4.0

Royal Caribbean International

Review Summary

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Pros

  • One of the biggest cruise ships in the world with the features to match
  • Two freshwater pools, a saltwater pool, and the H20 Zone for kids
  • Adults-only Solarium area with bar, pool, sunny buffet, and whirlpools
  • Large, quiet staterooms with satellite TV, comfy beds, and climate control
  • Three main restaurants, plus a tasty buffet with gluten-free station
  • Nine specialty restaurants, including an excellent steakhouse and Starbucks
  • Karaoke/sports bar, lively Latin bar, and pub, among other options
  • Casino with tons of slots, some table games, and non-smoking section
  • Vitality at Sea Spa with thermal suite, salon, spacious gym, and cafe 
  • Broadway shows, stand-up comedy, ice shows, jazz club, and water show
  • Two climbing walls, two FlowRiders, zip-line, mini-golf, and ice skating rink
  • Free kids’ club and teens’ club, plus Dreamsworks character events

Cons

  • Very few public spaces where you can view the ocean
  • No waterslides (available on the Oasis-class Harmony and Symphony ships)
  • Overall, pools are small for such a large ship
  • Large ship with a hard-to-learn layout and poor mapping
  • Room service items cost extra, plus delivery fee (free continental breakfast)

Bottom Line

As one of the largest cruise ships in the world, the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas draws first-timers and veteran cruisers alike. The vessel's larger-than-life design lends to its amusement-park feel and hides a mall-like shopping promenade at its center. Aside from its size, Oasis is also famed for debuting several first-ever-at-sea features, although a few cruisers feel this ship isn't keeping pace with others in the Royal Caribbean fleet. This is an upscale ship with affordable prices, top-notch entertainment and activities, and a plethora of dining options that draw multi-generational families, retirees, and couples, often dazzled by Oasis' glitz. Dedicated "neighborhoods" help control crowds, though their high walls often block ocean views. Still, for many, Oasis herself is the destination, and, even on a week-long sailing, it is near-impossible to do and see everything on board. 

What's Included (and What's Not)

Cruise fares cover accommodations, meals in the main dining rooms and at the buffet, food at some eateries, some non-alcoholic drinks, and most onboard activities and entertainment. Adventure Ocean kids programming is included, though there is a fee for late-night babysitting. Laundry service is not included. 

The ship’s nine specialty restaurants will either incur a flat cover charge (big discounts are offered on the last two days of the cruise) or a la carte pricing. Room service offers free continental breakfast orders, but charges a flat “convenience” fee for all other orders. Several eateries have free snack and deli-style foods, but premium teas, coffees, and ice cream will cost extra. 

Free tap water, brewed coffee and assorted hot teas, and self-serve ice cream are available 24-hours. Milk and Nestle Vitality juices, iced tea, and lemonade are included in the buffet and dining rooms at mealtimes. Alcoholic beverages, bottled water, virgin cocktails, and sodas cost extra. Passengers are able to carry-on one 750-milliliter bottle of wine or Champagne each; no personal waters, soda, beer, or liquor is permitted.  

Copious daily activities like trivia, competitive games, karaoke, zip-lining, rock climbing, and surf simulators are all free, as are several seminars and arts and crafts sessions. Guests also have access to the spa’s state-of-the-art fitness area, but need to pay for treatments and Thalassotherapy day passes. Other for-fee activities include scuba certification, gambling, arcade games, shore excursions, and galley tours. 

Likewise, nearly all of Oasis’ entertainment is included, covering all live theater performances, comedy and headliner shows, and loads of live music. Only special events come with an extra fee, like the speakeasy jazz night or Build-A-Bear workshop. 

Oasis of the Seas offers VOOM internet packages that have some of the better connection speeds on the sea. The Surf program allows you to surf the web, share photos on social media, and read email, while the Surf and Stream package features high-speed Wi-Fi with full streaming capabilities needed for programs like Skype and Netflix. For either speed, packages include coverage for one to four devices at a time with either a consecutive 24-hour day pass or the entirety of the cruise. Prices go down slightly per device for cruisers who purchase a package covering multiple devices, and good discounts are given on all plans with advance purchase. 

Gratuities are $14.50 per passenger per day for regular cabins, and $17.50 per person per day for those in suites. This money goes to staffers who wait on you at dinner and those who take care of your cabin. You can adjust your gratuities by visiting guest services on the ship at any time.

Note that Royal Caribbean may update its prices or policies at any time, so it’s a good idea to confirm extra fees before your sailing.

