I was quite excited to set sail onboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. It is my first time sailing on on the largest cruise ship in the world. I have to admit, I was a bit leery of sailing with 5400 other passengers and 2100 crew – that’s a lot of people on one cruise ship! Plus it’s Royal Caribbean – an exciting product in the cruise industry. The Oasis of the Seas and practically twin sister Allure of the Seas are the pride of their fleet, so my expectations were quite high. It’s always one thing being docked along side one of these mega ships and totally different when you are pulling up to give your luggage to the porter. My very first reaction was – that’s it? I expected this colossal behemoth of a ship, but instead found an appealing large ship just beaconing for me to come on board.
We walked off the gangway and immediately onto the Promenade deck – a flurry of activity for many cruise ships. This ship has several fun bars, smaller eateries and many shops on this level. One of the favorites – the Rising Bar – which literally rises a few floors, has a fun vantage point while having a drink. The staterooms were ready at 1 pm, so we decided to have a quick look before checking out the ship.
We normally love staying in a balcony with a view of the ocean – but we decided to check out one of the inner balconies for a change. Our particular balcony overlooked the Boardwalk neighborhood of the ship. We were on Deck 8 – the same as Central Park and several of the specialty dining restaurants. Our room looked as comfortable as a cruise cabin can be. The décor is neutral and contemporary. The closet was rather large, and the bathroom worked well for one person and could accommodate two. I’m not always in agreement with cruise lines in the amount of people who could occupy space. I’ll be honest – this is a small space for any more than two people. It’s one thing if the kids are small, but with teens – forget about it – get a second room if you spend any time in your stateroom other than sleeping, you’ll be happy you did.
William, our stateroom attendant from Nicaragua checked in with us during the afternoon. He was extremely pleasant and quickly procured me a feather pillow upon request and asked if we needed anything in particular. He was genuinely friendly and quite accommodating. We set out to grab a little bite to eat in the Windjammer Marketplace on Deck 16.
We had 12 elevators to use in the aft part of the ship. The nice part about the design and layout of the Oasis is that everything is pretty much in the middle part of the ship. Very little is completely forward and nothing, except for the Aqua Theater and sports zone is completely in the open aft of the ship. The down side to this, I quickly realized – I like to look out at the ocean, and all those cool common places do not have a view of the ocean anywhere. They are all on the interior of the ship – with balcony staterooms on the outside. So if you are like us, traveling in an inside balcony – your only views of the ocean are way up top or completely to the aft of the ship. It’s a personal thing – for me – not a good thing. I quickly realize that since I’m an ocean girl – this will be a challenge all week.
We make our way to the Windjammer Marketplace which features cuisine from several countries in a buffet format. The plates and glasses are plastic (a pet peeve of mine), and the food is broken up into several smaller mini-buffets highlighting a type of food – Asian, Deli, Grill, etc… The variety is good and the food is fresh. I personally am a bit of a food snob, so I give the food a solid B, since it tastes better than it looks. Everything I tried was fresh, cooked perfectly, and flavorful. What surprised me was how small this area was. With 5400 and potentially at maximum 6296 passengers, this area was going to be a challenge with crowds throughout the cruise.
After a quick lunch, we decided to get our bearings and walked around the ship. First off – selecting a wi-fi package so that we could work while away – yes, this is actually work for us! We strolled through the middle of the ship on deck 8 – Central Park one of Oasis’ several neighborhoods. We decided to sign up for a specialty dining restaurant package. We chose the one from 150 Central Park – The Oasis of the Seas signature James Beard restaurant. Rather than paying for just a few specialty restaurants, the package pretty much gave us one free – ours included 150 Central Park, Chops and Giovanni’s. Packages were available for every restaurant – and I definitely recommend it on the first day (discounted).
We toured the Boardwalk neighborhood – where the Aqua Theater, Johnny Rockets, the Seafood Shack and several smaller eateries were. We made our way back to our room in hopes that our luggage was there ready to unpack. That’s where the waiting began – I’ll get back to that. My husband is never at ease until the luggage has arrived.
It was time for the guest assembly drill, so we headed down to the main dining room which was our staging area. We did not need life vests – those would be given to us there in an emergency. That totally makes sense – why would you go somewhere – like your room if you did not need to in an emergency? We were checked in by seapass card – the cards you carry with you to charge and enter your room. I was rather curious if these drills had changed much since the Costa disaster. What differed was the attention span of the guests. The last large ship we sailed on (4200 passengers) we were also in a lounge with a video drill – all the guests spoke during it and the crew did nothing to discourage it. The difference – you could hear a pin drop onboard the Oasis – all eyes were attuned to the video drill. Unfortunately, since our drill was in the dining room, I have no idea where our actual boat will be for our section in case of an emergency.
We returned to our room and still had no luggage. William let us know that it could take up to 8 pm which would be a challenge for us since we had a dinner reservation at 150 Central Park at 7:30. We decided to check out guest services and security just in case our luggage was there. Security had all the bags for guests who brought liquor, beverages and irons in their suitcases. Ours were not there, nor were they in Guest Services. William and his supervisor let us know that our luggage was onboard, they just were not sure where. We did not want to go to the most upscale specialty restaurant in our day clothes, so they graciously changed our reservation for us last minute and we decided to grab dinner in Johnny Rockets – not wanting to go into the main dining room either in flip flops. Our meal was tasty, as expected and had the added ambiance of everyone milling about the boardwalk. We walked around the promenade after dinner and decided to see if we finally had clothes for the rest of our trip. Success! William finally found found our luggage by searching deck to deck a little before nine. It was on deck 11. Now Michael could finally sleep.
Our room had been turned down and after catching a little of the Oasis Dreams High Diving show in the Aqua Theater from our balcony, we decided to turn in and get ready for a busy first day at sea.
Overall, my first impressions of the world’s largest cruise ship were good. It certainly didn’t feel like 5400 passengers were sailing with me, but the rest of the week would let me know if that would remain the consensus. The elevators seemed to always be full, and the open areas were busy at all times. I am looking forward to trying out several activities and getting to know this beautiful cruise ship a bit better.
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All photos taken by Ingrid Blackburn.
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