Oasis of the Seas
First of all I'd like to express my disappointment, actually it was more for a devastation, I was really looking forward to this cruise, my wife and I have been waiting just over a year for this cruise, but, as lady luck did not smile upon me I ended up in the Hospital on September 21, 2011 for Pneumonia and was discharged on September 25, 2011, still under three doctors care, I was told by these three Doctors not to travel right now, give it about six months to be completely clear of the Pneumonia, plus I have a breathing problem. I called Royal Caribbean International and talked with a representative and she politely without a moment of concern that I had already passed the 15 day deadline for a refund, if I cancelled now I would receive $0,000.00 dollars refund, this cruise I had paid $4,800.00 and I would receive "0" dollars back in refund if I cancelled even though I had a medical emergency and advised by three Doctor not to travel now. What would you do? Well I was not about to lose close to $5,000.00 so I did not cancel the cruise. I was then and have been home now for two days and I still do not feel well, and my next appointment with my primary doctor is November 3, 2011 but I will call tomorrow and make an appointment to see him before then. RCI, I understand "POLICY", BUT with "POLICY" there is ALWAYS an EXCEPTION TO POLICY, does RCI know what a "MEDICAL EMERGENCY IS"? With having been hospitalized for 5 days with "PNEUMONIA" that should be enough proof for a "FULL REFUND", this just proves and shows me that RCI is nothing more than a money hungry Corporation and could care less about you or your health.
Royal Disappointment!!! It is with deepest regret that I find myself in a position that necessitates the time and effort to relay my utter disappointment for my recent cruising experience with Royal Caribbean on the Oasis of the Seas, dates October 22, 2011 through October 29, 2011. The ship itself is unbelievable and very nice, I do feel its way to big and has a lot of wasted space but the details are great. You can tell it was built for looks and to be the biggest around but it wasn't built with common sense. We found that because the ship is so tall it doesn't take much for it to rock, in fact all 7 days we were on it the ship rocked and the weather wasn't all bad. Also things like the pool deck and central park deck are nice, the floors when wet are more like and ice skating rink. I had planned on going on more cruises with RCI, six more cruises to be exact because I really like their ships, BUT, with this experience, I don't think I will book anymore cruises with RCI, as a matter of fact I can Gaeentee it. I have cruised before but with Norwegian Cruise Lines, there ships are somewhat smaller, but the service is much better, if you have a problem they will work with you to solve it, whereas RCI just says NO REFUND if you cancel. Yah, I will go with NCL for my future cruises. With that said, I will say this everyone has to do this cruise at least once! To appreciate the serenity and peacefulness of home life, we just returned from a great trip on Oasis of the Seas, western Caribbean itinerary (October 22-29, 2011). We traveled from Las Vegas Nevada to Fort Lauderdale using Delta Air Line (Which is another story). This was our 2nd cruise (NCL Alaska and RCI Caribbean). I was very apprehensive about the size of the ship and the crowds, but I was very pleasantly surprised that crowds were large than what I'd experienced on smaller cruise ships in the 2000 - 3000 passenger range. So much to do if you wanted it, we did the Zipline which was great, shows, we saw hairspray twice, the ice show, and we did not care for the headliner who was a singer /comedic type but did stay for the whole show even though some people left during it. The comedy show was very funny, it would have been better if they had a late night show or some other comedians as it was the same two all week; we really enjoyed listening to the RKO Quartet in the jazz bar. Come fly with me was also amazing.
