My apologies for posting this review several months late, but with all the excitement over Oasis, and having done a Review for every other cruise I’ve been on, I wanted to type this up eventually! With the whirr of activity around the wedding behind us now, I have time to get around to posting my review.
TRIP TO THE SHIP: My wife and I sailed on the August 21-28 Western Caribbean sailing of Oasis of the Seas. We flew down from EWR to FLL and stayed at the Westin Ft. Lauderdale the night before. The service there was incredible. When we told the staff we were on our Honeymoon, they surprised us with a complimentary upgrade, wine and strawberries!
EMBARKATION: The next morning, we caught a cab to the ship. Embarkation had a wrinkle – I had a cold in the previous week, and had to declare it on the health form we filled out. We sat for about 15-20 minutes in a designated area of the cruise terminal, until a nurse came over, examined me, and determined me fit to sail. Aside from the wait for the nurse, embarkation was very smooth and efficient – probably due to the fact that the terminal was specifically designed for Oasis-sized crowds. While we did wonder when the nurse would arrive, for embarkation to be this smooth for someone in a special situation was in itself a good thing.
SHIP’S DESIGN: Once we boarded, we walked around the ship, taking it all in. This ship was amazing, and I really give the designers credit. The neighborhood design allows for the many features of the ship to be combined into truly grand public spaces. The ships’ designers and Royal Caribbean in operating the ship are also very good about s p r e a d i n g o u t the 5,400 passengers by having multiple attractions located in different parts of the ship, at different times. People who want shows can go to the water show, ice show, regular show, etc., all in very different parts of the ship. Casual fare restaurants existed in Central Park, the Royal Promenade, Solarium as well as the Windjammer, spreading out the crowd for such dining that much more.
All in all, the only real design deficiency I saw in the ship was vertical transportation. The Oasis has about the same ratio of passengers-to-elevators as other ships I’ve been on. But with 18 decks, more trips within the ship require elevator use, and the lines and crowds were longer for them than on other cruises I’ve been on.
Of all of the parts of the ship to explore, my wife and I enjoyed Central Park in particular. The walking paths and plants come together to create a wonderful feel both by day and night.
We felt nearly no motion at all the entire cruise; both of my previous cruises I felt at least some motion from the waves.
FOOD: Overall the food was good, here are the highlights by dining venue:
Main Dining Room – pretty good; prime rib was great, as it was on my last cruise aboard Navigator.
Windjammer – not bad for buffet food.
Solarium Bistro – food similar to the Windjammer, but not as crowded.
Park Café – food was okay; they served crepes at one point early in the cruise, but my wife missed them and they didn’t have them again later on in the cruise.
Sorrentos – better than expected pizza, my wife was particularly happy with it!
150 Central Park – this was our big splurge. The food was excellent. The wait staff was excellent. The meal started with an impressive bread course – bread custom made to mimic the flower patterns on the curtains, served with unsalted butter and a collection of seven salts from around the world. Each course was very rich, and portions just the right size so as not to spoil the later courses. Excellent!
Izumi – not bad for a “Westernized” Asian place, and it was nice to see an Asian option available on board - although having family from Japan and been raised on Japanese food all my life, the Japanese food on the menu wasn’t quite top-tier authentic Japanese by my standards, it’s hard to find Japanese food up to my standards outside of a few parts of the US (and of course, Japan itself).
Room Service – we did this twice, once for breakfast and once for dinner. Both times the food was great and arrived on-time.
ENTERTAINMENT: My wife and I decided to splurge on a couple’s massage in the spa, which was well enjoyed. The staff were great.
Hairspray and Come Fly with me were both memorable, and both were a notch up in terms of show quality from what we’ve seen on previous cruises.
The Ice Show was great, but the true high point was not a skater, but the sand artist who came out in between skating acts to illustrate an entire story in real-time with sand drawings being drawn on the spot.
