After having been on board older ships such as the Carnival Elation and incredibly modern and large ships like Celebrity Solstice, it was time to try something even larger and more grandiose! If you didn’t already know this, Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas (and its slightly newer sister ship Allure of the Seas) is a cruise ship like no other. I know that sounds cliché but it’s the truth in this case.
The design itself is not going to be copied for a long time to come and I can say that with confidence. This is the ship isn’t merely a ship. It’s an enormous floating resort. The one by which future giants will be measured.
This is a review of my voyage aboard Oasis of the Seas from October 2010 (which was my third major cruise). I wrote most of the article back then but didn’t edit it until now… sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day! You know what I’m talking about! That’s why we need these vacations!
It was a 7-day cruise that left from the port in Fort Lauderdale. We went on to visit Labadee (Haiti), Costa Maya (located a few hours down the coast from Cancun, Mexico), and Cozumel (an island off the coast of Mexico).
From the time we presented ourselves at the port to the time we got on board, it couldn’t have been more than 15-20 minutes. Remarkable! Oasis of the Seas is one of the largest passenger ships on the planet and they managed to get us on board quickly and smoothly.
The same can be said for when we were at various ports. Granted, the initial sign-in is a longer process but given how large the ship is, we found it quite easy to get on and off without the long lines that we’ve found elsewhere.
This could be due to the fact that the ports we stopped at had special piers designed to let people disembark and walk into town unhindered. Compare this to a European port, for example, where there is a lot of security which slows down the process a bit.
With 16 decks full of passengers and 24 elevators (one of them being a moving bar!) it didn’t seem like enough but in fact worked out for the most part.
I have to start with the ship itself because Oasis of the Seas is humongous, incredible original in design, and an experience! It’s so wide, long, and deep that only a certain number of ports around the world even have room for her to dock. One of the main reasons I chose this ship was that it is an adventure in and of itself. It will take days to discover and do everything on board which means you can easily keep busy during at sea days.
The ship itself is wider than other cruise ships. When you look at it from behind, it looks like two narrow ships that have been connected. It truly is a sight to see. The ship’s public areas are spacious and you won’t feel overly crowded under normal circumstances.
Get Around The Ship with Touch Screens
One of the most innovative parts of the ship is the abundance of large touch screens (basically large, interactive flat-screen TVs or giant iPads, if you will). They have been strategically placed to help you find your way to the next activity. If you don’t have your daily planner handy, you don’t have to go back to your room to get it. Just choose the time and find out what’s going on. It’s very convenient and I can’t imagine not using them to maximize your days at sea.
I especially enjoyed, Central Park with its gardens and open air feeling. Tranquility comes to mind. The boardwalk reminds you of a 70s-style boardwalk along the East Coast. There’s a fortune teller booth, donut store, candy shop, carousel, and an ice cream parlor!
There is so much to do on board this ship that the statement “incredible choice of activities” doesn’t even cut it.
We went ice skating (they lend you skates), played outdoor mini-golf, worked our way up the rock-climbing wall, tried the FlowRider (surf on the rush of water that is coming at you), and so many more activities. There is also a zipline which is quite short but still exciting. Since we were traveling in October, there was almost no line for any of these activities.
We went to Schooner’s Bar to play trivia and it was quite challenging but fun! There was a Michael Jackson musical trivia event as well. We got 15/16 of the answers correct and the people sitting next to us cheated and claimed to have 16/16 so we lost the “big prize” which was a keychain or something. Yes, I’m still bitter about the loss! LOL!
This wasn’t my thing but there was a Men’s Bellyflop Competition which a lot of people were talking about.
Events like these take place all over the ship all day and evening long. If you can’t find something to do on this ship, you’re probably just a boring person who can’t be pleased. Yes, I said it!
Since we went in October, we avoided families with children in school. We didn’t come across a large array of singles at the various nightclubs but they were there. The karaoke in the On-Air club was fun (yes, we always go to the karaoke activities!). There’s live music in different parts of the ship at various times during the day.
The Food & Restaurants
I’ll begin with this: The food at dinner was ok. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t bad. It was ok. Our trip on the Celebrity Solstice, where the food was really great all the way through, spoiled us in that regard. Still, we aren’t complainers and were satisfied. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, the best meal on the ship is breakfast. You can have just about anything you’d want in a breakfast and it’s really great.
We ate at the Windjammer casual buffet, grabbed a few sandwiches at the Park Cafe which was good, and snacked here and there. There’s a large selection of restaurants from Johnny Rockets to more exquisite fair around the ship which makes sense given how many people are on board. Depending on which restaurant you were eating in, you might think you were on land. The ship is very quiet,
There is a large outdoor area called Central Park with actual benches, paths, and trees. You wouldn’t know you were on a ship, while sitting and relaxing or reading a book. Just phenomenal!
