Oasis of the Seas
Western Caribbean Cruise
Jan. 21 -- 28, 2012
Each January Vincent books our anniversary cruise and this year was no different. We celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary aboard the Oasis. The same time last year we cruised on the Allure of the Seas, in a wheelchair accessible cabin with a balcony overlooking the sea and we thought it would be interesting to try a different cabin site -- so this time we booked a wheelchair accessible cabin over looking the Boardwalk. Well, there is an old adage: "Never leave the true and tried road for a new one." Or as the Italians say: "Chi lascia la via vecchia per la nuova, sa quel che lascia, ma non sa quel che trova" (Who leaves the old road for a new one knows what he leaves, but not what he finds). Just a word of advice: If you want a restful and relaxing cruise book the ocean view cabin!
This week the Oasis was fully booked with 6380 passengers (approx. 75% from USA) and 2200 crew members -- On the Royal Promenade at times it was like being in a busy airport or train station -- However, we always managed to escape the crowds by walking to the most peaceful place aboard: Central Park, where the many plants, flowers, and the soft background music and sounds of chirping birds and water falls evoked in us a sense of pastoral relaxation.
Due to logistics, Captain Thore Thorolvsen remained a remote figure; we did not have a chance to meet him: The Oasis is too big and too busy for anything else! But we did have the opportunity to meet again Hotel Director Martin Rissley, whom we had known from past cruises. He gave us a warm welcome back to the Oasis on which we had spent 12 wonderful days during her inaugural cruise in December of 2009. It is amazing to see that everything in this huge floating resort runs perfectly: From stateroom to dining room, from casual dining to specialty dining, from entertainment to passenger service, etc., etc.... A lot of credit for the successful outcome of cruising on this behemoth floating city goes to the great experience of our friend Martin. We were so happy to see him again.
Considering the huge number of embarking passengers, RCCL has adopted a well oiled check-in process, a large number of check-in booths where passengers are directed by their cabin deck. In addition, priority is given to people in wheelchairs, Suites and "Frequent Floaters" (Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members of the Crown & Anchor Society). So our check-in was expeditious and in minutes we were in our cabin. Here was the first "wow": A telephone call notified us that Vincent had left his wallet at the check-in booth. He went back to retrieve his wallet, thanked the kind lady that found it, but, due to the crowding, did not ask her name, so later he could not mention her for the "wow" employee who made the difference in our cruise! To the special lady: We wish we could have thanked you more appropriately. We are sorry we did not.
The Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship afloat, was launched the fall of 2009. She was the first of an innovative class of RCCL ships. The second ship of this class is the Allure of the Seas, which was launched a year later. Needless to say, no other existing cruise ship matches this pair in size, shapes or innovations.
For a detailed review of the Oasis we refer the readers to the one we posted on this web site in December 2009. This review will be confined to the impression of our return to the Oasis and the difference of our balcony exposure.
Our stateroom was a wheelchair accessible cabin with balcony, # 14303, on deck 14, the top deck with passenger cabins. This cabin was similar to the one we had the last cruise on the Oasis, #14166. The major difference between the two cabins was that the first one overlooked the ocean and this one was above the Boardwalk. Needless to say, it lacked privacy since it was facing the cabins on the starboard side and the Sports Court on deck 15, with constant passenger activity. The first time out on the balcony, Mary was startled by two dangling legs whizzing by. Yes, the Zip Line went right by our balcony. The balcony was a bit smaller than the one we had before, thus we did not ask the steward for a chaise lounge for Vincent. No matter, we soon realized that for privacy we would have the drapes closed during most of the voyage and the use of the balcony was limited to very little time, since Vincent could not enjoy relaxation due to the noisy activities on the Boardwalk below, nor could he be lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean's waves. Moreover, he could not stargaze during clear nights. Don't let us deter you from booking a cabin overlooking the Boardwalk, since your preferences may be different from ours and you might enjoy looking at the Aqua Show or watching the people having fun below.