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Oyster Ship Review

Scene

4.0

A massive mega-ship with neighborhood divisions and a mall or theme-park feel

None

There’s no escaping the fact that Oasis is huge. Her length of three-and-a-quarter football fields is almost too big to fully appreciate during embarkation, though it becomes undeniable when she’s docked at port, unapologetically dwarfing nearby cruise ships. Most cruisers on this ship are drawn to its mega-ship appeal, its large collection of high-end shops and dining options, and its several firsts in entertainment, activities, and features -- this is where Oasis shines. However, long lines, sold-out shows, and an overall "floating mall" feel can dim the excitement a bit. 

The theme for Oasis is neighborhoods; seven distinct spaces with their own theme, ranging from a carnival-style Boardwalk to the Vitality Spa -- and each with its own assigned famous godmother. Getting your bearings across the ship’s 16 passenger decks can be difficult, due to relatively poor mapping and overall size. Just when you think you’ve reached the end, you’ll discover more ship hiding behind a bend. There are several major decks on Oasis, including Deck 4, a collection of entertainment venues and the casino; Deck 5, where guests will find the Royal Promenade of shops, bars, and casual food options; Deck 6, home of the Boardwalk neighborhood and Aqua Theater; Deck 8, where Central Park and its upscale dining options and shops are located; and Deck 15, where the three main pools and sports activities can be found. Keeping the ship’s sports and adventure areas (often loaded with kids and rowdy excitement) and the adults-only Solarium area on complete opposite ends of the ship is one of the more thoughtful design elements. 

One major gripe heard from many cruisers on our sailing was the lack of ocean views from public spaces -- an unfortunate sacrifice of design thanks to the ship’s large, multistory shopping promenade and high walls of staterooms that help divide the ship into neighborhoods. This becomes a bit of a catch 22: Passengers lament that the ship is missing a sense of place, but they're often drawn by the features that make the Oasis feel more like a theme park or a mall than a cruise. Some passengers also debated that the food was better on the Oasis' sister ships, like the Allure of the Seas.

With a ship this big, it’s no surprise there are a wide variety of cruisers. Many cruisers are from the United States, Europe, or South Africa, and ages range from newborn to celebrated seniors. The cruise’s seven-night itinerary, reasonable rates, and Florida-port locations with major airports make it a convenient mid-length, mega-ship cruise option. The array of adventure activities and stellar kids’ programs are big draws for families, while the luxurious spa, spacious staterooms, and top-notch entertainment options are pluses for couples and older guests. Overall, it’s a casual, all-ages environment with more than enough going on to keep you occupied throughout the sailing. 

Contemporary rooms and stylish suites, plus several balcony and view options worth considering

None

Oasis of the Seas has comfortable and contemporary staterooms and suites thanks to thoughtful interior design, fresh carpets, and colorful photographs on the walls. A sophisticated and subtle ocean color palette plays out through light yellow walls, muted turquoise bed runners, and contemporary blue sofas. Bathrooms are stylish but simple with decent counter space and room to move. However, staterooms aren’t quite as stylish as their counterparts on sister-ship Harmony of the Seas, and they're not as modern as staterooms on newer Norwegian ships. 

Oasis of the Seas was designed to bring several interior cabins to the outside, opening up views to the ship’s courtyard spaces of Central Park and Boardwalk. Though we enjoyed an Interior Cabin during our cruise, the ship’s overall lack of ocean views and natural light make it worth considering one of the ship’s several balcony options. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Ocean-facing balconies are your best bet for privacy and relaxation and offer a nice reprieve from the chaos and interior-feel of the ship, but they're pricier than rooms with interior-facing balconies. Those considering interior-facing cabins should think carefully about where on the ship the room is located. Overall, interior-facing balconies have less privacy as fellow passengers can see onto the balconies and sometimes into the rooms. In addition, balconies overlooking the plants of Central Park will offer a different experience and atmosphere than those overlooking the ship’s lively Boardwalk (though these rooms can sometimes get glimpses of the ocean). Even suite-category rooms are not exempt to location consideration, as some overlook the ocean and others have views of the basketball courts. 

All rooms come with hairdryers, telephones, and flat-screen TVs full of channels of news, Dreamworks movies, cruise programming, and reruns of popular TV shows. Bathroom basics include pump shampoo and conditioner, bar soap, and adjustable showerheads. Most bathrooms have slim showers with rounded clear plastic doors, single sinks, and comfy towels. Some larger staterooms and suites have bathtubs and walk-in showers. 