It was a one day Delta flight from Las Vegas to change flight in Memphis Tennessee, to Fort Lauderdale and the same on the return flight. Las Vegas TSA employees were the rudest people we had encountered; they are in my opinion on the same level as Obama's Chicago thugs or the Hitler's Gestapo. They put me through the full body scan plus the hand held scanner, you know take you shoes off (and I had thought TSA had stopped that some time ago?) EVERYTHING OUT OF YOUR POCKETS, take your belt off (my pants fell down to my knees, WHY do people wear belts, Go ahead, anyone take a guess, to hold up their pants yah think?). I think this is a procedure TSA uses just to target Senior Citizens (I am 67 years young) I must say I did not enjoy this procedure but the female TSA employee must have because she was laughing all the time her male counterpart was scanning me both with the full body scan and hand held scanner. Memphis Tennessee we didn't go through any special procedures, the TSA employees just pointed to the direction they wanted us to travel. When we debarked the ship in Fort Lauderdale Florida we did have to go through Customs which consisted of showing your Passport and turning in your Customs Declarations Form, then the luggage on the x-ray machine and that was it. Fort Lauderdale Airport same thing, luggage on the x-ray machine and to the awaiting airplane. I would like to add Fort Lauderdale Airport is the worst airport I have ever been at or in, it was not clean, it is shoddy and for the most part the personnel that word there are so very rude, they do not go out of their way to assist you in anyway, they act like it is killing them just to do their job they are being paid for. I don't really understand WHY you can't check your luggage in but only 2 hours before your flight departs, it must be some new idea by Delta to piss people off and make their travel experience unpleasant and I will make you a promise now that I will NEVER fly on a Delta carrier ever again. My only comment about TSA, in passing because I know you have no control over TSA. The employees really, really need an attitude adjustment and stop picking on the senior citizens, I was scanned with one of those full body scanners, several times with a hand held scanner all the while this female TSA employee was laughing, like this is so much fun, the stupid bitch needs to be in the unemployment line worrying about where her next meal is coming from. I have other issues with Delta, but this will just go in one ear and out the other, so why bother, you people will do as you please anyway, so thanks for nothing and you will never see any part of my paycheck ever again, thanks again for making my life miserable for a short time, thank GOD.
Arriving at Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale Airport is the worst airport I have ever been at or in, it was not clean, it is shoddy and for the most part the personnel that word there are so very rude, they do not go out of their way to assist you in anyway, they act like it is killing them just to do their job they are being paid for. I don't really understand WHY you can't check your luggage in but only 2 hours before your flight departs, it must be some new idea by Delta to piss people off and make their travel experience unpleasant and I will make you a promise now that I will NEVER fly on a Delta carrier ever again. My only comment about TSA, in passing because I know you have no control over TSA. The employees really, really need an attitude adjustment and stop picking on the senior citizens, I was scanned with one of those full body scanners, several times with a hand held scanner all the while this female TSA employee was laughing, like this is so much fun, the stupid bitch needs to be in the unemployment line worrying about where her next meal is coming from. I have other issues with Delta, but this will just go in one ear and out the other, so why bother, you people will do as you please anyway, so thanks for nothing and you will never see any part of my paycheck ever again, thanks again for making my life miserable for a short time, thank GOD.
Aboard the Oasis of the Seas
We boarded the ship around 1:00 pm. This was a great time to get on as the ship is still pretty empty and you can get some great pictures. Porters at the dock took our luggage straight off the hotel shuttle so we had a minimum of schlepping to do. Rooms were available at 1:00 pm and our luggage was delivered immediately after that. After clearing the check in procedures, finally onboard the Oasis of the Seas, we were in a Junior Suite on the 11th Deck mid ship with a balcony on the port side. My wife and I were happy with this deck as it was not close to the Promenade Deck 5 and Central Park Deck 4. It was, however, located below the Windjammer Market on deck 16. The Windjammer Market is the buffet style that serves Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. The first meal was the test, the food was not to our liking at all, and everything tasted, well, not to our liking. We tried the "My Time" dining and the food was just as bad.
Day 2 -â€“ Nassau Sea & See Island Tour -â€“ NS51 -â€“ 3 Hour Tour - $62.00 Per Person, Total USD $164.00.
Our first experience with the shore excursions was on our second day out at Nassau, Bahamas. Our schedule called for us to be on the pier at 8:15 AM, we were a little early so we waited about 25-30 minutes and the excursion guide finally gather everyone together only to announce that the generator had stopped working on the underwater vessel we were to board and stated anyone who wished to receive a refund, just ask. WELL, since I was still recovering from Pneumonia and was having trouble breathing anyway, we decided to ask for a refund. After the guide checked our tickets, she said okay you will receive a full refund. My wife and I returned to the ship and not much to do since all of the shops are closed while in port, we were scheduled to depart at 2:00 PM and the shops were scheduled to open at 2:30 PM, at 3:00 PM the shops were still not opened.
Day 4 -â€“ The Best of St. Thomas & Shopping -â€“ ST17 -â€“ 3 Hour Tour - $42.00 Per Person, Total USD $84.00.
Our second experience with the shore excursions was on our fourth day out at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. Our scheduled called for us to be on the pier at 9:30 AM, the ship docked at 9:00 AM and at 9:15 AM they allowed debarkation, it took us some 45 minutes to depart the ship and by the time we found the area our excursion was to depart from, we were told our excursion had already left, BUT, we were offered another excursion for the same price which was about to depart, we accepted the replacement excursion and were told to get on that bus over there. The "BUS" was an open air type and the people were packed in like sardines, we went up the hill, stopped at a very expensive gift shop (this was the shopping part of the tour) then we boarded the open air bus again and went down the hill and back to the ship. Thank you very much and off loading the driver holding out his hand for a tip.
