I am Alex and I am currently thirteen. Ever since I found out about the Oasis of the Seas in late 2009, I've wanted to go on that humongous cruise ship. Its features were stunning, nothing that I had seen before. Compared to the only other ship I've taken in Asia, SuperStar Virgo, this is a masterpiece by any aspect - from design to public rooms, from cabins to ceilings, from the four pools to the Central Park - it was all too spectacular.
2010 was a traumatic year for me. But I could put all those sad memories to rest as I was headed to the United States in December, specifically to take the Oasis of the Seas. We were sailing on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, our room being a Boardwalk balcony (we only found that out when we reached there). My family of five, which consisted of my parents, my two younger sisters, and I went along with our maternal cousins, aunts and grandmas.
I've decided to sort More
the contents by category (dining, public rooms etc.) It took about three months to do this review due to work, laziness and stress but nevertheless, I hope you enjoy it!
After our break in Miami following our flights from SIN-LON-MIA, we headed to Fort Lauderdale to board the Oasis of the Seas. The ship was like nothing I've seen before - it was tremendously huge. I was truly overwhelmed.
I believe I may have been too overwhelmed, because all my energy suddenly dispersed. It was too great, literally. This may have more or less affected my review.
The embarkation process was fairly quick. Some minor problems we encountered here and there, but still quite quick. One thing I've noticed was that those below the age of thirteen would have to wear a wristband. I understand that wristbands are needed for staff to identify children's emergency station in the case of an emergency, however, the wristbands are sometimes a bit of a nuisance. Even though I am thirteen, I got a wristband thinking it would be useful, but it wasn't.
As I had said earlier, the exterior of the ship impresses. The inside remains a mystery until I entered the gangway. There, I saw the Royal Promenade and the anticipated Rising Tide Bar. Everything that I originally saw on my desktop was true. After checking-in and settling down in our cabin (I would further discuss on this later), we headed to the Dining Room for our emergency drill. It was awkward having the emergency stations located in areas such as the dining room and the Opal Theater, probably because they needed to use safety instructional videos. A bit disorganized, but the video was useful.
After which, we proceeded to do our own activities. From here onwards I shall now sort out my experience on Oasis by aspects.
There were indeed a number of dining options onboard the ship, but for some apparent reason did not appeal to me. Maybe I am thirteen, but I have learnt how to appreciate food and I honestly felt that there could be a better variety.
We opted for the My Time dining package, in which we could head to the Opus Dining Room, the main dining room, anytime between 5.30 in the late afternoon to 8.30 at night, if I am not wrong.
The appetizers were, to say, interesting. Usually there would be a choice of fruits, soups or other simple platters to get the stomach going. Usually I had the fruits, which were fresh and juicy. Most of the soups, like the Onion Soup, tasted nice, too. However, there was one particular dish I would like to mention - the Raspberry and Pineapple Soup. I don't know if the Westerners drink soups that are sweet but shouldn't that be made into a drink? I was truly disgusted at such effort wasted on an idiotic recipe that has the strangest taste. Ever.
I had mixed remarks over the main course. Sometimes, it would be lovely, like salmon, but sometimes it was too filling and not delicious. I usually ordered the healthy option, which I would explain later, because its description was better than the others. I guess that was Royal's way of making people lose weight. Amusing.
Dessert was probably the best in the three-course meal. Fruits or Ice Cream, they excel in the art of confection. My favorite was the Sponge Cake- my first time ever tasting it. It was mouthwatering. The best food I had tasted on the ship - or maybe during the whole trip! I praise the chef(s) who made this so refined and better than the other cakes.
Obviously, we could dine at other locations too. I chose complimentary restaurants that were included in the cruise fare, hoping to not cut my budget. Windjammer Cafe was good, but maybe because I somehow didn't have an appetite when I went there, I was not that pleased with the food.
Sorrento's Pizza at the Royal Promenade was splendid - we could mix and match our own toppings for the pizza slices. We could also choose pizza slices already baked and prepared. It was delicious. Sadly, the Italian Sodas I tasted there were the worst I've tasted. I didn't know exactly what flavor it was, but it tasted ridiculously bitter. Maybe I'm young, but I definitely give a thumbs down for that.
At Central Park, I would eat at Park Cafe that had sandwiches and desserts. The sandwiches were indeed very crunchy, and for a complimentary restaurant that is a big sandwich compared to what we have in Singapore!
