's a little bit of background so you know where I am coming from. First, the parents are late 70s, mother has a hard time walking so we got her a wheelchair for use onboard and father's feet are deformed (has to wear special shoes, cannot walk very far at all so he got a motorized scooter for use onboard.) I am 49 and my sister is 48. She took a friend (52) and we had two separate cabins. We (mother, father, and myself) had a handicapped stateroom balcony while my sister and her friend opted for the inside.
Having been on the ship for a couple of nights with other folks in November, I frankly didn't know what I would think of a week onboard. Now don't get me wrong, I loved the ship the first time around, but honestly wasn't sure if I or my clients would like it over Freedom class ships. Plus I had no idea of how the cruise would feel with all 6200 people on it and we were sailing this week at full capacity.
So here goes:
We flew down the day before (as always) and stayed at the Hyatt Place, Airport North. So so hotel even though I generally like Hyatt Places. Got up early on Saturday and was at the port by about 10:45 AM. Wheelchair assistance was right there for the parents and check-in was extremely easy as I had anticipated. We were allowed to board about 11 AM, but we got stuck in the wheelchair line despite being Diamond. That was not well organized because they had to bring personnel from the ship to the port to take you over. I was not allowed to push my mother myself. As a result, we ended up going with the regular crowd but it was ok.
Of course our staterooms weren't ready until 1 PM, so we went straight away to the Park Cafe for lunch which was absolutely fabulous. There really isn't a better place to get lunch onboard in my opinion than there. I personally love their soups; they were simply wonderful the entire cruise.
As soon as we could, we went to our stateroom and were pleasantly surprised at how large it was and how nicely organized it was for two wheelchairs and people who don't get around too well. Thank heavens for these staterooms, because without them, my parents would not have been able to do this cruise. The one thing that stood out to me was how incredibly nice everyone was in helping me with my parents, both the staff and complete strangers. After going to our stateroom, we did the obligatory tour, then went to find the iphones (more about them later). We had booked everything online prior to the cruise, so we didn't have to stand in line or fuss about the Coke cards. That was delightful!
Took the parents to the front of the ship over the wingmen for the send off. That was the only place that was not handicap accessible and the parents had to do steps, but thanks to everyone, we managed to get them out there even though a took a huge tumble trying to get the wheelchair outside. PS...I thought this was off limits to everyone except for the Adventure Ocean kids but that was not the case this entire cruise.
At that point we were starved and because of the hassle of taking the elevators every time we wanted to go up or down a floor, we ended up eating at JRs the first night. I think there were only about five other people there with us! It was good as always. Went to try a doughnut after dinner but they were stale and yukky.
Tried to find that iphone people with no luck. We quickly realized that we needed to have something like that to keep track with the other members of the family. I know I said that the elevators were a hassle, but I must say that I was amazed the entire cruise at how undercrowded they were (much more so than any other class or ship). It was just a hassle with wheelchairs not being able to take the steps up and down one or two floors.
We went to bed exhausted after being in the casino for several hours in the evening (I know, we shouldn't have been there!). Weather was great. Really missed having a "Welcome Aboard" show.
Day 2 at sea started with breakfast in the WJ. By about 10:30 or so, it wasn't too crowded and was easy for us to get to. We finally found the iphone guys and rented two phones. They were super cool at first, but lacked your personalized calendar of what you had scheduled when and the ability to leave voice mail. That was the most annoying thing of all. Most of the time they didn't work either calling but we found out the last day that one of them was out of airplane mode and got a refund for it. Note to self and others: make sure that no one in your party knows not to touch the little round button at the bottom too much or try to make a call when the "other" menu comes up. Thought they were ok and most handy with the guest finder to locate the other person(s) but again, they weren't perfect. Sometimes they had my sister in the elevator when she wasn't or in a different stateroom (which she wasn't).
The day was beautiful, so we took in some sun at the pool deck and in the Solarium. Despite what others have said, I found the pool areas to be just as crowded as the Solarium, yet we didn't have any problem finding deck chairs. We ended up going to the Wipeout Cafe for ice cream (it was wonderful!). It's a shame they took away the ice cream by the pool just so they could sell it elsewhere. I really miss having ONE big pool like Freedom/Voyager class ships in the middle. The bands don't play as much and it just seems to be missing something.
