We decided to go on the Oasis of the Seas about Jan this year, as we always wanted to try out one of the mega ships. We didn’t do too much research into the ship and Royal Caribbean now before booking. The choice of cabins was also somewhat limited by the time we booked, but we were okay with that. I will leave our overall decision of the ship until the end.
VACATION START - We had a total of 7 people, my family of 3 (incl a 5 year old) , my parents (both seniors) and 2 friends of my parents. It was 4 cabins total, as the 2 friends each booked a single cabin. My parents drove down 2 days before the cruise (with the gas prices have determined they did not save any money!), and the rest of us flew in on Saturday. The 2 friends stayed near port overnight and had a transport to port morning of the cruise. We stayed next to Disney Springs and visited with local family that day.
EMBARKATION - My parents and we drove to the port, leaving around 8:45am. We decided to park at the port after reading about issues with the buses to/from the other parking lots. We decided with a young child and seniors it was not a good idea if we had wait outside in the heat. This choice was totally worth the extra cost. We got to the port about 9:45 am and sat in line at the light and heading into the garage about 20 mins. Once we got close to the parking structure, someone directed us into the parking lot on the right side and told us to pull around and into a parking space to drop our luggage. We did so, then pulled back out of the lot, made the right turn and right back up into the parking garage. It went very quickly at that point. This seemed a lot better than being in the large group of cars/people inside the parking garage dropping off luggage. I believe we just happened to be in the right place at the right time for them to pull a few cars out separately to drop luggage on the side. We agreed that we could or should have left earlier and been at the port by 9am and it might have gone faster, but either way it certainly was not a bad experience so far.
We then parked and headed into the building. Security went quickly so no issues there. We met up with the rest of our group as we were entering, but had to split up as they were on deck 14 and we were on deck 3, so we were sent different ways to check-in. The check-in process took about 10-15 mins total. The checked our docs, took our pics and gave us our seapass cards and check-in color. We were Gold members, so we went to our area and determined they were already boarding. This was about 10:30am. The longest “line” was getting onto the ship. It took about 20 mins total to go up the gangway and through the ship entrance. We also were stopped on the way through for our daughter to get a “child safety bracelet”. We didn’t know about this, but supposedly if your child is not with you during an emergency they use these bracelets to determine the child’s muster station and can bring the child to you if needed vs. the parents going to find them. We were told she had to wear it all week, but we saw many children who didn’t have them by mid-week. Our daughter wore hers reluctantly, but she is never not with us so we probably didn’t need it but oh well.
We finally arrived on the ship after 11am, and headed to Windjammer for lunch. It was very organized and they were seating everyone as they entered. We were directed to one side that just reopened and it seemed less chaotic there. The rest of our group joined us there. We had to ask for drinks multiple times as the servers seemed to disappear most times, but this seemed to be an embarkation day only mishap. Lunch was average, as it is a buffet and about what we expected. We discovered the ultimate Chocolate cake here… it is chocolate cake with a thick mousse like topping. SOOOOOO GOOD! I still miss it!
We walked around the ship for a few mins after lunch, then went down towards our rooms. It was about 20 mins early, but they were open and we were allowed in. Most of our luggage was there already. We unpacked and headed to the pool for a while. It was FREEZING cold, but daughter loved it anyway. We then went down to the room to chill and get ready for dinner.
If I continue with a daily review it will go on forever… so I will hit all the major parts and give our review on each.
EATERIES: We ate at every free location on the ship, and 1-2 of the cost locations. None of the full restaurants. The big issue we had on these was the times they were open! Very little late night snacking allowed on this ship as well as options especially for 6000 people!! Windjammer was open all day but closed at 8:45… waayyy to early. Boardwalk dog, Park café, Wipeout café all closed by 5-6pm. Only places open after 8:45 pm were Promenade Café and Sorrento’s Pizza. Therefore if you wanted anything after dinner time, or you didn’t get to dinner early enough, your choices were VERY limited. For this many passengers this seemed crazy. This meant the promenade was overly busy every night after this time because this was the only options! RCCL needs to rethink this for a ship this size. Guess they think everyone goes to bed at 9pm…
We went to the dining room every dinner and many breakfast. Our dinner servers, Catherine from Kenya and Raj from India were excellent and made the experience for us all. I had requested a round 8 top table near the window before leaving. We were sent an email from RCCL with the table number and deck about 2 weeks before sailing. I liked our table, as it was off to the side and quiet. Plus we could enter from the side of the dining room right off the stairs instead of the front. However, we sometimes felt like we were out of the “excitement” of the dining room when they had the parades and such, but they did come down our area. Wondering if we were put back there because of the request or not, but will never know. The DR at breakfast was a hit or miss. We often ate off the buffet as well as ordered from the menu. Some days servers were great and others they were terrible. I believe this had to do with new employees being confused and not knowing the menu yet. It was also pretty slow and drinks had to be chased down often. However, we decided it was better here than the buffet. The design of the rooms were beautiful in every level and seats were very comfortable.
