December 2017….. The largest ship we’ve ever sailed – Oasis of the Seas
We just returned from our cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. Below is my review of her. Internet service was provided to me free of charge, but all opinions are my own.
Embarkation and Port Canaveral
We sailed out of Port Canaveral, Florida. I’ll include my reviews of the parking and the port here. We got to Titusville on Saturday, and spent the night at a motel I booked on Hotwire.com. We decided to park at Park Port Canaveral this time instead of our usual Snooze, Park, and Cruise place, since the prices had gone up so much there. By using Hotwire.com for the motel, and then using Park Port Canaveral, we saved $50, plus we were parked nearer to the port.
Arriving at Park Port Canaveral at 9:45 am on cruise day, we waited about 5 minutes for the line of cars to process through, and then were given a parking tag to place on our rear view mirror, and told to drop off our luggage under the awning area and park anywhere in the lot. They are in the process of building a parking garage, which will be great in the summer. After waiting under the awning with our luggage for a shuttle for about ten minutes, we were loaded into a large van. The bus driver was very nice, and the drive only took about 5 minutes. We were very happy with the process. Once at the Oasis of the Seas terminal at Port Canaveral, the driver said that there was a long waiting line to get in, but that he’d take us the back way. We had no waiting, and before we knew it, we were off the shuttle bus, the porter took our check in bags, and we were on the way into the terminal.
Once in the terminal, we showed our passports and our printed off sea pass to the agent, and were then told where to check in upstairs. We went up the escalator and then were immediately shown to the correct check in area for Gold Card members, and were checked in quickly. The whole process took probably less than 10 minutes from the time we walked in the door. We were given our pass cards, my access code for the internet that Royal Caribbean provided in exchange for me doing my blog onboard, and two cards that had the amount of on board credits we had gotten from our Royal Caribbean Visa Card. Then we found a seat close by and waited. It was probably around 20 minutes when they called our number to board the ship. We had Gold number 2, so we boarded right after the Suites, Diamond, and Pinnacle guests boarded. We pulled our carry-on luggage through the ramps, and boarded the ship. All in all, a quick and easy process.
Oasis of the Seas decorated for Christmas
I don’t know what I can even say about the ship, Oasis of the Seas. Humongous is the first word that comes to mind. It’s the biggest ship we’ve ever been on, the next biggest was Freedom of the Seas, also a Royal Caribbean ship. It was a bit overwhelming for the first couple of days, but by day three, we had it down and (almost) knew where we were going. We went in December, and the ship was decorated for Christmas. We saw a very tall Christmas tree in the Promenade by Sorrentos pizza. There were huge snowflakes hanging from the tall ceiling. There were smaller Christmas trees and Poinsettias all over the place.
Central Park is in the center of Deck 8 with several extra cost restaurants, a bar, The Rising Tide, that moves up and down to the Promenade Deck, and the complimentary Park Café. Central Park contains many plants and trees, and you can even hear the birds singing. It’s such a relaxing place to sit and people watch. In the evenings you can sit and listen to violins.
The Promenade Deck is where all the action is. There are two complimentary restaurants on it, Sorrentos for Pizza, and the Promenade Café for coffee and desserts, and also a Starbucks that charges pretty close to the regular Starbucks costs. There are a number of stores. The only one we frequented was the logo store that sold Royal Caribbean souvenirs.
This is also the floor where you can find the Service Desk. Upstairs you can find the photo gallery and the Next Cruise shopping area. And look around for little surprises all over the ship. Sculptures, and little binocular and telescopic surprises called Small Wonders. Also, Deck 14 forward had telescopes for your use. Go through the cabin hallway to either side of the ship and go through the Sky Deck door.
We had a Balcony cabin on deck 8 near the Central Park Vintages Lounge area, cabin number 8574. The cabin was nice, but smaller than a Carnival ship balcony cabin. It was a little tight in there, it was rather narrow. We noticed how hot it was when we first got in, and it didn’t cool down much at all during the course of the first day. Maintenance came eventually and adjusted the thermostat and it was okay the rest of the cruise.
There was plenty of storage in the closet, vanity area, and bathroom. You can store your luggage under the bed. You can also have the beds changed from one queen to two twins. There was a hairdryer in the bedroom in a drawer by the vanity. No bathrobe. I think that you can ask for one if you need one. No beach towels, but you check those out by the pools, or as you’re leaving the ship at port.
