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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

When Bigger is Best: a Review of the Oasis

You notice it most when you’re in port. Oasis is big. It commands attention. And it dwarfs every other ship.

But what does big do for the cruiser?

Oasis commands attention
Big means better entertainment. Like its sibling, Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas has top-flight entertainment, starting with the full version of the musical Cats (see tip below). It has a colorful and lively ice show with former championship skaters. An extensive DreamWorks parade.

In short, it has shows and events you just won’t see on any other ship. And some productions, like the aqua show with its mesmerizing high divers, you won’t see on land, either.
 

A dive from above in the Oasis of Dreams aqua show
Big means more activities. Only a ship that’s 1,800 feet long (five football fields!) can have a full-sized carousel (rides are free), wave-making machine for surfing and boogie-boarding, 82-foot long zip line, and two rock-climbing walls with multiple levels of difficulty.

Big means more places to call your own. Of the three “neighborhoods” (Promenade, Boardwalk and Central Park), Central Park was the most underutilized and thus, became our favorite. Nighttime, you pretty much have the place to yourself. A glass of wine at the Trellis Bar, surrounded by the (real) tropical foliage and sparkling restaurant lights, is a great way to get away from the bustle.
 
Central Park at night: cushy chairs with your name on them
Big means more food choices. There are 25 restaurants—some will cost you, but others will not. The complimentary venues begin with three main dining rooms, where the entrees are adequate (thankfully, lobster tails still grace the menu on the second formal night), desserts are good and the rolls are superb (try the pumpkin seed ones). Along with the usual fare, the Windjammer buffet at night has some interesting Asian dishes, such tandoori chicken and curry specialties; brie; and an occasional surprise or two.

Among the other free options are Park Café for breakfast and lunch (paninis and salads assembled to order); Sorrento’s, where pizzas can also be made to your taste; and the 24-hour Café Promenade with sandwiches and desserts (try the wonderful cheesecake pops).

Big means more space to walk off your meals. The covered jogging track on Deck 5 spans the length of the ship and has one lane dedicated to runners and another to walkers. Be sure to check out the cute sayings overhead. One mile is just 2.4 laps. And aside from the occasional crew member using the track as a short cut, you won’t have much competition for foot space.

Ironically, even with its vast size, Oasis still runs out of room. Comedy is relegated to a small theater, forcing the comedians to do show, after show, after show on a seven-day cruise—a fact they never fail to mention. Our Crown and Anchor event was held on the helipad, in the sun, on a hot day.

When big is not the best. Big doesn’t necessarily mean better food. While the food on Oasis is okay, it doesn’t get the same emphasis that you’ll see on some other cruise lines. Royal Caribbean focuses on activities and entertainment and for that reason, perhaps, the crowd on Oasis was decidedly younger than on other cruise line ships.

And big means more people and longer lines. For the most part, Oasis has crowd control down to a science. Getting back onboard after a port visit always involved some kind of line, but it moved swiftly. Amazingly, disembarkation took significantly less time than it did when we sailed on Celebrity’s Constellation, a ship half of Oasis’ size.

Despite the occasional inconveniences and unremarkable food, what you can count on is that Oasis of the Seas is big on fun.

Musing’s Top Tip: The Oasis production of Cats is fabulous and shouldn’t be missed. However, it’s not as easy to follow as traditional musicals like Oklahoma or West Side Story. To ensure you enjoy the show, consider doing some homework before you leave home. We did and it made all the difference:

Courtesy of Wikipedia
See the movie version. We rented the 1998 version of Cats with Elaine Paige and John Mills for free at our library. You can also check out movie clips on YouTube. Once you get familiar with the music, you’ll really be looking forward to seeing it on the ship.

Read the plot summary. You can find it on catsthemusical.com or read the story line in Wikipedia.

Download the lyrics. Some of the lyrics are quite clever but it can be hard to make them out at times during the singing. You can download the lyrics for free at metrolyrics.com or songlyrics.com.