Calling all cruise-goers and travel lovers! The world’s largest cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas by Royal Caribbean International, can accommodate to every traveler, which makes it a great option for families. Recently, one of our very own experienced this cruise ship and she has provided some interesting insights. Deb King, Group Product Development Specialist at Fox World Travel, has traveled around the world and been aboard many cruise ships over the years.
Deb had cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas four years ago, and wanted to try their mega-ship Oasis of the Seas. She flew to Ft. Lauderdale the day after Thanksgiving and a day before the cruise departed. They stayed one night at the Riverside Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. There was a bar and two restaurants at the hotel and the hotel offered a shuttle to the cruise port for just $7.00 per person.
Upon arrival at the Port Everglades cruise terminal there was a lengthy wait to get through security. With a ship this large, patience becomes necessary for all embarkations and disembarkations. Security was very tight and they encountered waits to get back on the ship at all ports. With a total of 5,400 passengers, Oasis of the Seas is a floating city!
Oasis of the Seas offers something for everyone. The ship is organized with seven “neighborhoods” to make finding your way around the ship quite easy. The neighborhoods include:
- Central Park which features boutiques, restaurants and bars, including access to the Rising Tide bar, which can be raised or lowered between three decks. It has the first living park at sea with over 12,000 plants and 56 trees.
- The Pool and Sports Zone features a sloped-entry beach pool and two surf simulators.
- Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center features a spa for teens. The gym has 158 cardio and resistance machines, classes, and a range of spa services.
- Boardwalk features a handcrafted carousel, restaurants, bars, shops, two rock-climbing walls, and a temporary tattoo parlor. Its outdoor 750-seat AquaTheatre amphitheater hosts the ship’s largest freshwater pool.
- Royal Promenade features restaurants and shops.
- Youth Zone features a science lab and computer gaming.
- Entertainment Place features the ship’s main theater, as well as an ice skating rink, a nightclub, the casino, and smaller venues for jazz and comedy performances.
On-board activities include FlowRider® surf simulators, an 82-foot zip line, an ice-skating rink, two adult pools, a full-sized basketball court, and two 43-foot high rock-climbing walls. For children, the H2O Zone kids’ water park, DreamWorks Experience with favorite characters from Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, games and carousel at the Boardwalk, a Royal Babies & Tots nursery, teen programs and a 3D movie theater.
For dining, the ship offers seven specialty restaurants plus the casual Johnny Rockets. The restaurant surcharges range from approximately $7.00 at Johnny Rockets to $90.00 per person for the Chef’s Table, which is a six-course dinner complete with wine pairings. This is held twice per cruise and only takes 14 passengers at each seating.
There are also a few options with complimentary dining. Guests can eat in the dining rooms of which are three, the Windjammer Marketplace for a buffet dinner, the Park Cafe for a casual dinner of sandwiches and salads, or Sorrento’s Cafe that offers several types of pizza daily and gives you the option to create your own. They had dinner in the American Icon Grill dining room each night. Deb made reservations online before their departure, which she highly recommends. If you don’t have a reservation, the lines and wait times can be quite long.
During breakfast and lunch hours the Windjammer is the primary restaurant available. It is extremely busy and this is when she felt the 5,400 passengers on the ship. It was difficult to find a table and for that reason they used one of the smaller venues most days.
Entertainment abounds! The ship offers the full musical Broadway hit CATS, high-diving Aqua Theater shows, ice-skating shows, an aerial show, and the Casino Royale. To see one of the shows, reservations must be made in advance. Additionally, there are over eighteen bars and lounge options including a live jazz club, comedy club, karaoke bar, DJs and more.
The itinerary for the cruise included three stops and three days at sea. Deb visited Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. They decided to do two optional tours. The first was in Nassau, where she decided to do a Glass Bottom Boat tour. It was excellent. The guide gave them a water view tour as they motored out from the Nassau port, pointing out some of the celebrity homes and offering refreshments. They stopped in a protected area about ½ hour after departure and had great views of the sea below. The boat had plenty of room for all to view. At only $34.00 each it was a great way to spend the morning on the water.
The second stop was St. Thomas, where they chose to do the Champagne Catamaran Snorkel Sail to St. John. This was one of the highest rated tours and they wanted to get over to St. John. This was a half-day tour and everyone loved it. The catamaran was new and had plenty of room for the 50 passengers. After a 45 minute transfer to the far side of the island of St. Thomas, they sailed to St. John and stopped in a beautiful bay for snorkeling. They also had the choice to swim to the nearby beach or be taken by small skiff to the beach if guests did not want to get wet. On the return, refreshments were available along with cheese, bread, and fruit.
The last stop was St. Maarten. This is one of Deb’s favorite islands.
Half French and half Dutch, the ship landed in Phillipsburg
on the Dutch side. Many tours were offered but they decided to spend their time in town and did not do a tour.
Departure from the ship took longer than they anticipated. Again, keep in mind the volume of people departing. Security has tightened up considerably and each person had to go through passport control just as you do at the airport when arriving from a foreign country. It took them 45 minutes from the time they had their luggage until they grabbed a cab, to get through the security line. Once out of the terminal, finding a cab was very efficient as the taxi line moved quickly. It was a short 15 minute drive to the airport from Port Everglades.
Oasis certainly offers a lot to do. It is a great option for families with children of all ages. If you can deal with the crowds in the Windjammer Café for breakfast and lunches, the dinner options offer a wide variety of choices. Another positive is the many lounges. You never feel crowded if you want to enjoy a drink or music. However you need to be organized before you depart for the cruise. Making dinner and show reservations in advance is a must if you really want to dine at a specific time or see a show. Deb also purchased one of the optional excursions in advance. The other she did onboard as she wanted to see how the weather was faring. They were able to reserve the tour on the TV in their cabin. No more standing in long lines to reserve a last minute excursion. Their daily itinerary also was available on the TV in the room.
Remember, if you go: Lines were long at each port when it was time to get back on the ship as security took quite a bit of time. They had to take their driver’s license/picture ID with them at each port and did have to show it a couple of times when embarking.
If you’re interested in sailing aboard the world’s largest cruise ship with Royal Caribbean International, contact one of our many agents that have experience sailing with this ship. Not only can they help with booking flights and reserving cabins, they can also suggest the perfect excursions for your group, the best area in the ship to stay and provide you with many more tips.