The Oasis of the Seas is a marvelous ship. We've sailed with RCCL before, with our first cruise being almost 16 years ago, and have always thoroughly enjoyed each sailing. We had not been on an Oasis class ship before, so we eagerly anticipated this sailing. For the most part, Oasis delivered. We had a wonderful time. However, there were some issues regarding this sailing, which I will do my best to summarize:
1. Embarkation was excellent. RCCL has this down to a science. We were on the ship within minutes. We were allowed to proceed to our room, however, we may have been a bit early (approximately 1:30p). I ordered a "Happy Birthday" package for my spouse, and upon arrival, our very kind housekeeping attendant was in the process of setting up our room, so there was not much of a surprise. This was not her fault. In the future, if I were to order such a package, I would either come to the room later, or discreetly attempt to find out if the room was ready.
As far as disembarkation, we utilized the early, self-service. Very efficient until we reached the customs area. Take note, if you have more than one bag (each person will need one hand free to hold on to the escalator), you will be forced to wait for the elevator. So, naturally, a long line formed to board two elevators. I have no doubt this unfortunate circumstance was the result of a lawsuit. Other than that, the self-service disembarkation option is much appreciated.
2. The concierge lounge and amenities were wonderful. We were truly appreciative of the all of the services, as well as the staff's attention to detail, and their consideration. RCCL's upgrading of this service is definitely a plus.
3. The cruise director, Mr. Spacey, is the funniest and most joyful cruise director that I have ever encountered. We had the pleasure of Mr. Spacey being our CD on the Freedom, so to encounter him again on the Oasis was fabulous. It cannot be easy for him to be "on" all the time, yet he proceeds vigor and humor.
4. Along that same tangent, the majority of Oasis' staff is magnificent. Again, this is such hard work for most of them. What is a vacation and a week of paradise to us, is yet another day of strenuous, tedious work for them, and most of them do this work with courtesy and a smile. They deserve every dollar they make, and much more.
5. Our room was spacious and beautiful. Storage capacity is excellent. The balcony is very large. The only downside of the balcony is something that cannot really be controlled by RCCL unless smoking is banned on balconies. Unfortunately, we were situated next to a cigar smoker. Cigar smoke is very pungent, so we knew full well when our neighbor was on his balcony...which was often. It is unfortunate to want to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful view only to have to deal with heavy smoke and ashes, but these are trifling matters. We were fortunate to have a balcony at all.
6. The food at Chops and Giovanni's was exceptional and of good value. I highly recommend these restaurants.
7. Central Park was my favorite area on the ship. How lovely. I truly enjoy sitting on the comfortable chairs and enjoying the evening breezes. Gorgeous and beautiful. I cannot compliment this peaceful venue enough.
The Not So Good:
1. Okay, here go. With thousands of people on the ship, this is to be expected, but I must begin with a scolding to the parents of unsupervised children. There were so many unsupervised children that even my husband, who is not easily bothered, was slightly disturbed. Mind you, the children, for the most part, were NOT ill-mannered. No. What we were bothered by was the fact that many of them were so young, but seemingly left to their own devices. One night, we saw a large group of young children, where the oldest (I guess, the "senior" of the group), could not have been older than nine. She tried to corral the younger ones for the elevator ride. It is a credit to the children that they kept themselves safe.
We saw children roaming the ship at all hours of the night. Children dragged to shows designated as 18+. Children allowed to run rampant during lounge shows. Tired and cranky children who clearly needed a nap, or needed to be put to bed...and so on. Unacceptable and unfair. This is flat-out laziness and selfishness on the part of the parents.
When we cruised so many years ago, it was considered primarily an adult activity. Guess what? It really still is. Now, before I get torn in half by the parents (I am one, by the way), hear me out. The managers of cruise lines are very smart, and they know where the bread is buttered. There was almost a 12 year gap in between our first cruise, and our second. During that time, I watched as many ships were built, and as the industry changed...to one that marketed itself to families. Why? You know why. Money.
