As a point of reference, this is the 20th cruise for my wife and me and our 6th cruise on Royal Caribbean. Two years ago, we took a cruise on Oasis of the Seas, the sister ship to Harmony of the Seas. Our reason for booking this specific cruise was so my wife could participate in the Royal Poker Tournament Main Event. This specific event has been held for the past twelve years and recently it has taken place during the first two weeks of December on the Oasis of the Seas. In the past, the event has been two weeks long, but this year it was held only during the first week of December. The Conference Room on Deck 3 of the ship was converted to a Poker Room for both tournaments and cash games. My wife won an entry into the Royal Poker Tournament Main Event two years ago by winning a free cruise and tournament entry on another Royal Caribbean cruise. She enjoyed participating in the week-long poker event so much that she wanted to try it again. She was equally happy this year, and most likely we will attend this event in future years as long as Royal Caribbean continues to host it. The fact that the ship also stopped at the ports of Philipsburg in Saint Maarten, San Juan in Puerto Rico, and Coco Cay in the Bahamas was a plus. In summary, we enjoyed the total experience and would enthusiastically recommend this ship and itinerary to any travelers who are looking for an excellent cruise with the bonus of a great poker room.
5 out of 5
We were amazed at how efficient this process has become. In the past, we often waited in long lines. Now, after passing security, we walked up to an agent who was holding an iPad. Since we had filled out our on-boarding documents online and had already set up a credit card account for expenses, all the agent did was take our photos, scan our temporary Sail Pass, and send us onto the ship. It took only a few minutes and we were on our way. We were informed that our Sail Cards would be in an envelope in front of our rooms when they opened at 1 PM. The cards were there. The experience for us was one of no lines, no hassle, and no stress. Unfortunately, we had forgotten our lanyards from previous cruises. If you haven’t cruised before, it is nice to have a lanyard to hold your Sail Card. You can find these online and at stores or you can buy one before you get on the ship in the cruise terminal. It’s worth having one.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
For dinner, we ate all seven nights in the American Icon Main Dining room. For lunch and breakfast, we ate at the buffet in the Windjammer on the 16th floor. We tend to eat less for these two meals, so we like the buffet option and the ability to control our portions. Also, the Windjammer does feature some ethnic foods in the back area of the dining room. My wife and our friends enjoyed this food the most on the cruise. The dinner offerings in the main dining rooms were not exceptionally fancy, but more on the basic side with fish, beef, chicken, and pork offerings. We were fairly pleased with everything we ordered. If the main food choices were not the most exciting, we enhanced them by ordering multiple appetizers and desserts. There were a lot of choices. We found the portions to be perfect for us. Our servers were attentive, friendly, and professional. If you want something special or different, ask your server. They can turn an appetizer into a main dish or find other options for you. If you want fancier food, then book some dinners in the specialty restaurants. The quality, presentation, and variety in the specialty restaurants will probably be noticeably better than the main dining room and buffet. Another important point to consider about dining in the main dining rooms is that the pace of the meal is meant to be slow and relaxing. Each night, we spent about 70 to 80 minutes enjoying our meal. We like to have drinks, enjoy appetizers, talk, eat our main course, and finish with dessert and tea. We enjoy the slow pace and the opportunity to recap our day. For this reason, we requested a fixed starting time around 5:15 PM so that we are finished before the evening shows. If you want quick service, then try the buffet. Eating dinner on a cruise ship is meant to be a dining experience, not an assembly line process such as is often found in chain restaurants around the US.
4 out of 5
Most of the activities we participated in were related to entertainment. We tend to avoid spending long periods of time in the sun and swimming in pools. We did enjoy the Solarium and hot tubs. My wife did use the Poker Room that was set up in the Conference Room for this cruise. She enjoyed that it was open long hours and used it daily until late in the night. Both of us used the gym facilities located in the Vitality Spa on Deck 6 each day. There was an ample number of treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, cam weight machines, and free weights. I exercised almost two hours each day and never found the room overcrowded. I never waited for an elliptical machine or weight machine. We attended various music performances, a game show, some movies, a dance lesson, and a trivia session. There were a good number of activities for everyone. You will only be bored if you want to be bored. The activities are continuous and usually don’t end until after midnight.
5 out of 5
We enjoy attending entertainment events such as theatre, music performances, dance, and other events. We try to see as many on all the cruises we attend. The major ones we saw on this cruise were the following. Here is a brief synopsis of each from our perspective:
Grease: The Musical - This version was based on recent revivals of the original Broadway show. It is a 90-minute condensed version of songs from the movie and the show. The main storyline was here, but it was not the longer Broadway show version. It was enjoyable and was performed well. The actors and actresses on the ship worked hard to entertain the audience.
Headliner Show: DSB Journey Tribute Band - A very energetic and energetic group of musicians who sounded like the band Journey. We knew all the songs and enjoyed them greatly.
The Fine Line Diving Show in the Aqua Theater: The show was done in a Cirque du Soleil format. Like most shows of this style, we were not sure what it was about, but the individual dances, acrobatics, and diving performances were terrific. You will enjoy it even if you don’t understand it.
Columbus, The Musical! - We enjoyed this, but parts of this just didn’t stand up to the standards of the other shows. We thought it was a good way for performers to sing some of the popular songs of the day, but the storyline was confusing and sometimes just silly.
Stand Up Comedy Show - The comics on our cruise were Dan Greuter and Mike Pace. We saw the late-night adult show and the family-friendly show in the theater. We love comics but had different experiences the two times we viewed their shows. The late-night adult show was just okay because much of their show seemed to center around focusing on making fun of various audience members. Yes, this was funny, but they didn’t seem to have much original material. On the other hand, their show in the Royal Theater relied more on their original material. It was considerably funnier. We know that what each person enjoys in a comedy show can be very personal. You will have to check out the comics on your ship and see if you enjoy their material.