Wipe Out Cafe is another restaurant I tried out. It sold casual, American finger food meals. The most filling meal I've ever had, I had to say.
The only specialty restaurant I tried out was the Seafood Shack. The Seafood Shack's menu was partially disorganized - the only had daily catches. Well then, I thought, I'd have the Grill Catch of the Day. What was served was good, but could honestly be better. Waiting time for dessert was somewhat long as I ordered it as take-away.
At the Pool & Sports deck, they also served free frozen yoghurt. Oh, how cooling, even though it was 20 degrees Celsius or 65 degrees Fahrenheit. I had an average of 2.5 frozen yoghurts a day, taking in the fact that I love it.
On the contrary, there were not many beverages. Other than wine, beer and alcoholic beverages, they didn't really bother about non-drinkers that left me unsatisfied. I really wanted a mocktail, influenced by the fact that mocktails are served mainly in hotels and cruise ships. Although The Living Room and Fuel, the teen locations, did have mocktails I believe, they weren't available anywhere else on the ship. What a disappointment.
Overall, good but could improve on the variety of food and dining options and the improvement of quality of food in the main dining room.
Public Rooms (5)
The Oasis is most praised for its state-of-the-art facilities onboard, which I agree with most. All the neighbourhoods were designed to suit their theme, all the rooms clean and well kept, and the facilities high-class and functioning well.
My favorite in terms of quality is probably Central Park. Greenery on cruise ships is very rare, and the thought of putting such is not widely considered. However, Royal Caribbean really made a good job - I originally thought there would be air-conditioning, but there wasn't which makes it even better. It is both elderly-friendly and provides a relaxing atmosphere. I've got a slogan for it, too: "A walk in the park at Royal Caribbean". Ingenious.
Another neighborhood that I personally enjoy best is the Pool & Sports Zone. I would explain further in the Spa & Fitness section.
Small exhibits are also scattered around the ship, known as "Wonders of the World". These exhibits showcase either stereotypic once-in-a-blue-moon images or interesting items. I find this a great addition to the ship.
Despite the great features, there is still one small, no, MAJOR problem - the toilets. For some reason, the toilets reek of a certain, distinct smell. Which is why I never use the toilets often on the Oasis. I'm not sure if it is a problem with the pipes or soap, but it still needs to be fixed.
The public rooms, overall, are awesome.
I was also quite excited over the rooms on Oasis. There was such a variety.
I was not in charge of the booking process, therefore, I did not know which room we were in. But apparently, we were not allowed to choose our type of room, or at least it was said to be, and that Royal Caribbean would give us our own room. It was still not a bother. We eventually got a Boardwalk Balcony.
I praise the room. Some complained over the amount of space the bed occupies (which led to a 'conspiracy' that RCI had small rooms). However, this is actually a good thing. The room was well furnished, well kept and nicely organized. The beds were very comfy; maybe because I was tired each night from the activities I had for the day.
Many complained on the small toilet. However, I thought it was good, compared to the only other cruise I've taken. It may have been small, in fact smaller than the one at the other cruise, but precisely because of the interior dEcor - bright and lively, instead of dark and uncomfy. Everything worked fine, amenities all good. This toilet is the only toilet that didn't have the distinct smell I mentioned earlier.
Lounging at the balcony is also relaxing. One could view part of the AquaTheater from the balcony, but if you do want to get the full view, try the AquaTheater suite or the rooms nearer to it.
Rooms in the Oasis, although felt small, are worthy for sleeping and resting.
Entertainment and Activities - Entertainment Place (4)
The facilities onboard the Oasis would obviously occupy most people's time. I had already discussed on the facilities and will move on to the organized activities and entertainment programmes.
The daily newsletter on the Oasis describing the conditions, highlights and activities for the day was the Cruise Compass. The activity planner was the Daily Planner, the evening section separated as the Evening Planner. A bit confusing, but still fair enough.
Maybe due to the massiveness of the ship, and my surprising lack of organization during the cruise, the activities seem to be little. There was the usual - art auctions, seminars, scavenger hunts, line dancing, fitness activities, trivia quizzes, parades and entertainment. What I think RCI could include to actually make it stand out include:
• More fitness activities involving the use of the Pool & Sport Deck facilities. In which they hold more pool parties, some competitions on the FlowRider, golf course or table tennis courts.
