I have read many reviews on this site that have provided my family and me with much useful information that has added to our cruising experience. I hope to be able to provide some useful information that will help others with their choice of cruise and add to their experiences as well. As most of you reading this review already know, the capacity of this ship is over 6000 passengers. Therefore, there will likely be many different opinions regarding the experience. Those opinions will be influenced by many things, including specific interactions with people, choice of stateroom, particular table location and many, many other tangible and intangible things. I hope to give a balanced, honest, and open minded review, along with some helpful hints to help you enjoy your cruise, should you choose to sail on Oasis.
First, a bit about us. We are in our mid 40s and were traveling on this cruise with our 5 year old daughter. This was our 12th cruise. If we have any pre existing "bias" it would be that in general, Celebrity is our favorite cruise line for its food, service, accommodations and amenities, while still being a relaxed and family friendly (especially during the summer) cruise line. Having said that, we have sailed on (and enjoyed) Princess, Disney, and RCCL previously, so we have some basis for comparison.
We sailed on Oasis for one singe reason: To experience the ship. Since we enjoy cruising in general, we really thought we had to travel on this ship. We knew it would be huge. We knew there would be around 6000 other passengers on board. We anticipated that as such, there would be certain compromises (as with anything.) Overall, our experience was in line with our expectations, and exceeded them in certain aspects. Below are some details and suggestions:
Embarkation: Absolutely the quickest and easiest of any of our dozen cruises. This is particularly remarkable considering the huge number of people boarding. It was seamless. Fifteen minutes (tops) from the curbside to on board the ship. I suggest arriving early. If you are traveling from outside of Ft. Lauderdale, if possible arrive a day prior. It takes away the pressure of flight delays and allows for a relaxing morning. There are plenty of reasonable hotels near the port. We stayed at the Marriott Fairfield. It was perfectly fine. Not a luxury hotel, but new, clean, comfortable and reasonable. They run shuttles to the pier in the morning for $8 pp which we used. However, if we do it again we will just take a taxi. It would be a similar price and quicker.
Stateroom: I would call this average. We had an ocean view balcony on deck 8 near the rear bank of elevators. The location was fine. We usually have a higher deck but this ship is so tall that we really didn't feel like we missed being higher. Regarding ocean view balcony staterooms, if you can save a few $$ being on a slightly lower deck (8 vs 11, 12 etc.) it's probably worth the savings. The same might not hold true for Boardwalk or Central Park view staterooms however, since those areas begin on deck 6 and 8 respectively. We had 3 in our cabin and at first we though it would be hard to store everything, but once we started putting things away, we found space for everything. I recommend hanging lots of stuff. Also Eagle Creek "Pack-its" for folded items fit nicely in the shelves in the closet. They are also great for keeping clothes neat in the suitcase. If you haven't seen them, Google it. They are helpful. 3 suitcases fit nicely under the bed. The cabin is a bit tight with the couch pulled out as a bed. Hey, it's a cruise ship cabin. Some are better than others. These aren't the best, but they're fine. The cabins on Solstice Class ships on Celebrity are better. Our stateroom attendant was excellent. They will do a bag of laundry (however much you can stuff into a small to medium sized bag that they provide) for $25, ($20 with our Platinum member coupon.) They offer it on Wed and return the clean clothes on Friday. We thought it was worth it. Knowing of this service might allow you to bring a few less shorts, t-shirts, etc.
Food: This is always the big one in cruise reviews. Opinions will be all over the map. There are many venues at which to eat, some complementary and others at additional charge. We had "My Time Dining." We prefer this to traditional dining. If you like eating at times other that the traditional early or late seating then this is great. You can either make reservations in advance or just show up without reservations. We had reservations and never had to wait. The line for "walk-ins" was fairly long on one evening, but the rest of the time it seemed pretty short. We found the main dining room food to be typical "cruise fare." It wasn't great. It wasn't bad. Some meals were better than others. It was perfectly acceptable, although the variety on some evenings seemed to be lacking a bit. Don't expect gourmet dining, but it should be more than acceptable for most tastes, even discerning ones. Just keep expectations in line. You simply don't go on the largest ship in the world for the food. Service was attentive, helpful and friendly although not as refined as on some other ships. Hey, it's vacation..relax!