Day 5 -â€“ Best of St. Maarten Exclusive Resort, Beach, Shopping & Sightseeing -â€“ SMD1 -â€“ 6 Hour Tour - $119.00 Per Person, Total USD $238.00.
Our third experience with the shore excursions was on our fifth day out at Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Our schedule called for us to be on the pier at 10:00 AM. With the experience of St. Thomas excursion I was not looking forward to this tour. My wife and I were down at the pier about 30 minutes before 10 AM, found our tour guide and the lady said wait over there, some will be here shortly, 25 minutes later, I asked another lady where is our tour guide, she said wait over there pointing a different spot we were waiting at, another 15 minutes and I asked another lady where did our tour depart from, she said oh, where you are standing is fine and she gathered everyone up and said follow me, after walking what seemed forever, we finally arrived at our buses, which was a surprise, nice big buses with A/C no less. This time it was up the hill and we stopped at a resort hotel (The Westin) for our beach part of the tour. After informing us what we could and could not do (mainly don't go inside the hotel, but stay on the beach) the guide said enjoy yourself. Since my wife and I don't really care for the beach and we were hungry by this time, we decided to find a restaurant inside the hotel which we did. The Westin Hotel, a hotel I said many years ago when my wife and I stayed at one in Seattle, Washington because the service was terrible and the room was not well liked, you open the curtains for the view and all you see was the rooftop of the lower portion of the hotel and all of this for $262.00 per night, but then that's another story. We found a nice restaurant inside the hotel and was seated given the menu, I ordered a burger and my wife ordered a chicken sandwich, the meal was too large for us and we did finish the meal which came to $62.00 and some change ($5.00 tip was extra). We left the restaurant and went back to the beach where the tour guide as handing out the snack lunches that was mentioned earlier, since my wife and I were not hungry now, we told the tour guide to give the meals to the bus driver whom had not had lunch yet. About an hour later, it was on the bus and back to the ship.
Following are what I see as strengths and good things about Oasis:
1. It really didn't feel crowded (with a few exceptions I'll list later). My last cruise was with Norwegian Cruise Lines STAR Cruise Ship. I loved the small ship cruising experience and was concerned I'd not like Oasis simply because of the size. I was wrong. There were always chairs available at the pool and plenty of spaces to go and get away from people. Royal does a superb job of moving people on and off the ship. Getting off for shore excursions we literally walked right off. No lines, no waiting. When we disembarked at the end of the week, we were in the first group called. We got off at 7:00 am, got our luggage, found our bus for transfer to the airport and we were at the airport by 7:30 am. Thanks to Royal Caribbean International for their great organization for moving people to and from the airport.
2. In one word - superb! We saw every show (except the comedy show) and loved all of them. The talent they have is amazing. Our personal favorite was "Come Fly With Me", but all of them were impressive. We did have reservations for all the shows. We probably only needed them for the aqua show and the comedy show. The other shows "Frozen in Time" and "Hairspray" were in the huge Opal Theater and there were always a few extra seats. The ice skating show is in Studio B, a smaller venue, but there were a few seats left at show time. The comedy show is in a small theater (maybe 100 seats) so do get reservations for that one. Twice, we tried to show up standby and didn't get in either time.
3. The ship was immaculate. Employees are constantly painting, sweeping, vacuuming, polishing, etc..
4. You don't have to search for your pictures. On your Seapass card, you are assigned a tower number and folder number. Facial recognition is used and all your pictures are in your folder. If you're in to pictures, consider buying the photo CD ahead of time for $200. Onboard it's $250. It can definitely be a value if you plan ahead to take a ton of photos.
5. Beautiful, calm, peaceful, you can look right out at the ocean from your comfy lounger. There's a pool in there, a Jacuzzi, and the Solarium bistro for snacks. No kids under 16 so it's super peaceful, my favorite place on the ship.
6. You can't help but be amazed by this ship. A zipline, two rock walls, eight(?) pools, a diving show, Central Park, an ice rink, a bar that moves up and down three floors, a carousel... It is truly spectacular.
