We had booked this Western Caribbean cruise some Fifteen to Eighteen months beforehand in order to join two friends from Canada who were also on this sailing; the itinery was to be Labadee on Haiti, Falmouth on Jamaica and Cozumel Mexico. Falmouth was changed to Costa Maya Mexico due to Falmouth not being ready in time, our journey began on Friday 15th October in Manchester England with flights on Delta airlines to Atlanta and then on to Fort Lauderdale Florida.
Both flights left on time and arrived early which meant we arrived at our hotel the FLL Hilton Marina situated by the side of the S.E 17th street bridge overlooking the port early too.
On Saturday morning we were collected by bus as part of our Fly/Cruise booked with Royal Caribbean through Thomas Cook, all the luggage was taken by truck to the ship so no dragging it on and off the bus. The Bus driver was the Double of Morgan Freeman the American actor who related a little story to us about how a previous Elderly cruiser had asked if he was actually that person? He replied well I am driving Miss Daisy! The trip to the terminal building took around Ten minutes
Once inside the building and through the x ray scanners it took around Fifteen minutes to go from the check in desk to being onboard the ship, once onboard we headed up to our Stateroom / Cabin which was a Superior ocean view D1 category on Deck 14 with a Large Balcony.
The door to the hallway was closed and a sign posted telling people that the cabins would be available at 1pm so we headed up to Deck 15 and the Solarium Bistro for something to eat. After 1pm we made our way to our cabin 14202 to drop off our carry on bags. The Hallway/Corridors are Colour coded into 4 different areas on each deck, 2 port and 2 Starboard so you know which side and section of the ship your cabin is on by the Colour for your section of deck.
Like some New cruise ships today the doors open outwards from the cabin which is ok until your neighbour is coming out at the same time, the cabin was smaller than we expected after all this is a Mega ship of over 220,000 tons! The cabins we had on the Brilliance and Vision of the seas were Bigger in size; we also noticed that the cabin was lower in height which we guessed was due to lower decks to get more decks in. Storage room also seemed a lot less and for two week cruises many people will struggle, also the removal of bedside cabinets in favour of two open shelves were not helpful. The safe was woefully inadequate in size and the smallest we have ever come across anywhere.
The desk come Vanity unit was also narrower than those on the other two ships and whoever designed the plug sockets underneath could not have been a Woman! We had a power strip with us which was very helpful; we found the bed to be the most uncomfortable of any of the ships we had travelled on previously. The bathroom was quite big though and for some reason RCI have chosen to make the sink very low which is not good if you are 6 feet tall or over! It was too low for us and we are average height people. They however have excelled themselves with the shower cubicle with sliding doors so no more clingy curtains, again storage space is poor in relation to their other ships.
Access to your onboard account via the TV was again very welcome as was availability for shows and the extra pay restaurants, shame the TV. programmes available were very poor and there are still no facilities like subtitles for Deaf people!
We waited what seemed an age for our cases and one had arrived when we got back from the Lifejacket drill in Studio B, another niggle here they send the Highest deck passengers to the lowest part of the ship! Which causes utter chaos, we waited until around 6-30pm and having checked about the second case were told that Security had it and we had to go down to deck 2 in order to collect it.
Having made our way down to deck 2 it was clear why security had the case! Along with around 200 others.
We had brought our travel iron and they were taking them off everybody who had one, in fact there were 3 bins full! We were told it would be returned on Friday and we were given a receipt for it.
The security people were also taking bottles of Alcohol from people who had tried to get it onboard, one of the papers in the cabin said that Alcohol confiscated on Embarkation day would not be returned! We have no idea how people stand legally on that one.
Food on the Oasis we found to be very good and cannot remember a bad meal, we were on Deck 5 of the main dining room having chosen the" my time dining" option which also gave us the option of pre booking our table every night online before the cruise.
The first night as you would imagine was chaos because there were 2 lines of people in the entrance to the dining room, one side for those with reservations and the other for those without! What made it worse was that the signs for each queue were badly sited and in the wrong place however that was rectified two nights later after someone complained.
We did have a complaint regarding what was worn at times in the dining room, the daily paper was quite clear that bare feet, caps, shorts and tank tops were not allowed! Every night including the formal night's people were allowed in with shorts and caps!! Which seems to make a dress code pointless in our opinion if RCI are going to allow it.
