My wife and I were really looking forward to this cruise. Ever since our first cruise on Liberty of The Seas, Royal Caribbean has had us hooked! Once we finally booked the cruise, the fact that we were going on an Oasis class ship took a long time to set in. Along with our cruise, we booked a 5 night dining package, premium drink package, and VOOM streaming Internet for one device. Normally we wouldn't buy internet on a cruise but we left our 6 month old at home with his grandma.
I had read about how smooth embarkation is on Oasis and Allure and how huge
Terminal 18 is, and sure enough, all the rumors are true. Terminal 18 is huge and super efficient. We pulled up around 12:30pm and porters stapled our preprinted luggage tags to our bags, we tipped them and moved to the terminal. From the time we got in line to go through customs, to the moment we stepped foot on the ship was about 25 mins. Quick, efficient, and very pleasing considering this ship can hold north of 6000 passengers. Unless things change with security or RCI staffing in the terminal, expect a speedy and efficient embarkation.
For our room, we booked a Central Parkview balcony room. Upon booking, we had several concerns. One was noise from the pool deck/park below. Noise was not an issue at all. When the balcony do is closed, 90% of the outside noise goes away. The only time you hear much of anything is when the band is playing at the pool on days at sea (which probably means you shouldn't be in your room long anyway). You do hear the simulated noise of birds chirping during the day, and crickets at night. I believe the simulated noises are on a timer and turn off during quiet hours (1am-8am I think). There was plenty of space to store everything we brought. We packed 4 suitcases (I know it's a lot :/ ) and were able to fit all of them under the bed once we unpacked. The bathroom is small as expected in a standard stateroom.
As previously mentioned, we bought the 5 night dining package, which we both agreed was an excellent value, especially on a ship that has an incredible amount of dining options. We ate in the dining room on the first and sixth nights. After reading previous reviews, we both had low expectations of the food and service in the dining room. Those low expectations were definitely met. We absolutely loved the table we sat at and actually made friends with another couple who we saw multiple times everyday on the cruise. However, the service was very slow. I'm talking 45 mins to bring out your appetizers slow. I'm talking an hour and half to bring out your main course slow. Our dining time was 8:30 and on both days we weren't out of the dining room any earlier than 10:45. Not to mention, neither of our waiters were that great. Especially compared to Freedom OTS and Liberty OTS. I couldn't even tell either of their names.
Now the specialty restaurants, those are a totally different story. We had very high expectations for everywhere we ate, and all exceeded expectations, especially 150 Central Park. Our waiter at 150 Central Park, whose name was Julien, made sure that our dining experience there was incredible. We were greeted by name when we sat down and immediately served bread with unsalted butter and 6 different salts from around the world. Following the bread was a 6 course meal that I would've happily paid $100-$200 per person for on land because the service and the food was that good. The atmosphere of the the restaurant was also excellent. Very formal, very intimate. So damn good, that we actually ate their twice and requested the same waiter. Giovanni's Table, which serves family style Italian was also excellent. When I saw lamb chops on the menu, my eyes lit up like the 4th of July. They were some of the finest lamb chops a person could ever had at sea or on land. My wife had jumbo shrimp which was also to die for.
Izumi was our least favorite, but that does not mean it wasn't great. My wife had their sushi which was great while I had the hibachi. I love that they make the fried rice with a very light amount of soy sauce and let you add extra soy sauce on your own if you want it. The chefs were a lot more energetic than any hibachi restaurant I've eaten at on land. Izumi is a very small and popular hibachi and sushi place, so if you want to eat there book it online or as soon a you board. Then of course, there is Chops who serves some of the best steaks and seafood at sea. Excellent as always. Our waiter Relish (pronounced RelEEsh) was very professional and took very good care of us. Long story short, if you budget allows it, I highly highly highly recommend you purchase some kind of dining package and eat at the specialty restaurants. They are well worth the money, and service in the dining room doesn't even compare. Plus, who doesn't want to eat in Central Park!? Also, we called Sabor the best kept secret on the ship. Every time we ate there it was just fabulous. We always had the same waiter whose name was Joel and he always treated us very well. Their table side guacamole was just fantastic, the margaritas, fantastic, the tacos, fantastic. We usually always ate lunch there. It is an a la cartel menu, but we usually paid about $12 because we shared everything. As for the Windjammer (A.K.A. the Excuse Me Cafe), for a ship this it was pretty small. You are constantly almost colliding with people or saying excuse me to someone who won't even hear you because they can make up their mind on whether they want chicken marsala or beef stroganoff.