7. There is so much to do on this ship we felt we needed another week. We didn't get to do half the things we'd planned because there simply wasn't time to fit it all in. One thing in particular I'll mention was a jewelry making class they offered sea days at 1:45 and 3:45 and port days at 3:45. The first class is free and you get a kit to make earrings, a necklace and a bracelet. It's a fun and cheap souvenir and something that you could easily overlook in the cruise compass.
Now, for the areas where I think Royal Caribbean and Oasis of the Seas could improve on or do a better job.
Avoid at all costs. Every negative cruise ship stereotype comes to fruition in this place. People cutting in front of you, people eating off their plates while waiting in line (gross!), no place to sit, crowds, crowds, crowds. This was the only time I felt Oasis was not equipped to handle the number of people. The Windjammer Market didn't seem any bigger than the one on Norwegian Cruise Lines STAR ship (91,000 GTON), yet it's expected to serve twice the people. After one time, we said, "never again!". Avoid the scrambled eggs. They are some kind of add water, dehydrated stuff that's pretty flavorless and gross. If you get eggs, go for an omelet or fried. Food was terrible, worse beef I have ever had in a dining room, ever. The Fish and Fried Chicken seemed to be the two things that were okay, the mashed potatoes were okay also.
We didn't go to the dining room on the first night, we actually waited until the last night and finally went to the My Time dinning, the asst waiter was friendly but the main waiter was really unfriendly, he just handed over the menus, then came back to take the order, we did not see him after that.
We ate at the windjammer, this was not a problem as we ate so much during the days we were full. We only ate breakfast in the Windjammer Market once; we preferred the solarium and the Park Cafe that did wonderful egg and bacon English muffins. Lunch was a split between the Park Cafe and Johnny Rockets.
Opening Hours of Restaurants.
We felt very frustrated several times when places weren't open. For example, the dining room is only open for lunch on sea days from 12 - 1:30. (Great place for lunch. There's an awesome salad bar where you pick the ingredients and they toss it for you). We (and 1,400 other people) got out of a show at the aqua theater at 1:45 looking to eat. Dining room - closed. So everyone goes to the Park Cafe or the Windjammer where it's body to body and everybody's pissed off. Or you get back on the ship at 5:30 after being gone all day. Wipeout Cafe - closed at 5:30. So you rush down to the Park Cafe. Closes at 6:00 PM, Windjammer closed until 6:15 and there's already a crowd of people waiting to get in.
Yummy salads and sandwiches like others have said. However, it's poorly organized in terms of crowd control. You have a salad line and a sandwich line which are not labeled. People are confused as to which line to get in and get angry when others go in the other line and they are perceived as cutting. It would be simple to put signage indicating which line is which. On top of that, the poor employees are constantly having to cut through the line of people to refill coffee pots, clear tables, etc.. I felt bad for them.
In the Promenade - the cooked to order pizza where you select your own toppings looked vastly better than the premade stuff. Premade was basically like frozen pizza. Cooked to order looked much tastier so why not have all of the pizzas made to order and do away with the frozen ones.
Restrict smoking on balconies to a section at the back of the ship! This isn't unique to RCCL, but it's maddening when you pay for a balcony only to not be able to use it because someone nearby is smoking. It's just not fair to allow the rights of some people to intrude on the rights of others. Seems like it shouldn't be that hard to correct this problem.
Are a great deal to rent them for $30 per phone for the week. However, it is $1,000 if you lose it or render it inoperable. $1,000! If you're using these to keep in contact with your kids, how confident are you they won't lose it, drop it in the pool, etc.. How confident are you that you won't accidentally lose it? $400ish per phone seems like a reasonable risk to me, but $1,000 is not. Either offer another way to keep in contact onboard or make the cost more reasonable.
Hassles you. Again, not unique to Royal, but it's annoying. Do I need five different wait staff to offer me a drink? Why can't they have stations for each server to cover so you don't get asked over and over and over again? Use caution with the bar staff at the aqua theater. One guy convinced me to order a bottle of wine rather than a glass because it's cheaper per glass and he'd deliver the unused portion to my cabin to drink later. Wrong. After the show, the bartender told me they'd only deliver it for a room service charge. I complained to management and they did deliver it for free. Another time, a guy came and took my friend's order and then turned to me and said, "I'll buy a drink for you." Stupidly, I said ok. Nothing's free, right? Well, he charged her Seapass card for my soda. I told him I didn't want it then because my husband has a soda package and I can get it for free. We told him he said he'd buy it and he said he meant my friend would buy it for me. Hmm, seems a little sneaky to me.
