October 2013 - Oasis of the Seas to Caribbean - Western
As a regular cruiser but a first time Royal Carribean cruiser, I enjoyed the cruise and the ship was amazing. Some differences I observed from other cruises I have taken: It is nice to be able to pre-reserve shows but being at the venue 15 minutes before the show is difficult if you have second sitting dinner. If you don't make it by then, the venue is open for anyone and there might not be room for you. The variety of entertainment options was fantastic but the performances were not as polished as I'm used to (with the exception of "Hairspray"). Often the dancers were not in unison and some of the singers did not have very strong voices.
I have never dined at a specialty restaurant but our friends wanted to so we made our reservations at Chops before embarking. We did not know it was a formal night when we made the reservation and didn't want to waste our formal wear (or miss out on the formal photos) so we dressed in tuxedos and gowns. We were very disappointed to see the other diners in extremely casual clothes (even shorts!) although the dress code is "smart casual" (jackets for men, dresses or pantsuits for women). In fact, the dress code seems to be totally ignored in the main dining room too. It is NEVER appropriate to wear shorts in the dining room, even on "casual" nights. Guests that are inappropriately dressed should be directed to the buffet at the Windjammer restaurant.
For the most part, the food was good. The desserts were excellent! Unfortunately, the dinner at Chops was not what we expected. Although we ordered our filet mignon either rare to medium rare, and they were cooked to those specifications, the meat was dry. I have never experienced that phenomenon. I can only attribute it to poor quality beef.
We were shocked the day of embarkation when we went to the Seafood Shack for lunch and discovered we had to pay for the meal. In fact, we had to pay extra for many venues and activities onboard. On other cruise lines the only extra charges are for specialty restaurants and that is very made very clear. When we dined at Chops we were asked if we wanted plain or sparkling water. We all asked for plain and nearly fell out of chairs when we were charged $50 for WATER for six people! We were never given the option of tap water and assumed the water was free.
The ports of call were as expected and our booked excursions were well- organized and a lot of fun! Next time, however, I will probably wait to make our reservations onboard because the website doesn't give enough information and we might have made a different choice or two. Of course, then we run the risk of the excursion being full.
To sum up our impressions of the cruise I would say that everyone should take one cruise on an Oasis-class ship but it should be one of their first cruises. I prefer smaller ships with better food, entertainment, and more ports-of-call.