Oasis of the Seas Cruise Review by ffredfg
- Sail Date: October 2014
- Destination: Transatlantic
Some positive notes to begin with: Our Cabin Steward Imade Semarajaya was absolutely superb, a true gem (12 on a scale of 1-10); our Table waitress Veronica and assistant waiter Chadwick were super stars (10 out of 10); the dining room beverage waiter Junior (10 out of 10) he greatly enhanced our dining experience; beverage waiters Janice (Globe and Atlas) and Odell (Casino) also provided superb service with a smile. Head Waiter Denzell was attentive and concerned with ensuring things ran smoothly.
Entertainment 4 ****, except CATS at * thus lowering the overall rating from 5*****: With the exception of CATS the entertainment was excellent, best in class, in particular Frozen in Time, The Aqua Show, Comedy Club, Creegan, etc. Unfortunately the venues were over-crowded (standing room only) and availability of the theater to relieve overcrowding because of the weather was limited by rehearsals for CATS.
Pre-Cruise 1 * : RCCL web-services for MyCruises are virtually useless for pre-booking, beverages, dining, and entertainment. From June onward I tried repeatedly to make reservations and find information on the web-site, to no avail. The process was extremely frustrating. In addition I made numerous phone calls, most of which were a waste of time. I was regularly told to wait until we boarded to make reservations, etc. One agent told me they knew the web-site was useless but he wouldn't pass it up channel because if it worked he wouldn't have a job.
Embarkation at Southampton 1 *: The embarkation was totally disorganized and obviously not well planned or coordinated with local terminal and government officials. I was told to check in at 12:30, I arrived at the terminal at 12:15 to find hundreds of passengers clustered outside the terminal doors. We stood outside without cover on a cold, blowy English day for 3 hours before finally being able to get into the terminal. There was no organization or streaming of passengers; i.e. handicapped, returning passengers, or even crew, all of whom (including crew) were jostling and shoving through the crowd to get to the doors. Clearly no one thought to factor in more than 2,000 Diamond, +, etc. passengers who would show up for priority boarding. I would note that RCCL staff or OTS Senior Officers were never seen. I did see several junior OTS Officers removing their name badges to avoid questioning by passengers attempting to board. I saw only one junior officer make any attempt to assist handi-capped passengers waiting in the crowd.
Clearly, the embarkation chaos colored my opinion of the entire cruise, something which the Captain totally ignored when I had a discussion with him after the meet the crew event on Day 2. However, it was really capped/exacerbated by the debarkation chaos at Ft Lauderdale.
Weather: Obviously the weather was beyond the control of RCCL. However, I would simply note from a passenger point of view the Oasis of the Seas is clearly not designed or suitable for operation in the North Atlantic regions when the weather is bad and on deck activities are limited or non-feasible. Balconies were virtually unusable for most of the cruise. Having to take a northern route certainly didn’t help. Having been in the North Atlantic on the northern routes, had I known we would be using the northern great circle, I would not have booked the cruise.
Activities 3 *** largely due to the crowded venues; Forensic Lectures and Trivia were excellent 5*****: Unfortunately, most activities had to take place in inadequate space, e.g. you had to find a seat in the Schooner Bar at least an hour before Trivia in order to be able to play unless you wanted to stand-up for the entire time. The Forensic Lecture series was moved to the Frozen in Time Theater from the OnAir Lounge after significant complaints when it was standing room only, some 8/900 passengers then attended every day afterwards. More space should perhaps be allocated to activities than shopping! Apparently some intellectual activities, e.g. lecture on Brunell were cancelled due to space constraints. Note: The Cruise Director was rarely seen except to open events in the theater (or on the TV morning show with the Activities Director, which was for the most part infantile).
Dining 3 *** generally mediocre: The menu in the American Icon in the evening was generally unimaginative and portion sizes were very small, e.g. two 2-ounce sliders with 8 french fries; one 2-ounce pork cutlet as the main entree; food items in the Windjammer were much the same daily (except when left-overs from the night before were served), generally cold (e.g. toast and pancakes); as a result breakfast in the dining room was overcrowded leading to long lines and slow service. Hot water for tea was not readily available. The only place you could get drinks (Coffee, tea, unlimited Coke products) when the food service venues were closed was on Deck 5. I would suggest benchmarking Golden Corral! our Table (134) waitress Veronica and assistant waiter Chadwick were super stars (10 out of 10); the dining room beverage waiter Junior (10 out of 10) he greatly enhanced our dining experience; Head Waiter Denzell was attentive and concerned with ensuring things ran smoothly in the American Icon.
Debarkation at Ft. Lauderdale (1): Just as totally disorganized and obviously not well planned or coordinated with local terminal and government officials as was Embarkation. However, less excusable since this is a home-port. Anecdotal chats from terminal staff and rental car agents this is apparently the norm. The excuse of customs/immigration wears thin, particularly since it is the same excuse as for Southampton and Rotterdam. RCCL had 18 months (or more) to work with local officials, thus they are the common denominator is these chaotic situations. The pre-planned tag system for debarkation was not controlled and did not work, the only senior officer I saw (Hotel Director) told us to ignore it, just get in line. It took more than 3 hours from planned time to get off the ship. As I have limited mobility (use of a cane) I was directed to the handicapped exit and got out of the terminal quickly (unlike the 100s who were still in line). Perhaps like airport arrivals, US Citizens/Green Card holders should be streamed separately from non-citizens.
From a passenger point of view the Oasis of the Seas is clearly not designed or suitable for operation in the North Atlantic regions when the weather is bad and on deck activities are limited or non-feasible. Too many passengers competing for too little space in smallish activity venues, e.g. Schooner Lounge, OnAir, smoking area seats in the Casino (a smoking lounge would be a vast improvement, since all smokers end up in the Casino), etc.
Throughout the cruise senior officers from the Captain down (except the Human Resource Manager) were seldom in evidence other than for planned venues. Obviously management by walking about is not SOP for the OTS, maybe taken from the Captain’s leadership style.
Throughout the cruise a perception that those of us who were not Diamond and above class were akin to steerage passengers developed. While I understand the rewarding of loyalty it perhaps should be more discrete.
The sale of souvenirs/merchandise detracts from the activities by taking up valuable space. The sales when compared to Amazon prices of exactly the same items were no great value. Perhaps RCCL should operate an on-line/on-TV store with delivery to the cabins.
The quality, quantity, and variety of menu items which are priced as part of the cruise package should be bench marked against shore venues of a similar nature, e.g. the Windjammer against Golden Corral; the dining room against Bone-Fish, Carrabba’s, Olive Garden, Longhorn, etc. The over emphasis on paid upgraded dining options was a turn-off, particularly on the restaurant menu.
The lack of hot drink availability at convenient locations and during hours when the food service venues are closed should be reviewed, i.e. coffee and hot water dispensers/machines at strategic locations on the deck operating from early morning (0500) to midnight. Note: having to troop half the length of the ship for a cup of coffee/tea is unacceptable.
Overall rating for the cruise and value for money: 3 ***: Only because of the Entertainment (except CATS).
Would I book a cruise on the Oasis of the Seas in the future: NO (nor any other big/super ship, Allure, Quantum, etc.
Am I likely to book with Royal Caribbean in the future: Not very, would have to depend on price and route.
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