I liked that there was a vanity area with a chair and a lighted mirror, but there was no magnifying mirror, I definitely could have used that. The balcony area was larger than a Carnival balcony, and had two chairs and a table on it. It was plenty roomy. I guess that Carnival has more square footage in the room, and Royal Caribbean has more square footage in the balcony. The balcony had a glass barrier, which is good for ocean watching. It does get kind of dirty with sea salt spray though. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out how there was sand on the balcony after a full day at sea. We never used the beach.
The bathroom is small, but the think that I like about it is that it does not have a shower curtain, but a shower door. Very nice, it keeps the water from getting all over the floor. The sink is very low, I felt very tall in there. There are three shelves and a small drawer by the mirror. One thing that I did not like was that the light over the mirror cannot be turned off. If you don’t want to close the bathroom door at night there is too much light in the bedroom. Bring a sleep mask.
Our room was kept very clean by the Steward, who actually made it up morning and evening, unlike Carnival, who gives you the choice of one or the other. We only got three towel animals during the week long cruise. I’d love to see more, but I understand that they keep the stewards pretty busy. Our steward was always helpful though. My husband needed a riser under the top of his mattress for an acid reflux problem, and she got it for us right away. We also had ice, as requested, morning and evening. There is a good sized TV, but not many channels. The Italian channel had the yule log with Christmas music playing. There is also a sofa which can be converted to a bed.
The Muster Drill was very easy. No standing on decking getting packed in like sardines. We went to a lounge, which was our Muster Station, got a seat, and watched a short film about what to do, that was meant to be more like a spy movie. And that was pretty much it. Get there early though or you’ll be standing. We went even before the alarm sounded.
We didn’t go to any of the restaurants that were not complimentary, so I can’t review them. We did use the Windjammer Buffet, The American Icon Grill (Main Dining room on Deck 3 for your time dining), the Park Café in Central Park, Johnny Rockets (breakfast), the Boardwalk Doghouse, and the Promenade Café.
The Windjammer was hit and miss. Some of the time it was very crowded and unorganized, and other times it wasn’t as crowded, and the lines weren’t so long. We weren’t particularly fond of the Windjammer, but sometimes it was just easier to go there, it got easier towards the end of the cruise. It wasn’t easy to get a table sometime, and for a few days they had an announcement for people to leave their table as soon as they were finished eating so others could sit and eat.
The food was regular ship buffet food, nothing special. I do like that at breakfast they cook up eggs over easy and have them waiting for you, instead of having to stand in the omelet like to get them. But then again, they’re not as warm that way. The toast wasn’t really warm and was a bit crisp. None of the food stood out as outstanding to either of us.
The Park Cafe
The Park Café was where we got our first meal on the ship. It wasn’t crowded and there were plenty of tables, so it was a better choice for our first lunch than the Windjammer Buffet. We had the Roast Beef Sandwich, which was good, a fruit cup, and a piece of chocolate mousse cake. Drinks are self-serve, they have fruit flavored water, lemonade, water, and iced tea, plus hot coffee and tea. And I like that they had the flavored Tea Bags that Carnival charges you extra for.
It also has To Go cups, but no sleeves, so you burn your hands if you try to take the cup with you. I used a cloth napkin to carry mine. You can also get breakfast and dinner. It’s mostly sandwiches, but it does have salads, and you can have the chefs make you a salad the way you like it. You can pick up yogurt with granola for breakfast along with egg sandwiches on various breads and muffins. You can get fruit cups, desserts, and potato chips the rest of the day with your sandwich. It’s a good place to pick up breakfast and take it back to your balcony to eat.
The American Icon Grill
The American Icon Grill was where we ate all of our dinners. It’s the your time dining main dining room on Deck 3, but we sat at the same table every evening, with the same waiters, and mostly with the same people. This dining room is decorated with car headlights, very interesting. The service was good, although albeit, just a little slow. I would have liked to have had my dessert quicker so we could have gone out and explored more.
But I have a feeling that the two waiters are given too many tables to wait on. They were very good at their job, just very busy. The food was delicious and plentiful. The portions were huge. I could not finish my meal several times. The waiters always had our iced tea out to us quickly, and remembered our favorites, I really liked them. Coffee automatically came with dessert once the assistant waiter knew our preference. There are no dancing waiters like on Carnival, but they did have a song with people twirling their napkins. Still fun.
