This is part 1 of the highlights of our back-to-back cruises to the Eastern and Western Caribbean on the Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world. You can read part 2 here. We will also give some cruise tips to make your vacation even better.

July 3: Got to the pier at 3:30 – the boarding process took 5 minutes. (Cruise tip: If you don’t want to fade throngs of passengers waiting to board the ship, plan to arrive between 3 and 3:30 – no later- and it will be a breeze.) Our room has a balcony and is centrally located on deck 6. The cabin is smaller than on many other ships, yet certainly comfortable enough.

The first thing we did inboard was make reservations for the shows for the week. Reservations are required for the ice show, Hairspray (a Broadway show), two production shows, the comedy show, and the aqua show. If you don’t have a reservation, you can show up just prior to the show and will get seated if there are some cancellations or no-shows.

Our muster station for the compulsory fire drill was in the ice rink – brrrr!…the good news is that wearing life vests hasn’t been required since 2009. We signed up for My Time Dining which means that we can eat dinner anytime between 5:30 pm 9pm. We were lucky to be seated with a newlywed couple who were both in the Navy. BTW, the prime rib was outstanding, as was the service!

After dinner, we toured the Royal Promenade area then went to Name That Tune. We teamed up with two fun guys and missed winning by ½ point. Next, we went to Hairspray in the main theater and were amazed at the talent of the entire cast…it was even better than when we saw it on Broadway.  The last activity of the evening was karaoke.

Our initial impressions of the ship: The 2,104 employees do a great job of taking care of the 6,000 + passengers and  it didn’t feel crowded. There were no long lines for anything. This ship is humungous!  It will take several days to see it all. We’ve heard there is a zipline, carousel, rock climbing wall, miniature golf, jazz club, miniature golf course, comedy theater, 20 restaurants, Boardwalk area, and an Aqua Theater,

Day 2: Nassau. Oops, we slept until the all aboard announcements came at 1:30pm. Sorry we can’t give you a Nassau report but the folks we talked to recommended having a massage on the beach at Cabbage Beach, the segway tour, the Blue Lagoon dolphin or sea lion encounter,  and the Atlantis tour.

Jan went to the gym at 2pm and says there is a lot of cardio equipment. I went to trivia. We also went to Oasis trivia at 4pm and were shocked to see that we were the only two who showed up out of more than 6,000 passengers. Since they had a prize for the winner, we played against each other. It was multiple choice and I guessed better than Jan, so I won 9-5. There were two incredible highlights of the day: dinner at Giovanni’s Table (an Italian restaurant with a $15 cover charge) and the aqua show. The weather was perfect for sitting outside in the evening to see the high dive pros and the synchronized swim team. They also had some great trampolinists. We rounded the evening off with the comedy show, the ship’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire (yawn), and I went to the Latin dance lounge while Jan went to karaoke.

Day 3: Day at sea – We slept in late again and missed the morning activities including trivia, the training session for the Aqua show performers, the Pirates of the Caribbean Parade on the Boardwalk, the port talk, the comedy improv workshop, the Hairspray dance class, bridge, and the Michael Jackson dance class. Our first activity of the day was the general trivia quiz. Do you know what the number one duty free purchase is? I said cigarettes but was outvoted by our team who insisted it was alcohol…I was right.  Lunch was burgers then I went to salsa dance class and Jan went to a game show. At 5pm, we went to the ice rink for a spectacular ice show…amazing costumes and great skaters.

Later, we stopped by the casino to check out the poker action. They use automated tables but they take a prohibitive rake – 10% up to $15 a hand making it unplayable, at least for us. Dinner was at 8pm…the  lamb shank and shrimp were terrific. The rest of the evening was spent watching the Newlywed Game  and karaoke, and then we stopped by the Absolut Escape party.

Day 4: St. Thomas – I slept late again (sensing a pattern yet?) then had lunch at the Windjammer (mediocre). Jan had a scuba trip which she said was enjoyable and convenient since she booked it through the ship. I walked around the shops in the terminal and spent time watching the iguanas roaming around the rocks, then got back on the ship and spent a few hours at the pool. The weather was perfect – not too hot and a nice breeze. I read for a while then walked around the Boardwalk and rode the carousel. We had dinner in the dining room and went to the production show with Mosaic as the headliner. This was a musical group who does not use any instruments…all the sounds are  made by the musicians. The highlight of the evening was the Quest, which is a goofy adult scavenger hunt.

Day 5: St. Maarten – Jan got up very early and went diving with the excursion from the ship and I rented a car (Toyota Corolla) and drove all around the island. I stopped at lots of beaches and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Jan’s dives were less than stellar with mediocre visibility and way too many people on the trip.

We were back on the ship by 4pm, in time for the disco line dance lessons and the ’70s name that tune trivia. Jan excels at that and we came in second, getting 13 of 15 song titles  correct.

We had dinner reservations at Izumi Restaurant, which is the Asian “pay-to-dine” outlet. I am sad to say it was the worst meal we’ve ever had on an RCCL cruise and won’t be back and can’t recommend it. The service was good but the sushi tasted terrible  and very fishy (probably because it had been frozen and wasn’t fresh), the beef in the sukiyaki was overcooked and tough, and the boneless chicken came with a big bone that almost caused a major choking problem. We spoke to the Maitre D’ and to his credit, he ended up not charging us for the cover charge or the food.