Interior rooms start off with a well-designed 140 square feet that comfortably fits either two twins or a faux king, sofa bed that sleeps up to two, vanity-desk combination, and closet with plenty of room for storage. Ocean View rooms are slightly larger at 179 square feet and feature an additional Pullman bed for a maximum occupancy of up to five. At 182 square feet, balcony rooms aren’t much larger inside, though the extra 50 to 80 square feet of outdoor space is nice. Guests who book balconies overlooking either Central Park or Boardwalk get exclusive perks like a free meal at one of the specialty restaurants in their neighborhood and a free bottle of wine on arrival. These categories are best for two adults or a family with small children. 

Upgrades to suites start with the 371-square-foot one-bedroom Grand Suite, which features a junior suite-style layout, furnished 105-square-foot balcony, and bathroom with a tub. Dual-level Crown Loft Suites measure 545 square feet inside and have a chic vibe, dining table/bar, two bathrooms, and a lofted king bedroom. These rooms have a 114-square-foot balcony and two-story picture window with great views -- if you’re not facing the sports courts. From here, suites get more stylish, roomier, and feature apartment-like layouts -- though the maximum occupancy always caps out at four people per suite. Extra perks for suite guests include access to the exclusive Coastal Kitchen restaurant and a VIP lounge with a dedicated bar, tapas buffet, and coffee drinks; free onboard Wi-Fi; priority boarding and departure; free tickets to special events; and a concierge service. Passengers staying in the Star Loft Suites and up also receive the ship’s personalized Royal Genie Service (butlers trained and certified by the British Butler Institute).

Food

3.5

Decent main dining options, plus tasty specialty restaurants and several options for quick eats 

None

With close to 20 dining options on Oasis, including a few open 24-hours, finding food is never an issue. However, figuring out which are free, when they are free, how much the added fees can be, and whether or not they have an a la carte menu can be a little more challenging. 

Oasis has three main dining rooms -- American Icon, Silk, and Grande -- set up as part of the ship’s dynamic dining program (which was still yet to be implemented as of our sailing). These dining rooms are large, upscale, and feature gourmet-style dishes. Lactose-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, and sugar-free items are clearly marked, though we found that the kitchen was often able to modify unmarked dishes on request. The Windjammer Marketplace is the ship’s main buffet, and is usually swarming with people and full of tables covered in empty plates. Cleared tables and open seats are hard to come by during peak hours, even more so if the seat is by the window. 

A small breakfast buffet and a la carte menu is served each morning in American Icon, though the buffet options are as good or better at the Windjammer Marketplace and Solarium Bistro. There’s also a free diner-style a la carte breakfast served at Johnny Rockets. 

Lunch is available at select specialty restaurants for an extra charge and for free at several eateries and the Windjammer buffet. American Icon serves lunch on sea days. Park Cafe, Sorrento’s, and the Wipe Out Cafe were popular grab-and-go lunch spots, while the buffet and Johnny Rockets often felt like a zoo. 

Formal dinner seatings take place at both Grande and Silk at 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., while passengers on My Time Dining can walk-in to or make reservations at American Icon anytime between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. We found that there was almost always a short wait with My Time Dining, even if we had made reservations. However, the comfy lounge area with couches, chairs, and a dedicated bar helped to quell most complaints. 

A la carte sit-down specialty restaurants include Sabor Taqueria and Tequila Bar, Vintages tapas and wine bar, Izumi (sushi bar menu only), and Johnny Rockets, while cover fees apply to meals at Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, 150 Central Park, Izumi (hibatchi experience), and the multi-course gourmet meal with drink pairings at Chef’s Table. The Solarium Bistro serves up a free, healthy buffet for breakfast and lunch, but requires a cover fee for its Mediterranean dinner service. 

Grab-and-go options onboard include Starbucks (fee), deli items at Park Cafe, coffee shop-style bites at Promenade Cafe (24-hours), slices at Sorrento’s pizzeria (open late), hot dogs and bratwurst at Boardwalk Dog House, burgers and snacks at the Wipe Out Cafe buffet, and ice cream and cupcakes at Cups and Scoops (fee). The Vitality Cafe, located at the spa, has smoothies, fresh juice, sandwiches, and salads. Room service is available 24-hours.   

Coastal Kitchen is an additional restaurant only accessible to Pinnacle Club and suite guests. It serves up Mediterranean-Cali cuisine, and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This ship's Wonderland restaurant has been replaced by a library and Diamond Club lounge. 