Due to technical problems, the AquaTheater was closed for the first few days of the cruise. When it did reopen, RCI combined acts from the two shows they present in the AquaTheater (one kids’ show and one adults show) into a single “Best Of” show which they presented throughout the remainder of the cruise. The diving acts were impressive, as was the synchronized swimming. While this combined show lacked the “flow” of the regularly scheduled performances, I really give Royal Caribbean a lot of credit for putting something like this together “on the fly” after the AquaTheater was restored.
PORTS OF CALL: Labadee was our beach day. We made it a point to buy what souvenirs we could in Labadee in order to help the locals by supporting local merchants, knowing that they are still recovering from the Earthquake earlier in the year. By the way, kudos to RCI for their millions in donations to earthquake relief, delivery of relief supplies, and continued support of Haiti and its people. While some may wonder why cruise ships returned so quickly to Haiti after the earthquake, when one looks at what RCI did and why, I think you see a corporation doing everything it can to help Haiti recover. I stepped off the ship early in the morning and got some great photos of the ship. Later in the day, my wife and I went shopping, had lunch at the giant B-B-Q, and then spent the afternoon on the beach, where we shared “Labadoozy” specialty drinks (which were quite tasty!). One thing we did notice were that as we were walking back to the ship, several local children were hiding in bushes begging passengers for spare change as they walked back to the ship. This is unfortunate, but it does reflect the reality of this part of the world.
In Costa Maya, we went to the Mayan Ruins at Chacchoben. Our tour guide was especially funny, and the tour, while hot and sweaty, was enjoyable. There is a lot of walking and climbing steep rock steps with no handrails to reach some of the best parts of the tour – so while the ruins are quite a sight, those with mobility challenges may want to pick another excursion.
In Cozumel, we signed up for a Dolphin excursion at Dolphinaris, which was a lot of fun, followed by walking around the town of Cozumel, having lunch at one of the restaurants along the main road from the port, and enjoying some time on the beach. I should point out that while we were in town, Norwegian EPIC, Grandeur of the Seas and two Carnival ships were also there, and yet nothing in Cozumel felt more crowded than it did when I had been there seven months earlier on the Navigator of the Seas.
OUR CABIN – our cabin was a D7 (Superior Balcony Cabin) at the rear of the ship. It was well laid out, but a little crowded with the amount of furniture in such a tiny space. As many have mentioned on CruiseCritic, the balcony door and A/C system are interlocked so as not to overburden the A/C by running when the door is open. This wasn’t a problem for us, although the humidity of the ocean meant that the mirrors quickly would fog up when the door was opened.
SERVICE – the service on the ship was all around excellent. We never once encountered a grumpy employee, an employee "power trip," or the like. One of the evenings I left my camera behind in Sorrentos, and went to the Purser’s Desk for assistance. They had the camera – and a procedure in place to ensure it was mine! On another evening, I made some comment to my wife about there being a lot of glare in the professional photos available for purchase. Without speaking to anyone, when I returned the next day to look at pictures, I noticed they had edited out the glare in the same photo. We purchased that picture and a souvenir album frame for it at that moment.
DISEMBARKATION - this went a lot more smoothly than either of the other two cruises I've been on, again probably due to the terminal being designed specifically for the ship. After disembarking we went on the Everglades Airboat Tour, which was a lot of fun. We made it back to FLL by 2pm, and waited in the terminal a few hours before our evening flight home.
FINAL THOUGHTS – we disembarked from the ship thoroughly impressed. While I know Oasis is captive to the Caribbean due to port facility needs (and the flora in Central Park), I wish I could sail a Transatlantic (or similar) cruise on it, as I’d need 6-7 sea days in a row just to get around to everything this ship has to offer! We never got around to the Zip Line or FlowRider, more so because of running out of time than anything else. The cruise was a good one on a great ship, my only regret was not getting around to everything we wanted to on board!
My wife and I hope to return to Oasis or Allure, although it may not be for several years, perhaps once we have kids who are old enough to enjoy RCI’s childrens’ programs. Oasis of the Seas is an incredible ship for almost anyone, including both us Honeymooners, and the many families we saw on board. And if this is the new “cutting edge” of cruising, I think we – both my wife and I as well as cruise passengers as a whole – have a bright future of cruising to look forward to.