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Oasis 12/29 Sailing - My Hits and Misses

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All -

 

Just back from the Oasis 12/29 Western Caribbean sailing and wanted to provide my random list of Hits and Misses that I loosely compiled during the trip.  Most have shared detailed, day-by-day accounts of similar voyages, so these are meant to be a bit more "off the beaten trail" - and in no particular order.  For some perspective, this was probably my 20th or so cruise (across RCCL, Cunard, Princess, and HAL), but first on an Oasis class ship.  I was sailing with my wife and kids, all aged 10 and under.  

 

HITS

  • The boarding process was extremely smooth at the Miami Terminal.  We had The Key, but that was unnecessary (and ultimately useless).  
  • The ship was beautiful and amazing - the unique features such as Central Park, the Aqua Theater, the Carousel, etc are truly stunning, especially all on one ship.  People can complain about the aesthetics of the new Abyss Slide, but I thought the new refurbishments fit great with the overall look and feel of the ship.
  • The stateroom showers are small, but awesome.  Literally the best water pressure of any shower I can recall on earth - like a literal avalanche of water.  
  • The Aqua 80 Show was absolutely tremendous.  Can't overstate how impressive it was.  We went twice, and caught glimpses of a few other performances.
  • Strip steaks and minute steaks were great across the ship.  Always well prepared, tasty, etc.
  • Chops Grill was exceptional.  We ate their twice, Giovanni's Table once (which was just OK).  Our waiter, Claudio, provided a tremendous experience, and even went out of his way to squeeze us in later in the week.  The Seafood Tower was indulgent and delicious, and I thought the Prime NY Strip was great both nights we ate there.
  • Despite all of the words of caution around here about Falmouth, it was a perfectly good cruise port.  Absolutely no more "scary" than any other port in the Caribbean.  Yes, outside the walls you might get hustled to buy crap, but that's basically everywhere in that area.  So stay within the limits of the port, or take an excursion somewhere.  We opted for a day at the Hyatt Ziva resort (about 25 min away) and it was a great day.
  • Labadee is a very good day.  In hindsight, our splurge for the Beachfront Cabana at Nellie's Beach was unnecessary, as there was plenty of time/room to get a shady spot and a bunch of beach chairs, instead.  Boat docked at 7am, we went onshore around 930am, and there was still AMPLE room until at least 11am (and still plenty for everyone throughout the day).  We rode the roller coaster twice - a great experience, and just the right amount of speed and control for people of most ages.  
  • Cozumel was awesome.  We booked a private jeep excursion through a third party and had a blast.  Yes, there is some of the typical haggling, but some of the most beautiful vistas I've seen anywhere in the world - the view at Punta Sur is simply surreal.
  • The new Solarium looks great, though I didn't spend any real time there due to the kids.  I would note that it is STIFLING hot with almost no air flow, even on the at sea day I popped my head in.  
  • RCCL blocked off the Solarium for a crew party on New Year's Eve, which I think is awesome.  It shows a willingness to devote a key space to the staff - very well deserved, IMO.  We found nearly every crew member to be extremely friendly and engaging - this is partly a function of how the cruise line treats them, and I was happy to see that seems to be well managed.
  • Sorrentos pizza was great, and was typically well stocked with only a modest delay at peak times.  
  • Food at Loco Fresh was good, though the condiment bar was a bit sloppy and gross - e.g. there simply isn't an elegant way for buffett-goers to slather on sour cream.
  • The food at Port Side BBQ is also good, though the price may not be worth it given the other options onboard.
  • We did the Behind the Scenes Tour, which was super cool.  I could have spent all day in the Engine Control Room alone, learning about all of the mechanical and environmental aspects of the ship.  Other spots include the kitchen/galley, laundry, ship refrigerators, the bridge, and all of the crew pathways in between.
  • My Time Dining was great.  We had reservations each day ranging from 6:30pm to 7:30pm.  We never waited more than a few minutes for a table, and each of our waiters/assistant waiters were outstanding.  I was slightly nervous about the lack of continuity via the My Time Option, and that was completely unfounded.  Awesome job all around.
  • The Splashaway Bay area was great for the kids.  They loved it.  And even though it was crowded, they didn't seem to care.
  • FWIW, we stayed at the Hilton Downtown Miami for 2 nights before the cruise.  Perfect spot, and we got magically upgraded to the Presidential Suite - big baller zone!  Biggest room I've ever seen, amazing views, and a cool way to kick things off.  I assured the kids our accommodations wouldn't be this spacious on the cruise (two connecting standard balcony staterooms).  