If you've done any kind of research on Oasis class ships, you'll know that they divide the ship into 7 different areas they like to call neighborhoods. RCI practically throws it in your face. The size of the ship may seem overwhelming (believe me looking at it when you arrive to the terminal definitely makes you feel that way), but the neighborhood concept makes the ship very easy to navigate. Even my wife who is awful at directions was able to find her way around by the end of day 2. The neighborhood concept is also brilliant because it makes it feel like there isn't actually 6000+ people on the ship. Pools areas can get busy on sea days, but we never had an issue with finding a chair. Expect long lines for popular activities on sea days like the Flowrider (especially the surfing side), Ziplining, and a Rock climbing.
Central Park is by far our favorite space. It's very quiet and beautiful and offers an endless amount of photo ops especially at night! However, when going through the aft doors at night in Central Park, be very careful because the floor gets slippery. This warning is especially for women wearing heels. We saw few very cartoonish and tragic falls during our cruise. The warm humid air coming from the outside into the cool air of the ship creates condensation on the floors so watch out! The promenade was beautiful and had plenty of shopping and entertainment. There was seemingly always live music playing somewhere whether it was Boleros, On Air, Globe and Atlas pub, or above the promenade. The boardwalk was best kept secret of the ship. It is nowhere near as busy as some other areas of the ship are. In this areas, there's Ben and Jerry's icecream, the carousel, a souvenir shop wish a candy shop attached, Sabor, the Aqua Theatre, Rock Climbing, and an arcade. This area also looks spectacular at night, but I feel like the area is missing something and that's why traffic is always light there.
Our other favorite spot was the Solarium. It is always quiet there, and you can get enough of a breeze without worrying about strong headwinds because the area is mostly covered by glass. There was a late night dance party hosted here one night as well as the Boardwalk. If you are looking only to soak up some sun with some peace and quiet, head to the sundeck all the way forward on deck 14. You'll take the stairs or elevator to deck 14, head towards the port side hallway, and walk forward towards the bow. If it is windy, the deck will not be open, but otherwise it is a nice quiet spot. 4/7 we were on the ship, there was absolutely no headwind so that area was very nice if you wanted peace and quiet.
Entertainment and Activities
If you are looking for a ship that has the most in entertainment options, look no further. The onboard activities are seemingly endless. The worst thing you can do for your cruise vacation is trying to pack too many activities into your day. All it does is create stress on you and tire you so much that you won't make it past dinner. When your stateroom attendant leaves a cruise compass in your room, review the activities carefully and put a star by the ones you're most interested in and multiple stars by the ones you don't want to miss. For example, some of my favorite activities involve competitions like the Best of The Best Flowrider, dodgeball, pool volleyball, the belly flop competition, and the worlds sexiest man (all of which I competed in. Can you guess which one I won? lol).
The Oasis of Dreams show at the Aqua Theatre completely blew my mind. The fact that a show like this is able to take place on a ship, let alone at all is just amazing. There are lights, music, floating performers, a divers that jump probably about 60 feet from the top of the Aqua Theatre. We skipped out on Cats because we heard it was an incredibly long production. 3 hours on a cruise ship on a sea day can go a long way, plus it was during the Flow Rider competition. There is always something going on the ship whether it's dancing at Boleros, Dazzles, or Blaze, or trivia, even the live musicians that frequent the pool deck, central park, or the promenade. If you find yourself bored on Oasis of The Seas it is 100% your fault. There is plenty to do for all ages and all different personality types.
I will make this easy and say the only place we didn't receive good service was in the main dining room. How could you provide good service when you potentially have to feed up to 6000 people between 6pm and 11pm? Service everywhere else was excellent, especially in the specialty restaurants. We did run into a bit of product pedaling at Sabor on day 1, but damn it I'm glad he did pedal those margaritas because they were very good! Our stateroom attendant Stevo was excellent, he was always interested in what we just got done doing, how we liked it, and what we were doing next.
Ports of Call
We didn't see any shore excursions that we were interested in or that we hadn't done on previous cruises, so for this cruise we did not book anything through Royal Caribbean. Our first shore visit was Nassau, Bahamas, and I wish we never got off of the ship. It was a very short visit. We were only docked from 7am-2pm. We wanted to go to Atlantis, but we figured by the time we spend $150 per person and get there, it'd be time to head back to the ship, basically wasting our money. We decided to go to a beach not far from the pier. When we got off, we had to brave an area that I like to call The Gauntlet. About a half of a mile of being bombarded by salespeople selling fake designer bags, fake jewelry, cigars, one after another after another. You'd figure that they'd realize that they're the 9th person in line trying to see fake designer bags. When we got the beach, there was no let up either. Men constantly asking us if we wanted to rent chairs and umbrellas, buy drinks, or rent kayaks. The beach was rocky, and trash kept washing ashore. We got off of the ship at about 9:30am and were back onboard by 11am. If a future cruise stopped here again, we wouldn't dare get off of the ship.
