Just disembarked from the Oasis of the Seas, where we spent the last seven days on our western Caribbean cruise, and I thought I’d get some thoughts down while everything was still fresh (and before the mundane needs of everyday life ... Read More
Just disembarked from the Oasis of the Seas, where we spent the last seven days on our western Caribbean cruise, and I thought I’d get some thoughts down while everything was still fresh (and before the mundane needs of everyday life took over once again).
I’ll say from the start that my husband and I have experienced our fair share of cruises, and on a few different lines. (We’d actually been on the Oasis once before, back in 2012, and loved it.) This means there are lots of excursions, restaurants and other cruising experiences that we’ve done in the past…and therefore didn’t need to do again. Which means this review might appear a bit basic and missing-the-action for some. However, if you’re the kind of cruiser who’s into finding the best places to lie down with the greatest amount of maximized contentment, as well as where to eat in a way that’s tasty but doesn’t break the bank, and which shows might be worth your time, and what’s up with the internet option, the fitness center and the spa, then I invite you to read on.
Embarkation/Disembarkation/General Tests of Patience
I don’t know if it’s the time of year we chose of if the ship gods were with us, but all of the cautionary tales we’d read about long lines and reserved times gone awry were absent for us. We arrived at about 11am on embarkation day, and the process to get on-board was efficient and friendly. The only line was the one to get through security. When we checked in we saw that Royal’s system had misclassified our Crown & Anchor level, and so the first thing we did upon entering the ship was to head to Guest Services (we’d worked hard for that bathrobe and wine discount, after all). We used the “charm over defiance” method in our discussion with the staff, and for any other issues we had with our bills, and found that everyone was happy to help us out. (Granted, they may have been helpful even if we’d been less charming, but we figured these people dealt with enough cranky passengers that a nice smile from us might just make up for one or two snarls from others.)
The ship is laid out extremely well, with lots of options as to where to spend your time and money, and despite the behemoth size of the Oasis we never felt crowded in or on a line for long periods of time. Even when we showed up at our My Time Dining dinners earlier than we were expected, they were able to get us our table relatively quickly.
Hubbie and I are fairly easy-to-please in the food department, and we’re also incredibly light-weighted when it comes to alcohol consumption, so it might not surprise you to hear that we were satisfied with the food…for the most part.
We tried two specialty restaurants. The first, Izumi, which was a Teppanyaki-type place, it’s one we hadn’t planned on visiting, but the guys swarming the promenade on the first day talked us into it. (NOTE: we found you can get deals for the specialty restaurants, especially if you make reservations for the first few days of the cruise. Try negotiating, but do it with charm (see above section for more on this technique).
Izumi was delicious and fun. The chefs try hard to keep things entertaining, though I will say that the experience relies just as much on the passengers around the table as it does your chef. We had a few cranky-pants people, which didn’t help matters, but it was still worth the money.
We also did the Solarium Bistro, which I was excited about because of the healthier vibe. We had made one reservation before we boarded, then let the guy on the promenade sweeten the deal with a second night at a discounted prices. Unfortunately, the food just didn’t pan out. We’d heard that the salad/appetizer and dessert courses were both buffets now, and didn’t mind that at all. But the main entrees were just…bad. Overcooked, and kind of tasteless. They let us each get a half of two entrees to try a variety of things and nothing really came out well. As a result, we cancelled our second reservation.
The dining room, on the other hand, was great. We liked the food options and found that the service was attentive and friendly. We’d heard lots of complaints about the food, and while it remained a bit basic in some regards, we also found the food had lots of flavor, and the servers were happy to work with us on a bit of meal-tweaking…or let us try a few different things.
The windjammer buffet was…busy, but again, Oasis does a great job with its organization, and those super long lines you see on other ships wasn’t present here. Instead, there are different stations for different groups of items, which helps keep things moving. We often came here for lunch, especially on port days when others were off the ship. For breakfast, we picked up a few things here that we couldn’t get at the Solarium Bistro, then made our way to the Bistro for breakfast. While there are less options at the Bistro, the atmosphere is so much calmer, and it was a nice way to start the day (and not lose each other while one of us foraged for the hard-boiled eggs while the other tried to find the maple syrup).
The other places we visited was the Park Café, which offers breakfast and lunch, and which provided some nice options and atmosphere, and Vintages Wine Bar, which is also lovely and quieter. Plus they know their wines…obviously.
The Ship, The Room, The Internet
As I’ve said, we’ve been on Oasis before and loved it, and, while some cost-cutting measures could be seen or felt, we still loved the options of places to hang out, eat, see things, and do nothing. We especially appreciated the opportunity to walk through Central Park, the Boardwalk, the promenade, and the Casino before and after dinner. There was always action or a show happening somewhere, which meant you could do something, or watch others doing it, at pretty much any time.
We spent most of everyday up in the Solarium, where we found both sunny and shaded spots with relative ease throughout the day. There are no hairy-legs contests here, which was the point for us. Also, no kids. Also the point. The loudest things got was when a bunch of Canadians took over the Jacuzzi for a while. But, really, who doesn’t find Canadians charming on some level?
Our ocean view balcony cabin was on the tenth deck, and we were pleasantly surprised by how much storage there was for all of our stuff. Our attendant was lovely and friendly.
Hubbie and I pre-purchased a full internet plan before boarding, so we were able to get the one-device streaming plan at a discounted rate. It worked fine for us, and we just swapped the internet on our various devices as needed (I tried to use the experience to reduce my internet compulsions, and am happy to say this strategy worked well). Moving between our computer, iPad and phones was not a problem at all…super easy. The signal was great and very fast. So stop worrying.
The Activities, Shows, Spa, and Ports
We saw several shows while on board, so here’s the rundown. We left Cats at the intermission, but not because the quality of the show was bad. The show itself just bored us, so we probably would’ve done the same thing had we seen it on Broadway. If Mo5aic is performing while you’re on the ship, go see them. Just trust me. We also saw the ice show and the diving show, which were both great.
We visited the Casino a lot, hoping for some traditional Texas Hold’em Action, but nobody came to play and the version where you play against the dealer didn’t do it for us. Hubbie had booked me a massage at the spa ahead of time (nice guy, yes?) and it was fine. I nicely warned my massage therapist, just as she started her pitch about the expensive oils she’d used, that I wasn’t buying anything. She said she was glad I told her up front and saved her the time. I visited the Fitness Center each morning to run off the bloat of the day before. The equipment, both cardio and weights, were great.
As far as the ports, I can’t be super helpful here, except to say that it seems some of the greatest magic on a ship happens when everyone else gets off of it. We only got off in Cozumel, and that was to visit Paradise Beach, our favorite spot in Mexico and worth the slight hassle of moving our butts down the gangplank.
All in All…
We met lots of nice people and lots of…complainers. Like everything else, a lot of the experience is about your expectations going in, and your willingness to be flexible around those expectations. One woman I met actually said there wasn’t anything to do on board (what?) and another guy got all kinds of hot and bothered when the server didn’t bring him a second coffee up at the Windjammer on the super-busy final morning. Then again, perhaps this guy was just cranky about leaving the mighty Oasis that day. I could certainly understand. Read Less