 

MISSES

  • The Key is virtually useless.  Embarkation would have been the same speed with or without.  Yes, we got one lunch in the MDR, which was fine.  The "preferred seats" at the shows were easy to get anyway - for nearly all shows, there were plenty of seats up until showtime, with primo seats easily available 15 minutes ahead (at which time, they open up The Key seats anyway).  Bottom line, if you think The Key is worth it for internet plus a slight bit of extras, sure go for it.  But it is absolutely no necessary, and hardly a "value"
  • We prebooked (and prepaid) a spa appointment on the first at-sea day, just before the first formal dinner.  When we arrived for the service, they said "oops there was an issue and your appointment didn't make it into our system."  They were now full and could only offer a 20% discount to come back midday the next day (when we had a $579 cabana at Labadee).  Obviously no help.  They assured us that it would, at least, be refunded that evening.  It took until the last day of the cruise and several phone calls to resolve - we were ping-ponged between the spa and guest relations, finance and guest relations, and ship vs shore issue, and back again.  It took FAR too long to sort out.
  • My son and I got haircuts onboard.  Absolutely awful.  Like embarrassingly bad.  And we both have very boring, short hair that simply needs to be trimmed a bit.  This was a running joke for our family the rest of the cruise.
  • The ship was absolutely packed to the gills - expected during a holiday week, but man it was crowded.  This manifested itself worst on the pool deck, where folks were crammed like sardines in the pool.  Worst of all...
  • The ship does an absolutely piss poor, awful, wretched job of policing the poaching of deck chairs.  Hours would pass with beach chairs occupied only by a hat, or a random t-shirt, with no regard from the staff.  When questioned, they indicated that there was a guy who did patrol but I simply don't believe it.  We spent hours a day standing around watching out kids in the Splashaway Bay, while countless deck chairs went unused.  This was probably the most frustrating aspect of the cruise.
  • While I liked the food at Loco Fresh, the line is absurdly slow.  I don't know if it's the nature of "make your own Mexican food," but the line moved at a snail's pace.  It's also a weird disconnect with Port Side BBQ on the other side, which is almost always half (or more empty) due to the additional cost.  While I would hate to do away with it, it seems it would be far more efficient to devote both sides to El Loco Fresh, if that's the venue passengers prefer more.
  • As much as I liked the strip steaks on board, the tenderloins and roasts were poor.  Frankly, I think this primarily has to do with how they are prepared.  As we learned in the Behind the Scenes Tour, items like the MDR beef tenderloin are seared early in the day, then extremely slow roasted for hours before service.  While this reverse sear/sous-vide type preparation can work, it can also lead to tasteless, mealy meats.  I found the filets and prime rib to both be poor, in the MDR and Chops (where I tried my wife's meal).  So my suggestion is to stick with the strips/sirloins, which are more cooked to order.  
  • The drinks at the Robot Bar (name already escapes me) are incredibly sweet and syrupy - grossly so.  Since I had the drinks package, I sampled a few - all were terrible.  Folks didn't seem to linger there, either, so I think it's just a novelty where most will sample something and quickly move to a real bar.
  • The Video Game Arcade is downright theft.  $2.50-$3.00 per typical arcade game, which might last a minute or two.  This is 2x-3x more than any normal arcade.  They also had some paltry ticket/prize system, yet the redemption machine was broken for the entire cruise.  Granted, you "earn" back pennies on the dollar, but you can't charge premium prices and have the "payout" broken.
  • Smoke in the casino.  I only spent an hour or so there, but I simply don't understand how it is still allowed this day and age.  5% of the population smokes, yet 70% of the population transforms into a smoker when a slot machine button is at their fingertips.  The smoke pervades the entire room, and spills out into the entrance to the 4th floor dining room.  I used to smoke, too, but times have changed.  Knock it off, RCL.
  • Timing on room service breakfast was absurd.  We ordered in 5 of the 7 days, ordering via the hang tag the night before.  If you asked for 8-830am, the breakfast would arrive at 715am.  OK, let's try 9am...8:05am.  I understand a few minutes variance, but coming nearly an hour early is crazy.  
  • There are no power outlets anywhere near the bed.  So anyone who likes a phone or tablet plugged in will need to place it on the desk across the room.
  • One of the senior officers (though a young guy) on the bridge during the ship tour was the most arrogant, obnoxious person I've ever met on a ship.  His disdain for the passengers was palpable, basically gloating at the fact that he didn't have to interact with any of them for the next 10 weeks when his current tour expired.  He was like the villain in a D-list movie - just a bizarre experience - on a ship otherwise filled with amazing folks at all levels.   
  • Cab line during disembarkation was extremely long - probably took close to an hour to get a cab.  In hindsight, should have gone with an airport transfer, I suppose.  Don't think Uber would have been much help, because they would need to go through the same loop to get to you as the regular cabs.

