Back in July, I could not wait to tell you all about my adventures in cruising when I was on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, and how cruising was back with a vengeance. Well, I just got off another ship, Royal’s Oasis of the Seas, and it was even better. It’s always been my favorite ship, but we had probably the best time we ever had on a cruise ship, and I want to tell you all about it!
Every single cruise my family and I have taken, we flew to our departure port. We booked this cruise on a whim just a few weeks ago, and the main draw for us was that our favorite ship was sailing out of Cape Liberty, NJ. That’s right. We sailed what we consider the greatest ship ever and didn’t have to get on a plane to do it. It took us just three hours to get to the port from our home near Frederick, MD. For you Maryland and Northeast readers, think about it – wake up in the morning and be on the way to the Bahamas or the Caribbean by the afternoon without ever getting on a plane. I can’t begin to tell you how relaxed I was not having to deal with airports. Now, I find myself wondering why it took us so long to sail from a port so close to home.
Gone are the days when your only choices of cabin were an interior, oceanview, or balcony stateroom. On a ship such as the Oasis of the Seas, your choices of cabin are dazzling. Of course, you can choose the standards, but you can also choose from cabins that overlook the various neighborhoods on the ship such as Central Park or Boardwalk. The suites – well let’s just say suites have come a long way, LOL. You can have suites with 1 or 2 bedrooms, suites with lofts, suites that come with your own “Royal Genie” to cater to your every need. Having so many categories of staterooms means there are many more choices in many different price points to fit all budgets.
We chose a Boardwalk Balcony Stateroom. I deliberately chose one at the very end as close to the AquaTheater as I could get because I wanted to see if we could watch the show from the balcony and we were not disappointed. We were also able to watch the movies they showed on the big screen by the theater and the bonus was that because we were at the back of the ship, we had a gorgeous view of the ocean as well. We had the best of all worlds and won’t hesitate to book this category, and in fact, this exact cabin, again (it was cabin 12329 in case you’re wondering)
Oasis-class ships have over 20 distinct dining options on them. These venues offer up everything from 5-course meals to standard buffet fare to snacks, and in all different cuisines. About half of them or free, meaning they are already included in your cruise fare. This of course includes the Main Dining Room and Windjammer Buffet but also places like the Park Café where you can get the best beef on weck sandwiches, Sorrento’s for some awesome pizza (a must at midnight), Café Promenade for tasty desserts, and more.
To elevate your dining experiences, there are several specialty dining restaurants that charge a fee(dining packages are also available), such as Chops Grille and Giovanni’s Table. In the past when we sailed with our children, we never did specialty dining, but now that we are sailing as empty nesters, my husband and I started purchasing the dining packages so we can expand our options. In fact, on this cruise, we ate in the main dining room just once and that was really just to get our escargot fix. Each night we tried a different restaurant, and the last day we just snacked throughout the day, culminating in a dinner of tapas and wine in Vintages, the ship’s wine bar. However, our best dining experience to date was the Chef’s Table, an intimate 5-course meal with wine pairings for just 6 guests. It was an extraordinary experience and one that everyone should try at least once on a cruise.
Whatever you choose, you won’t go hungry on this ship.
This is my only complaint about the ship. Royal Caribbean is known for its Broadway-level shows. Many of its ships perform nightly adaptations of popular shows such as Hairspray, Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You. Unfortunately, the show on the Oasis of the Seas is CATS. Everyone who knows me knows I detest that show with the intensity of 1000 white-hot suns. But, that’s my hangup. The talent is excellent. It’s the show I object to. Fortunately, the ship has more than enough amazing entertainment to make up for that.
From our balcony, we had stellar views of the ship’s high-diving water show, Aqua80. We were able to watch the performers rehearse all week and after finally seeing the finished product agreed it was one of the best shows we have seen. The fact that people are diving from 60 feet high into 17 feet of water on a cruise ship never ceases to amaze me (and makes me very nervous). But honestly, the quality of the show is outstanding – all the performers are former championship divers, swimmers, and acrobats – and worth the multiple times we watched it.
But that’s not all. Ice show? They have that, too. It’s quite impressive to see championship skaters perform on a moving ship – I can barely move off the wall! But wait – there’s more! Guests can see headliner shows, comedy shows, pub entertainment, movies on the big screen, sporting events, piano bars and so much more. Many cruise lines are doing away with live music, but Royal Caribbean has been doing everything possible to safely bring it back to its ships.
Royal Caribbean and all the contemporary cruise lines have itineraries to fit all budgets and interests. On this sailing, we are here mostly for the ship because leaving from northeast ports does leave you with limited options for a 7-night cruise. It takes 2 days to sail down the East Coast, so our first stop was Port Canaveral (Orlando), FL. We opted to stay on the ship since we have visited that area hundreds of times before. For those that wish to get off the ship, there isn’t time to visit the theme parks, but you can certainly go into Cocoa Beach for some beach time, or take advantage of the many nature activities like kayaking or an airboat ride.
The ship also visited Nassau. Since we were just here in July, we stayed on the ship but again, guests can visit Atlantis for the day, swim with the dolphins,or enjoy some of the finest snorkeling and diving in the Bahamas. Keep in mind that if you are traveling with an unvaccinated child, you must book your excursions through the cruise line and are not free to get off the ship on your own.
And of course, the ship visited Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay. This is one of our absolute favorite stops. On our last trip, we purchased passes to the Coco Beach Club for the first time and decided that we will always go there on our visits to CocoCay from now on. Why is that? A visit to Coco Beach Club is an elevated beach experience from the time you enter and they hand you cool towels, followed by coffee and pastries, to the lunch that features lobster and filet mignon. Don’t worry about getting up to get drinks, because there is waitstaff to bring you your drinks after you raise the flag on your lounge chair. Oh, and want a break from the ocean? Take a dip in the infinity pool with loungers. Honestly, our days at the Coco Beach Club have been some of the most enjoyable days at any beach anywhere.
As I mentioned above, we booked this cruise mainly for the ship. Because we only got off the ship one day, the itinerary that had 3 sea days turned into one with 5 sea days for us. But there is so much to do on the Oasis of the Seas that it’s impossible to be bored. The ship is divided into neighborhoods – each with a distinct flavor and purpose. There is the Boardwalk which features a working carousel, the AquaTheater, carnival games, Johnny Rockets, shops, and a sports bar that plays pretty much any game you can think of all day (my husband was happy to find them airing English Premier League games).
Active guests spend their day ziplining (yes, ziplining on a cruise ship), rock climbing, surfing, or taking part in one of the many competitions on the sports deck. During our sailing, there were basketball, archery, and soccer tournaments to name a few. But let’s not forget the ice skating rink that did have open skate (so don’t forget to bring jeans and socks), as well as the water slides and the Ultimate Abyss dry slide.
Guests looking for some quiet time can lounge in the adults-only Solarium which is a lovely spot for some sun and relaxation, or take in a treatment at the spa. Tip – the aroma stone massage is simply the best massage I have ever had anywhere. Central Park is a literal park in the middle of the ship surrounded by shops and restaurants, and even a small library.
And of course, there’s also the casino, bingo, trivia, lectures, and shopping onboard. If you find yourself bored, well, I just don’t know what to say!
I know this is a lot of information I just threw at you, and this only scratches the surface. But, I cannot describe enough how much I love cruising and Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships! There are some great deals out there, and frankly, this is a great time to cruise since ships are operating at reduced capacity. Our ship normally holds around 6,000 passengers; we had only 2,300. Are you ready to pack your bags and hop on a cruise? Let me know and I can work with you to find the best itinerary and cruise line for you and your family!
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