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Trip Report Oasis of the Seas Cruise Report

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We just got back from a seven day cruise on Royal Caribbean's Megaship, Oasis of the Seas. The scale of the Oasis of the Seas will awe you. Ship motion was undetectable for most of the trip. If you have major problems with sea sickness, this is the class of ship for you. Pre-cruise check-in and post cruise checkout were a breeze. The suites are nicely laid out and the beds are comfy. (We were traveling with two other couples. We had an Owners Suite and they both had Grand Suites.) Our 7-day itinerary included three eastern Caribbean ports, Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. All were nice beach towns, where we booked our own activities in lieu of ship-sponsored excursions. Embarkation and debarkation went smoothly – especially considering the number of people getting on/off the ship.

The food quality on board was average to above average and, oddly enough, the soups in the main dining room were often outstanding. Two out of three of the extra cost specialty restaurants we tried were very good/excellent choices for dinner. For a long cruise, even with the extra charge, having additional dining choices would provide some welcome variety to the standard dining options. The casino was huge, fun, and had a non-smoking side! The entertainment choices across the board were excellent – I suspect some of the best at sea.

If only that were the full story. There are a number of significant problems facing passengers who board the Oasis. The most troublesome of these was the consistent lack of communication between staff, officers, administrators, guest services, and shipboard personnel who are trained to SELL rather than serve passengers. You should be prepared to be pushed/badgered and even bullied into buying additional services, drinks, spa treatments, wellness packages, bottled water, drinks of the day, etc. as part of many meals and activities. The constant attempt to upsell was both exhausting and obnoxious. Too bad it was part of so many of our staff member interactions.

Our suite, while beautiful, had a number of maintenance problems (a sewer gas smell in the bathroom that took 3 days to fix no ability to turn on the A/C and then no ability to turn it off, a broken shower fixture, water being turned off).

Due to all the issues that surfaced during our trip there were well over a half dozen times staff follow-up was required. Maintenance, the concierge desk, guest relations, and even one of the ship’s officers all volunteered to get back with us on one or more issues and then we never heard another word from them with just one exception.

We found out “My Time Dining” means making reservations before 4 pm or waiting in line. If you eat out a lot, don’t expect to be impressed by most meals unless you go to the upper tier, extra cost, specialty restaurants. Even then it was a bit of hit or miss for us. At the steakhouse “Chops”, our service plummeted once we decided to forgo their wine list and order from our pre-paid wine package. At the end of the meal we got the sales pitch for the ‘special’ wine aerator (an additional $40+). The service at many meals was also unbearably slow (2 hours plus for a table of 6). Expect to spend significantly more money if you want to eat dinner at a variety of locations – by our count, about 15 of the 20 dining/snack options are extra charge.

If you plan to read while you’re on the cruise, bring your own books, their “library” would be inadequate for a ship 1/5 the size of the Oasis. We also found we couldn’t trust the event times listed on our personal calendar on the TV. As error caused us to miss one of our shows. One of the biggest surprises was the concierge staff showed no interest in acting as a customer advocate. They seemed to relish the power to say “no” to even small requests or inquiries made by the three couples in our group (a dinner reservation on a particular night or help monitoring a request for a bridge tour). I’ve never experienced this type attitude on a Royal Caribbean ship - ever.

Given the competitiveness of the cruise market we’ve decided we’ll cruise with another line from this point forward. Right now, these megaships are a niche market that Royal Caribbean “owns” and they command a premium. It feels as if RC is resting on their laurels. At some point the inconsistency in execution we experienced will catch up with them. We were consistently left feeling nickeled and dimed, that no one was in charge, problems were ignored, commitments weren’t honored, restaurants were understaffed, and staff was inadequately trained. Our Owner’s Suite was very nice at first glance, but given all our maintenance problems, we can’t recommend it. The check-in/check-out process, casino, and entertainment were bright spots, but not enough to make up for the rest of the experience.

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