Drinks

4.0

A wide selection of drinks across many bars, many with different liquor and beer options

None

With over 10 bars and several digital soda fountains scattered around the ship, Oasis of the Seas keeps her passengers with drinks in-hand. Choices range from your standard pool bars, a dedicated karaoke and sports bar, and English-style pub to the glitzy Dazzles lounge bar, Central Park's small Trellis Bar, and the high-energy of Latin dancing at Boleros. The Rising Tide Bar, which slowly rises and falls three decks from the Promenade to Central Park, is popular, though many cruisers we spoke to said that, in practice, it wasn't worth the wait. On our sailing we also noticed that the Champagne Bar never seemed open, possibly confirming rumors the line is phasing it out across the board. 

All restaurants have full bars and there is a night club located on Deck 4, though much of the ship was quiet by the time it started revving up. Unlike restaurants, we found that most of the bars (outside of special events) had plenty of seats open and minimal if any waits at the bars. It's also worth noting that the bars seemed to have different stock of beer and liquor, so just because one brand is available at one bar doesn't mean it will be available at all bars on the ship. 

A few fixed-priced drink packages are available both online before the cruise and for the first days of the cruise, and cover unlimited amounts of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks during the sailing. Minibar items, specialty souvenir glassware, and bottled Evian water is never included. Once purchased, the package fee will be charged on a per-night basis for the entire cruise (purchases made after the first night will be charged for all remaining nights from time of purchase). The cheapest package comes with a souvenir cup for unlimited fountain soda and soft drinks, and is often purchased by parents for kids ($8.50 per guest). The non-alcoholic Refreshment package ($26 per guest) includes fresh-squeezed orange juice, premium tea and coffee drinks, Coca-Cola soft drinks, and non-alcoholic cocktails. For alcoholic beverages, there is just one plan, the Deluxe Beverage package (between $44 and $55 per guest, per night; cheaper if purchased online prior to sailing) and it covers almost all beverages onboard (there are a few limitations such as bottled wines and ceilings on the cost of eligible drinks). 

Excellent (and mostly free) entertainment options, from Broadway shows to secret jazz clubs

None

Oasis of the Seas brought several entertainment firsts to the high seas, setting new standards for cruise ships. The ship’s Opal Theater brings in actual Broadway musicals, like “Cats” and “Hairspray,” while Studio B’s ice rink is home to packed performances on ice. Going even further, Oasis’ AquaTheater puts on a highly-anticipated aerial acrobatic water show. 

In fact, the live entertainment on Oasis is so popular reservations usually sell out online well before the cruise. Reserved seating areas are available for suite guests; we did find it possible to sneak into shows late without reservations -- though it was standing room only. 

Other notable entertainment venues include the Jazz on 4 live jazz club (which also hosts a fun speakeasy event for an extra fee), the On-Air sports bar with dedicated nightly karaoke and karaoke competitions, a small stand-up comedy club, and Dreamworks character interactions. Live music is scheduled nightly, too, at a few different bars and ranges from singer-songwriter to Latin fusion. Deck dance parties and character parades are popular, so get there early. 

Otherwise, guests have the Casino Royale’s many slots, table games, and prize challenges to keep them busy. Slot and card tournaments draw in players, but for the most part, the casino retains a steady flow of gamblers. Non-smokers will appreciate that the casino is split into two near-mirror images of itself, with one side for smokers, while the other has no smoking allowed. Shopping is also a huge draw for passengers who have their pick of brands like Tiffany’s, Michael Kors, Benefit cosmetics, and more. 

Four pools and nine whirlpools, including a kid-friendly water zone, adults-only area, and beach-themed pool

None

It’s no secret that Oasis is packed with activities -- it’s one of the ship’s shiniest gold stars. However, their sheer number can be dizzying. No matter which activities you choose, plan ahead and arrive early in order to secure your participation. In addition to all the usual suspects like trivia, karaoke, bingo, and seminars, Oasis brings it to the next level with adventure-focused activities best suited to active cruisers. 

Most of the action takes place on the Sports Deck. While wind makes table tennis and basketball games difficult, it adds to the atmosphere on the ship’s dual FlowRider surf simulators and amps up the challenge on the rock climbing walls. Lines here can get long, but it’s always good to check line length for both simulators. The ship’s zip-line is short but exhilarating, and flies riders over the top of the Boardwalk neighborhood. 

Less adventurous activities include mini-golf, a jogging track, ice skating at Studio B, games at the ship’s three arcades, taking a guided stroll through Central Park, or riding the old-fashioned carousel at the Boardwalk. 

