Our reason for this trip was to experience the Oasis of the Seas, and what an experience it was! The ship was everything one could want. Since on our last cruise, due to inclement weather, we almost missed our ship, we decided to play it safe and fly in (Southwest Air-non-stop) to Fort Lauderdale a day early. I had frequently read articles advising a pre-cruise day at the port of embarkation, but it always seemed like unnecessary expense. But I must say, it was good advise. We thoroughly enjoyed our day and night in Ft. Lauderdale, and it got the 4 of us into vacation mode before we ever boarded ship. We stayed at the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Blvd. It is a beautiful hotel, but we were placed in the oldest part of the hotel, and it seemed like an "old hotel" in that area. It was fine, though, for a 1 night stay, and it was clean. We enjoyed dining for lunch and breakfast at the hotel; food was very good and prices reasonable.
We made it a point to get to the ship early, somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00. I didn't want to miss a moment of the trip I had long awaited. Embarkation was very organized, went very smoothly and quickly. RCI staff was friendly and helpful from the moment we stepped out of our hotel shuttle. We got on board and faced one small difficulty. I had decided at the last minute I wanted to purchase the soda package, (hadn't been able to decide if it was a good value) and so was going to purchase on board. However, it took several trys and being sent to the wrong place before I found the right one. Why guest services didn't know where to send me is strange. But after about 30-45 minutes of waiting and asking, we scored the soda package, and it turned out to have been a good deal for me.
I'm not sure getting on board so early really had much of an advantage. The Windjammer was so full we couldn't find a place to sit and left without eating.
Since the rooms were not yet available, we had to tote all our carry-ons around. I had thought we would be able to start enjoying the ship, but I felt so encumbered with luggage that it was basically impossible. Couldn't just leave it sitting while I went to the pool, etc. and shops are not open. We found ourselves sitting on the steps outside our hallway until we could go to our rooms and unburden ourselves. By this time, we were able to find a seat in the Windjammer and get a bite to eat. I, personally, would avoid the Windjammer completely, but my fellow travelers didn't share my opinion, so we found ourselves there for breakfast often. Usually, I didn't eat. Coffee, fruit and pastries delivered by room service was a wonderful treat, was enough for me, and so I just chatted while they ate.
I find the food on Royal Caribbean is just so-so. In my opinion, it is their biggest weakness. It is passable, for the most part, but that is all you can say about it. However, Chops, is a big exception to that statement. It was wonderful, full of flavor, excellent service and worth whatever you may pay to eat there. I didn't care at all for the Solarium Bistro - only ate lunch there, and once was enough. Park Cafe, was very good - great little sandwiches and a nice little place to enjoy Central Park while you eat. Johnny Rockets is a place to go for fun meal. I know some say avoid the burgers, but I did enjoy 1. It's not everyday, and it is vacation.
Service in the MDR was extraordinary. Our waiters worked themselves to death trying to make sure everything was to our liking. They went the extra mile to see to it we were out on time the night we had an early show reservation. We chose the traditional early seating. I didn't want to have to be planning every meal and trying to make reservations constantly. It was difficult enough with the entertainment, especially after our showing of the Oasis of Dreams was postponed due to wind. After having been on the ship, though, I can see an advantage to My Time Dining. That 6:00 dinner was at times difficult to work around. Next time, I'm not sure, what I'll do. I did see My Time Dining Guests waiting in line for the MDR,when we were able to walk right in to our table. Pros & cons both ways.
One thing I'll probably not do again, is ask for a different table. Had not ever asked before to be reassigned and probably will not ever do it again. Our assigned table was one of the worst - way in the back corner on level 4. We requested to be moved; they offered us another table. Not wanting to offend our first waiter (very good) we decided to keep our table. Both parties received phone messages confirming that our table would remain as first assigned. When we got to dinner, our table had been reassigned, and it became an awkward situation all around. Obviously, there was a breakdown in communication somewhere. We were seated at the new table and everything was fine after that. My lesson - just sit where you are assigned.
Oasis had some of the best, if not the best, entertainment I've seen on a cruise ship. There was great variety in the offerings and every production was quality. I also appreciated the fact that it was family friendly for the most part. Parades, Broadway shows, ice skating shows, swimming & diving shows, what more could one ask? It all adds up to a great experience and a good value when one considers what buying tickets to each of these productions would cost on a land vacation.
RCI seems to be a cruise line targeting active individuals. This is not a ship for someone who wants a quiet, peaceful week of rest. This ship appeals to the cruiser who wants to try new things, experience adventure, and burn a few calories along the way. It offers the opportunity to zip line, ice skate, and so much more. Indeed, there is so much to do, I got all up tight because I wasn't getting it all done. Since by nature, I'm one who doesn't want to miss anything, my husband had to remind me it could not all be done in 1 week. So do what you can and know that there'll be some new things for next time.
I always enjoy Labadee; just a fun day without an agenda. We tried the Dragon's Tail Coaster, and that was well worth the $19.00 we paid. Lots of fun.
We were in Falmouth on the Grand Opening. There were bands, people, excitement all around. Hundreds of people from all over Jamaica had come to catch a glimpse of the Oasis. Children did't go to school, people took off work. We took the Martha Brae River Rafting excursion and thoroughly enjoyed it. We booked through the cruise line; that seemed to be the simplest, safest thing to do. In fact, when we asked on shore, we were told it had to be booked through the cruise line. Bought a little gourd "vase" from our rafter mostly to help him out. He was very kind and not pushy at all. This was a totally different Jamaican experience than I've had in other ports. RCI seems to be keeping a pretty tight lid on things in Falmouth.
Because we had a late flight, we booked the Land & Sea Excursion for day 7. We also opted for the luggage valet service for $20.pp. This was well worth the $40. Luggage was picked up outside stateroom, and we didn't see it again until we landed in New Orleans. The excursion was nice and definitely beat sitting in the airport all day. It also made disembarkation a breeze, because we were taken immediately to our bus to begin the tour.
My final recommendation about the Oasis of the Seas -- Go, just go!