Of the alternative dining restaurants for dinner, we ate at Giovanni's, Chops and 150 Central Park. They were all extra $$ and all worth it. Again, not Michelin Star dining, but very good and a step up from the main dining room in all areas.
One word of note: 150 Central Park has a set 6 course tasting menu with no choices of anything. So, keep that in mind if you are a picky eater or have dietary restrictions. Having said that, my wife didn't eat a number of the dishes on the set menu. She told the server about that in advance and they graciously offered her an acceptable alternative. The chef even came out to be sure that she was enjoying the offerings. So they can provide some flexibility on special request. However, don't expect a regular menu. We had the wine parings with the courses...6 different wines matched to the food. It's not cheap at $75 pp but the selections were nice, the pours were generous, and the experience was great. I recommend it if you can do it and like that kind of thing. We weren't disappointed.
The one area that was below average in our opinion was the buffet. In general we don't really like buffets, but on a cruise they are usually convenient options for breakfast and lunch, especially with kids. This one was definitely lacking in selection compared to other ships we have been on. Surprisingly, there were no omelets or eggs to order at breakfast. It was basic buffet food, or less, at best. The good news is that there are so many other dining options on board for breakfast and lunch that you don't have to eat at the buffet if you don't want to. My advice is to explore all of the different options. They each offer something unique from the others and variety is one of the strong points of this ship.
Entertainment: Overall, the entertainment was great. The cruise director, Richard Spacey is terrific. He is talented, energetic, and likable. Hairspray was great, very professionally done and really enjoyable. The skating show and Oasis of Dreams diving show were both unique and entertaining. The headliner was talented. They also have a late night comedy club for 18+ that is very similar to a Catch a Rising Star or Improv club. The 2 comedians on our cruise were very funny. The room was packed. Everyone was laughing. It was a great time.
My most important advice is to make reservations online as far in advance as possible for all of the shows. If you chose not to go, no problem or penalty. If you want to change your reservation to another day or time, it's probably easy enough to do once on board. However, don't wait to make reservations until on board or you might be disappointed. You will probably be able to get into most things, but will have to line up in advance. Save the headache and do it from home.
Kids Club: The hours were very flexible. The facility was large. The counselors all seemed very nice. Our daughter seemed to like it. The activities were fairly mundane. Nothing too special. It did provide an opportunity for the parents to do their own thing while the kids are safe and occupied. The club is open on most days from morning until 2AM. After 10PM it's $6 per hour.
The Ship: It's all been said. The size and variety of offerings is really second to none (except maybe Allure.) Surfing, zip lines, rock climbing, 4 pools, a carousel, a Boardwalk, a Park etc, etc, etc. It's all on the website and written about ad nauseum here. The ship itself is the attraction of this cruise. That is why you go on Oasis. Also, despite the huge number of people on board, except for the pool on sea days, it really doesn't seem crowded most of the time.
To summarize: Did we enjoy ourselves? Definitely! Was if perfect? No, but nothing is. Most importantly, would we do it again? We will. Next time we would like to do it with a larger group of more family and/or friends. It is a cruise that has something to offer most everyone. With a ship this size, serving so many people, you can always find things to be critical about. My suggestion is, try not to be too critical and just enjoy your vacation. We found most things to be good to very good, a few things were excellent, and a few were average. Nothing was bad. Take it for what it is and have a good time. If you think the buffet sucks, eat lunch somewhere else tomorrow. If dinner wasn't quite up to your expectations, tell the waiter and he or she will graciously get you something else. Then, try one of the specialty restaurants the next night. The positives make up for the negatives, and none of the negatives are really bad (in our experience.) This ship is really something to see. If you like cruising, you should try it. Hope this helps.