Here is a personal review from one of our very own “escape artists” Deborah R. who recently sailed on the famous Oasis of the Seas.
Oasis of the Seas
Pre Inaugural Sailing
November 19, 2009
I have never been more excited about a ship debut. Sure, they are all exciting but I have never heard the hype like I have heard about the upcoming Oasis of the Seas. I thought it would never live up. I was very wrong!
As we were approaching the terminal I could see the ship towering over everything. I thought I would never get onboard, the traffic will be congested & the lines will be horrible. Again, I was wrong! The terminal was huge but well organized. You check in by your deck number and they have numerous windows open for each deck. We had a trainee that had a little difficulty (my credit card was never hooked up to my Sea Pass card). Each check in counter has a camera and your picture is taken right there & added to your card rather than going to a different spot. Even with all of that, we were still onboard within 10 minutes after walking into the terminal. Ya gotta love that. Also, your welcome aboard picture is also taken in the terminal before heading to the ship.
You enter the ship through one of two doors on deck 5 directly into the middle of the Promenade. It’s an amazing site & much more exciting than entering into the lobby or a stairwell.
We went directly to our cabin to dump the luggage. We had a D2 on deck 14, cabin #578. It is roughly the same size as any other balcony cabin. It seemed a little short on closet space. The flat screen TV is nice & large and it has a wireless keyboard for those that want to sign up for the internet package. The bathroom is the same with the little round shower stall (hubby calls it a transporter). Oh yeah, the shower stall has a bar in the lower corner for us ladies to prop the legs on for shaving. Another added feature in the bathroom is a very dim light that can be used as a night light. That’s a big deal. No more bumped shins in the middle of the night.
We ate at the Windjammer Buffet – out of habit – and it was the same old average buffet. I totally forgot about the Solarium. They have a buffet for breakfast and lunch that is healthier food. It is a much smaller buffet but next time, I plan to utilize it as often as possible.
We started at the top & worked our way down. The Viking Crown Lounge looks much more comfortable & not chopped up. Great décor & the bar faces the window. The view looks down to the Sports Pool on the starboard side, Central Park in the middle, and the H20 Zone on the port side
They had a Crown Loft Suite & the Royal Crown Loft Suite open for viewing. WOW! I know I’ll never sail in the Royal Suite but I have high hopes for a Crown. Great concept and 545 sq ft. Especially the bed on the 2nd level with the drop down flat screen & amazing view. One could get used to that! And two bathrooms!! The balcony could be a little larger but hey, ya can’t have it all.
The Solarium was my favorite spot. It is two levels and much larger than any other ship & very quiet on both levels. Adults only. Yahoo! Finally, a nice, large place for us big people to enjoy (I just hope that RCI enforces that rule). There were even little cabanas for two. I can see them being in big demand. We’ll have to get up very early to get one of those. There were a few pools, and a few whirlpools including the cantilevered whirlpools at both entrances of the Solarium. The Solarium Bar is on the 2nd level.
The whole pool deck is very nice. There are numerous pools & bars and the deck chairs are plenty. The H20 Zone looks very fun & I’ll say it again, I wish they had stuff like that for us when I was young. The zone is smaller than on the Freedom Class ships but will still keep the kiddies entertained (& hopefully out of the adult areas) they even have small deck chairs for them. Very cute.
The Sports Zone promises to keep everyone busy for hours and hours. It still has the golf course called the Oasis Dunes & a full size basketball court but now there are two Flowriders. Hopefully that will help with the long lines. The Zip Line is back there too. I expected it to be much longer but that’s probably a good thing. That’s the only way I am going to get on it. I figure I can do anything for 4 or 5 seconds. The 20 minute ride in Labadee is definitely out for me.
Next, down to Central Park. Very nice and at certain times of the day, very` quiet. Those that have the Central Park Balcony cabins will find this very peaceful. Believe it or not, there are even crickets amongst the foliage so sitting on your balcony in the early morning or in the evening should be a very pleasant experience.
Central Park also has most of the Alternative Dining Options: Chops Grille, 150 Central Park & Giovanni’s Table. The Park Café & Vintages are also in Central Park as well as the Coach store. We went inside 150 Central Pak and it was beautiful. The décor was elegant & for a lack of a better description, the chairs look like they hug you. You’ll have to see them to know what I mean. The Coach store is the only retail store on this deck & I think that was a mistake. It is separated from the rest of the retail shops and obviously it is a high priced store. They didn’t have a whole lot of inventory and there weren’t any great deals to be found in this store.
The Boardwalk is a hopping place. The energy is high around the Carousel, Johnny Rockets, the Donut Shop, The Seafood Shack, The Candy Store. Just walking through the entrance makes you feel good. All of the sounds & colors are stimulating & children as well as adults are going to enjoy this neighborhood. The cabins over looking this area will have lots to see but don’t expect any peace and quiet. At the far end are the two Rockwalls that are begging to be conquered. I’ve climbed one before on the Liberty of the Seas. It’s definitely not as easy as it looks but I am ready to attempt the climb on the Oasis.
