Oasis of the Seas - how things have changed
By Tricia Matthews.
Once upon a time there was a girl who became a travel agent…and so it began…a life of new experiences, exciting travel destinations and soon a love of cruising.
Back in 1981, I was about to experience my first cruise famil…on board a ship known as Sea Princess at 27,670 tonnes with 710 passengers. I had the most wonderful time and since then I have been in love with what makes a cruise a great holiday.
Well in May 2011, 30 years after that very first cruise, I was one of 12 lucky agents to spend 7 glorious night on board Oasis of the Seas, one of the largest cruise ships in the world.
I could not believe that I was about to board this mega ship at 220,000 tonnes with 5,400 passengers. Wow - what a difference from the first to the latest cruise for me.
Although I was excited to be going to the Caribbean and to have this opportunity to experience such a ship, I did have reservations if this was the type of ship for me.
I can say without any hesitation that I was wrong, this ship is certainly for me and to be honest I can’t wait to go back again.
Oasis of the Seas, she is what the cruise is all about, the ship, not her ports of call, to be honest I would have been happy just to cruise out to sea and drop anchor, the ship is amazing and you need all of your 7 night cruise just to experience her. Actually I would highly recommend two back-to-back cruises.
My cabin was 504 on deck 10, forward and directly under the bridge – great forward facing view especially when docking. Plus the most comfortable beds.
We had a floor to ceiling window, full size couch, flat screen TV and fridge. Typical size bathroom for a ship, with shower only and glass sliding shower screen. With interactive television it allows you to book shows and shore excursions from the comfort of your cabin. It also allows you to check your ship board account and create your own daily calendar. Unfortunately at times it was rather slow and sometimes if the shore excursion office is open you are unable to book online.
Some cabins have the reverse floor plan with the bed and couch swapped around which is a better layout as our second bed was quite near the robe doors.
Oh my goodness what a selection on this ship. The shows are the best I’ve experienced EVER on a ship. I went to:
Oasis of Dreams at the Aqua Theatre – Music/diving/synchronised swimming
Ice skating at Studio B – themed on Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales
Come Fly with Me at the Opal Theatre – song/dance/acrobatics
Hairspray at the Opal Theatre – musical
We did traditional dining at 2030. I found the dining room a little crowded, the size of the tables were not large, it seemed like we were a little squashed in and the tables all very close to each other. A couple of times the service was rather slow but our waiters were also doing drink service. I didn’t mind the wait as on other ships it can be rushed from course to course. The food was excellent and I thought the variety was very good.
Specialty restaurants and other eating options – so many options from Johnny Rockets (burgers & hot dogs), Seafood Shack (fish & chips), donut shop, ice cream parlour, cafés, Cup Cakes, Park Café (healthy options), Pizzeria, Solarium Bistro (healthy options), Vitality Café (fresh juice & healthy options), Wipe Out Café, Izumi (Asian/Japanese), Giovanni’s Table (Italian), Chops Grille (steak), 150 Central Park (fine dining – degustation menu), Vintages (wine & tapas), Chefs Table (wine pairing dinner for 14 guests) – VERY IMPRESSED with Vintages and 150 Central Park.
On this ship there is never a dull moment, there is a fantastic spa and fitness area, the usual things like bingo, art auctions, movies, plus parades, mini golf, basketball and table tennis. There are also parades with DreamWorks characters, the ZipLine, WaveRider, ice skating, cupcake making lessons and the list goes on.
WOW, more than ever and the duty free was really well priced.
Overall very good, like any ship some better than others, the only thing with being on a massive ship, there are so many places to go so you find you don’t see the same staff twice. On smaller ships your crew get to know you and when you walk into a bar they often know/remember your drink. On Oasis this doesn’t of course happen unless you go to the same place twice which is hard to do if you are getting out there and experiencing all areas.
I thought this might have been a problem as I’m not good with directions at the best of times. Turn me around a couple of times and I’m lost…
At all lifts are deck layouts plus an interactive board - select what you are looking for like a dining option and it tells you where they are PLUS how full they are. Just loved this. It made getting around easy and made making decisions easy before you even got there.
I found the shore excursion staff a little unsure on some of their shore excursions. On one occasion two of us got two different versions for the same shore excursion and the guest services staff were unhelpful when the shore excursion staff were not around. But other than that everyone else was great. I had a couple of spa treatments and they were very friendly and efficient. Of course cabin attendants were amazing.
I seriously want to go back and do two back-to-back 7 night cruises, which of course gives you a Western plus and Eastern Caribbean itinerary. I would love to get a bunch of friends/family together; it is a great ship to all do your own thing and meet up each night for dinner, so a holiday with friends but being quite independent at the same time.
When we first boarded Oasis it was a little overwhelming as there was so many things I wanted to see and do and I had to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember to take my time and share different neighbourhoods over the 7 nights. Doing 14 nights would allow much more relaxation as well as enjoying everything that is on offer with this magnificent ship.
Travel has become my hobby, even though stamp collecting may have been less expensive, but let’s be honest nowhere near as much fun. Every time I come home from a travel adventure, work or play, I am forever grateful to have had such a wonderful experience.
So now it’s time to plan and get holiday leave approved so I can do this all over again.
Tricia is a product specialist and works at Flight Centre Head Office in Brisbane.