The Windjammer never seemed overwhelming, but did have busy times. I liked that they always had out people with sanitizer and directed from one entrance to other depending on how busy. It was set up in an organized manner, but finding the desserts in the back took a few mins. The servers were nice and usually around to help. Park Café was really nice and never overcrowded. We ate here 1 breakfast and 1 lunch, good options and one of the places with made to order items and flavored waters. Promenade Café was easily accessible and as noted, one of the only late night options. Sadly, food options rarely changed. Sandwiches were always the same, and desserts changed slightly (strawberry cake vs peach cake). Boardwalk Doghouse was very good. We stopped here a couple times, when we could catch them open! (avg 12-6 daily) and tried different choices. Usually only 1-2 people working the station, but were nice and quick. Sorrento’s Pizza was another option near Promenade café. It was also were 2 of the Freestyle stations were, which also made it busy but it moved quickly. We never sat here and ate but usually grabbed and went. They also had the flavored waters here. Wipeout café was rarely visited as we quickly determined it had the same food as the windjammer for breakfast and lunch. This was also where they had some ice cream midday. Therefore, unless we needed something specific, we didn’t go here more than one time for breakfast and lunch/snack. Solarium Bistro was a nice place to visit but we were surprised when we thought this was supposed to be lighter fare buffet for breakfast/lunch but found it had the same food as Windjammer as well. We never saw any egg whites or turkey bacon the couple times we stopped in. Just seemed to be a quieter place to eat. Part of our group also tried Johnny Rockets for breakfast, but stated it was not worth the effort. Slow service and greasy food turned them off for the remainder of the cruise. This location seemed to be pretty empty every time we were in the area. Starbucks was as expected.
FOOD: Dining room food was good overall. There were some things we loved and some we didn’t prefer, but this was to be expected. Overall we didn’t go hungry at all. Some of our favorites were the short rib, onion tart, NY strip, Risotto, Cordon Blue, Lasagna, Cheesecake, Choc Cake and kid’s banana split. The kids menu was sad as we wished they had some changes nightly, plus the pizza was hard and old tasting and grilled cheese wasn’t melted. Our daughter ate spaghetti or chicken strips almost every night. Breakfast menu items were good but wish there were more options. Parfait was said to be a favorite. We liked the buffet options but were all regular breakfast items. Windjammer food was always hot and cooked well. We liked the rotational items (German day, Jamaican day, Mexican day) The Burgers were terrible, but hot dogs were delicious. Very disappointed that they didn’t have any kid’s items on the buffet, such as chicken fingers or mac & cheese. Some favorites were taco bar, German station, and desserts! Park Café had made to order sandwiches as well as premade. Choices such as tuna, chicken, ham, turkey, vegetarian. The Beef on Weck was a favorite! The breakfast with bagels was good, but the breakfast sandwiches were premade and left some to be desired. Promenade café had the same sandwiches everyday (Italian, turkey, shrimp salad, Greek veg, roast beef) and desserts (cupcakes, cake, pudding or jello, choc mousse and cookies. We LOVED the shrimp salad sandwich, chocolate mousse and coconut cookies, these were regular nightly snacks for us, along with pizza. Sorrento’s had alternating pizza toppings, some very different such as Mexican or Greek. We loved the options and thought the pizza was good. It isn’t the best Chicago or NY pizza, but still cheesy goodness. They also had antipasti or cooked veggies and breadsticks.
We did get the soda package and were pleased. Wish there were more machines spread around the ship, but we found the best one to visit was in the arcade on deck 15. There were usually 1-2 machines down daily, but this isn’t surprising with all the people. Also, they were out of ice almost 50% of the time, but this is a machine fault. When you dispense ice, it flies out so fast you fill your cup and more immediately. Therefore much of it is wasted. The employees just can’t keep up with refilling it. We were happy to get PowerAde (reg. and zero), Dasani flavored and Dasani sparkling. DH determined they didn’t have flavored Dasani sparkling, so he mixed the plain sparkling with Dasani flavored water. We also had a group member with a cracked cup, which was quickly exchanged by guest services.
