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I took my first cruise ever and here's what I expected vs what actually happened

20 May 2023
Matt Hochberg

Kayla took her first cruise last year and was instantly hooked, but admittedly some aspects of the cruise were different from what she expected.

In fact, she says the experience on a four-night Oasis of the Seas from Miami was even better than she had imagined.

She shared her thoughts on her first cruise and what stood out from her foray into cruising.

Getting onboard

Before embarking on my cruise adventure, I had envisioned a luxurious, stress-free vacation where I could sit back and relax while exploring new destinations. My expectations were high, but I was determined to have a good time.

As I stepped on board the ship, I was immediately struck by its grandeur and elegance. From the spacious cabins to the lavish dining rooms, everything exceeded my expectations.

Will I be bored?

Oasis pool deck

One of my main concerns was that I would feel confined on the ship and we would run out of things to do on sea days. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the abundance of activities available.

Read moreTop untrue myths about a Royal Caribbean cruise

The ship had multiple pools, hot tubs, and water slides, as well as a casino, a theatre, and a variety of restaurants and bars. In the evenings, there were a variety of shows and performances to enjoy, including Broadway-style productions like Cats as well as comedy shows and live music performances.

There was truly something for everyone on board, we actually didn’t have time to experience all the activities this ship had to offer!

Fussy and formal?

Sail away on Oasis of the Seas

Another expectation I had was that the crew would be formal and distant.

I assumed they would be focused on maintaining the ship and catering to the guests' needs, but not much else.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the crew was warm, friendly, and always willing to help. They went out of their way to make sure that every guest had a positive experience, and their enthusiasm was infectious.

Crew member emuster

Another thing that stood out to me about the onboard experience was the level of service and attention to detail provided by the staff.

Read more25 times Royal Caribbean crew members wowed cruise ship passengers with excellent service

From the waitstaff in the restaurants to the housekeeping staff who kept our stateroom tidy, everyone was friendly and accommodating. I felt truly cared for and valued as a guest on board the ship.

Would the food live up to the hype?

One of the things I was most excited about was the food.

I had heard great things about the dining options on board the Oasis of the Seas and was looking forward to trying out the various restaurants.

I was not disappointed.

The food on the ship was exceptional, and I was impressed by the variety of options available. From the casual dining at the Windjammer Cafe to the more formal dining at the main dining room and specialty restaurants, every meal was delicious and expertly prepared.

Would the cabin be too small?

Ocean View cabin on Anthem of the Seas

One thing that I was concerned about before the cruise was the size of the cabin.

Read moreThe 5 best cabin locations on a cruise ship

I booked an oceanview room and opted for Royal Caribbean to choose my stateroom location to save on some costs. I had heard that cabins on cruise ships were often small and cramped, but I was pleasantly surprised by the size and comfort of our cabin!

Read moreYour really dumb cruise ship cabin questions answered

We lucked out with a room that was larger because of its location being a partial view of the helipad on the ship and nice floor to ceiling sized window.


Labadee, Haiti was a highlight of our cruise on the Oasis of the Seas. The island is located on Haiti's northern coast and is leased by Royal Caribbean, which has developed it into a private resort for their cruise ship guests.

The island offers a variety of activities and experiences, and we were excited to explore everything it had to offer. One of the things that we were particularly looking forward to was the beach.

The island has several beaches to choose from, each offering a unique and beautiful setting for relaxing and soaking up the sun. We decided to start our day on the island with a visit to the Dragon's Tail Coaster, which is a thrilling rollercoaster that winds its way through the jungle and offers breathtaking views of the island and the ocean.

Dragon's Tail coaster in Labadee

The coaster was a lot of fun, and it was a great way to start our day of exploring. After the coaster, we made our way to the beach.

The beach was stunning, with clear water and soft, white sand. We spent the morning relaxing on the beach, swimming in the ocean, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

As the afternoon approached, we decided to explore some parts of the jungle. They had multiple walking paths and beautiful trees. We felt refreshed being able to explore the island at our own pace and truly take in the scenery.

Labadee aerial

The passengers where very friendly and a couple offered to take a photo of us with the ship in the background. Because of the awesome passengers alone we were able to get fantastic photos without paying for the additional photo package options. Overall, our day on Labadie was a wonderful and memorable experience.

The island offered a variety of activities and experiences, and we enjoyed exploring everything it had to offer.

From the beautiful beaches to the exciting coaster and historic sites, there was something for everyone on the island. If you're looking for a tropical paradise to explore and relax, Labadee is definitely worth a visit.

Trying a drink package

One of the perks of cruising with Royal Caribbean is their unlimited drink package, which we took full advantage of during our trip.

The Royal Caribbean drink package allows you to enjoy unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages throughout your entire cruise, including beer, wine, cocktails, and soft drinks.

At first, we were a bit hesitant about getting the drink package, as we weren't sure if we would drink enough to make it worth the cost.

Read moreIs the drink package worth it on Royal Caribbean?

However, after doing some research and considering the prices of drinks on board, we decided to go for it. And we're so glad we did!

The drink package made it so easy to enjoy our vacation without worrying about the cost of drinks. We could order whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, without any additional charge.

We tried a variety of different cocktails and beers throughout the trip, and it was nice to have the freedom to experiment and try new things without worrying about the cost.


Our favorite was the Labadoozie on Labadee!

One of the great things about the drink package is that it includes non-alcoholic beverages as well, which was perfect for when we wanted to take a break from drinking or when we needed a refreshing drink to cool down. We enjoyed everything from soda and juice to smoothies and mocktails, and it was nice to have those options available to us.

Another benefit of the drink package was that it allowed us to enjoy drinks in a variety of different settings throughout the ship. We could grab a cocktail by the pool, enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, or try a new beer at one of the ship's bars. It was nice to have that flexibility and to be able to enjoy drinks in different environments.


Overall, the unlimited drink package was a great addition to our cruise experience. It made it easy and stress-free to enjoy drinks throughout the trip, and we were able to try a variety of different cocktails and beers without worrying about the cost. If you're planning a cruise with Royal Caribbean, we highly recommend considering the drink package - it's definitely worth it!

Bottom line

Oasis of the Seas looking aft from Flowrider

Our first cruise experience on the Oasis of the Seas was nothing short of amazing.

From the moment we boarded the ship, we were impressed by the level of luxury and attention to detail. The ship was stunning, with beautiful decor and a wide range of amenities and activities to keep us entertained throughout the trip.

We were particularly impressed by the quality of the food and drinks on board. The variety of dining options was impressive, and we enjoyed everything from fine dining to casual cafes and snack bars.

Dusk aft view

The unlimited drink package was also a great addition to the trip, allowing us to enjoy a variety of different cocktails and beers throughout the ship without worrying about the cost.

The highlight of our trip was definitely the day we spent on Labadie, Haiti. The island was stunning, with beautiful beaches, exciting activities, and a rich history and culture to explore. It was a great opportunity to unwind and relax while also experiencing something new and exciting.

Throughout our trip, the staff on board the ship were friendly and attentive, and we felt well taken care of throughout the entire journey. From the housekeeping staff to the waitstaff in the restaurants and bars, everyone we encountered was welcoming and went above and beyond to ensure we had a great experience.

Oasis sea day

Overall, our first cruise experience on the Oasis of the Seas exceeded our expectations in every way. It was a wonderful opportunity to disconnect from our daily lives and enjoy a luxurious and memorable vacation. We highly recommend Royal Caribbean and the Oasis of the Seas to anyone looking for a fantastic cruise experience.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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