And families are where the money is. For all of the "Adventure Ocean" and "Club Carnival" pits on cruise ships, cruises (save for Disney, which is all about the children) are still venues for adults to have fun. However, the cruise lines need the parents to come aboard if they hope to increase revenue, and that means appealing to families with young children. The problem is if you appeal to selfish instincts, chaos may ensue. Many parents come on the ship, dump their children at the daycare, and then proceed to have fun. Fine, however, they should not fool themselves into thinking that they booked the cruise with the children in mind (in terms of having fun). Children don't need to go on a cruise ship to do coloring pages. As far as the educational value...I fail to ponder what lessons can be learned while riding a mini-roller coaster at Labadee, which is essentially a gated community on the island of Haiti.
RCCL can solve this problem (and protect the children) by not charging (or charging much less) for the babysitting. Essentially, parents want to dump the kids so they can have fun, but they don't want to pay for it. It's easier and cheaper for them to have the kids run around. This is so wrong on so many levels. If such irresponsibility continues, it's not a question of if a tragedy is going to happen, it's a question of when. I beg of RCCL to reconsider its children's services. The area for the children is beautiful, I'm sure, but it won't be patronized if parents are forced to pay a lot of money. Taking care of young children is hard work, but if you market aggressively to families, you must then assume partial responsibility, as a corporation, for the livelihood of the children in the families.
And to the parents: your children are young but for a brief moment in time. Put their vacation needs before yours once in awhile: Go to Disneyworld or do a Disney cruise. Finally, we should all be thankful that we get to vacation at all.
2. Activity Venues: It seems as if the Oasis was designed with compartmentalization in mind. For example, the comedy club is smaller, but there are more shows. This works for some things (such as the comedy show), but for other activities, this "smaller is better" idea, failed. For example, one of the activities that I enjoy (viewing) is karaoke. On the Freedom class ships, this popular activity usually took place in a very large lounge/mini-theater designed with an Egyptian motif. It was the perfect size, and a very comfortable, fun place to be. However, on the Oasis, karaoke is crammed into a much smaller lounge called "On Air" located on the Promenade. The venue was so packed that the audience regularly spilled onto the Promenade. We did not get to enjoy a seating for a single karaoke show. I truly missed watching this activity. Karaoke is so popular that it deserves, and needs, larger accommodations. Also, there should be a separate time (or venue) for children to participate. Having young children and adults participate in the same karaoke show changes the entire dynamic.
3. The complaints about the food in the dining room are somewhat valid. I did notice a decline in the quality of the food in the main dining room, however, such occurrences are not surprising. Again, money is a factor. Think of RCCL's point of view: If the free food diminishes in quality, then it is quite possible that more people will pay for food in the specialty restaurants. I get it, but it's still somewhat sad. I so enjoy the dining room, and it would be a pity if this activity is slighted in order to shift business to more lucrative venues.
4. There are dozens upon dozens of onboard activities. The cruise compass is great, but can be overwhelming. Perhaps one of the responsibilities of the activities manager, should be to create "suggested activities" lists for certain demographics, such as families, singles, and seniors. That is, choose specific activities from the daily compass that may appeal to specific demographic groups and create customized activities lists for them.
5. It seems that while the Oasis (and the Allure) are the world's largest cruise ships, the size of the Windjammer is the same. Utter madness. The Windjammer is where you truly feel the full impact of being on a ship with over six thousand people. The food is very good, but the area is akin to a gladiator fight. Extremely overcrowded is an understatement. This is a pity.
That's all and enough. I'm so thankful and grateful to RC for accommodating us for a week of escapism. We had such fun. I do not know if I will sail again on an Oasis class, ship. If I do, it will certainly be during a time of year that may not be as busy. However, these ships are so popular that they seem to be full all time. The Freedom class might be more for me. I just wish that I could transplant Central Park onto Freedom class ships. Either way, we'll be back, and I am hopeful that any changes will be for the better.
Happy sailing, everyone.