 

Overall, we very much enjoyed our experience.  That said, a slight bad taste in our mouth given the crowd levels on the pool deck, which really hampered the 3 days at sea.  Alas, this is the tough part of holiday week cruising - you absolutely pay a premium (for cruise fare, air fare, etc) and it's STILL the most crowded it will be during the year.  Our next cruise is booked for Ovation on 8/7 - a different experience in Alaska for sure.  I am 51% sure we'll follow through on that reservation, though my wife is still unconvinced.  She's more of a land lover than me anyway.

 

Hope some of these items are helpful and/or interesting.  Glad to share other thoughts as well.  Hope everyone has a happy 2020.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for your review. Wife and I will be on it for the second time in April ..... first time post Amp. 

Edited by Tulsacoker

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On the same cruise. And we agree it was extremely over crowed. Its was our first holiday cruise and most likely our last. Royal didn't police anything, we had teens in the audit only areas (12/13 years old) with parents. Packs of older teenager running all the ship. Smaller kids took over the pools. Robot bar worthless. But we loved our cabin, the other ship upgrades and the staff and food were all great. 

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An FYI to the OP. There is a plug by the bed on Oasis class ships.  You have to virtually stand on your head to use it, but it is there.  You have to look behind/under the top of the mattress. It is near where the phone plugs into the wall.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, uvadover said:

There are no power outlets anywhere near the bed.  So anyone who likes a phone or tablet plugged in will need to place it on the desk across the room.

 There actually is an outlet by the bed...though you have to disassemble your bed to find it.  If you go on one of these ships again...look under the mattress and there is a plug on the wall under the bed.  It was tough to get to, but we were able to plug a multi-port charging block there and use/charge our devices in bed.  Somebody pointed this outlet out in another thread and said it was put there for CPAP users. (Sorry, just saw somebody else posted this same info above.)

Edited by buzzard05
dupolicate info

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Posted (edited)

HI.  Thanks so much for this!  I will be on the Oasis in May and have a few questions.

 

I have an oceanview balcony on deck 6 - are there refrigerators in the cabins?  Also, are the tables on the deck regular size tables that you could eat a meal at or play cards or are they the small lower tables?  What time does my time dining start?  I would like to make the earliest reservation possible for each night.  Also, does Johnny Rockets serve free breakfast?

Edited by wezie

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8 minutes ago, wezie said:

HI.  Thanks so much for this!  I will be on the Oasis in May and have a few questions.

 

I have an oceanview balcony on deck 6 - are there refrigerators in the cabins?  Also, are the tables on the deck regular size tables that you could eat a meal at or play cards or are they the small lower tables?  What time does my time dining start?  I would like to make the earliest reservation possible for each night.  Also, does Johnny Rockets serve free breakfast?

