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Agree with @smokeybandit, you'll get a pretty even mix of answers on that. But, given you said the ports were better on Mariner it sounds to me like you are more about the ports than the ship. I'm the same way, and even before reading your comment I was inclined to say, "Whichever has the better ports." That is my default answer for any cruise I'm looking at, and part why my unofficial title here (after Chief Science Officer) is "Oasis-class Denier" -- those ships just don't go to a broad-enough variety of ports to suit my needs. At this time, anyway.

But there are many here for whom the ship is the destination, and the ports are secondary. And for them, the Oasis ships are almost always the better bet because there is just so much more to do.

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I like the Mariner, it was my first Royal cruise. I’ve been on several Voyager and Freedom class ships after that cruise. My TA kept telling me to try an Oasis class ship but I resisted until finally trying out the Harmony and Symphony when they first came out.  They are probably my favorite ships in the fleet. I would not hesitate to go on the Mariner though if it was a good route. 

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In most cases I go for the newer ships.  I love all the shows, restaurants, and things to do. Also more places to be away from other guests to read or play c  I usually only take smaller ships in Med when the ports are usually more important.  Everyone needs to decide what is best for them.  Or try on ship one cruise, and another one next cruise.  I have been on every cruise ship that RC offers.  And scheduled on Odyssey.   Love cruises

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I’m an Oasis class girl. Just love these ships, especially Central Park. 
 

My Royal Caribbean experience started way back with Song of America in 1991. 
 

We did Mariner 2 years ago for a quick 3 night get away since we live close to the port. We enjoyed it but it didn’t compare to Oasis class. 
 

With oasis class, the ship IS part of the vacation. That’s why you get 2-3 sea days. 
 

If you’re more into ports, the ship shouldn’t matter. 

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Here's an interesting if not morbid way of looking at it.  Assuming all cruises resume eventually there is only one Coco Cay and four Oasis class ships.  If Coco Cay got wiped out by a hurricane today it's gone forever or being rebuilt over a long period of time.  Where as something much more unlikely an sinister would have to happen for your chance at an Oasis class ship to be wiped out.   Cross off Coco Cay first!  How can you tell I've been preparing for worst case news for over a year ; )  

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Everyone should try Oasis class at some point in their cruising life.  They are truly unique ships not just for Royal but for the cruise industry in general.

I really like them and enjoy every area of these ships but at the same time I enjoy sailing different ships in the fleet because they are different.    Central Park at night is especially a favorite place and so unique for a cruise ship.  

Voyager class like Mariner to me are a perfect sized ship.  Not too big but a great host of spaces and features so you know you are not on a small ship.  To put their size in perspective they are larger than anything in the Carnival whale tail fleet until their newest ship launches later this year.  These ships were game changers when they were first introduced and with the Royal Amplification program Royal has kept them updated with newer restaurants and activities.  Mariner for example has a flowrider and waterslides now, features she didn't have when she launched.

Here is a trip report from Mariner in 2018 after her amplification:

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/9391-recap-mariner-4-night-bahamas-sept-21-2018/

Mariner is a great ship but Allure and Oasis class in general are in a league of their own.   I have both booked this year and you can't go wrong with either.

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23 minutes ago, smokeybandit said:

We were on Allure and it was gorgeous. Just too big, less personal. Plus the Coastal Kitchen screwing up my wife's dinner orders (she has dietary restrictions that are always easily handled in the main dining room) made us sour on that class of ship.

I am biased, but you should not write off Oasis class based on one bad experience.  Especially not CK.  I have sailed all 4, and while I have my favourite, small things can vary from ship to ship and even sailing to sailing.  My favourite CK isn't even on Oasis class if you can believe that.  It's Anthem, a class of ship that I really don't prefer.  My point is  that Allure doesn't represent all Oasis class ships, and that one sailing might not even represent the ship itself.  

If you have the opportunity, give it another try.  You might be surprised.  There are also so many things that Oasis class can offer that other classes cannot.