Wheelchair accessible cabins on this ship have no automatic door openers, which facilitate the handicapped passenger to enter and exit the room. On a few ships we have enjoyed the automatic openers (see the Solstice class ships), thus we suggest that such convenience should be used on all ships. However, on the Oasis the wheelchair accessible bathrooms and most of the doorways are equipped with automatic door openers.
SERVICE & FOOD
Despite the high number of cruisers, service is excellent under H.D. Martin Rissley. In the Opus Dining Room, Head of Restaurant Operations Oliver Dzalevski, gave us an excellent table near the entrance. Head Waiter Jay was on the ball and our waiters were terrific: James Francis, Michelle Edwards and MacArthur couldn't have been sharper!
As usual RCCL has tremendous portions and excellent meats. We feasted each and every meal. We also enjoyed Giovanni's Table, the upscale Italian restaurant and its special atmosphere, music and service. We lamented the absence of Chef Marco Morrama, whom we met on the previous cruise, but now he is on the Allure. He has an exquisite touch with authentic Italian cuisine.
The abundance of venues for food and the hot cookies and scones are still very popular and much appreciated on RCCL ships. The Concierge Club Lounge is unique to RCCL and it is a positive perk for Suite passengers and Crown &Anchor advanced members: Complimentary specialty coffee (Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, etc.), pastries, juices and fruits are available for breakfast and through the day; and hors d'ouvres and drinks are offered before dinner in the evenings. This cruise Ricardo Mock and Allan Fajardo shared the duty of Concierge and were very helpful to us regarding reservations for shows and specialty dining, etc. The Concierge Club Lounge is also a nice place to meet people and make new friends. We were fortunate to befriend a couple of very interesting people from California, Sandy and Dennis, with whom we spent some nice time conversing about the cruises and other topics of common interest every evening during our pre dinner cocktail hour. We promised to keep in touch with each other, but have not yet been able to do it, first due to a computer problem and then to some health problems that afflicted us. We promise to get in touch with them as soon as possible.
Amy Fickert from Springfield, Ohio is the youngest Cruise Director of the RCCL fleet. Attractive and outgoing, she rallies the passengers for the many venues on board: sports, exercise and poolside activities. She introduces the major theater shows and she hosts "The Love and Marriage Game Show" on Monday evenings in the Opal Theater. There are several shows performed in the Opal Theater which require reservation. Some shows are presented several times, so if you miss them on the first day of the performance, you can catch them on the second or third time. The Headliner Showtime "Mosaic" and the production shows "Hairspray" and "Come Fly with Me" are currently shown in the Opal Theater. A stand up comedy show is offered every night in Comedy Live, deck 4.
In Studio B there is an Olympic quality ice skating show, "Frozen in Time" which is based on Hans Christian Anderson's tales, just fantastic! Don't miss it. At the end of the ice show there is an interesting attraction: A young lady and her assistant who tell stories using sand painting or sculpturing -- unbelievable, touching the sand on a screen with rapid motions of her hands and fingers she created numerous changing scenes with characters and animals, etc....
There is live entertainment all over the ship, including classic string music, jazz and dancing. Go out and find your favorite entertainment.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Depart 5:30pm
Day 2. At Sea
Day 3. Labadee, Haiti Arrive 7:00am Depart 4:30pm
Day 4. Falmouth, Jamaica Arrive 10:00am Depart 6:30pm
Day 5. At Sea
Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 6:30pm
Day 7. At Sea
Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Arrive 7:00am
Debarkation was just as efficient as embarkation. The passengers in need of wheelchair assistance met in a designated area on deck 5, where a coordinator indicated the order of debarkation according to the passenger's luggage tag color. In less than fifteen minutes we collected our luggage and went through customs. Within half an hour we were on our way home.
This was a good cruise, but not as great as the last one on the Oasis. The big disappointment was the selection of our cabin with the balcony facing the Boardwalk, rather than the ocean. However, Oasis and Allure offer alternatives that other ships do not have, most of their inside cabins have balconies or windows on Central Park, Boardwalk or the Royal Promenade.
Our next cruise will be on the MSC Poesia, a new cruise line for us, and on March 17th we'll return to one of our favorite ship, the Grand Princess. Happy Cruising!