• Improve on the "parties". The parties that the cruise organized were horrible. They should have games for children to participate rather than laid-out games to play alone. They should also have some performances. This is for children who did not register for Adventure Ocean.
• More social activities, such as handicraft making or "fashion shows" or anything that is active and fun. It seems that the Oasis really lacks D.I.Y. activities that most cruises, or at least what I think cruises should, offer. With the vast amount of space and the Workshop located at Deck 14 vacant for most of the time, it would be nice to hold some free activities to appeal to senior citizens.
The activities I praise include fitness-related ones, entertainment that I would discuss later, Bingo and activities for the younger generation. Activities I think they could improve include scavenger hunts (instead of holding it at a remote starting point like On Air, it would be nice to start from the Pool & Sports Deck which could gain more attention. A bigger search area would be nice, too) and parties which I had mentioned on earlier.
Now comes nightly entertainment. I would group them into four categories as RCI did: Theater Shows, Water Shows, Ice Shows and Comedy Shows.
Spa and Fitness - Pool & Sports Deck (5)
Honestly speaking, I have never tried out the spa services onboard nor the fitness center. However, I have seen other fitness options outside the Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness.
The Vitality at Sea Spa, which is the biggest spa and fitness center at sea, is located on Deck 6 aft, so one may have to accept having to walk for a while. But one thing I could say is its interior dEcor. It was white - and it makes one feel relaxed. The colors blend perfectly, so at leas one thing I know is that the person won't feel uneasy due to the color scheme. There is even a kids and teens' spa called Y-SPA. From what I heard the spa and fitness center was good, but I was sadly unable to try out as I think I was too young (or that I'm just shy, not my usual self).
Now, Royal Caribbean has broadened spa and fitness options on its ships. For example, those eating in the Opus Dining Room are able to enjoy a less-calorie selection of dishes. They stated the amount of calories. I don't know if it is accurate or not but based on my primary education, I could tell that slimming down does not mean eating less - it just means, having a lower calorie intake.
Also to note is the Pool & Sports Deck' sports area. It is really gigantic and different from other ships.
Hailing from the tropics I was not adapted to cold waters. When I step into the small lazy river in the H20 Zone, it seems icy cold. My father told me that RCI probably wanted not to use so much electricity, but a few days later, when I stepped back again, the water was hot and cozy. Strange because, when it was sunny the water was cold, and when it was dark the water was warm. The Jacuzzi is also quite comforting after participating in several activities. It was a really clever idea to have four pools catered to different people - Main for the typical swimmer, Beach to simulate beach waves, Sports especially for water sports and the H20 Zone for children.
The H20 Zone is really catered to smaller, younger children. It would be nice for RCI to install better facilities such as, maybe, a water slide? As long as its not more unneeded sculptures that will be fine.
That covers the Pool section. The Sports section is even more fantastic. You could really play a number of sports here. You could play football, tennis or basketball in the basketball court, have a round of golf on the golf course, take a jog or a professional run on the walking track (located at Deck 5), play table tennis in the table tennis court, surf on the FlowRiders and even zipline across the ship. It seems as if one could do almost every sport on the ship.
I tried out the FlowRider, which was separated into four lanes - two for boogie boarding and two for actual surfing. Boogie boarding is a much easier way in which one lies down on the board and does stunts. I gave it a go and it was truly a lot of fun. The instructors were professional and clearly explained to us what to do. The current of the waves was so strong that it could push you back to the start if you fall off. Fear not, for there is a buffer that prevents any pain. Only one time it seemed as if the surfboard hit my head. Thankfully it wasn't a major injury, and this should be VERY rare because it seemed that the surfboard was thrown back first, then me. It was only minor and was gone soon. But I still can't believe the cruel irony that struck me.
Seminars on how to cut down fats, relax and other useful fitness facts are held everyday. I'm not sure if RCI has cycling tours, but I am sure it also brings fitness to shore. All these coupled together makes the perfect fitness cruise.
Family, Children and Teens (4)
RCI is notable for its variety of family and children activities. Just a recap, children from five to twelve will be under the following age categories should they join the Adventure Ocean youth programme:
• Aquanauts (3-5 year olds)
• Explorers (6-8 year olds)
• Voyagers (9-11 year olds)
Toddlers aged three and below are given access to the Royal Babies and Tots community, while teens like myself could go to The Living Room, an only-teens (with the exception of trainers) hang-out spot., and Fuel, a nightclub reserved for teens and also includes a bar. Royal Babies & Tots, Aquanauts, Explorers and Voyagers' clubs are located at Deck 14, or the Youth Zone. Teens' clubs are located at Deck 15, the Pool & Sports Zone.