The Aquatheater is quite impressive. During the off times, the pool has a covering over it that can be used as a stage. But when the show begins, it turns into a deep pool for the High Divers & the Synchronized swimmers. We saw a short version of the show & although I didn’t think it would be that great, I was riveted. The divers were perched high above the sea and I gasped each time they dove into the pool. I loved the ladies doing their synchronized swimming routines as well. There is plenty of stadium style seating with comfortable chairs & 2 big screen TVs on either side of the stage/pool – I am told (by VP Lisa Bauer) that the Super Bowl will be shown on those screens. Let’s hope for good weather.
Once again the Promenade deck is the life of the ship. Far forward is the top level of the Opal Theater. It spans 3 decks and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Rihanna gave a ½ hour concert on the first night and although we were near the back of the theater, we still felt up close & personal.
On the Promenade, you’ll find the usual Guest Relations, Sorrentos Pizzeria & Champagne Bar. But they have also added Boleros, The On Air Club (usually next to Studio B), a new Cup Cake shop that has to-die-for gourmet cupcakes. I had a red velvet one and it was outstanding.
Also on this deck, you can catch a ride on the Rising Tide Bar. This bar rises slowly up and down 3 decks. A fountain underneath follows it’s path and is lighted by different colored laser lights. It has a very limited bar – I assume it’s so you won’t stay on very long. It serves soda & iced tea but also champagne & a champagne cocktail. It’s small, probably only holds 30 people or so. But it’s an interesting concept.
Below this deck is the Entertainment Neighborhood. You can enter down a staircase from the Promenade or from either stairwell. Directly in front of you is Studio B. On the left is the Jazz Club & the Comedy Club – both small venues. On the right is the Disco called Blaze. The Jazz & Comedy clubs are small which is fine but the disco is too. I think that might be a mistake. Crowded dance floors are no fun.
You can get to the Casino by going down the hall on either side of Studio B. It is HUGE! It’s about time that a ship had a casino this large. They even have a poker room & a small lounge area. I loved it. Especially the fact that they have two, yes two Craps tables. Woohoo! I’ve never seen that before & since Craps are the best odds in the Casino, I thought I never would. However, I lost over $50 in less than 5 minutes so maybe it’s not such a good thing L.
The Dining room is 3 levels and is gorgeous as usual with the chandelier as the center focal point. A new feature is in the lobby of the Dining room, Wine dispensers. Yes that’s right, I said Wine Dispensers. There are two for white wine – chilled coolers. And two for Red Wine. They have the slots on the top of the dispensers for you two swipe your Sea Pass card & put your glass under the bottle of choice & a glass is poured. I assume each price is different according to which bottle you select. What will they think of next?
A really cool feature are the numerous interactive monitors that are placed all over the ship. It tells you where you are, what time of the day it is, what day of the cruise it is and then gives you the option of choosing 5 different interactive modes – What To Do Right Now, Room Finder, Cruise Compass, Venues Around The Ship, & Dining. I selected Room Finder and it literally drew a red dotted line directly to my cabin. Amazing! The other Options should keep us all well informed and we’ll never get lost.
The Photo Gallery now has towers with folders in them. Passengers will have their own folder with their pictures waiting for them to view. How do they know how to put the right photos into the right folder? Face recognition! Yep, the photo that you have taken when you check in for your Sea Pass is assigned a number and it will be crossed referenced through the computer system. Your photos that are taken throughout the cruise will be matched to your face and placed in your folder. Obviously some will slip through the cracks, like if you are wearing sunglasses etc. Those pics will be able to be found the old fashion way – searching through the slots on the wall panels.
We were lucky enough to have dinner with Ken Muskat, VP of sales. He was very informative and you can tell that he loves his job. A VERY handsome man (oops did I type that out loud-I swear I am very happily married but you’d have to be DEAD not to notice). I asked about the WOW phones. They will soon be called RC Phones but they are not completed yet. They will look like an iphone & have quite a few cool options on them, some yet to be released. The price will be $17.50 per phone for the week. That is an awesome price. Especially since your cell phone will cost a minimum of $2.49 a minute and .50 to send a text & .05 to receive a text.
We were also told that when the ship is in port, escalators will be used to get passengers on & off of the ship. The Chairman didn’t want to divulge that info for fear that the public would think that it meant the ship was too big. I can tell you that they are needed when debarking at the pier it was very difficult going down the ramp. It was very steep & trying to steer a carry on piece of luggage wasn’t easy. I consider myself in pretty good shape but I almost fell a few times. I can foresee that this is going to cause them a lot of problems. It seemed that the point of debarkation was too high up for the pier & therefore too steep to go down the ramp easily. They definitely need to do something about that.
Regardless, I hated to leave.
To wrap up, this ship is like nothing I have ever seen before. After 34 cruises & numerous pre-inaugurals, this went above and beyond all of my expectations. We are sailing on her February 6th with a great group of people that are sure to be as impressed as I was. I can’t wait to experience a full week of this ship. And I look forward to her sister the Allure. In fact, I have already booked a group on the Allure for the following year.
Just Cruises & Vacations