The parents went to Hairspray later in the afternoon then stayed there for Bingo while I went and had a massage in the spa. Tip for all you spa people: they put the gratuity on the slip BEFORE I had a chance to say how much it was. Of course I used my diamond discount, but still, the price was $95! AND I had to sign the slip in front of the masseuse!!! I was flabbergasted! Tried to resolve that later in the day but it took THREE days to get that straightened out and they gave me another hot stone massage for free as a result. So I think there was a lot of confusion and miscommunication in the spa services. Be forewarned, Guest Services does not handle any spa issues. Those are all done by the spa themselves since they are contracted out. Went to Bingo to see if it was still as fun as it was on other ships, but it wasn't. Don't waste your time. The electronic packages are $55 EACH and without them, it's virtually impossible to win. RCL's bingos used to be so stinkin fun but now they are just plain money makers and no longer worth the money for what you win (tops that day of $300 for the last game).
The evening's dinner was at Giovanni's Table and was ok, not great. We are not big gourmet eaters but prefer something like Olive Garden and this was much truer Italian. A little better than the MDR but I didn't feel it was worth the extra money. Nice ambiance, however.
We saw Oasis of Dreams in the evening and it was spectacular! I didn't get to see it in November because they were having issues with the show, so that was something I was sooo excited to see and it didn't disappoint! Left feeling like RCI really did hit this ship out of the ballpark because it simply has something for everyone even though there were some things I really missed from the other ships. Day 3 at Labadee was another hmm, I don't know what I think about that preconceived notion. It had been about 7 years since I was last at Labadee and I remember it as just a beach like Coco Cay, nothing special, but nothing bad about it either. When we left, I was in awe of the place, not wanting to wait two weeks until my next cruise that goes here! RCI really has made tremendous strides in making this island a tropical paradise and much like a resort retreat. The zip line looked amazing except that I don't think some people in my next group (going back next week with a group on Freedom) will be able to go because of the low weight requirement. I was shocked that they said it was only 225 lb. or less. That takes a lot of people out of doing it. Oh well. The coaster looked cool too but I didn't get to do it this time because I had to parent sit.
The food was excellent; it was a super day! Went to the MDR for dinner; really enjoyed the Chicken Marsala and what I call "cruise cake"...the warm chocolate cake that I love! Our head waiter let it spill that RCI is bringing totally open seating to the ships one at a time very soon. Wonder what they'll do about tippling? Went to the Love and Marriage Game Show then to bed.
Day 3 at sea was interesting because we were following Hurricane Alex so it rained most of the day but we had room service on the balcony to begin with and that was lovely. Slept late then went to the casino for the win a cruise slot tourney and low and behold, the friend of my sister's who was with us won it! We were thrilled for her! Then on to the slot pull organized by Jim, a CC member. Thank you Jim for a fabulous time! We each made $75 in the deal and had a blast! I think we hit for about $1500. Too bad it wasn't just one of us! Stayed a little later in the casino then finally went to the Park Cafe to eat a bit around 5:30 PM. It was not crowded and easy to find places to sit. I must say how amazed I am that they ship doesn't feel nor look full even at full capacity. Really unbelievable. I would have never guessed that. Others have said so, but I really didn't think I would agree. I must say that I do agree wholeheartedly! Impressive!!
After dinner we went to the headliner showtime and enjoyed that then back to the casino. Finally had enough of that and came back to the room to write this up. It's really storming out and we are being tossed around. It's incredible that this ship is so big but still moves. Not seasick though, just rocking a lot. Wonder why in the world we're going into this type of weather, but I guess the folks up top have some idea! I must say that the ship is wearing well for all the commotion in the ocean! Off to bed so I can finally get some sleep. I made a video of my tips that I will put on You Tube when I get back. Until tomorrow, ciao!