Our second shore visit was St. Thomas. Here, we decided to go to the world famous Magen's Bay. It was very easy to find a cab, but the cab ride to the beach was the highlight of this shore visit. It was honestly the my questionable, sketchy cab ride ever. These cabs are basically pickup trucks with benches in the beds that seat about 35-30 people. Now picture something like that winding through relatively large mountains at speeds of 35-55mph. Combine that with a driver who didn't seem to know what a STOP sign was and how to navigate a vehicle through one. Everyone is the cab was losing their minds! Once we arrived, the beach was beautiful, but crowded. We found a quiet spot along the rocks to snorkel and swim. This was absolutely one of the most beautiful beaches I've been to. When you look out to the end of the bay, there is a perfectly placed island. It was almost like something that could be a default desktop background on a brand new PC. The cab ride back wasn't as bad as the ride to the beach. Overall, the round trip for my wife and I cost $50. $10 per person each way, and $5 per person to access the beach.
Our last port of call was Sint Maarten. I had heard nothing but great things about this shore visit so I was very excited. When we got off of the ship, we stopped at the visitor center right in the cruise port and inquired about a snorkeling excursion. Once we told them we were interested, we were taken to a cab and taken to a snorkel shop about 5 mins away. Our driver was very friendly and informed us of how friendly everyone on the island was. On the way to the shop, the driver was honking and waving at people and my wife asked "so do you know the people you're waving at?" He replied "no, I just see them around often." That would set the tone for the rest of the day. We got to Blue Bubbles' shop where we each paid $65 which included snorkeling, access to paddle boards, kayaks, Mullet Bay Beach, unlimited rum punch and snacks and a meal for $10 extra (i think it should just be $75 and everyone gets food). The staff was incredibly friend, informative, and concerned about safety. There were about 12 of us on a fairly large boat, and we were all different ages ranging from 1 year old to 50 years old. There is plenty of snorkel gear including lifebelts, life vests, and boogie boards to keep people who aren't strong swimmers above water.
At the first stop, we swam past a floating tiki bar where we saw colorful fish, a plane wreck, a submarine wreck, a helicopter wreck, and a ship wreck. It's a pretty decent swim to get to the wrecks, so if you're not a strong swimmer let the staff know and they will provide you with a floatation device. On the way to the next stop, the staff breaks out the rum punch (natural fruit punch for those under 21 years old) and the snacks. They play nice relaxing music, and give passengers an opportunity to drive the boat. No one else wanted to drive so I drove for about 20 mins lol. Just before we got to the second location, we passed Maho Beach and Princess Juliana Airport. We stopped at the adjacent beach named Mullet Bay Beach. It is a topless beach, but the staff parks the boat far enough out that any youth can't clearly make out topless women on the beach. This beach is where you go get food. You can either swim to the beach with a guide who will let them you you've paid for you food, or have the guide bring it to the boat. We decided to swim ashore and eat. The beach is beautiful and quiet, and the food is GOOD. We had chicken and ribs with rice and beans and a salad. The chicken and ribs were seasons with island spices. We spent a good chunk of time in Mullet Bay, which was nice because everyone had ample time to paddle board and kayak, or relax at the beach. When it's time to board the boat the captain will sound the whistle. Overall the excursion was about 5 hours. I'd certainly do it again.
Our flight was 3pm so we were in no rush to get off of the ship. When we decided to do so, we were out on the curb in about 20 minutes. However, we did not get off when our luggage tag number was called. When they called our number, we waited about 30 mins and then got off. I believe this helped us not stand in line a ton or look for our bags along with hundreds of other people. When we got to the baggage claim area, ours was pretty much the only one left. So if your flight is a little later, take your time getting off of the ship.
I am looking forward to the day that we set sail on another Oasis class ship. I am also looking forward to bringing my son and his future sibling on an Oasis class ship. Plenty to do for families, great dining options, and an endless array of activities. For those with children, I also heard from multiple shipmates with kids that Adventure Ocean (the neighborhood of the ship where parents can take their kids) was awesome. I never felt like the ship was overcrowded and it never felt like there were actually 6000 people onboard. The only thing I would change is visiting Nassau as a port of call. Other than that, my wife and I had an incredible experience! Thanks Royal Caribbean! Read Less