With that said I have to say we were most unhappy with the crew overall. It seemed like everyone that we had to speak to just wanted to pass it off or blow it off. The first problem we had was with guest relations. We took an excursion from the ship in St. Thomas that was pretty much nothing we had read. We felt it was a waste of money and the tour people really treated the guest badly. We felt for nothing else just to speak our mind to prevent other people from having the same problems with it, the excursion desk was closed as usual so we went to Guest relations where we were greeted but what seemed to be a person that almost cared. We explained the events and she took a few notes and explained she needed to contact some people but we would hear back. We waited 3 days before hearing back and got a response of basically, well we told them they did a bad job and that's it. I felt that I got the blow off but them so I called down to the desk because I felt she might have misunderstood something's. Another employee said they can't do anything I will need to fill out a complaint form from the excursion desk; I said well this would have been helpful to know 3 days ago. While we found the ship itself to be quite amazing, the level of customer service in general was deplorable. We would often at times find ourselves asking questions of staff members and having anything but friendly responses, and I would reiterate generally rude or indifferent attitudes. Note: (There were exceptions to this; however, not many.) For example our state room attendant Michael always had a smile and was very personable and accommodating. The second example was our wait staff at the family meals (dinner primarily) were also very friendly and accommodating. The quality and selection of the food however in the main dining area was mediocre at best. We had envisioned elegant and elaborate meals and were again disappointed by the overall presentation including the facility appointments. For one of the largest cruising vessels in the world we found ourselves pondering why more attention was not given to create the 'wow' factor. Our impression of a large percentage of the remaining staff in general was that they really did not enjoy their respective jobs and seemed indifferent to making our experience memorable. The most disturbing group by far was the bartenders. While we enjoyed many cocktails and a premium wine package at seemingly outrageous prices, the simple act of having the bar staff pour glasses of water when requested seemed almost a burden for most. This was particularly disturbing due to the fact that we were cruising in very hot climates and needed to remain hydrated.
I suggest the thumbs down you are receiving indicate that you continue to miss the point. Nobody argues that the staff does not make a valuable contribution to the cruise experience and I too have heard tales of dollar an hour wages. But if gratuities have become a problem for the cruise lines then they have only themselves to blame. You wouldn't expect an on board whip round for fuel or provisions so why have one for staff wages? Pay them properly and recoup the cost in the same way as all other costs, through cruise fares and ancillary sales. That is fair for staff and also passengers, since all would pay. Anything over and above that passengers may wish to give would then be a genuine gratuity. Cruise lines like to sell their product as one of refinement and sophistication, yet on this issue they act like a budget airline. I can see both sides to this argument. Having spent a great deal of time in the US with friends who are barmen and waitresses I always leave a tip for GOOD service. Unfortunately the service we generally receive in the US is pretty poor, there are starting to be exceptions to this which is refreshing. If the staff were paid a decent wage then there would be no pressure to tip and it would be a genuine gesture of thanks for GOOD service. However in the US where there IS a minimum wage we receive generally poor service as there is no BONUS for good service as the majority doesn't tip. If you don't tip don't complain about poor service! If you receive good service, reward it. We have always tipped only those who have given us good service i.e.: cabin stewards and both waiters - why tip the bar staff when they already add 15% onto the bar bill and the Maitre de who only appears once or twice during the cruise. They should get a better base wage and not have to rely on tips to supplement their earnings. If you were in a package hotel on land you wouldn't expect to tip the staff who clean your rooms daily or the waiter in the restaurant so why do it on a cruise ship? The tip recommendations by some cruise lines have risen dramatically and it is just another way of getting more money out of the passenger - pay for good service yes but not as 'the norm'. RCI has this Pre Paid Gratuity (PPG) which we participated in but still was presented with gratuity envelopes and forms the last night of the cruise.
Overall, we had a not so fun week on Oasis of the Seas. I can GUARANTEE my wife and I will never do it again because it is pretty expensive in comparison to other cruises and there are so many other travel experiences I want to enjoy before I finish my bucket list, like explorer the United States of America, there are so many States I have not visited, I really want to do the things like attend State Fair's, Chili Cook Offs, River Boat Dinner Cruises, Dinner Trains, Travel the Oregon Coast and see the Light Houses, visit the California Red Woods, go to Aspin Colorado, visit Branson Missouri, visit the Mall of America in Minnesota, go to Niagara Falls, things like that, in other words if I can't get in my car and drive there, then I don't need to go.