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If you don’t have kids with, I would honestly go mariner and the better ports.  Much of the oasis class is kid stuff (are you really gonna do water splash parks, slides, zip line, carousel etc?) and this also means A LOT more kids on board as well, depends on time of year with school calendar of course, but still going to be many families.  Oasis amenities are great and impressive but it can feel a bit mall-like and you don’t see or feel the ocean nearly as much (if that’s important to you) and the up charge factor is seemingly in play everywhere for everything.  Many more suite only and booked ahead of time for fee dinging venues and experiences.  Just boils down to what you want - it was fun to watch my niece and nephew play on some of the bells and whistles, but if it was just my wife and I we would be looking at so called smaller/older ships with better pricing (hello balcony room) and a more intriguing set of stops vs oasis class to the same old places.

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I didn't find Symphony (Oasis Class) to be less personal than any other ship I've been on.  I always found the same bartenders and waiters on Symphony, they always remembered me.  In other places where we went, we still always got friendly smiles from all of the staff.  I like different classes of ships for different reasons, but impersonal staff has never a problem on any ship that I've been on.

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I really enjoyed the Oasis class over others. The dining options are better (El Loco Fresh is great and Portside BBQ is straight-up delicious). It's nice to have so many entertainment options, like movies every day, a broadway show, comedians and singers, historians lecturing about stuff at the ports. It's a lot of fun. 

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I'm in the rare minority that doesn't really care for Oasis class. We sailed on Harmony and just didn't care for it. They had to close the top deck due to high-winds on a sea day and it was just too crowded. While they do a great job spreading people out and there are SO MANY THINGS TO DO. It just feels so disconnected from the sea, it's a floating mall/amusement park and while I understand the appeal (especially for families) it's not for us. We love walking around outside on deck 4/5, going up to the helipad on Voyager/Freedom class and relaxing with drinks in the crown lounge area. On Oasis class the entire "crown" is dedicated to suites and suite amenities and we're not in that tax-bracket just yet.

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11 minutes ago, micahd said:

I'm in the rare minority that doesn't really care for Oasis class. We sailed on Harmony and just didn't care for it. They had to close the top deck due to high-winds on a sea day and it was just too crowded. While they do a great job spreading people out and there are SO MANY THINGS TO DO. It just feels so disconnected from the sea, it's a floating mall/amusement park and while I understand the appeal (especially for families) it's not for us. We love walking around outside on deck 4/5, going up to the helipad on Voyager/Freedom class and relaxing with drinks in the crown lounge area. On Oasis class the entire "crown" is dedicated to suites and suite amenities and we're not in that tax-bracket just yet.

We've done the Allure twice, with a third one scheduled but i wouldn't say we're "fans" of the Oasis class either.  We don't really do a lot of the stuff on the ship and don't do specialty dining, so we probably don't need to do the Oasis class, but we did the Allure first, since we wanted to compare our first Royal Cruise to our Disney Cruises and wanted an "apples to apples" comparison.  Then our second Allure was with first time cruisers, so they wanted a "big ship" and that's the same story for our upcoming Allure cruise.  


We really enjoyed the size of the Explorer (Voyager class) and we think that the Freedom class will be our "sweet spot" for activities and price.  We had a cruise planned for the Freedom of the Seas, but with COVID shuffling, Royal swapped the ships and it's now the Explorer.  

I wouldn't worry about being in the "tax bracket".  We always get the cheapest room we can, so that we can do more trips.  I'm sure and we move up the C&A ladder, we may get "fancy rooms" if they are cheaper, but we'd rather take save the money each trip and do more stuff.   Right now we have 6 trips planned (only 2 cruises) in 2021 and by the time we're done, I bet our total out of pocket cost is barely what a Junior suite would cost.

We do get the Refreshment Drink package.  We wait for it to be on sale and the most we've paid is $20 per person per day.  Right now for our 2 scheduled cruises we paid $18 per person per day. So if I get a fresh squeezed juice at breakfast, a soft drink at dinner, and a fancy coffee after dinner I break even.  Not even counting all the sparking waters i drink throughout the day.  

 

Stay Safe

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