Tasting Royal Caribbean's new Oasis of the Seas


I had the opportunity to take my family on a special inaugural sailing of the newest, biggest ship over Thanksgiving. We sailed out of Fort Lauderdale on a cruise to nowhere to experience the fabulous new Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas.

Ee flew to Florida a few days early to visit family and rented a Hertz car to get around. Our plan was to return the car to the airport and take the Royal Caribbean shuttle to the port. When returning the car we asked which direction to go for the cruise line's shuttle. The Hertz staff said we should leave the luggage in the car and they would drive us in the vehicle to the port. We were early so we were asked to park off to the side for 15 minutes with the car and air running, it was a little too early to get admittance to the port. It was curbside service right to the ship, totally unexpected but greatly appreciated.

Check-in at the pier was quick and efficient even though most of the staff was inexperienced. The number of security lines and x-rays machines can handle the thousands of passengers. Check-in counters were organized by deck.

Once onboard, the ship was amazing. Even though it is the biggest ship sailing it is only 75 feet longer than Royal Caribbean’s Freedom Class ships. Getting around one is assisted by interactive LCD information screens found near every elevator and other areas of the ship. You can search a location by category or room number. Smart elevators and a flowing floor plan make this ship very easy to get around without feeling lost.

My family had three different categories of cabins; Ocean View balcony, Central Park Balcony and Boardwalk Balcony. The cabins were all the same size so it is just a matter of where you would prefer to be on the ship. If you have a Boardwalk-view cabin you can see the Aqua Theater from your balcony. If you do not have a reservation for the Aqua Show there are viewing areas available at the aft end of decks 12 and 14. We sat at the rail on deck 12 and had a great view of the show.

Two of the newest features of the ship are Central Park and the Boardwalk. Both are open to the sky. There is no retractable roof so if it rains it is just like the real thing; you get wet. Unfortunately our second day it rained the entire day so our Zip-line reservations were cancelled and due to the short duration of the sailing it could not be rescheduled. However, my kids were able to experience both flow riders and the rock climbing wall the next day. We went on the carousel with my granddaughter and created our own special Oasis of the Seas bear at Pets at Sea. There is something for everyone and it makes for a terrific family cruise vacation.

The promenade is not new to Royal Caribbean but a few of the new features are the Rising Tide bar and the Cupcake cupboard. There are still old favorites like the English Pub and Pizza parlor. Vintages wine bar has been moved to Central Park.

New to this class of ship is pre-registering not only for shore excursions and specialty dining but also advance sign ups for shows and sports activities. Before you board you sign the waivers for sports activities and book your show reservations. Everything is tracked by your Sea Pass. This gives all passengers a chance to experience as much as possible. We were able to attend the ice show which was excellent. The skaters were all world class and performed remarkably in this size rink.

The pool zone has something for everyone. Even the babies have their own pool, and older kids have multiple pool areas to explore. If you are not on board with children and want to escape, the Solarium is your sanctuary. You can also dine there if you don't ever want to leave. The Solarium Bistro is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

There is an expansive program for kid of all ages. Teens will especially love the "teens only" Living Room. Plenty of Wii stations and their own Music studio and soda bar. Royal Babies and Tots Nursery will give parents of younger children a break if they desire. (You can pre-order baby supplies to be available on board when you arrive so you do not have to pack them in your luggage.)

The dining options are amazing. The main dining room provides excellent service. For more relaxed dining, there is the Windjammer Marketplace. If the Windjammer has a wait, check out the Park View Café for breakfast or lunch. Johnny Rockets and the Seafood Shack are very popular for lunch. You can view waiting times at all dining options on the Information Touch Screen or even from your in-room TV.

We hardly scratched the surface of things to do and see. I definitely need to go on board again to experience all we missed on our short visit. Add ports of call and this is truly is a Floating Nation. Do not pass up an opportunity to experience this floating wonderland.