Perhaps you've seen TV commercials featuring cruise passengers dancing with Shrek and Fiona, giving a surf simulator a try and zooming down a zipline high above an open deck with a Johnny Rockets and authentic carousel. If so, you've seen an ad for Royal Caribbean's Oasis class of ship, probably the line's most popular -- and most expensive -- ship class.
The largest cruise ships in the world, these behemoths can carry more than 6,000 passengers each at full capacity. They boast seven distinct neighborhoods, numerous specialty restaurants, some of the line's most exciting attractions and straight-from-Broadway production shows like "Mamma Mia!" and "Grease." The Oasis-class ships have the most to offer of any of Royal Caribbean's ships.
But despite having most features in common, ships within Royal Caribbean's Oasis class do differ, particularly between the older ships (Oasis and Allure, launched in 2009 and 2010, respectively) and newest ones (Harmony of the Seas, launched in 2016, and Symphony of the Seas, launched in 2018).
Here's everything you need to know to help you decide whether the Oasis class is right for you and which ship within the class you'd like best.
Divided into seven themed neighborhoods (Entertainment Place, Central Park, Youth Zone, Boardwalk, among others), the Oasis-class ships are designed to prevent crowding and keep passengers busy all day long. FlowRider surf simulators, a zipline, rock climbing walls, multiple swimming pools and whirlpools, an H2O water park, plus afternoon AquaTheater stunt diving shows, Broadway-style musicals in the theater at night and dozens of restaurants and bars -- including the funky Bionic Bar -- provide enough stimulation to prevent a single moment of boredom.
Additionally, all Oasis-class ships feature an ice skating rink, fully functional carousel, 3D movies, a kids club and the Royal Babies & Tots Nursery. Three of the four also have the DreamWorks Experience (which brings characters from movies like "Shrek," "Kung Fun Panda" and "Madagascar" to the ship).
For those who enjoy the suite life, Oasis-class ships feature the full Royal Suite Class experience, which gives suite passengers a host of perks (depending on suite level) that can include butler service, free internet, free specialty dining and drinks, ensuite dining options and free access to the spa's thermal room.
Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are virtually identical with the main difference being which Broadway show is shown in the main theater: Oasis of the Seas features "Cats," while Allure of the Seas presents "Mamma Mia!" Secondary shows in the main theater differ on all four of the Oasis-class ships.
Both have the child-friendly H2O Zone, a splashy water park that features water cannons, interactive geysers, climbable sculptures and waterfalls.
Harmony of the Seas is differentiated from Oasis and Allure, with a handful of restaurants not found on the others -- Jamie's Italian, a trattoria-style eatery from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, and Wonderland, which lets diners discover a variety of whimsical molecular gastronomic creations. Harmony of the Seas also boasts several multi-deck water slides, the Abyss (the tallest regular slide at sea) and an Escape Room, in which cruisers are given 60 minutes to solve a collection of puzzles that lead to the way out of the room. And on Harmony, rather than an H2O Zone, there is Splashaway Bay, which features water cannons, a multilevel jungle gym and an enormous drenching bucket. The Broadway show on Harmony is "Grease."
Symphony of the Seas, which launched in late March 2018, is most similar to Harmony of the Seas with many of the same restaurants, the multi-deck water slides and the Abyss, but differs in a few key ways. Two restaurants on Symphony of the Seas are not available on the other Oasis-class ships: they are El Loco Fresh, which focuses on Mexican quick bites like tacos and other food-to-go items, and Hooked Seafood, a casual eatery with a menu of fresh seafood and a raw bar.
A significant difference between Symphony of the Seas and all the other Oasis-class ships will be a reimagined Boardwalk with a Playmakers Sports Bar spanning the entire length of the space. Inside will be more than 30 TVs streaming sports games, plus a variety of arcade games including video games and Skeeball. A menu will offer up craft beer and pub-style fare such as wings and burgers.
Also, only on Symphony will be a laser tag arena; it will be a glow-in-the-dark attraction with a galactic theme.
Like Harmony of the Seas, Symphony will have Splashaway Bay, rather than the H2O Zone. The Broadway show on Symphony will be "Hairspray."
If you want the Royal Caribbean experience you've seen in TV commercials, the Oasis-class ships are for you. Adrenaline junkies, groups of friends and families with varied tastes and cruisers who don't want to feel like they're on a ship will love any one of the four Oasis-class ships. While options for rest and relaxation are available, the Oasis-class vessels are more appropriate for cruisers who want to be constantly engaged in some activity or another.
Cruisers who don't like Oasis-class ships say the vessels are too crowded and they spend most of their time planning their day rather than actually enjoying their day. Other complaints include the need to book shows and dining ahead of time, standing in line and having to be on time in order to not lose an already-booked spot at a show or dinner. Cruisers who particularly enjoy being able to see the ocean also struggle with the Oasis-class ships as there are so many indoor spots where the outdoors is never visible.
Updated February 20, 2020