This was a seven day Western Caribbean cruise calling at Labadee, Hati; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico. The weather was perfect throughout with lots of sunshine and calm seas.
Oasis of the Seas is a great and historic ship. She was the first cruise ship to break 200,000 gross tons – a mark only her sister ships, Allure of the Seas, and the under-construction Harmony of the Seas can match.
However, what makes Oasis great is not just her size but the fact that she has pioneered a new model of cruising. Traditionally, an evening on a cruise ship reveolved around the two seatings in the main dining room and the two shows in the main theater. Even with the advent of flexible dining systems, the evening was still dictated by the timing of the shows in the theater. If you wanted to see th early show, you had to eat late. If you wanted to see the late show, you had to eat early.
With Oasis, there are numerous high quality alternatives not just with regard to dining but with regard to entertainment. The ship gives passengers a great deal of options with which to design their cruise experience.
People who have not traveled on the Oasis-class ships are often intimdated by the number of passengers - - approximately 6,000 souls. However, the passenger flow on Oasis has been carefully thought out and as a result, there are fewer lines onboard and getting on and off the ship than on most smaller ships. In addition, there are so many different things to do that passengers do not bunch up together.
At the same time, the ship is not so big that you do not meet new people. People on ships develop a routine. As a result, you do keep seeing people who have similar interests or like a particular activity, bar or restaurant.
Oasis passed her fifth birthday last year. By law, ships must be taken out of the water every five years in order to inspect the hull. Accordingly, Oasis visited a drydock in Rotterdam last fall. Royal Caribbean used this opportunity to make a number of changes to the ship.
The most readily apparent change for most passengers was the change in the ship's signature show. For her first five years, Oasis featured a full version of the musical Hairspray. Now, the ship has a full-length version of Cats.
We found this change to be very much for the better. The quality of the peformance as well as the staging are equivalent to the Broadway and West End productions of this hit musicial. This is not surprising as Royal Caribbean worked with the people who staged the show in New York and London to develop the sea-going version. Based upon the poems of T.S. Elliot, Cats is more intellectually demanding than Hairspray and so is also appealing on that level.
There have also been changes in the dining. At one point, Royal Caribbean had planned to implement on Oasis the Dynamic Dining concept that it premiered on Quantum of the Seas. However, the generally negative public reaction to that concept on Quantum has led Royal Caribbean to postpone its implementation on Oasis out into the indefinite future.
Still, there are remnants of the Dynamic Dining concept on Oasis. Each of the three levels of the main dining room now bears the name of one of the Dynamic Dining restaurants on Quantum. They are now called American Icon, Grande and Silk and their entrances have been re-decorated to reflect the new names.
The only one of the Dynamic Dining restaurants that has gone into operation on Oasis is the Coastal Kitchen. This restaurant is for the exclusive use of guests staying in the ship's suites. On Oasis, it is located on the starboard side of what had been the Viking Crown Lounge. (The port side is now a lounge for suite guests and Pinnacle-level members of Royal Caribbean's loyalty program, the Crown and Anchor Society). The room is much more elegant than the room used for Coastal Kitchen on Quantum and thus more consistent with its role as the luxury dining room.
On the deck plans, the area that was the Concierge Lounge is listed as Wonderland, one of the specialty restaurants that debuted on Quantum. However, Wonderland has not been implemented there and the are is now the Diamond Lounge for Diamond and Diamond-Plus members of the Crown and Anchor Society.
A new specailty restaurant, Sabor, has taken the place of the Seafood Shack on Oasis' Boardwalk. The restaurant features Mexican cuisine. We found this to be an excellent informal venue.
One of the nice things about Oasis is that there is more to do than you can practically do on one cruise. A venue that we had not explored previously was the Solarium Bistro. This restaurant features more healthy food prepared in a way that does not sacrifice flavor. In addition, located in Oasis' beautiful Solarium area, this venue becomes a romantic hideaway with soft lighting in the evening.
The Park Cafe remains a good place to enjoy a made to order salad at lunchtime. You can sit outdoors on patio tables surrounded by the landscaped greenery of Oasis' Central Park.
While the Park Cafe salads are good, the best salads are found at lunchtime in the main dining room (American Icon) but only on sea days. Called Tutti salads, these too are made to order salads. However, the array of ingredients to select from is much more extensive than in the Park Cafe. They include spinach, proscutto ham, smoked salmon and many more temptations.
Turning to the ship's nautical qualities, the Oasis-class ships are very stable ships. This comes from the fact that they are quite broad as well as long. On this cruise, it was very difficult to tell difference between when the ship was docked and when she was at sea without looking out a window.
Along the same lines, Oasis was able to do this itinerary without calling upon her maximum speed of 24 knots. The highest speed observed on any of the legs was 19 knots.
Cruise review - - Royal Caribbean International - - Oasis of the Seas