There are coolers in all cabins. MTD starts at 6:30. Yes to breakfast at JR 

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Forgot to add a MISS.  Cats is apparently still downright awful.  My daughter was very excited to see it, so my wife was kind enough to take her.  They made it about 30 minutes before leaving, along with many others.  Apparently just disjointed songs, no focus at all, and downright weird.  

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We were also on this sailing and I agree with your review almost entirely. 
 

We Struggled with the noise level in the hallways this trip, which have never been a problem in the past.  Large groups of people screaming in the hallways til all hours - and not just New Year’s Eve. I get the occasional noise but with two little kids I was pretty frustrated. Someone also wrote **** on our door with a marker. Nice surprise for my 9 year old.  

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On 1/6/2020 at 5:45 PM, old man 1010 said:

On the same cruise. And we agree it was extremely over crowed. Its was our first holiday cruise and most likely our last. Royal didn't police anything, we had teens in the audit only areas (12/13 years old) with parents. Packs of older teenager running all the ship. Smaller kids took over the pools. Robot bar worthless. But we loved our cabin, the other ship upgrades and the staff and food were all great. 

Not sure what else I would expect on a popular holiday cruise. I prefer sticking to just after Thanksgiving, or Jan, Feb, and early March.

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22 minutes ago, Mikew0805 said:

Not sure what else I would expect on a popular holiday cruise. I prefer sticking to just after Thanksgiving, or Jan, Feb, and early March.

 

The difference is clearly between crowded and overcrowded.  And given the additional cabins added, the multiple-time re-categorization of certain cabins, and the typical holiday week surge, it may have been too much after all.  While we generally enjoyed the cruise, things were quite untenable on the pool deck during sea days.  Simple as that.

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3 hours ago, uvadover said:

Forgot to add a MISS.  Cats is apparently still downright awful.  My daughter was very excited to see it, so my wife was kind enough to take her.  They made it about 30 minutes before leaving, along with many others.  Apparently just disjointed songs, no focus at all, and downright weird.  

 

So much for the "new & improved" Cats.  Maybe in 2024......

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8 hours ago, uvadover said:

 

The difference is clearly between crowded and overcrowded.  And given the additional cabins added, the multiple-time re-categorization of certain cabins, and the typical holiday week surge, it may have been too much after all.  While we generally enjoyed the cruise, things were quite untenable on the pool deck during sea days.  Simple as that.

Exactly. Which is why I will never sail on a holiday cruise. I would guess they sell a lot of triples/quads on those sailings. 

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Great review.

 

What was the up charge for the Seafood tower @ Giovannis.  We're booked in March and have reservations one night there.  

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4 minutes ago, MikeDRangers said:

Great review.

 

What was the up charge for the Seafood tower @ Giovannis.  We're booked in March and have reservations one night there.  

Seafood towers are at Chops and are $19 or $39 depending on the size.  Basically for 1 or 2 people but 2 people could share the $19 tower. 

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8 hours ago, HBE4 said:

 

So much for the "new & improved" Cats.  Maybe in 2024......


It depends on the viewer, I went to see the new Cats and loved it. I liked it so much I went to see it several times ...
Each time it got a standing ovation

Edited by darthvadrouw

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On 1/6/2020 at 4:23 PM, uvadover said:

 

  • Cab line during disembarkation was extremely long - probably took close to an hour to get a cab.  In hindsight, should have gone with an airport transfer, I suppose.  Don't think Uber would have been much help, because they would need to go through the same loop to get to you as the regular cabs.

You are so right about the disembarkation at that Terminal.  Leaving the ship... great!  Getting though the terminal... great!  Especially with the facial recognition at immigration.  The problem with that terminal is the traffic control getting in & out of there is a total failure.  RCI or whomever is responsible for the roads in & out of the Terminal needs to redesign access in there.  It was a total cluster...