SERVICE: We determined pretty quickly that many of the employees were new. We would ask questions and were told “This is my 1st/2nd/3rd week aboard so let me find out or I am not sure”. Also, almost everyone on the ship seemed to move at a glacial pace, from serving to guest services, to sales to entertainment coordinators. We had multiple issues were shows or events ran very long beyond the scheduled. A bingo our group attended was to be 45 mins and finally ended 1.5 hours later. This made them late to dinner because they had already paid for the bingo cards and couldn’t just leave. It was due to the people running the event talking too much in-between. Same happened at the Love and Marriage show, it took an hour before they even started the actual show portion. We are on vacation and certainly didn’t want to feel rushed, but we also didn’t want to miss out on other things because we were late or feel things were being drug out for no reason. I also waited 1 day at lunch in the DR for a made to order pasta. I just wanted Spaghetti and for over 20 mins. I only had 4 people in front of me but the cook moved so slowly! Everyone was complaining. Most people were friendly but many seemed to need more training on the boat, menus and service. We had to ask 4 people where our muster station was before we got the correct answer! I also believe the ship was highly understaffed and stretched thin.
SHOWS: Overall most of the shows didn’t seem to have a theme, other than CATS, but they were all very good in their own ways. We had reservations for all of the main shows. We saw CATS first night. It was very good although we didn’t make it past intermission. It was too long for a 5 year old, however she loved it! She is still singing the songs. The set was excellent and actors as well. Frozen in time was probably our least favorite, but still a good show. One of our favorite parts was the sand artist in the middle. Not sure if she was a special part for that week or if there all the time. The dive show was a mix as there were very experienced divers and tumblers and some very novice divers. It was still nice to see outside. We had to arrive 45 mins ahead of time to get a good seat. Oasis of dreams was our favorite show. The mix of acrobatics, illusionist and dancers made it the best. The stage props were unbelievable for a ship. The Love and Marriage show was funny but we were not big fans of the Cruise Director that ran the show so it kind of pulled it down for us. We liked the Entertainment manager much better and would have preferred her most times. Our group saw the headliner show, which was Abba and said it was “ok” but not exceptional. We didn’t get to any comedy shows or any other smaller shows.
SHOPS: This was overwhelming, as it was a large part of the cruise. We were sad there were not more stores based on the cruiseline or ports. We did like the kids stores (DreamWorks and candy based). The high priced stores like Coach and Tiffany we did not really visit as we thought they were more then what we could buy at home. We did have someone in our group make a purchase at Coach and was very happy. The “sales” in the center of the Promenade made for crazy times and people. Don’t believe that the ”one-time” sales are really one time… we had them continue just about the rest of the week. We went to the 2 for $20 t-shirt sale and got some nice shirts, but they were there the rest of the week as well.
TECH: We purchased the 2 device surf and stream before leaving for 30% off. We did this for communications while on the ship between the large group. We found Facebook Messenger or Google hangout to be the easiest. Text messages would sit for hours. The Wi-Fi seemed good except in areas like Studio B at the bottom where you are in thick walls. Otherwise no issues and it moved very quickly.
PORTS: The cruise visited Labadee, Falmouth Jamaica and Cozumel Mexico. Labadee was beautiful and very welcoming. The walk from the ship to the first tram stop is long, so be ready if you have mobility restrictions. We decided our group was going to take the tram to Columbus Cove beach. There were a few stops on the way so we weren’t sure if it was our stop or not as the driver wasn’t too informative. One note about this beach is the local shops. They are right behind the beach and the locals are allowed to talk to you for sales, but cannot go past mid-street or follow you. We didn’t mind them there but did get overwhelming when every time you went to the bathroom or to get a drink they were on you. Also, I believe I was bit by sand fleas (only one in my group), otherwise there was an irritation from something there. The tops of my feet were extremely itchy and red for a few days. We also saw a few other people on the ship after that day with the same issues. So bring bug spray!! When we arrived, about 30 mins after docking, we arrived at the beach and chose a spot. The local employees brought down chairs for us. We stayed in the calm beautiful waters for a couple hours. Then walked up to eat lunch, which was burgers/dogs/BBQ and desserts. We were told on the ship there would be multiple places we could fill up water bottles with water, but we went to many bars and locations looking for this and they all told us they didn’t have them. So take on your own from the ship. We stopped at the shops on the way out, as well as the kid’s splash zone. The zip line, water slide, tours and inflatables all looked fun and busy but we chose to just enjoy the beach.
In Jamaica the 3 of us went on an excursion to Dolphin Cove. This was a fun excursion where we were able to get in the water with the dolphins, touch them and get pics. I read online before the trip the pictures were expensive so I thought I was prepared. I was thinking about $100 for the CD of pictures… I was sadly mistaken when given the price of $180 for 3 people. We couldn’t not buy it so of course you are stuck. It was a total of 85 pictures, including personal pics and a family picture. We stayed there another 1.5 hours and could eat lunch and walk around. We also visited the animals (love birds, bunnies, iguanas, macaws) on our way in. They had a beautiful pool and beach area you could use as well. We arrived back to the ship about an hour later than we expected (Jamaica and ship times are different), went shopping in port for about 30 mins and headed back. This is also a port with a LONG walk to the shops and even longer to the excursion meeting locations.
