My wife and I have been on 15 cruises prior to this one. We have been on Carnival, Princess and Celebrity. We had always wanted to try Royal Caribbean and decided we would see what it was like to cruise on the world's largest cruise ship Oasis of the Seas. We went with two other couples including twin 8 year old boys. Below is information regarding our experience with the ship. I won't go into too much detail regarding the ports as we took this cruise to experience the ship.
As usual we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Friday and stayed at the Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale. The hotel is 5 minutes from the airport and 3 minutes from the pier. We usually stay here when cruising out of Ft. Lauderdale given the close proximity to the pier. It's especially nice if you can get a room that overlooks the port and check out the ship arrivals and departures. We both travel for work extensively so we use points for our stay. The hotel can be a bit pricey if not booked well in advance but it does offer a large 2 room suite that can easily sleep 4. A managers reception with open bar and light snacks are included as well as a full cooked to order breakfast in the morning. The hotel is used by many other cruisers as it is always full every time we have stayed there. They do offer transportation to the pier for $7.00/person which can be booked through the concierge.
While the cruise line recommends not arriving at the pier before 1:00pm we found that they do start allowing passengers to board at 11:00am. We arrived at the pier at 11:30am and found the check-in very easy. As many others noted there are an immense number of check-in counters which made the process smooth and quick. We then went upstairs and were asked to wait 5 minutes before we were allowed to board.
As many have said when you first enter the ship you are very impressed by the size of it. You enter on the promenade deck (Deck 5) which includes restaurants, bars, shops and the guest services desk. You are told when boarding that your room will not be ready until 1:00pm so we decided to explore the ship.
Deck 4 provides several entertainment venues including Blaze night club, Jazz on 4, Comedy Live and Studio B. During the cruise we did not go to the Jazz club but did visit Blaze as well as the comedy club (reservations highly recommended). If you like to party late at night Blaze is a good location to find others with like minds. We made reservations for the comedy club and enjoyed the show with two comedians. (Note: this is an adult's only club as the language may not be appropriate for all.) We also made reservations for the ice show called Frozen In Time but were unable to attend due to a conflict with our scheduling. I only heard positive remarks about the show. Last but not least for those that like to gamble the casino is also located on deck 4. As mentioned in many reviews it is split in half for smokers and non-smokers. While I don't smoke I didn't have any issues on the non-smoking side with the smell of smoke. Only when you entered the shared bar or crossed over did you smell smoke. It might have been that there were limited smokers whenever we were there but it didn't really bother me that much. I did play some blackjack and walked out with winning almost $200.00. Not bad for an amateur.
Deck 5 as mentioned includes several bars including Boleros (Latin music), On Air Club (Karaoke), Globe and Atlas Club (great beer selection) and the Champagne bar. There were six shops selling everything from the typical cruise wear to very expensive jewelry. In regards to eateries there was the Mondo Coffee Bar (offering Starbucks coffee), Sorrento's Pizza (free pizza including make your own) and Cafe Promenade (offering free coffee and snacks). Of course you can't forget the Rising Tide Bar which seats approximately 20 guest and moves from the Promenade (Deck 5) to Central Park (Deck 8). This seemed to be open only during the evening except days at sea. This is a great place to have a drink before dinner. The Opal theatre has entrances on deck 5 and 4 and is where Hairspray was showing. Unfortunately we didn't see the show but were told by many that it was great.
Deck 6 includes areas that overlook the Promenade and include the Diamond Club (for guest of the Crown and Anchor Society), Schooners Bar (another great place for a pre or post dinner drink) and Focus (to review photos taken of you during the cruise). There is also the future cruise sales desk which always appeared busy during the cruise. The aft portion of deck 6 is devoted to the Boardwalk and Aqua Theatre. A great carousel for the kids is what you first encounter when entering the boardwalk. On both sides you will find a candy store, doughnut shop (free doughnuts), Pinwheels and Star Pier shops, ice cream parlor (free ice cream on the pool deck) and Pet's At Sea (make your own stuffed animal). There is also Johnny Rocket's (free breakfast and small fee for lunch and dinner) as well as the Seafood Shack (small fee for lunch and dinner). The Boardwalk Bar is just in front of the Aqua Theatre. Speaking of the Aqua Theatre we made reservations for the show Oasis of Dreams and really loved it. I would highly recommend pre-booking this show as well as it was always sold out. In the front of the ship on deck 6 is the entrance to the Vitality Spa. The spa includes the usual treatments as well as a fully equipped gym and a jogging track that runs the entire length of the ship on deck 5 Don't look for great views while jogging as the life boats block most views.
