Thank you everyone for all the helpful advice and tips pre-cruise. I found this message board extremely helpful and wanted to give back by providing some feedback on our experience with the New Year’s Cruise on the Oasis.
Check in: I wanted to get to the pier at 10:30 as many people here recommended but the rest of my family dilly dallied so we didn’t arrive til 12:30. Suite elevators were broken so we walked in with other members of our party and saw it was pretty crowded. They went through regular check in but our family went through Suite check in even though our 4 kids were not in suites. Took 10 minutes plus 5 to walk on the ship. The others came in 10 to 15 minutes after us so overall it was quick for everyone. Owner‘s Suite: Spacious room with large balcony overlooking the ocean. We barely made use of any of Sky Suite amenities and services since we were traveling with 17 other people in regular staterooms and wanted to be in the same hallway as them, but the size and location of the owner’s suite mid ship plus the balcony and view were still worth it. Also received fruit and snacks in our room almost every day which was nice, not that we were ever in any danger of starving. The Key: Read pros and cons before purchasing and decided to get it for the kids since they were not in suites. They did the luggage drop off and lunch in the MDR on embarkation day. Also did the Flow Rider special hour. Biggest value was for the internet which made communication on the ship very easy. Might have been better to just get internet package and private lessons for Flow Rider. Fitness room: We loved the gym and used it and the track every day. The gym is large with lots of equipment, a small area for classes and a room for spinning classes. It was pretty full most of the time but you could always find or use what you wanted. Also bought unlimited class passes for $79 for everyone which was only a good deal for those who did classes almost every day or several classes in one day, which was not me. 🙂 Dining: We mostly ate in a group in the main dining room but also ate by ourselves as a family in Chops and 150 Central Park. We‘ve eaten in many top restaurants all over the world, including Michelin star restaurants, so we‘re very familiar with fine dining but are not food snobs. Obviously, cruise ship dining is not Michelin star but it was fine depending on the dish selected. Some were great, others were not so good. Didn’t matter because we could always order something else. Service was friendly everywhere. 150 Central Park was nice for the ambience but food wasn‘t that much better than the MDR in our opinion, with the exception of the very buttery and garlicky bread which the kids loved. Chops was crowded and really loud on the night we visited. We had to shout at our table of 6 to hear one another since it seems all the tables around us were shouting. Lamb was delicious and our waiter was experienced and friendly and gave us a lot of extra dishes and desserts to try. Our waiter in MDR did this as well even though we didn’t touch most of it. We went to Coastal Kitchen one morning for breakfast, once for wine and hors d’oeuvres, and once for dinner. It was fine but not so much better than MDR or specialty restaurants. Actually, the night we were there for dinner there were also a few large groups so it was really loud. Drink Package: We did not get any drink packages and that worked out well for us. None of us drink soda, but we had wine a couple of nights with dinner. Kids had a protein shake from the Vitality Bar almost every day. Still worked out to be less than the deluxe drink package. Casino: With the exception of one member of our party, we are not heavy gamblers. We enjoyed the casino because we had a lot of luck at the craps table. I had only $20 dollars in my pocket and did one $10 minimum bet and gave the other to one of my daughters to try for the first time. She had an amazing roll and I turned my $10 into $150 and she turned her $10 into $250. We played again the next night and she lost $30 and I lost $25. After that, we cashed out and didn’t go back. 🙂 New Year’s Eve: Royal Promenade and Deck 6 were packed but we thought it was fun! Music was great and we danced a lot. We had bought champagne from the Suites Lounge but it was unnecessary. They had free champagne for everyone even if it wasn’t the same brand. Free is free! Around 12:10 the place cleared out and we were able to dance closer to the band until they finished. Disembarkation: We didn’t use either the Suite departure or the Key departure because we wanted to sleep in and leave late. We left the ship a little after 9 am. Last call for number tags was around 8:45 to 9 am. Still quite a bit of people on the ship hanging around but it took only 10 minutes to collect our luggage (used a porter to transport everything) and between 5 and 10 minutes to walk through customs with the face scanner. The chaos came afterwards with everyone lined up on the sidewalk waiting for taxis, shuttles, etc... and it was so full that once you got into your taxi, it took awhile to drive away from the port due to the heavy traffic. Still it didn’t really take that long and we were at the airport by 10 am. Our airline was not open to check in our luggage since our flight wasn’t until 5pm so we went to the luggage drop off center which had an incredibly long line. So we called and rented a van for all of us and as a place to store our luggage and drove to South Beach to enjoy a few hours in the sun before heading home. Cons: This was the New Year‘s Cruise so the ship was packed. Rooms for events like Trivia or Napkin Folding or Game Shows were always packed and if you didn’t get there early for a seat, you had to stand. There were lines going into the show venues and signing in for excursions, which is normal even off a cruise ship. Most people were courteous and patient but there were also several guests who clearly didn’t like waiting in lines or being behind slower people in wheelchairs or walking canes and would make passive-aggressive comments out loud to everyone nearby. We found that obnoxious and totally lacking in class. Our room attendant and waiters were all friendly, helpful and nice. So were the people at Guest Services and the Concierges in the Suite Lounge. Again, here too, there were a handful of employees in the stores on the Royal Promenade and the Café Promenade who were clearly tired of their job and had little interest in being helpful or nice. I get it. It was crowded and like a mad house at times, especially for the markdown sales, but if they are not happy helping customers, they should find a new job. Overall the cruise was great for a group vacation with something for everyone. The 12 and under kids enjoyed the kid zones, the 13 to 17 year olds enjoyed the teen clubs, and the 18+ enjoyed everything else. There is just so much to do but not enough time to do it all. We are thinking about doing it again with everyone but can’t decide if we’d want a big ship again which offered so much for everyone but was clearly crowded or try a smaller ship but worry it will be disappointing after having experienced so many opportunities on the Oasis. Clearly more research is needed.