Overall, the ship’s four pools are a little smaller than expected. The ship’s main pool has a maximum capacity of only 18, which is largely ignored. The pool itself is narrow, with a shallow, ankle-length perimeter on both ends and along one side that steeply drops to depths of over four feet. The pool is flanked by three levels of strappy plastic loungers, and has two shaded whirlpools at one end and a pool bar. In total, the ship has nine whirlpools, including two infinity-style ones that hover over the lip of the ship for stellar ocean views. 

The sports pool has faux-oxidized statues of swimmers for decor, plus one uncovered whirlpool. It's where passengers can expect to find all the poolside activities. The PADI-certified dive shop is located next door. 

The Beach Pool is a fun and popular spot for sun worshippers. The beach theme is not taken lightly here, and we particularly enjoyed the sand-colored cement “beach entry” design, colorful umbrellas and loungers, and the fact the pool is filled with saltwater. A limited drink menu is served from a pop-up table bar, though the ship’s Sand Bar slings a full drink menu nearby. 

Surprisingly, there's no waterslide on Oasis -- but there is a fun H20 zone for kids. The shallow pool here is less than three feet deep and the area features spitting sculptures, water guns, colorful and climbable sea creature characters, and a separate current pool. Babies have their own two-inch deep splash zone. 

On each day of our sailing, more adults made their way to the Solarium, an oasis from the madness of the main pool areas. The multi-level area includes its own bar, the adults-only Solarium Bistro, a small pool with a short hydrotherapy circuit, and two large whirlpools. Cushioned daybeds and loungers get claimed quickly. 

Dual-level spa with healthy cafe, thermal suite (fee), abundance of treatments, and good fitness center

None

The spa on Oasis is such a focal point of the cruise that it is its own designated neighborhood. The Vitality Spa and Fitness Center feel fresh, contemporary, and sleek from the get go. Located at the front of the ship on Decks 6 and 7, the spa is -- surprisingly -- mostly all interior. Treatments range from traditional massages to wrinkle-reduction, acupuncture, weight loss, and salon services, and the facility uses Elemis and Bliss products. 

The spa has a small health-focused cafe with seating at the entrance, a window-less relaxation room with free infused water and hot teas, and a massive, modern beauty salon with enticing pedicure stations. The thermal suite with sauna, steam room, heated tile loungers, and showers has an extra fee ($30 for a day pass; weeklong passes for $199 per person or $299 for a couple) and same-day discounts are given to guests with treatments. 

The fitness center is large and bright with natural light. Expect enough equipment to get in a good workout, including LifeFitness weight machines, free weights, tons of cardio equipment, and group classes (fees range from $12 for yoga to $25 for spinning). Not surprisingly, this area is not too busy and the wait for machines is pretty non-existent. This is also where a lot of health seminars are held. 

Kids' programs good enough to give Disney a run for their money

None

Oasis of the Seas has outstanding kids' programming. Located in a dedicated area of the ship, Adventure Ocean has well-thought-out and age-specific activities for all ages of kids 6 months or older. At over 28,700 square feet, Oasis’ Adventure Ocean Youth Zone is so large and extensive that it qualifies as its own neighborhood. The kid programs are separated by age, each with their own themed area, all connected by a faux-street called Kids Avenue. There's also a separate kids-only arcade area, family arts and crafts room, and science lab. 

The Aquanaut Program (ages 3 to 5) requires that all kids be potty trained and no diapers or disposable underwear are allowed. Role-playing activities take center stage, with kids pretending to be chefs, astronauts, superheroes. For kids in the Explorer Program (ages 6 to 8), boys versus girls competitions and individual challenges kick off competitiveness. The Voyagers Program (ages 9 to 11) has similar activities, and it’s common for these to groups to integrate for some activities. Favorites include hands-on science experiments and the ever-popular art projects featuring Muffalo Potato. 

The teen program, The Lounge, is located adjacent to the Sports Deck, and features a hip, though slightly empty lounge space with couches and video games, plus its own Fuel disco club. 

The Royal Babies and Tots program is an extra charge, and has special programming for young children aged six months to three years old. This is a separate area with a padded floor, colorful plastic toys, and a trained staff. 

Other kid-focused Oasis features include a separate kids menu in the main dining room (still marked for dietary restrictions); My Family Time Dining, where kids gets served within 40 minutes of being seated and are then escorted to Adventure Ocean; and late-night babysitting services ($6 per hour, per child). 

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