I found the Oasis met all of my expectations, which were actually pretty high! :p Having read so many positive reviews, I was expecting an amazing ship and the Oasis did not disappoint. As others have reported, embarkation was a breeze. We went to guest relations immediately and rented some phones so we could keep in touch with the kids. These were invaluable! I have no idea how well the walkie talkies would have worked as far as reception, but my husband noted that he was glad we had the phones and didn't have to listen to the annoying walkie talkie beeping for a week. lol We signed up our 8 year old daughter for the kid's program and then had a yummy lunch at Park Cafe, all within an hour of boarding.
Throughout the week, my interaction with the crew continued to surprise and amaze me. I'm not sure I have ever traveled to a place where the staff were so friendly, well trained and helpful. Everyone - and I mean everyone - who worked on the ship was wonderful! Of course we loved Richard Spacey and the amazing shows, but we also greatly appreciated the contact we had with the folks cleaning the tables at Park Cafe, as one example.
Yes, it is possible to avoid the Windjammer all week and be very, very happy with the other dining choices! I had told my family that I didn't really want to eat there, but they wanted to try it once. So we joined the masses for breakfast .... thankfully, the staff are very helpful in getting a table located for you. It was a one-time deal and the family agreed that we liked other locations to eat much better.
I would *HIGHLY* recommend the private Flowrider lessons! I booked about a week before our trip so we didn't have the best choice of times, as I wanted to book the first sea day. All the daytime slots were full so we booked 8:45pm. This actually was perfect! There were only two other men in our group - who showed up 15 minutes late - so we got oodles of personal time on the Flowrider. Also, if you don't want tons of people standing there, watching you wipe out, this is a good time slot to book, as there were only 4 or 5 people milling around. The instructors were wonderful! We would definitely do the lessons again, even though we have been on the Flowrider.
Yes, you can bring on your own soda and water. Of course we didn't push the limits by bringing a lot, but while in Ft. Lauderdale, we bought a 12-pack of Diet Coke and a 12 pack of water and just stuck our baggage tags on them. We checked them with our suitcases when we arrived at the port. We figured if they didn't make it, it wasn't a big loss. But they were in our room with the other bags! We still bought plenty of cocktails and such on board, but this saved us a little souvenir money.
Be sure to check out the forward of the ship, deck 14 .... amazing space and hardly anyone seemed to know about it! This is a great spot to watch coming into ports, etc.
Also, don't miss the aft of the ship, decks 11 and 12. Watch the diving show from there as a different perspective from the seats. Very cool!
I wish I could remember the exact time, but a kid's club crew member hinted on day 1 that we should be at the car on the Promenade deck that afternoon for a surprise. It was either 4:15 or 4:45pm?? Anyway, there was a flash mob (crew dressed like travelers who break into dancing and singing right around you!). It was really fun and I highly recommend trying to catch this.
Also, we were very lucky to catch the parade on Wednesday, just before (our attempted) docking in Costa Maya. It was at 11:30am. The costumes were amazing! I think a lot of people missed this parade. We watched from up above, by the Schooner Bar, and Richard Spacey was right near us. Don't miss it! On the other hand, the last-night event on the Promenade was crowded and boring and I would skip that next time. The Wednesday parade is MUCH better!
If you visit Cozumel, we highly recommend snorkeling (or diving) with Eagle Ray Diving. We do not recommend the jungle horseback riding trip.
I won't go into detail about the shows, other than to say they should NOT be missed! The Love & Marriage show, as well as Quest, were also great.
Well, those are the highlights that come to mind. I hope they are helpful!