My sister, aged eleven, signed up for the Adventure Ocean programme and commented that it was enjoyable and the staff were helpful and humorous. She praises the Adventure Science Lab, probably since she is a fan of Science. Art and music rooms are also provided. I checked the Adventure Ocean daily planners and I think it needs to have a bit more of outdoor interaction, considering the fact that most sports and games were held indoors.
On Day 6, I had a choice between going to the AquaTheater to watch the Men's Belly Flop competition and the Adventure Ocean talent show. Coincidentally, the competition and several other activities were cancelled due to bad weather so I attended the talent show. I would like to note, despite this being a small matter, trying to show off a butterfly tattoo on a five-year-old girl. Otherwise the team of staff was pretty competent in doing the job.
When it comes to 'parties', I got a shock. As I had explained previous, the parties were not up to standard. What's more, I don't see the staff allowing children to participate after they perform. It was a bit of a letdown, considering SuperStar Virgo, which had games and fun for all.
Now to the Teens stuff. I was shy on the first two days so I didn't really go to The Living Room, the teens hangout spot on the ship. Only on the third day did I enter The Living Room and made some friends.
The Living Room consists of nine Wii sets, a Foosball table, a bar catered to teens, a music studio, a miniature cyber cafe and a large television usually showing movies. It was my first time seeing a cruise ship with a teens hang-out, but as eventually I realized all major cruise lines carry such a facility. Nevertheless RCI's take was amazingly modern.
The staff were professional. They were friendly and they knew how to take care of problems, although surprisingly, there weren't any. They also organized awesome activities, such as a parody of Family Feud, competitions on video games and sports such as FlowRider and Dodgeball, and other interesting activities.
Also, to accompany the Living Room is Fuel. Although stated clearly on the map it is actually hidden deep. Only one door connects to it, which leads to a small room with another door that would be Fuel. Fuel is amazingly colourful. I didn't explore fully but from what I could see, teens must LOVE this place. I stress on the word LOVE, because it was a blend of art and technology. It only opens at night, though, but that's what make it all the more secretive.
To conclude, RCI really did well with family activities and teen activities. I only hope they could allow the children to be more involved with ship facilities. Other than that, great I should say.
Shore Excursions (4)
We took a shore excursion in St. Thomas for turtle snorkeling. Apparently external vendors operate some of the shore excursions, which was somewhat disappointing with the perception that a cruise line so renowned should operate more of its own tours. Nevertheless, the snorkeling trip was fun. One could view my full review : http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g147405-d1475074-r95435778-Doubloon_Pirate_Ships-Charlotte_Amalie_St_Thomas_U_S_Virgin_Islands.html
When we first boarded the ship the embarkation process was a bit slower than expected, but probably because of several arrangements in which we placed our sister in our aunt's room (due to the four-pax-per-room regulation) and RCI wanted to confirm the girl was indeed still with her parents.
During our stops at the ports, I had no complaints. It was speedy and not stressful; you'd be out in the port by fifteen minutes. When we returned it was also slower than usual but I didn't blame RCI, and simply hope that they could improve on this matter.
When it comes to service, RCCI definitely excels. Their staff members were extremely friendly. I recall the Filipino waitress who served us during dinner; she interacted with us a lot and was very friendly. The headwaiter, too, was very helpful. They constantly ask us for our feedback, which is really an extra mile put forward.
The staff members at the Living Room and at the FlowRider machines were professional; the housekeeper who took care of our rooms was helpful; it was all so amazing. I always love to see the staff interact with each other during the cruise, as that just proves the friendly atmosphere and the dedication they had put into their work.
Value and Rates (4)
It was of reasonable pricing, and taking in account that this is ONE OF THE BIGGEST SHIPS IN THE WORLD, the rates were actually quite good.
Disembarkation was swift. The staff at Port Everglades was really helpful in carrying our luggage. That marked the end of the cruise.
All in all, maybe I was a bit overwhelmed at the start of the cruise which made the rest not too the extent that I was excited. I was still really pleased with RCI, and I would be glad to go back again.