Introduction: My husband and I had a last-minute opportunity to go on a cruise for the New Year's holiday and we were both extremely excited to be able to get a cabin on the Oasis on such short notice. We booked the cruise directly via Royal Caribbean approximately 3 weeks prior to embarkation. We booked a Central Park View Stateroom (cabin 9649) which we were apprehensive about since we normally elect an ocean view balcony. Being that this was a last-minute cruise we decided to book this cabin anyway since availability was scarce. After doing some research on this website we took other member's suggestions and booked all of our entertainment shows in advance. Being that the cruise was less than 3 weeks out, we surprisingly had all of our first choice options for shows so we were relieved.
Embarkation was beyond a breeze. In fact, it was the quickest and most efficient embarkation we had ever had. From curbside to check in we were literally on this ship less than 18 minutes after getting dropped off at the port. This included giving the porters our bags, applying luggage tags, going through security, checking in, taking a mandatory photo and asking a few questions along the way.
Upon first stepping on the ship we were greeted with an ice-cold glass of tasty champagne. Since this was a New Year's cruise we were also given information on ordering a bottle of bubbly along with chocolate covered strawberries to be delivered in-cabin on the 31st. Prices for champagne were about what you would expect from any restaurant and they had different branded bottles to suit every budget. We quickly ordered a bottle of Veuve ($77), had another two (yes, two!) glasses of champagne before we made our way around the ship.
When you first walk on-board you find yourself in awe at the massive size of the Promenade deck. My hubby and I felt like we were in New York City--minus the skyscrapers--We just kept looking up the entire time we walked around. Since this was a holiday cruise, there was a giant and tastefully decorated christmas tree and the entire Promenade was aglow with giant snowflakes and lights which really added to the holiday cheer. I was taken aback by the beauty of it all.
After wandering around we made our way to the room. We loved the giant interactive guides by each bank of elevators. It made it so easy to navigate our way around this massive ship.
When we entered the room we were pleasantly surprised that the square footage of the Central Park View Stateroom was larger than that of a regular Ocean View Balcony. The set up of the room was different being that the bed was first and then sofa and vanity were on the far end of the room. This really made the room feel larger. There was a generous sized bay window overlooking central park that I really loved having. The bathroom and shower were slightly larger than most cruise bathrooms but nothing to get excited over. The bed was large and super-comfy. Linens were crisp and clean and changed often. The room was really, really, really clean. I am a stickler for these things but I would still bring a travel sized can of lysol to disinfect everything just to be sure.
Overall, the layout and the decor of the cabin and bathroom were beautiful. Some things to take note of: There is very little drawer space for clothing and not enough convenient outlets for electrics (camera's, PDA's, etc). I recommend you bring a small power strip, extra hangers for your clothes and a clock (the time is on the phone, but it does not light up and it is teeny-tiny and hard to read). There is plenty of vanity space and deep shelving in the closet. Luggage stows conveniently under the bed.
So the Oasis is massive, for sure, but to be honest--because the ship is so thoughtfully designed, I never once felt that it was more crowded than any other Royal Caribbean ship I have ever been on. In fact, because there are so many common areas to choose from even when venues were "busy" they were never over-crowded. This was true for almost all venues with the exception of the pool during peak times and the wind-jammer between 10am-3pm. To be fair, even at the pools during peak hours--even when every chair was taken, you truly did not feel like you were swimming in a sea of people. Was is full and hard to find a chair? Yes. Was it different than any other cruise I have ever been on? No. As a matter of fact, because the pools are segregated into areas I never felt like I was looking at more than a few hundred bodies at a time. Yes, there are chair hogs...don't let it ruin your vacation and complain...We always found two chairs in the sun as long as we were out there by 10:30.
Food on this cruise was EXCELLENT for a cruise...don't forget the second part. It is what it is. I think they do a heck of a job feeding 6000+ passengers. They have such an enormous variety of choices to choose from in the main dining room, always ask your waiter for his/her recommendation and you will never go wrong. Will you have to send something back? Maybe. But they will always bring you something else that will surely meet your expectations. FOR THE PRICE--the service and preparation is unparalleled in the industry and we found most things on the menu absolutely delicious. In the main dining room try the wild mushroom soup if it is available, it was to die for!!!
For breakfast (and most lunches) we ate at the Park Cafe. The food was your typical grab-and-go variety. For breakfasts they had panini's and bagels with a variety of shmears. Almost every morning we would grab our breakfasts and find a cozy nook in central park to dine al fresco and people watch. It was one of the nice changes of scenery from your typical run-of-the-mill cruise. For lunches, Park Cafe offers several sandwiches and panini's and even custom tossed salads. My husband loved the roast beef au-jus. I personally loved the fresh cut fruit cups that I would grab and take out to the pool to have a healthy juicy snack while I perfected my tan lines.
The Solarium Bistro was a nice off-the-beaten path dining option for both breakfast and lunch. I personally enjoyed lunch at this spot more so than the Park Cafe. The wraps were so delicious, even though I was hesitant to try some of the more exotic sounding ones, there was not one that I didn't love. I also loved stopping by for a midday snack of hummus and pita after beaching it by the pool. The Solarium was a beautiful and relaxing dining option that quickly became my favorite spot on the ship when I wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the pool deck. Grab a book and curl up on one of the plush loungers and take a midday nap to the sound of sparkling water after lunch! It was absolutely heavenly.
We chose to dine at Giovanni and Chop's and Izumi this cruise.
Giovanni's was great. The service was excellent and the food was very good. For $15 I think that this is a great choice for a quiet and intimate evening away from the main dining room. Do not miss the Blue Cheese Gnocchi or the Tomato Risotto. The Tiramisu was delicious as well!