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On 1/6/2020 at 4:23 PM, uvadover said:

Smoke in the casino.  I only spent an hour or so there, but I simply don't understand how it is still allowed this day and age.  5% of the population smokes, yet 70% of the population transforms into a smoker when a slot machine button is at their fingertips.  The smoke pervades the entire room, and spills out into the entrance to the 4th floor dining room.  I used to smoke, too, but times have changed.  Knock it off, RCL.

I totally agree with you.  My mom is a big smoker and on cruises she cuts way back, so you are telling me these people can't sit at the tables or a machine for a few hours and not smoke?  How do they sit through dinner.  To me is seems so inconsiderate.  And to me why would you want your ship to smell like that.  That smell is hard to get out.  Hopefully it's not too bad when I got on the Symphony in April.  The rest of your content was great as well 

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5 hours ago, darthvadrouw said:


It depends on the viewer, I went to see the new Cats and loved it. I liked it so much I went to see it several times ...
Each time it got a standing ovation

 

It's definitely and love-it or hate-it type of show.  Maybe more people will love it in it's now reduced, 50% less Cats format.   (diet Cats?? LOL)

 

Just ironic that the very first review I read was negative.  Looking forward to more reviews.

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47 minutes ago, HBE4 said:

 

It's definitely and love-it or hate-it type of show.  Maybe more people will love it in it's now reduced, 50% less Cats format.   (diet Cats?? LOL)

 

Just ironic that the very first review I read was negative.  Looking forward to more reviews.

 

Check back next week

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18 hours ago, uvadover said:

 

The difference is clearly between crowded and overcrowded.  And given the additional cabins added, the multiple-time re-categorization of certain cabins, and the typical holiday week surge, it may have been too much after all.  While we generally enjoyed the cruise, things were quite untenable on the pool deck during sea days.  Simple as that.

That's unfortunate.  It used to be my arguement that a cruise ship is better than other crowded holiday vacation venues (Orlando theme parks anyone?) because sailings almost always sold to full anyway, and only so many could be put on a ship, (before they added cabins).  If one could afford the premium cost of holiday sailings, they'd somewhat escape, in comparison, severe holiday crowds on ships.  More 3rd/4th pax kids, sure, but they were often in kids club and in pools so weren't a crowd factor to bars or late night shows.  I guess I was originally surprised at how uncrowded Oasis class ships felt, even on busy Tgiving and summer sailings, but now that has probably changed.  

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3 hours ago, CP3o said:

It used to be my argument that a cruise ship is better than other crowded holiday vacation venues (Orlando theme parks anyone?). 

Coincidentally, I've now done both the past two years.  The Orlando Theme Park can get extraordinarily busy at the rides (prohibitively so), but there are still plenty of outlets to enjoy on the periphery - e.g. catching parades, visiting different hotels (Animal Kingdom Lodge to see animals), etc.  On sea days on Oasis, it's hard not to spend at least some amount of time on the pool deck, IMO.  And that's where things simply were untenable.  The stalking of deck chairs with no policing, literally wall to wall people in the pools, etc.  I have no basis to compare before or after the drydock, which added rooms, but my experience was such that I can't imagine I'll take another holiday cruise.  

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I was on Oasis a year & a half ago (pre drydock) and I agree with your hits & misses.  

 

It was also a busy holiday week (Easter) and by the last sea day people were up on the pool deck in the pitch dark saving deck chairs (like before 6am)!  Someone from our FB group gave us a heads-up and messaged everyone to come up if they wanted a chair near the pool.  Later on, they did have security walking around in response to several passenger vs passenger screaming matches, but they were still hesitant to take action and move belongings off long-abandoned chairs.  Just kill me if I ever have to confront someone over a deck chair on my vacation...

 

I also agree with your assessment of Falmouth/Jamaica.  I have been there 3 times on 3 different ships, having done a combination of ships tours and a private tour and have thoroughly enjoyed myself each time.

 

Oasis was our first time on a mega ship.  Although it is a lovely ship, we ultimately decided that Freedom class was as big as we wanted to go - unless we find an unpopular, low-kid week.

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