Posted by: cruise2 | 14 July, 2010

OASIS OF THE SEAS Review

Cruise was great for everyone – kids ALL had a great time together 🙂  Better than even hoped for.
Flights were fine.  Check in was very easy.smooth and efficient.

Entertainment was the best – ice show was absolutely awesome (how do they do that on a ship that’s rocking in rough seas???), the water show was spectacular (a little “artsy” or abstract for *****’s liking) and the big production show was great.  Only the headliner act was embarrassingly awful. (… found him totally entertaining – must be something about teenage boys’ random sense of humour; he was so bad, ******quite enjoyed it!) 

Food was good – it was however disappointing that the standard “ship-board” coffee was totally awfully undrinkable; any alternatives were provided by Seattle’s Best Coffee and cost real money.  I found it rather cheap that one could not get a latte or even a decent cup of coffee anywhere on the ship without paying.  Pasties and doughnuts were free at all the specialty outlets – but you want a cuppa to go with the treat!  and that costs…  If you ordered a cappucino after dinner (in the dining room), you had to hand over your Seapass card to your waiter and pay your $3.95!  In that regard I preferred Voyager of the Seas, which had some of the boutiques and shops and specialty eating places, but kids could still make their sundaes for free (ice cream shop on the Boardwalk is $$) and one could always get a goodie and a great cup of coffee anytime, at no charge.

She’s a beautiful ship, and an amazing feat, but for me, the step up to Voyager was more spectacular/impressive.  Oasis just felt like “more” or “bigger” (and more commercial), whereas Voyager really broke some kind of barrier for me.  I also found Voyager more beautiful (attention to little details, flowers in nooks, artwork); my kids disagree.  Certainly the Central Park on Oasis is incredible and the whole ship is truly mind-boggling (I mean it’s a floating village), but if it were just ****** and me, I would prefer a smaller, more intimate, elegant and all-inclusive (!) ship.  For a family or multi-generational vacation, however, this was awesome.

Yes, the kids made it to the Atlantis water park in the Bahamas – booking the hotel next door worked great – but in the end they weren’t impressed – lots of hoopla, but short on delivery.  Meanwhile ******, ****** and I went to swim with the dolphins.  This was also available at Atlantis, but we chose the Blue Lagoon – and it was amazing. Certainly if you have clients wanting this kind of experience, I don’t think they’ll be disappointed at Blue Lagoon.  The staff were really awesome and took their time to make sure everyone had a great experience.  The reviews I’d read when comparing the two locations said exactly that, and that the Atlantis location tended to be more commercial, activities were cut short and people felt “ripped off” – kind of like the water park.

Parasailing in St. Thomas was spectacular 🙂  As they’d booked an odd number of participants, ******, ****** & I (and ****** as videographer) ended up with our own boat and crew – what a blast!  Sapphire Beach (also St. Thomas) was great afternoon – kids wanted to stay longer.  We took a cab independently, as it seemed the tour cost was high, but if you want a lounge chair and you expect to rent snorkel equipment (even just for an hour), you will pay within a couple of bucks of the excursion rate, and it’s hassle-free.  Not nearly as inflated as the web reports had me believe!  But we just spread out towels and shared the snorkel equipment as there were 5 of us, so we were still ahead of the game, but not by much.  Oh, and of course the Oasis excursion appeared just after we’d marked our little spot in the sand – the loungers were set out in lines (right in front of us) and we were surrounded by our shipmates anyway!

St. Maarten was blazingly, unusually hot (August-type weather we were told!)  Majo Beach (the one right next to the airport) was a highlight for the teenagers.  They were a little panicked about getting back to the ship on time (it was a squeeze), but they took tons of pictures and loved playing in the high surf!  The SeaTrek helmet dive was fun; I found it hard on my ears (I’ve had ear surgery, so that was a given possibility) and ****** was hungover (ooops).  But I did find the quality of the coral, the clarity of the water and the number of fish somewhat disappointing – in St Thomas, too.  I remember when I first snorkelled, just how stunningly brilliant everything was; it’s apparent that we haven’t been very kind to our environment in the past 25 years, and what I saw was not the fault of any tour operator but just representative of over use and lack of respect by tourists for all these decades.  Sad…

So all in all, a full week – lots of great adventures, lots of good memories, and a much more functional family 🙂  A well-spent vacation, I’d say.  And one of the most entertaining evenings we had, was when we all headed over to “Smiles”, the kids’ portrait studio on the Boardwalk, and spent an hour trying on weird costumes and wild wigs and having a series of family photos taken.  Our favourite will go out with the annual Christmas letter this year as our new “family photo”.  The photographer played along, and we all had a lot of fun.

But a note re: disembarkation… Upon leaving Oasis, any airport-bound people are “herded” out to the taxi stands (ok, there are thousands of us, I get it.)  There are two options: ordinary taxis to the left and vans for larger parties to the right, oh and a shuttle service which is exhorbitant around the corner.   I don’t remember the exact rate, but I think the taxis/vans work out to about $10/person.  Shuttle was $100 or something stupid for the 10 minute ride – so skip that option.  Advise anyone going on Oasis to AVOID the vans.  Originally we were going to take 2 cabs to the airport, but for the same price (since it’s per head) we opted to go by van so we could travel together and then hang out for the extra couple of hours we had to kill before our flights home.  Well, it turns out 95% of the vans won’t take 6 people, and the few that do, are somehow “spoken for”.  And there are 20 cabs for every van.  So if you take an ordinary taxi, you can be away from the peer in relatively short order, despite the masses of people pouring from the ship and the lack of any crowd control mechanisms.  If you wait for a van (for 6) you will stand there for likely 2 hours or more (in the blazing heat) and then still only get one because you literally hijack it while still in motion, and muscle your way insistently past the big burly black driver and his even more belligerent dispatcher.  No amount of sweet talking, elbowing, bribing, bold-faced waving cash around, or even sitting on a curb in a near-diabetic-coma (Richard) will get you a van any earlier.  The dispatcher, who had promised us a 6-person van an hour earlier, then ran up and actually told us we could not have that vehicle – told us to get out of it! – and when I simply refused (to my children’s great embarrasment), he banged on the side of the van and ran after us to collect his tip….  Welcome back to the real world!

Well, speaking of “real world” I guess I can’t avoid the boxes any longer – better get back to my unpacking.

 

Thanks to a repeat client of The Cruise People who took her time to share her thoughts with us and allowed us to share with you.

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