Day 4 was supposed to be a stop at Costa Maya but at noon when we should have docked, we found out that we were going to skip that port due to the high winds and seas and were going to continue on to Cozumel! Oh my!!! I don't mind a day at sea, but I'm definitely not a good two day at sea person. The ship was really moving (still couldn't get over how strong those winds must have been) and I took Bonine to help my stomach. It wasn't nearly as bad as it would have been on other ships at all; I was really thankful that I was on this ship if I had to be on it for two days! Since it was crappy out, we found ourselves where else other than the casino for the majority of the afternoon. It was quite fun even though none of us did well. This part of the ship was very stable and I didn't feel too bad here. Had my second massage because of the spa's screw up and it was lovely BUT I really don't like the high strung sales pitch those spa people give. I paid enough for this and don't need to pay more. I also feel like if you don't have a perfect body, they slyly put you down. I had forgotten how they make you feel until I left. Note to self again: don't do the spa on these ships unless I shape up. That evening we ate in the WJ again, but I felt sick after that, so I took my mother back to the room and we all went to bed. The ship was really getting blown around. I can't imagine how those people who came over on her felt with the 100 ft waves!
Day 5 was Cozumel. Thank heavens we were on land! I was never so happy to get off a ship by then. Too many days at sea for me! Went into the little shopping area by the port and bought a necklace for my mother. Grandeur was pulled in next to us. WOW do we dwarf her!!! I would not have wanted to be on that ship the last day at sea. Came back and saw Come Fly with Me in the evening. I thought I would be really excited to see this, but ended up not liking the music they chose at all for the show. I thought it was awfully dark music. However the performers were exceptional! Watched the digital caricature artist on the Royal Promenade with fascination. LOVED what he did. An amazing talent! Of course no day is complete without another trip to the casino, so we ended the night with some slot action.
Day 6 was actually a refreshing day at sea. The morning started with the walk-a-thon for Make-A-Wsh that was lots of fun. Then we got to see the people from Big World, Little Family on TLC who were on the cruise with us. The wife, Amy, signed autographs with the boys in tow. They were wonderful! Apparently they went to Port au Prince and delivered backpacks by Nike to the orphans. Really a delightful family and they didn't have a suite! They were just "normal" people in their words! Refreshing!!!! Went to the Scrapbooking Workshop and really enjoyed that. Thought you got a great deal for no charge. I would recommend this to others.
The sun finally came out and we were able to go to the pool and hot tubs. That made a world of difference because we had been so cooped up inside for several days. The day ended with the big Bingo (only my father played) and dinner again at JR. The Bee Movie was playing in the Aqua Theatre at night but was not well attended. Any time I have been to the Boardwalk with the exception of the shows, it was totally empty. I wonder if this is a huge waste of space but maybe I just didn't get there at the right times. It's too bad the Aqua Theatre is not used much more frequently; but again, there may be too much technology and gadgets installed to allow regular people to swim there. Disappointed that they didn't show the Cruise in Review video at all and there was no "Farewell Show." I miss that touch. We also never got to see that stars like others had because of the weather or it wasn't scheduled. Not sure of which.
Day 7 departure was super smooth and easy, also as I had anticipated.
My conclusions? Well I'm still not sure. I wish there was something like a TGIFriday's or an Olive Garden or another American restaurant onboard personally. I could care less about the Guess (teeny bopper) store that's coming on Allure. The Coach store is much more to my liking but without anything exclusive to Oasis, there's no reason for me to buy there when I have an outlet close to home. Even though there were more choices, they didn't suit us as far as taste was concerned. This was the first cruise that we never ate in the dining room more than one time and I really liked the fact that we didn't have to haul evening clothes for each evening. I still miss the big pools and a show every evening, even if it isn't top caliber. At least that keeps me out of the casino (or maybe that's their point) each night. The signage, interaction, and technology are amazing. Being a techno person by trade, that was awesome to note. Oasis definitely has something for everyone, which is a huge draw and it is gorgeous, hands down. BUT that being said, I can't wait to come back next week for my cruise on Freedom. Oddly enough, I find myself super excited. We'll see!