February 2011 we did an Eastern Caribbean cruise on Oasis of the Seas. The service was great, the shows unmatched, and never once did we feel crowded. February 2012 we headed out on the same Eastern Caribbean itinerary on sister ship Allure of the Seas. The differences are subtle; ipod docks are a welcome addition in the cabins on Allure. Also, we thoroughly enjoyed the option of buying Starbucks coffee on board Allure, as the free coffee on both ships is barely palatable. The improvements made on Allure over Oasis are relatively minor, so we were left trying to figure out why we preferred Oasis overwhelmingly to Allure.
It seemed as though the staff on Oasis were simply happier than the staff on Allure. I also realize that this information may not be at all helpful to readers, as the morale on Oasis may have changed in the course of a year. I am aware that the outstanding cruise director, Richard Spacey, has moved from Oasis to Explorer, so that change may have a resulting impact on the Oasis staff. And perhaps it was just a tough week on Allure: the Cruise Critic news section advised that a guest went overboard on Allure a few days prior to our sailing. In the final analysis, I would be happy to sail on either of the two giants in the future!
One of the great things about sailing out of Fort Lauderdale is the proximity of the airport to the cruise port. A $15 five minute taxi ride negates the need for any special shuttle service. This year we stayed at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina and were very pleased with our north facing tower room. We will make this our pre-cruise hotel in the future.
I would like to see Royal Caribbean add more ports to the Oasis/Allure lineup, but other than that I have few complaints.. The main dining room food was good; in fact the lamb shank was truly outstanding. The Windjammer buffet is best avoided in my opinion, but I know that others love informal dining. My favorite meals were spent dining al fresco in Central Park. Book ahead at Choppes or Giovanni's Table for the middle of the week when you have the best chance of a warm tropical evening, listening to lovely live music. If the weather is not favorable, you can always sit inside. 150 Central Park was delicious, but does not offer the option of sitting at an outdoor table.