We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale Thursday evening for a Saturday departure. Used Thrifty for a one day car rental. On Friday, drove to Key Largo. Very enjoyable drive. Be sure to eat at DJ's Diner in Key Largo. Great old fashion diner atmosphere and music to match.
Friday night, ate at the Rustic Inn Crabhouse. This is an absolute must for seafood lovers who love to pound on their dinner with a wooden mallet. Good fun, although a bit pricey compared to Midwest restaurants.
Shuttle to port on Saturday was on time, but traffic getting into Port Everglades was terrible. Our driver got us there despite upsetting more than a few other drivers in the process. Embarkation onto the ship was extremely fast. We are Royal Caribbean Diamond Club members, but that status was not necessary to speed things up. Very smooth.
If you are coming down from the north or northeast during the winter, be sure to dress appropriately on the day you board the ship. It will be a couple hours, perhaps, before you can change. So dress for warm, humid weather and take a small backpack or very small carry-on. You'll be lugging it around for a while.
Take the time to explore the ship. You won't see it all, but what you see will astound you. No other ship you've ever been on can prepare you for the Oasis. We started with the pools and recreation areas on decks 15 and 16 (yes, there are 16 decks!), and worked our way down through Central Park, Boardwalk, and the Royal Promenade. Below that you'll find the entertainment district and casino (HUGE casino).
Each of the 'neighborhoods' is distinctive and you will find your favorite. Try them all at various times during the day and night. The atmosphere changes as if by magic.
Now, about the food. We are not picky eaters. In about a dozen cruises aboard RCCL, we have NEVER had reason to complain about the food. But we felt the food in the main dining room on this cruise was well below normal standards. We tried it a second time after assuming the first night was a fluke. It wasn't. From that point on, we ate all meals outside the main dining room.
What a blessing that ended up being. We recommend two places in particular: Giovanni's Table and Park Cafe.
We had lunch at Giovanni's Table and will not soon forget it. Our Turkish waiter (excuse my forgetting his name) was funny and friendly and the multi-course lunch was fabulous. Try everything. You can't go wrong for the price. I'm sure the dinners were just as good.
Park Cafe is the best of the free restaurants. Breakfast can be as 'light' or 'heavy' as you want it. For lunch or dinner, we had read online about the great roast beef sandwiches. They are better than great. Do not leave the ship without trying one. Choice of sauces, too.
All other restaurants, free or otherwise, were very good and up to RCCL standards. Service at Johnny Rockets could have been better, but we were in no hurry. We were somewhat disappointed in the cupcakes (for $2.50 each), but try it and see if they fit your taste better than ours. We are not drinkers, so I can't give a review of wine or mixed drinks offered.
Our balcony cabin was cramped, but we expected that. Still plenty of room for suitcases under the bed and the balcony was great. The flat screen TVs are much improved from other boats. All account activity can be followed on the TVs, as well.
You would expect the elevators to be a battle every time you wanted to use one. Not the case. There are more than enough and we never felt really crowded by the other 6000 passengers until debarkation. We were told Immigration was having a bad day, and the wait was long. Otherwise, you wouldn't know there were that many on board.
The casino was large and the slot machines fairly 'loose.' Wife won $160 on a penny machine one day, so can't complain too much.