Our group of 14 couples booked the week on the OASIS of the SEAS as a way to re-connect, which we do through cruising once a year as a group. Most of us are seasoned travelers and wanted to know what all the fuss was about. A lot of what we saw, did and ate was wonderful- with ONE BIG exception. That's at the end of this review.
Emcee was one of best we've ever experienced and his "shows", even on Channel 14, were a hoot! We never knew what he was going to do next, and he probably didn't either, but we thoroughly enjoyed all his antics and his off-beat sense of humor.
Food in the OPUS dining rooms was almost uniformly excellent, with a few exceptions when some didn't get quite what the menu appeared to promise. Food in the pay for fee restaurants was mixed. Giovanni's was so-so, CHOPS GRILL was superb(!!!) and Johnny Rockets was... Johnny Rockets. Some of the best dining was at breakfast and lunch at the Solarium Bistro and Park Cafe, which most of us discovered by our second day at sea. We ALL hated the Windjammer Buffet: too crowded, poor traffic pattern, too noisy, chaotic most of the time. Food selection there was okay but cold by the time you fought your way back to a table, if you could find one, so we ate there rarely and selected cold food!
Entertainment was again exceptional. We knew enough to book every show ahead as we had heard from friends who had NOT booked ahead and they couldn't get into all the shows. Despite booking ahead, you still had to get to the venue at least 1/2 hour ahead to get decent seats and to insure your seat would be held. If you don't show up for your seat by 10 minutes before the show, you lose it and it's opened to the line waiting to get in that DIDN'T know to book ahead.
Service was terrific no matter where we went, except in the shops. Either they hung all over you or they ignored you. No one appeared to have trained the staff as to how to approach customers who entered. However, our waiters, head waiter, room steward and staff at the Solarium (Great area for a group to meet)and at the various venues were uniformly polite, efficient and easy to talk to. We felt pampered, which is one of the reasons we cruise!
NOW, the elephant in the room. After the shows, we usually visit the casino to make our nightly deposit and visit the lounges to sit, gab, and talk about the day's adventures and what we will do the next day. Only one of our group smoked! The rest of us were NON-SMOKERS. We could NOT find a suitable venue for non-smokers that wasn't jammed full or pervaded with smoke from a nearby smoking lounge! We hacked, wheezed, and tried to stay in the outside areas to keep our lungs clear and I am not exaggerating. I believe everyone in our group in their comment sheet complained about the scarcity of non-smoking lounges and the pervasiveness of the smoke. ON the last night of the cruise, when everyone else was packing, four of us finally got to sit in the Schooner Lounge and have a few drinks. If you are not a smoker, we would NOT recommend this ship.
Since we have come back, everyone else who had previously been on this ship said exactly the same thing. Either the ventilators have to be made more efficient, they need to cut down on the smoking areas, or they need to enforce some rules. People who were unlucky enough to be in a balcony room next to a smoker could not even use their balconies as people are allowed to smoke on the balconies and in many of the rooms. I saw small children weaving their way through the smoke on several occasions and wondered where the parents' brains were.
Loved the ship, loved the concept - won't go on this ship again unless some rules are changed and have NO intention of going on the Allure as we suspect we will run into the same problem. RCCL is catering to the international customer on these ships and those customers still smoke. Unless you don't mind being overwhelmed with smoke in most places except some restaurants, find another ship.