We are a family of four with two teenage children, ages 13 and 14. Having read many reviews on how big this ship was, we had to see for ourselves. The reviews were spot on, this ship is a monster! Our boarding was fast and effortless. We were on the ship within 20 minutes and it was during prime boarding time! A good tip is to arrive a little earlier than they tell you. We were told that the boarding started at 1pm and we arrived at 12 and the ship was boarding. There were a lot of people that boarded much earlier than was posted, but I suppose that all depends on how fast the morning departure from the previous cruise goes.
After we boarded on the promenade deck, we went straight to our room to check it out. We had a balcony room on the 14th deck. I was a little nervous booking a room so high because the higher you are, it is said the more you feel the rocking. It was true to some degree. During the night our closet door opened and slammed shut when the seas were a little rough. It only bothered us one night and then the seas seemed to be calmer. The room is small for a family of four, but adequate. I would suggest finding a room with a pullman bed if you have kids. The bed tucks up in the ceiling during the day and the kids don't have to share space. We had that on the Radiance of the Seas when we cruised Alaska, and it was nice. This time on the Oasis, we had a double (which seemed more like a full because it is two beds pushed together) and a pull out couch. The view from this floor is amazing and I sat out many mornings on the balcony with a cup of coffee looking for dolphins and whales and waiting for my family to wake up. We only saw a them a couple of times and that was when someone pointed them out when we were eating at the Windjammer buffet.
The food is good. As Americans, we like American style food but for those who like a lot of variety and ethnic offerings, you may find it great. One problem I found is that when they have foreign dishes, they have cards to say their name, but do not list their ingredients or give any kind of description. It was like mystery meat most of the time, and my family is shy about trying foods without knowing what they are eating. At the Windjammer, we rarely had trouble finding a table and the service was excellent. The Windjammer on this ship is a little smaller than the Radiance of the Seas that we went on in 2010. It seems that they are offering more "pay" choices and trying to persuade cruisers to other dining options by shrinking the buffet. We were not swayed and really enjoyed having the option to eat here everyday. Breakfasts are excellent and always had eggs, bacon and sausage. Plus they have excellent hashbrowns. They also had make your own omelet option. We only went to formal dinner once. The waiters were very kind and helpful. If you didn't like what you ordered, they quickly gave you a different selection. My daughter didn't like how her steak tasted and they brought her grilled chicken within five minutes. The only pay for dinner we did was at Johnny Rockets for breakfast. It was phenomenal. We did outdoor dining and the zip line above made for a real treat!
Having kids on board, they were always entertained. Our 13 year old daughter found the teen "Living Room" on the first day and made a lot of friends that she still keeps in touch with now. Every day when they clean your room they leave a schedule with the following day activities, which was nice because they listed times. Activities before noon were fairly empty but the afternoon and evening activities were always packed. They offered games of all types from card and board games to scavenger hunts to ice skating to basketball and even mini golf tournaments. Basketball games are very competitive, as are the dodgeball games. My 14 year old son stuck with us more and enjoyed the shows.
We saw Hairspray, which was good, but not my favorite. I really enjoyed the ice skating show and my daughter was picked to ride in the float that the skaters pushed around on ice. If you have kids, have them sit in the first seats on the exact left and right corner of the stage. The seats are marked reserved for kids only. These seats are chosen for the show. The diving show was amazing as well. On very windy days they do not perform so make sure you get to this show early on your cruise. It was my favorite show. The comedy show was for 18 and older and my DH and I went. We went on the first night of our cruise and had a wonderful laugh. Very funny comedians but not appropriate for kids.
The rock climbing wall was often closed because of high wind warnings but both of the kids were determined to try them and did two times. We all rode the merry go round and we all tried the zip line. Be careful that you are not too wet or even sweaty or they will make you go and change. You must be perfectly dry to go on the zip lines. (My son who had recently gotten off the flowrider and had 30 minutes to dry in the Caribbean sun, was told he needed to change before going on the ride.) You also need closed toe shoes and longer pants. It is something that you must try. Very fun. They take incredible pictures on this ride and all of the photos are for sale in the photo gallery on the sixth floor. The flowrider was my sons favorite pasttime and he must have gone over 20 times on this ride. He got the hang of it right away and had a blast. Lines can sometime be long so make sure you bring a lot of sunscreen.
We had a balcony on the port side and that worked well for us because we docked on the port side at two of the three ports. I have heard that it can change. At St. Thomas we took a shuttle to Coki Beach. Big disappointment. We were told that it was the best beach for watersports but it was in a very poor part of the island and if you google the beach you will find that it is in a high crime area. Do not recommend. The drive though the island was interesting. Kids liked it because the driver was nuts. Hold on tight, shuttles have no doors. It was also interesting that they bury their people above ground and walking to Coki Beach, we walked right next to a cemetery with above ground graves. The kids were disappointed. The jet skis were fun but old and very hard to get. It was a short walk to them, across the street from the beach but even though they were not the most attractive jet skis, they worked okay.
St. Marteen was our favorite island. Absolutely gorgeous. We took the water taxi to Great Bay and had a wonderful time. The kids rented jet skis again while I walked the shops. I wanted to buy my daughter a chocolate diamond but was not sure if I was getting a good deal. I was too afraid to buy but every jewelry store I went in offered me food and drinks to stay and shop. These locals are so friendly! My daughter also insisted on getting her hair braided here, (the locals are relentless to get your dollars) and she loved it although the painful photos I have of her sea salty hair being combed are priceless! I booked Atlantis at Nassau through Comfort Suites, which is located about a block away from the actual resort and offers all access. It is such a great deal. I got the room and entry for a family of four for just $250, with tax and extras (including cleaning even though we didn't stay) it was around $300. RCL was charging about $600, so it was about half off. We had to walk a little more but for the short time we had there it was well worth it. I wish RCL would have had a full day at Nassau. Weather was always gorgeous and it only rained for about 30 minutes during our sea taxi ride at St. Marteen. Then it was sunny and beautiful.
This is a ship you have to try. It is currently the largest passenger ship at sea and has all the dings and whistles that makes it worth the price. If I got to do it again, I would get two connecting rooms for more space because we really tripped over each other at night when the couch was pulled out. With that extra room, I would consider this the perfect trip.