In Cozumel we had planned to take an excursion to Playa Mia, but for some reason all of these excursions were canceled before the cruise. We found out after this day they added some excursions to Chankanaab National Park and it was excellent (from people we met), which was dumb for us to not go check at the excursion desk. However, we decided that week to just make this day a calm shopping day, and we were all tired. We were told to take a taxi to downtown to shop, which we did. However, this was just another port area with the same things. It did seem slightly cheaper, but not drastic. We stayed there for about an hour looking around, then headed back to our port. We shopped there for a while as well and headed back after about 3 hours total. This port is very close in distance and easier to navigate.
PHOTOS: We did get some good photos although there were some issues. We never found any of our pictures taken in Labadee. Disney seems to have this process down better. They never print anything and just ask for your seapass card every time (or cabin number). The people that were out and about taking photos did not have the ability to add your card/details to attach you to the pictures, so instead there were thousands of pictures on the walls and you had to find yours. I thought cruise lines were way past this old way of doing photos, but we were wrong. We also took photos at one of our favorite backdrops on formal night and the photos were never found. There were also a couple other ones we didn’t find either. The photographers seemed to be having issues with the system all the time. Also, they only had you stand in about 3 different poses EVER! They would sell a lot more pictures if they learned to put people in other poses. I believe this could be to newer photographers, as we did come across one that seemed to be a veteran and did some different poses for our group. We bought the package of 5 prints for $99 and were happy with them, but wish we wouldn’t have lost the others we took.
DEBARKATION: We chose to have our luggage taken through security even though we parked at port. However, we received a 10am time, but though this was too late as we still had a flight to catch in Orlando. We went down to GS the morning of day 7 and quickly changed it to a 9am tag. The morning of, we ate breakfast in Windjammer and headed off. We grabbed a porter as quickly as we could, loaded our luggage and were through customs and to our car in about 20 mins. The elevators were slow and full, but the advice to get a porter was excellent (thanks Cruise Critic!). The porters were even yelling “anyone want to get through the line faster???” They did go through a separate line and bypassed hundreds of people waiting in line to go through customs. Worth the $20 we gave them for our 8 pieces of luggage and quick movement.
SHIP OVERALL: The ship didn’t look in bad condition in our opinion. Employees were constantly cleaning everywhere. All elevators worked and we rarely had to pass on one for overcrowding. Layout of the ship seemed to be choppy which made it seem smaller then it was, however we liked all of the areas. The pools were often cold and overfilled, but we could usually find a pool chair somewhere. There were very few table and chair areas on the deck, more than half were in the smoking section! and hard to get. This is something our group likes to have to play cards outside and were disappointed there were so few. We liked the smaller pool chairs for kids. We had one time of the kids pool being closed for sanitation issues and were told it would take 4.5-5 hours until it reopened. We could not believe it would be that long! Also, all of the pools closed early in the evening (around 8pm), so if you wanted to go out after dinner to the pool or hot tub you were out of luck. The only hot tubs open were the solarium ones. We have never seen a cruise line close pools so early! Again this line caters to people who go to bed early?
The overall daily schedule was the saddest part of it all for us. There were very few things for families or kids, even though this ship/line states it does a lot for families. We only found a couple things each sea day that was an event we could attend, and even those were sad. The kids “circus” was a bunch of yard games set up for kids to play. 75+ percent of the items listed daily on the navigator was shopping related. This cruise seemed to cater to people who wanted to come on and shop in the expensive stores on deck 5. Sales on this or that, shopping seminars, etc etc etc. This made the ship feel even more like a moving mall.
As others said, if you want to go on this ship and expect to see the ocean, you better have an oceanview balcony room! You did not see the water unless you looked out a window (when you found them), go to deck 5 running deck, or go up to the pool decks. You really did have to work hard to see the ocean. When we are on a cruise we want to see the water and this ship made it feel like we were on a moving shopping mall and hotel.
OVERALL OPINION: We enjoyed our cruise and the chance to go on this megaship, but we would not go it again as it wasn’t for us. We were on RCCL many years ago and the class of the company ships seems to have gone down. It used to be a much more “royal” affair on these ships, but now we are not sure it is much different than Carnival (which we like as well but use to be more of a party line). We definitely had pros and cons, as expected. We look forward to going on other RCCL ships in the future to see the variances between the mega ships and smaller ships now. Read Less