Chop's was great as well. It was well worth the money. Steak was tender. We even requested creamed spinach (not on the menu) and they made it for us. It was out-of-this-world. I ordered the mushroom bisque thinking it was the same as the one in the main dining room but it was not, the one in the MDR was actually way better. Best steak I have ever had? Definitely not, but pretty damn good considering that my entire dinner was only $25. (I personally love Ruth's Chris, and while Chop's certainly is not Ruth's Chris, I must admit that I enjoyed scooting out this door for less than $150 for two). My opinion: Five Star Dining with Four Star Food. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a juicy steak and fancy-shmancy service. The apple dessert was excellent.
Izumi. Food was really good but I probably would not dine there again next cruise. Everything is a la carte and prices were just about what you would pay at a local sushi spot back home. We ordered the hand roll trio, a specialty roll a few pieces of sashimi each and a bottle of sake. Dinner was on the pricey side (almost twice what we paid at Giovanni's) and service was nothing compared to the other restaurants. For the money, I'd say pass on this one and enjoy top-notch dining at one of the other venues.
Overall opinion: As for the specialty dining, I highly recommend you do AT LEAST one. The food is great and the overall value makes it sooo worthwhile. Enjoy your vacation and splurge on the dinner, you will thank me later. I laugh when people think even contemplate the cost of the dinner. A crappy lunch at Carlos N' Charlies will cost you about the same topside and I promise you the food on the ship is waaaaaaay better. I loved the fact there were so many specialty dining options, I wished we could have tried them all but we also really enjoyed dinner in the main dining room so we opted to only try these three.
Seafood Shack: We went one day for lunch. This is one option I do NOT recommend. In fact, I think the quality of the food was an embarrassment to the level of quality found elsewhere on the ship. The food was greasy and bland. The presentation was cute but definitely not worth the money. I'd skip this option all together.
We never found a moment when there wasn't something to do. On this 9-day cruise, we actually found it difficult to find the time to get bored. This is one way traveling on the Oasis is a delightful departure from your typical cruise and the main reason I think this ship is ideal for younger cruisers and families alike. I personally loved that each night the entertainment shows were in different venues around the ship. I liked the intimacy of the Comedy Club and the On-Air Studio (karaoke bar). I also liked that the Blaze Nightclub was set up like a lounge. Going to these venues made you feel like you were in the hippest spot in town versus a gigantic generic space that is typical on the "normal" sized ships. We had a blast every night and I am sure you will too. Dazzles was a more relaxing Jazz Club atmosphere and the Viking Crown Lounge was a great spot to pre-game (drinks) before starting the night.
CHA-CHING!!!! Casino was nice but anytime you had to walk into the place the odor of cigarettes was disgusting. I found that once inside the smell wasn't so bad but going in or out of the place definitely required a strong stomach. Slot machines offered a good variety but too many video varieties and not enough classic one line slots. We played for a bit every night after dinner before our shows. I came in second in the slot tournament and had a blast.
On this 9-day cruise we visited 4 ports: Labadee, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau. I won't get into the ports themselves because there are many reviews of them here on cruise critic. We did enjoy the lazy day in Labadee. This was our first time there and there is not much to do but relax and become a beach bum for a day but it was nice that food was all-inclusive and that we could charge drinks on our Sea Pass. I felt like I was on a little piece of deserted-island paradise with the amenities of the ship. Getting off the ship in any port was a breeze and getting back on was also, so long as you didn't wait until the last-call. In St.Maarten was the only time we had to wait in a gigantic line to get back on the ship due to the silly security tents Royal Caribbean set up. Other ships in port did not have a security checkpoint and guests on those ships just walked on their ships so...why we had this additional "security" was baffling to me. Even so, the most we waited that day to reboard the ship was approximately 35 minutes which wasn't too bad considering the line to reboard was literally the entire length of the ship. However, RCCL should reconsider this added "security," it was more than a nuisance than a benefit and it infuriated many passengers.
Cruising on the Oasis of the Seas was a great experience and I would not hesitate to do it again. It is as expertly run as possible and the minor kinks of traveling on a ship of that magnitude were only VERY minor hiccups, in my opinion. If you are the type of person who wants one-on-one service and attention and you are willing to pay through your nose for it, by all means, a private yacht charter may be more up your alley, but if you are like me, and you are looking for unparalleled service and value for your money then the Oasis is the only way to go!
My final advice for any traveller is to be realistic with your expectations...this is the hottest ship on the sea right now and if any of you have been to the hottest club in South Beach or even the most popular ride at Disney, you should know by now that sometimes you have to wait and be patient to experience the biggest thrill of your life. The Oasis is well worth the minor inconveniences others complain about. Me? I paid a lot of money to go on this vacation and I will make sure that I get my monies worth and ENJOY every darn minute of it. To the nay-sayers and Debbie Downers who want to complain about nit-picky stuff, I say relax and go with the flow or book your own private ship and let me enjoy my cruise!
While it is true, not every meal is going to be an out-of-this-world experience but like my hubby said...if we were at home he'd be eating shake-n-bake or spaghetti (my specialty, haha!) so he can deal with a less than stellar meal once or twice on this cruise without getting all bent out of shape. I promise that a truly bad meal will be hard to come by and that a truly bad experience will always be the exception, not the rule, on board the Oasis of the Seas.
Sometimes I have wonder what the "other" unhappy cruisers live like back at home...I just know that THIS happy cruiser and her husband had one of the most unforgettable and best vacations yet and we are already looking forward to our next cruise on the Allure!