Deck 8 above the promenade is where you will find Central Park. I have to tell you that this was one of my favorite spots when it came to winding down and relaxing a bit. Chops Grille, Giovanni's, Vintages and 150 Central Park are the four main pay restaurants located here. We did eat at Chops Grille and found both the food and service to be excellent and well worth the $30/person charge. We also ate at Giovanni's with our friends and their twin boys. Once again excellent service and food for a $20/person charge. We also didn't have an opportunity to try Vintages which I feel was overlooked by many of the passengers. Every time we walked by it appeared to only have a few people. You will also find the Parke Cafe here which offers salads and those famous roast beef sandwiches everyone talks about. The restaurant is small and was always busy so we didn't get a chance to try the food. There is also a Coach store which my wife had to visit as well as a gallery with some very nice artwork. This is once again where you can board the Rising Tide Bar for a ride down to the promenade deck. Next to the aft elevators is a two story night club called Dazzles which depending on the night you went included everything from ballroom dancing to 80's night. The second floor is for smoking while the main floor in non-smoking.
Deck 9, 10, 11 and 12 are all cabins (no floor 13 for those that are superstitious).
Deck 14 is where you will find the Adventures Ocean Youth Program which encompasses the forward portion of deck 14. The activities that are offered here are incredible and the two twin boys that were traveling with us had a great time and wanted to spend the entire cruise with their new friends. The service is free although be sure to sign your children up on the first day. The program runs from 9:00am till 10:00pm on sea days and from 1 hour before arrival at port till 10:00pm on port days. This is truly the best program I have seen on any cruise and would recommend it to any family.
Deck 15 is the main pool deck with the Solarium in the forward section. To use the Solarium you must be 16 years or older and is a great place if you need some quiet time to read or just relax. There are plenty of chairs and loungers to relax and soak up some sun. The Solarium Bistro serves a healthy breakfast and lunches (no charge) and is open for dinner in the evening (I believe $25/person). Just outside the Solarium on either side of the ship are two very large Jacuzzis that are cantilevered out so you are over the water. The mid portion of deck 15 included 4 pools. There is a main pool, sports pool (used for water sports such as volleyball), beach pool (where you can have your deck chair in the water) and H2O zone for kids. There are two bars that separate the pools. Near the aft elevators is the teen zone which is reserved for teens and includes their own disco, arcade and lounge area. The aft area of deck 15 includes a miniature golf course as well as a sports area including a full basketball court and ping pong tables (enclosed so you don't have to chase the ball). If you're hungry the Wipe Out Cafe offers the usual burgers, fries, etc.
Deck 16 offers additional lounge areas with two bars mid ship. The Windjammer Cafe is also located on deck 16. I know there were some who complained about the food quality but I personally didn't think it was bad. There was a good variety and I think the islands they use vs. the cafeteria line style found on some ships worked given the number of people they needed to serve. While it was difficult during the usually busy times to find a seat, the crew always worked with you to find an open table. Behind the Windjammer Cafe are the two flow riders which were always a big hit as well as the Zip Line which crosses which provides an incredible ride 8 stories above the boardwalk.
Deck 17 included the Viking Crown Lounge which was another nice place to get away and have a drink with a great view. The Pinnacle Chapel and Loft Lounge are also located on deck 17. This is where you will find the two story loft cabins that must provide a spectacular view.
We had a category D5 Deluxe Outside Balcony cabin on deck 14. My first comment is that it was smaller then what we had experienced on much smaller ships. While it worked for the two of us I know there will be some that would not be happy with the size. The bathroom was small although the shower was actually larger than others I have used. The balcony was standard size with a table and two chairs. We didn't encounter any smokers near us when we used the balcony. Flat screen TV was nice but there were limited channels. Mini bar fridge was nice but prices were high as expected. My one big complaint was we couldn't seem to get the room cool enough. We always kept it on the coolest setting but at night we always were warm. As far as noise above us on the pool deck, I really didn't hear anything.
With over 6000 passengers to get off the ship I won't complain. We had a 1:00pm flight home so we were scheduled to be off the ship at 10:00am (last group called). We left the ship around 9:30am. Beware that they close the Windjammer at 8:30am. Baggage and customs clearance were a breeze . There were plenty of taxi's to take us to the airport for our trip home.
know a lot of opinions have been posted about this ship with some negative feedback and some positive feedback. In my opinion this cruise isn't for everyone. If you are more traditional in regards to the classic cruising style with formal nights, set meals times as well as a more intimate experience then Oasis of the Seas may not be for you. If you are an active type who likes to have many options for activities or dining then you will most likely enjoy this ship.
This is an incredible ship that I think most people should try at least once. It does offer areas for those that want to relax such as the Solarium and several intimate lounges. For this sports enthusiast you have the flow riders, basketball court, rock climbing wall, zip line, sports pool, gym and track that will help you stay in shape even after indulging in the various restaurants. The optional restaurants were varied enough that most people can find something they like outside the Windjammer or main dining room. For families the kids program is by far the best that I have seen. Crew members that I encountered were friendly and attentive and always had a smile on their face even though each week they face another 6000 plus passengers.
I did feel the cabins were on the small side but manageable. The food in the main dining room was not as good as some of the other cruise lines we have been and the wait staff did seem to have too many tables to serve. While the prices for drinks were a little high I will have to admit that they were not stingy on the alcohol they used.
Remember, you're on vacation to relax and have a good time. You can always find things to complain about if you look hard enough. Understand that managing 6000 plus passengers on this size of a ship is challenging at best. I think the staff and crew did an excellent job given the challenges.