The windjammer Buffet food was also very good but the size of only 700 seats is way too small for a ship of this size of some 6,000 people, one of the staff made comment that it was because there were other places to eat onboard and once people found their way around things would improve! Well yes there are but when more than 1,000 people want to eat the Buffet 700 seats are not enough! Maybe the sushi bar next to the Windjammer should have been moved down to deck 8 in Central park where some of the other pay extra eateries are in place of the Handbag shop! In order to make it bigger. A complaint regarding the Windjammer was that it closed at 3-30pm yet on other RCI ships one side usually stays open, this meant people having to go down from deck 16 to deck 5 in order to get something other than burgers available at the Wipeout cafe on deck 15.
For the energetic out there two and a bit times around the jogging track is 1 mile, there are also the 2 flow riders and the zip line plus the Mini golf.
Room service appeared to be a little on the slow side with an average delivery time of 30 to 40 minutes but then again it is a big ship, though they were always very helpful when you rang to order.
The Electronic interactive boards on each deck close by the elevators (of which there are 32, 16 forward and 16 aft) are a great idea because you can check which places were not so busy when you want something to eat or which shows were still available plus a host of other things. The Captain made daily announcements at around mid day to inform us of our position and expected times of arrival in port.
The shows on Oasis were Fabulous to watch and we reckon the best we have seen on a cruise ship so far, the diving show in the Aqua theatre, the Ice show in studio B, Come Fly with me and Hairspray although we missed the latter due to the long queues at Dinner on the First night. The Headliner show was also changed mid cruise which meant we had to miss that too.
There are numerous other bars and music places for people to go to but on the Royal promenade we found it annoying to be able to hear music from one bar while in another across the other side! Central park on deck 8 was wonderful to walk around with all the trees and plants and it was hard to imagine you were on a cruise ship though the floor was somewhat slippery when it rained. We even saw a small bird which has managed to find itself a home.
The Boardwalk on Deck 6 at the aft end was busy when the aqua theatre was in use but most times we found it fairly quiet, the Carousel was used more by Adults than children and this was confirmed by one of the staff operating it. There are outside tables at Johnny Rockets where you pay for Burgers etc (Free Breakfast) but there is a mad rush to get inside once the rain comes.
The kid's pools are well laid out and the indoor area at the front of the ship on Deck 14 is really large so we doubt they would get bored.
Our stop at Labadee was met with great weather and after a few hours sunbathing we decided to try the Dragons zip line which starts off at 500 feet high and is around half a mile long and is the longest zip line over water anywhere, since returning home we have found out that Suite passengers have their own private beach there and the bbq lunch is also better quality though we enjoyed ours. Suite passengers also have their own private deck to sunbathe on at the front of the ship above the Bistro.
The Second stop was at Costa Maya where we headed to one of the beaches before returning to check out the shops at the port, strangely the cab fare back to the port was less than the Bus to the beach!
Cozumel was our Final stop and we had pre booked a Wrangler jeep trip with our friends from Canada, we met our guide a Mexican called Fred! He took us to our transport where 2 other people were also waiting, there were only 2 jeeps in the convoy and we followed Fred n his trusty little car. We headed over to the South of the island and the Punta Sur Crocodile reserve before heading to a beach where the other 2 ladies in our group went snorkeling with Fred; we had all elected to stay on the beach in the Hammocks. We felt a few spots of rain and the sky over towards the port was quite Black and it was raining very heavily there.
On our way back we hit the rain which cane down quite heavy for about 30 minutes but finally it cleared around 3pm to nice warm sunshine.
Our trip back to Fort Lauderdale was uneventful apart from a few thunder and rain showers, leaving the ship was as easy as getting on and from ship to collecting luggage was again around 15 minutes and it is certainly a very smooth operation by RCL, our only complaint was that we were of the ship at 7-45am and our flight was not until 4pm! Yet other people with earlier flights were on ship later than us?
The flight home from FLL to Atlanta left on time and landed early but the Atlanta to Manchester flight was delayed 90 minutes, when we collected our luggage at Manchester both cases had been quite badly damaged beyond further use.
Would we travel on Oasis again or Allure? Well yes we would, despite there being 6,000 passengers onboard and the few niggles that we found during our weeks cruise. At times it did not feel like there were so many people onboard apart from meal times but then you can get that on every ship.
We would recommend Oasis to everyone to at least try once and marvel not just at the shows but at this magnificent piece of engineering, most of the time we hardly knew the ship was moving and it was only when you actually looked out to sea that you knew that you were.