All Aboard the Oasis of the Seas: Royal Caribbean’s Colossal cruise ship

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

“They’re about to close the zip wire. The weather’s too dangerous.” Not the most reassuring words to hear when you’re about to jump off a nine-deck-high platform on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship ever to visit the UK.

[Read about our trip on board another Royal Caribbean ship, The Independence of the Seas, here]

Here, the wonderful Swazi from Chocolate is Not the Only Fruit puts into words what I was feeling at the time:

But it all went well. I zipped across the ship on what was a thrilling and surprisingly safe-seeming ride, considering I was held up only by a wire and a distinctly unflattering strap between my legs.

But I should probably rewind to give this whole thing a bit of context.

A day on board the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

I was on board the Oasis of the Seas at the invitation of Royal Caribbean, who had asked a group from Mumsnet to look round the ship; sample some of its facilities; and give it the once-over for a family holiday.

The ship is massive.

You’d be forgiven for thinking The Oasis was an end-of-jetty hotel rather than a boat; while on board, it was easy to forget the sea was somewhere beneath your feet. At 1,187ft, the ship is longer than London’s Shard is tall. It’s 208ft wide, larger than the wingspan of a Boeing 747, and the Oasis is big enough to house 5,400 passengers and 2,394 crew. Looking along its side when I arrived at Southampton’s docks, it just seemed to go back….and back….and back.

Oasis of the Seas

I’ve never been on a cruise before, and I had a few reservations. Would my day on board the Oasis of the Seas settle my fears?

Public space on the Oasis of the Seas

Considering the vast number of people on board the ship (it was 50% full when we visited, as well as housing a load of press and PR people who’d been invited along for the day, to nose around), the ship’s public spaces seemed remarkably quiet.

DSCF4599

‘Central Park’, our first stop on the tour of the ship. Birdsong was piped through the tannoy, creating a relaxing ambiance.

Central Park was hushed and tranquil. The Promenade, on the other hand, was all glitz, neon, music (a live steel drum band) and bottomless servings of hot and cold beverages (if you’d opted for the unlimited drinks package, that is).

Royal Caribbean

Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean

Who sails on board the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas?

The US influence is inescapable (Royal Caribbean’s original base is in the States), but the onboard staff brought an international flavour. They were all enthusiastic, and clearly happy in their jobs. The ones we spoke to hailed from England, Scotland, the Phillipines, South America and of course the Caribbean, where the Oasis usually sails. This time it was headed for Florida, which (according to staff) was why so many people of retirement age were on board. Apparently, there are fewer silver sailors on Caribbean or Mediterranean Cruises, and more people with children, or couples looking for a spot of adventure and R&R.

But no hen- or stag-do booze cruises. The Royal Caribbean team were very clear about that.

Accommodation on the Oasis of the Seas

The Stateroom accommodation we saw (a basic room) was on the small side, although I suspect that on a cruise you’d only need only a crashpad, rather than a place to spend lots of time. Most cabins look out to sea, or onto the interior spaces, all of which are several decks high, making them feel airy and spacious.

Oasis of the Seas stateroom

Food on the Oasis of the Seas

On arrival we were treated to lunch in Giovanni’s, an Italian-inspired restaurant, and our evening dinner was held in Chops Grill, a very upmarket diner decorated with a Chicago cityscape. These are both premier resturants which charge an additional cost over the basic cruise package; but the surcharge is reasonable (somewhere in the region of £15-£30), and the food was…well, for me as a meat-and-fish lover, nothing short of superb.

Giovanni's, Oasis of the Seas

There were three main dishes to choose from in each restaurant, with one or two vegetarian options. The lunch flew past in a whirl of fresh insalata, antipasti and surprisingly delicate baked ricotta parcels; flavoursome, tender chicken; and a light tiramisu that smouldered with delicious espresso. In the evening, I chose a simple baked goats cheese salad (my only complaint would be the breadcrumb coating. No need for that on a goat’s cheese). Then, I ate a rare 8oz filet mignon, which is one of the best steaks I’ve ever sampled.

Chops Grill, Oasis of the Seas

Chops Grill, Oasis of the Seas

I’d have been happy to leave it at that, but dessert was a choice between chocolate mud pie and berry cheesecake. I opted for the latter as the ‘lighter’ option (ho hum); there was a good balance between tangy fruit and dense, sticky cake. It was all washed down with subtle wines and good quality mineral water.