Johnny Rockets has a complimentary breakfast, and we went there twice. It’s sit down service, we were sat promptly, and waited on quickly both times we were there. I had the two eggs my way the first time, and the breakfast egg sandwich the second time. Both were good. It was not a huge amount of food though and we ended up going to the Windjammer to get a bit extra. Plus, we never got refills on the coffee, so we wanted more coffee. Someone who went the last day said that they were very unorganized that day. The food was good, but portions were small and the service was just okay.
The Boardwalk Doghouse
The Boardwalk Doghouse pretty much just had hotdogs, sausages, and potato salad. I went just to get a hotdog because I love hotdogs. I didn’t see any Coney Sauce or slaw, but I did get sauerkraut on my hotdog. There are no tables here, it’s just walk up service, but there are tables at the ice cream shop across the way. I grabbed a hotdog and stopped at the Park Café to get some fruit and chips, and that was a good lunch to have on my balcony.
We didn’t eat much at the Promenade Café. Mostly it’s just desserts and coffee/hot tea. It’s a good place to sit and relax as you watch the people go by. We sat there a while the first day until we could get into our cabin at 1:30 pm. They do sell specialty coffees also.
We never did get to any of the lounges, so I can’t review those. The Rising Tide Bar looked interesting. It is a small bar that either loads on the Central Park area, deck 8, or on the Promenade deck. Times are posted at the bar on each deck. Then the bar moves from one deck to the other, like a very slow elevator. Once you’re on and it’s moving, you can’t get off until you get to the other deck. Not sure what the point is other than the novelty of it.
We didn’t get to see all of the entertainment on the ship. One of the shows we had reserved, the Oasis of Dreams, the Diving Show, was rained out the first two nights of our cruise. On top of that, the seas were so rough that it would have been unsafe for them to dive. And on the two days that they had rescheduled it to replace the two shows they cancelled, we had other things scheduled.
We did get to see Cats. I like Andrew Lloyd Webber, but I really did not get the point of Cats. I’m not a huge current musical fan anyway, I like the classics. So, although the acting was great, and the singers were great, I pretty much just tried to rest during the show. The seats are very comfortable in the Opal Theater, so it wasn’t difficult. It wasn’t the actors’ fault, they did a very good job, I just don’t get it. My husband enjoyed it more than me.
We didn’t get to see Frozen in Time, although I wanted to. It’s a Fairy Tale ice show, but the time I had reserved was the exact same time I was scheduled to interview the Cruise Director, Tim Connor.
Come Fly With Me
The Come Fly With Me show wasn’t my favorite, but the actors did a good job. We got our times mixed up and ended up getting there just as the show started, and then we ended up standing up behind the balcony seats because there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. Not a great place to see it, and not comfortable. It was a good show, but not my cup of tea.
Headliner & Comedy Shows
The Headliner Show was great. I can’t remember the name of the group but they’ve been together for 27 years, I believe, and did songs from the 70’s and 80’s. I really enjoyed that show the most. And I also enjoyed the Comedy Live show. There were two comedians, each did half an hour. I enjoyed the first comedian the most, but both were good. There will be different comedians each cruise, they switch those around. Each adult comedy show during the cruise was the same exact show, so we just went to the one. Definitely make reservations for this one, the Comedy Live venue is small. I prefer Carnival’s way, that they switch the comedians out half way so they can show different comedians the last part of the cruise with a totally different show.
Dreamworks parade and Christmas carols
Other entertainment that we saw was the Dreamworks Parade the last night of the cruise. The kids would love it, we saw Shrek, Fiona, Puss in Boots, and other characters in the parade, but get there early, seating and standing areas are limited. We managed to stand behind some that had been lucky enough to get seats in the Sorrentos Pizza Restaurant.
After the parade during our cruise in December, the crew, including the Captain and the Cruise Director, sang Christmas songs on the Rising Tide Bar, which was stopped halfway between the Promenade Deck and the Central Park deck. We managed to snag seats for that one, and it was a lot of fun. I didn’t manage to get a songbook, but they did have them. There are other smaller shows during the cruise, but we didn’t see any of them.