The staterooms were almost identical to those on board the Celebrity Silhouette which is great! They were roomy (for a ship) with a small couch, flat screen TV, and a comfortable bed. You could easily put your luggage under the bed which gave you even more space. The air conditioning was cold, as I like it! The TV had a lot of channels, including shows, movies, ship highlights from various events that were filmed that day or the day before on board the ship, and a musical selection which we played while getting ready for dinner each evening. The room had a safe as well. The bathroom was a decent size and had a hair dryer and lots of little places to store your toiletries.
We had an ocean view balcony which added to the space. The extra fee for the view of the water is totally worth it if it’s in your budget. One unique factor to take into account with this ship is that instead of inside rooms which have no windows or balconies, Oasis of the Seas has inner balconies which actually overlook the activity going on below on one of the main decks.
The ship is one like no other, that’s for sure. I felt that each section of the ship really lent itself to making you feel the way you should given where you were. For example, if you were in the cupcake shop, it really felt like you were in a cutesy cupcake shop. While in the pizzeria, you felt like you were in a shopping mall pizzeria.
The most noteworthy point by far is that there is an actual Broadway show on board. The show “Hairspray” was transplanted to the ship. No pun intended. It was excellent!
There is a water show called the Aqua Show which is on back section of the ship. It’s kind of like “O” from Cirque du Soleil which I saw in Las Vegas. This takes place in the Aqua Theater. Some rooms overlook the theatre meaning the can actually watch the show from their balconies. There was so much going on during the cruise that by the time I went to see the actual show, it was raining and the show was cancelled (since it’s outdoors). Instead, we sat down and watched a rehearsal which they don’t seem to mind.
The Adult Quest Game Show and Love and Marriage Show (with three groups of couples) were hilarious and entertaining. Really a lot of fun!
A Word of Warning
Just like I warned people to stay far away from water activities in Mexico in the Carnival Elation cruise review, I’m going to give you a heads up about booking excursions. Costa Maya is where we got back to the ship too late. Here’s the story of why booking with the cruise line is key.
Overall, the staff were good but not great. The social/entertainment staff didn’t really impress me. In fact, one was downright annoying. I give him credit for speaking in English as a second language but a lot of the things he said, while trying his best, sounded odd and some were easily fixable. For example, he was hosting an event and kept saying “the next musics is going to be…” rather than “the next song is going to be…” which we found just so irritating. I speak four languages so don’t think it’s a shot at multilingualism because it’s not. I do not mean to nitpick but it takes 10 seconds for someone to correct him and moving forward he could use a quick language lesson on common words he says often.
There was one person who appeared to carry the entertainment staff. His name is Richard Spacey, also known as the cruise director. That’s right, the cruise director. He was incredible! Really incredible. Animated, smart, well-spoken, always on the move, and most of all, downright hilarious. I mean really hilarious in everything he said and did. He carried over jokes from one nightly event to the next so if you would see him multiple times, you laughed really hard but also felt you were in on the “private” joke because you were in attendance. Of course, his multiple outfits and super dance performance during the Disco Dance Party on the Royal Promenade in the main “public” area of the ship was outstanding as well. A large part of enjoying the cruise itself was thanks to his great performance. He was always on and was simply amazing.
I wasn’t impressed by the staff who booked excursions. They seemed somewhat disorganized and tried to push land tours that they claimed they loved but had clearly never actually been on. I’d ask specific questions and they gave me wishy-washy answers. Basically, by trying to get informed, I caught them lying just to sell me on a trip. Such an insult to my intelligence. They also weren’t very enthusiastic about the land tours. When I book tours, I want someone to share in my excitement and say something as simple as “enjoy the tour” but I didn’t even get that.
I found that many members of the staff in general just didn’t seem very happy. Maybe they were overworked, I don’t know. When I was on board both the Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Silhouette (two of this ship’s main competitors), I was constantly greeted with enthusiasm and a smile. On this ship, not so much.
Oasis of the Seas is not cheap. That said, with everything it offers, it isn’t that bad price-wise.
Overall Impression: Is Oasis of the Seas Worth It?
Yes! If it’s your first cruise, you’ll be starting at the top and it might be hard to take other ships that are currently cruising the seas. You get decent value for an overall exciting vacation experience.
If there are a lot of activities or amenitnes that you know you won’t make use of, then this ship might not be for you. Families, especially kids, will have a great time.