Next we strolled the Central Park district and looked at all the restaurants and their respective menus, then rode the Merry Go Round three times through. It’s day five and still we haven’t seen the entire ship! The evening activity was the “dancing in the street” 70s dance party on the Promenade. It was a crazy wild dance extravaganza and was a good time for everyone. It was a little different than on other RCCL ship,  but was a lot of fun!

By the way,  this ship is amazing because it never feels as though it’s moving. I have yet to take a seasick pill and haven’t needed one. Something to keep in mind for those of you who are afraid of becoming ill on a cruise. Have we even left the port?

Day 6 – Sea day: Did you know that there is a live webcam in real time on the Royal Promenade deck?…. shown here is Jan mugging for the camera as captured by her brother from his home in California!”

Today was another lazy sea day. Jan got up and went to the gym while I walked the length of the ship about six times.  I went to play bridge but there weren’t enough players so I did email and grabbed a salad in the Windjammer Cafe.  Jan went to a seminar about playing the bagpipes while I went to the art  auction. We saw a comedy water show – Splish Splash – that was amazing! The talent on this ship is great. There were gymnasts and high divers, some who dove from platforms as high as 57 feet high. Before dinner, we did some Latin line dancing then watched the Lollapolooza parade on the Royal Promenade. The characters and costumes reminded me something you would see at Disneyland. We  chose to eat early in the main dining room and had more great food…. the lobster was some of the best I’ve had on a cruise ship. Good thing… it made up for the lousy sushi last night!

After dinner, we went to a “Quinceanera.” I was unfamiliar with anything like this so will explain in case you are too.  In Latin America, there is a tradition to make a “Presentation in Society” when a girl turns 15 (similar to a “sweet 16 party”.) There were about 60 of these 15-year old girls on the ship and we had previously chatted with a few of them, thus we were given an invitation to their formal party. They wore beautiful formal dresses and had their hair and make up beautifully prepared. There was a dance to go along with the festivities and it was great fun to see these young ladies beaming as they were introduced to the crowd.

Later we attended the second production show called “Come Fly With Me.” Outstanding! The balance of the evening was spent at the fountain show at the Aqua Theater, the Latin dance lounge, piano bar, and the comedy improv show.

Day 7: Today will be the last day on the ship for most of the passengers, but Jan and I are lucky enough to be staying for another week. Jan started her day at the gym while I went to the captain’s question and answer session. I found him to be very interesting and charming and learned a lot about the inner workings of the ship. For example, the draft is 30 feet, the actual weight of the ship is 105,000 tons even though the gross tonnage is 225,000 tons, and at full speed (24 knots), it would take the ship seven minutes to come to a full stop and it would have to travel about three miles before it could stop.

We discovered a heads-up p0oker machine…Jan won the afternoon series of matches and I won the evening matches. Other activities for the day included blackjack (net result of +$30), the sunshine festival on the Boardwalk, the meeting for back-to-back cruisers, several trivia sessions, lunch at the fabulous Park Cafe in Central Park, Latin dance class, Jewish Sabbath Services for Jan, and a great dinner in the main dining room. It’s been a great week!

If I had to grade the ship after spending seven days on board, this would be the Oasis of the Seas’ report card:

Amenities: A! This ship has everything you could possibly want.

Cleanliness: A+! The ship is spotless. I never saw dishes sitting in the halls, restrooms in need of attention, or trash anywhere except in trash cans. Very impressive!

Ship staff: A+ They must have recruited the best of the best for this incredible ship. Everyone on the staff was friendly and went out of their way to be sure the passengers needs were met. Each employee we passed in the halls said hello and they seemed to enjoy their jobs. The cruise director works very hard at his job and is entertaining and keeps it fun.

Entertainment: A+ We went to each of the shows offered. They were all terrific!

Food: Mostly an A. The dining room was consistently outstanding and the service was great. Most of the specialty restaurants were wonderful with the exception of Izumi… do NOT eat the sushi ! Even the other items on the Izumi menu were not good! Also,  the Windjammer Cafe is only average in my opinion. I wish the iced tea was brewed of course and also wish the chefs understood that some people don’t like peppers in everything.:) The pizzeria was excellent. They not only serve several pizza of the day selections but have a pizza to order where you choose your own toppings. Be hungry! I wish we had discovered the Park Cafe earlier in the week. They had a make your own salad buffet and incredible roast beef sandwiches and paninis.

There are some areas that have room for improvement:

  1. I don’t really like having to make reservations for the shows and having to get there 10 minutes early, though it seems like there is usually seating (or at least standing room) if you want to show up at the last minute without a reservation. I would like to see an additional production show since there are only six major shows.
  2. They need to have one line for people waiting to speak to someone at the guest relations desk. It is set up now so that there are multiple lines and you have to choose the one you think will be the fastest…sort of like at the grocery store where you always choose the wrong line. This could be easily remedied by adding ropes and stanchions.
  3. Do away with the Izumi Dining Room.
  4. Enforce the “adults-only” zones. For example, the evening karaoke was supposed to be for passengers 18 and over, yet there were always lots of younger people there,

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this cruise blog, Tomorrow we go back to Ft. Lauderdale in the morning and then leave again in the late afternoon for the Western Caribbean. Next week will be part 2 written by Jan Fisher …yay!!!!

This report written by Linda Johnson