1887: A Journey In Time (Ice Skating Show): Again this show had a Cirque du Soleil-like storyline. The principal skaters were great, but some of the support skaters seemed off the night we saw the show. We saw 7-8 performers fall on a night when the ship appeared to be very stable.
iSkate - We enjoyed this skating show the most. Even though there was a thin storyline, the show was mostly about skaters doing their routines. It was enjoyable from start to finish.
We traveled as a couple with no children
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
The staff that we had the most contact with on the ship were the Main Dining Room and Windjammer Wait Staff. We found all our servers to be friendly, helpful, and professional. We requested an early Main Dining Room time between 5:00 and 5:30 PM. We were so happy that we had a set time and fixed place to go each day. Our servers Rodelio and Roy were exceptional. They learned our names the first day and more importantly learned what we liked while eating a meal. We ate in the main dining room each day for dinner. The dining room area manager, Romeo, also stopped by our table each day for some friendly conservation and to check on our experience. They were genuinely concerned that we were enjoying each part of our meal each day. My wife and our friends like a variety of food, especially flavorful ethnic food. Rodelio and Roy went out of their way to find them some Indian curry dishes that satisfied their need for hot, spicy food. My advice is when you are dining on Royal Caribbean don’t complain about your food to your family or on a review site. Talk about your concerns with your waiter while you are there. They want to please you and help you have a great experience. They can find something you will enjoy and help you to have a terrific dining experience. We had very little personal contact with the Windjammer staff because it is a buffet and we sat in different places each day. The staff there was helpful and friendly and did check with us about their meals. There are many vacationers there and it is easy for the staff to get overwhelmed. If you need a table cleaned, ask for help. If you need help getting a drink, they will help you. All you have to do is ask.
5 out of 5
The Oasis of the Seas started carrying passengers in 2009. Even though it is 10 years old, it still looks very new. The crew can be seen continually working to keep it clean and looking fresh. The ship is large and has different areas such as the Promenade, the Boardwalk, Central Park, the Pool Deck, and the Solarium. There are so many places that it is easy to forget that there are multiple places to sit, listen to music, read a book, and relax. Take time to explore these areas. We especially liked the peacefulness of the Central Park atrium. In the past, we have purchased the Voom Internet access on Royal Caribbean ships. We generally like to disconnect when we go on vacations, but we have found that good Internet access can enhance our experience. We also have family members back home we needed to check on, and we have come to enjoy sending photographs and updating our family and friends. We purchased a 2-Device package with Streaming for this cruise. Our experience was that it was not as reliable or as robust as previous cruises. Most of the time, we found the speeds good for checking email and texting, but other tasks such as accessing emails with graphics and downloading documents were slow and unreliable. We also found that speeds were very slow in large, public areas. Even though we had a signal on Coco Cay, we were not able to do much except access basic emails. The Voom Internet access was possibly the one area that we found under par from previous Royal Caribbean cruises. It never seemed to work quite as well as we wished and we were sometimes frustrated that we couldn’t access some information we needed.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
We had a mid-ship balcony room on the 14th Floor (14-184). We like having an outside view balcony and we prefer a higher floor. Our room was very much every room we have had on other cruise ships. One feature we liked was the wall socket that included 3 120 volt/US-style electrical outlets and 2 USB ports for charging electronics. There was also ample closet and drawer space for us to hang and put away all our clothing. We had no issues or problems. Our room steward, Rohan, was outstanding and always made sure we had clean towels and ample supplies. One thing you should do is use the magnetic sign on the inside of your door to indicate when you are in and out. This will help your room steward to know when to clean your room. We would also not recommend a room on the 14th floor, because from time to time the sound of footsteps and music would drift down from the pool deck above. This did not happen often and was not a problem, but in the future, we will book a room on the 12th floor (there is no 13th floor on the Harmony of the Seas).
Prebook your entertainment, shore trips, and specialty restaurants. Set up a Royal Caribbean online account and plan your days ahead of time. You will have a much better experience if you plan!
We chose to spend the day walking around Philipsburg and sitting by the promenade enjoying drinks and nachos. The downtown area of Philipsburg was a short $7/US roundtrip water taxi ride from the pier. We have toured the island before and did not feel a need to do it again. The island and beaches here are beautiful. In retrospect, we should have scheduled a beach day. If it is your first time, take a tour or book a beach day. Overall, we were satisfied with our day.
This is another port we have been to multiple times before. We spent a few hours walking around Old San Juan. We used this stop to pick up souvenirs and to get a few things at the Walgreens across the street from the downtown pier. This is all we planned to do and we were satisfied. One experience you should not miss is the sail away. Cruise ships go by the Castillo San Critobal as they leave at the end of the day. Often it is around sunset. The views are spectacular and the scenery is something you will never forget.
This was our favorite port of call. The newly refurbished Coco Cay is amazing. There is something for everyone here. We chose to exercise on the ship and eat lunch at 11:30 AM. After that, we went off the ship and found some beach chairs under an umbrella in the Chill Island area of the beach. Since we did not have children, we felt no need to purchase admission into the Water Park or to hang out by the pool. Chill Island was perfect for us. We swam in the ocean and enjoyed sitting on the lounge chairs. We stayed for about 3 hours and then headed back to the ship. It really was a perfect day.
5 out of 5
We chose to walk off with our luggage at 7:30 AM. It was remarkably quick and painless. From the time we took the elevator near our room until we walked out to the transportation pickup area was less than 20 minutes. There was no wait for the elevator and only a small number of people at the departure ramp off the ship. At the cruise terminal, they used facial recognition technology. There was no wait and we walked right outside. The efficiency and use of technology have made this experience much easier than we have experienced on past cruises.
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