The Opal Theater is beautiful. It’s a three layered theater, but the two top areas are reserved for the top classes of the Crown and Anchor club. It is definitely suggested to make reservations for the shows before you get on the ship, because there are a lot of people on this ship and everything fills up quickly. They were standing in line an hour before the shows started. If you are in a lower level tier of the Crown and Anchor, you will actually sit closer to the stage, which isn’t a problem for me. Also, in the Aqua Theater on the Boardwalk shows movies in the evenings. While we were there they showed the new Spiderman Movie, and the new Pirates of the Caribbean Movie. I would have also liked the entertainment to start a little earlier in the evening than it did.
Our Cruise Director, Tim Connor, was a great cruise director and a very nice guy. I had the honor of interviewing him. You can check out the interview here.
I used the Voom Surf & Stream Internet Package on the ship, which was provided to me free of charge in exchange for me doing my blog while we sailed. The ship’s computers were great, I used them often, and also my Android, with the internet package, and I felt that it did an extremely good job of allowing me to access what I needed to access. It had good speed, and I had no trouble accessing my e-host, Facebook, Instagram, and my email hosts. My only problem was on the ship’s computers because if you don’t use the mouse for five minutes, the computer will give you a very quick warning, and then turn off. Since I writing a blog, I’d be writing for long times and then forget to move the mouse. Luckily I was able to quickly save each time before it turned off. Very annoying, though.
Oh, I was confused on the logging out process for the internet. To log in you just type login.com into the browser, and to log out you type in logout.com. Just ignore the little icon at the bottom of the computer that says Log Out because it does not log you out. And the computers are hard to find. Even when we asked the girl giving out information, she didn’t know where they were. We finally found them by using the interactive ship map. Deck 7 and 9, forward, in the center group of rooms. Just go into the little hallway and turn right. I think the library has some too, but I didn’t look. Not exactly quiet, because everyone with rooms in that hallway is coming and going, but a bit private anyway.
The center of Deck 8 is called Central Park. It’s a huge garden on a ship. Very peaceful, and they even include the sound of birds chirping so that the experience is more authentic. Since it was December, they even had Poinsettias in among the greenery. I saw gardeners working among the plants many times. I never knew there was a job description called ship gardener. There is a pathway through the gardens which we took many times to get to the rear of the ship. Very peaceful. They have umbrellas around in case you get caught in a downpour, since there is no roof on the park.
There is a Coach store in Central Park, along with the Park Café, which is complimentary. Extra Charge restaurants in Central Park include Giovanni’s Table, Chops Grille, and 150 Central Park. The bars are Vintages, the Trellis Bar, and the top tier of the Rising Tide Bar. In the evening we sat in the Park Café area and enjoyed the sounds of Christmas music by violin players. I liked the evening lighting, small lights with butterflies on them.
Royal Promenade is on Deck 5. This is the Entertainment and shopping area of the ship. The biggest thing on Deck 5 forward is the Opal Theater. This is the main theater where most of the big shows take place, like Cats, and the Headliner Show. As you walk towards the back of the deck, you’ll see the Starbucks shop, then on the right is the On Air Sports bar and on the left is the Boleros bar, where they have the art auctions.
After that are some shops, then on the right is the Globe and Atlas Pub, be sure to watch the huge globe atop the Globe and Atlas open up on nights when there is a show in the Promenade area, the Kate Spade Shop, and then the Café Promenade. Across from that is the Sorrentos Pizza restaurant, included in your fare, and the Regalia and Michael Kors shops. Right between those two is the Rising Tide Bar, the bar that goes from Deck 5 to Deck 8 like an elevator.
And don’t miss the classic car replica, a 1935 Auburn Boat Tail Speedster, with the two Teddy Bears in the seats. That’s where the Captain posed for pictures with passengers. And don’t miss the men on the roof painting over the word Genesis. Then at the end of the deck is the Main Dining Room. Surrounding Deck 5 on deck outside is a running track.
Mid Deck 6 starts the Boardwalk area, which is aft (back of the ship). Go through the sliding doors that say Boardwalk, and on the left you’ll see the Boardwalk Dog House, and on the other side the Cups & Scoops Ice Cream shop. And be sure to notice the Zoltar arcade machine. Remember it from the movie Big with Tom Hanks? There is an arcade past that, and on the left again some shops. Right between them is a Carousel, which is included in the fare. Anyone can ride it. Then on the left is Johnny Rockets, and across from that the Sabor Mexican tapas restaurant, which charges a fee. In the center is the Sabor Bar, and then the huge Aquatheater where they have the high dive show and show movies in the evening. I believe that they had the belly flop show there too. If you look up you can see the Rock Climbing Wall.
Pools and Hot tubs
We didn’t use the pools, but walked by them often. Each pool has a lifeguard standing there. It must get tiresome to have to stand there for hours on end. Deck 15 has most of the pools. Deck 15 also has the Teen areas, the Miniature Golf course, and a full size basketball court. If you go aft and up a deck, you can find the Flowrider and the zipline.
Midway are a couple of pools, and I believe a smoking section. If you go all the way forward, you’ll find the Solarium, which is ages 16 and up only. It’s a really nice area with hot tubs and plenty of chairs, plus a buffet that is included in your fare. And no kids running around. There are plenty of deck chairs everywhere. You can check out a towel on this deck, just be sure to return it or they’ll charge you. There is a children’s pool area with colorful water features for all ages of children. It didn’t seem like the pools were overly crowded. The whirlpools are plenty big.
We set sail at 4:30 pm our first day. At around 6:00 pm while we were at dinner, the Captain came on the loud speaker and announced that there was a medical emergency on the ship and we’d have to turn around and go back to Port Canaveral. How awful to be looking forward to your cruise for so long and then have a medical emergency. So, we got back to Port Canaveral at around 8:00 pm. We watched out our balcony and we could see two sheriff’s cars and a firetruck waiting. And then along came an ambulance.
We had to get to our entertainment for the night, so we didn’t see what happened, the next night the Captain announced that the person had surgery that night and was doing okay. But that night the ship had to catch up, so it was really moving, and definitely rocking and rolling. But we did manage to get to St. Thomas on time. The next day, at the Christmas tree lighting, the Captain announced that the ship’s doctor had saved this person’s life, so yes, they do have good doctors on ships. We’ve only had one occasion where we needed a ship’s doctor, and I also was happy with the service by the medical team that time.
Almost every single time we tried to get an elevator it took forever, and then was filled to the brim with people. When we were at port, it was easier to find an emptier elevator. We used the stairs as much as we could, which was probably better for us anyway. There are a lot of people on this ship, and it seemed like there were a lot of people in wheelchairs and scooters, which filled up the elevators more. There were also a lot of strollers.
The evening before our last sea day we got our luggage tags for disembarkation. The number that we got was 55. This would mean that we could not disembark until 10:00 am, and we had to get the shuttle to our car, and then drive the long drive home, so that would not work. The next morning, our last sea day, my husband went to the service desk to see if we could change to a lower number, because if not, we’d have to self-disembark, and our luggage was heavy, plus I’m dealing with a rotator cuff problem. There was a line marked for luggage tags change, and it was a very short line. It didn’t take long to get to the front, and the clerk was very accommodating, we came out with number 4, which was scheduled for 8:00 am. Much better.
We packed our luggage that night and put it out in the hallway with the number 4 tag on it. We kept clothing for the next day in the room, and we kept our carry-on luggage. The next morning we got up at around 6:30 am, got dressed, and went to the Windjammer for some breakfast.
Sad day, it’s always hard to leave the ship. We got back to the room and got out things, made sure we didn’t forget anything, and then went to the Opal Theater to wait for our number to be called. They called numbers 2 and 3 at 8 am, and it was only a few minutes till they called number 4. Everything was very organized, we didn’t have to stand in line, we walked right off of the ship after having our ship card scanned. We had to walk down a very long ramp to the luggage, but at least it was not an escalator. Those are always tricky when you are pulling your carry-ons along.
Our luggage was in the number 4 luggage area, it didn’t take long to find them. We got in line for Customs, but it didn’t take very long at all to get to the head of the line and the Customs Officer looked at our Passport quickly and waved us through. So, the disembarking process went very smoothly, and they seemed to have it in hand.
We rolled our luggage out to where we were supposed to meet the shuttle from Park Port Canaveral. We were told where to wait in line. Some of us were a bit confused because they asked which lot, A or B, and we had never been told which lot we were in. But they asked if it was the one with construction, and since they’re building a parking deck, we assumed it was. The Shuttle came in a few minutes and they loaded our luggage and let us on. The lot is only 5 minutes away, and they dropped us off at our car. We were on the road by 8:45 am. Not bad. It was a pretty smooth disembarkation.