Giovanni's, Oasis of the Seas

The staff were attentive, merry, and pretty dishy (*cough*).

Giovanni's, Oasis of the Seas

I’m not including this fellow in the ‘dishy’ category, of course.

We were visited at lunch by some characters from the hit kids’ film Madagascar, who decided to help Rosie from Mummy and Boo, and Carissa from Little Likely Lads, to servings of Parmesan.

Kids’ clubs and daycare on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

The onboard children’s facilities were very impressive. A bubbly, enthusiastic childcare worker took us on a tour of the vast daycare area. There were four rooms for different age groups; an educational science lab, where we took part in an ‘exploding vocano’ demonstration; an art workshop, theatre (showing several films a day), climbing wall, amusement arcade and ‘teens’ zone’.

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

The children’s daycare areas were all brightly lit and decorated in primary colours

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

The science lab was home to some alarming-looking stowaways…

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

The daycare is available for all passengers, from morning till evening, and is operated on a responsive drop-in basis, so parents can change their number of childcare hours from one day to the next. Apparently all childcare staff are educated to degree level, with a range of different expertises, including child psychology. The ship even holds an ‘autism of the seas’ event, where they bring a large group of autistic children on board to sail with other children and parents who understand their needs.

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

My son jumped up and down with excitement when he saw this pool, one of many on the ship. ‘Mummy, Mummy, can I go there?’

Safety (as well as hygiene) seemed to be a prime concern of the childcare staff, and the daycare is all set indoors. Parents who want to take their children out on deck to the pools, or on a day excursion, have to look after the youngsters themselves.

Children with special needs on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

I spoke to Esther, one of our Royal Caribbean hosts, who told me she had been on a cruise with her wheelchair-bound grandmother, and they both managed to get out and about on a Royal Caribbean day trip itinerary, to see the sights of Paris. If that worked for them, I’m sure taking young children around on day tours wouldn’t pose too much of a challenge. And, as we heard at the end of the day, at a Q&A session with senior Royal Caribbean staff, the onboard facilities are only part of the cruise experience. Moving from place to fascinating place would, I imagine, be incredibly exciting and stimulating for youngsters (as well as us grown-ups….)

The rest

Over the course of ten hours, we only scratched the surface of what the Oasis of the Seas had to offer. There was the delightful mini-massage, shown here with Rosie and Carissa as models.

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

A lithe instructor took us on a tour of the gym, which was well-stocked with equipment to help burn off all that divine cheesecake. And with special yoga sessions on the helipad, it sounds as though there would be plenty of opportunities to reach equilibrium under those blue Caribbean skies. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough time in the day to see the ice rink, sports court, or the cinemas…

But then, there was the zip wire. The thought of which terrified me (I’m scared of heights), but after braving the experience, I’d do again in a flash.

On the whole, my day spent on board Oasis of the Seas has reassured me that my fears about cruising aren’t that well-founded; at least, not if we were considering sailing on a Royal Caribbean ship.

And I would love to eat another of those steaks one day.

What do you think? Would you take a cruise as a family holiday? And why?

[Read about our trip on board another Royal Caribbean ship, The Independence of the Seas, here]

Disclosure: Royal Caribbean and Mumsnet invited me on Board the Oasis of the Seas for the purpose of this review. Thanks to them and to my fellow bloggers for making the day so special. All views remain my own.

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Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

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22 Comments

  1. October 20, 2014 / 8:46 am

    I saw your photos on instagram the other day and I just can’t get over the size of it! It looks totally amazing! Such a wonderful experience to go and explore it! Looks like you had a fantastic day! x

  2. October 20, 2014 / 2:21 pm

    I cant get over how much they have crammed on board, yet it still all looks spacious!

  3. October 20, 2014 / 2:49 pm

    When I lived in Southampton I used to love going down to see what ships were in harbour. It was great to have a look inside one for once!

  4. October 20, 2014 / 3:29 pm

    Amazing size, its like a mini town, the food looks great, there seem just so much to do. I think from seeing the smaller cruise ships and seemingly often catering for retired people, nowadays a lot more friends seem to be going so yes I would love to just chill out and arrive in places without feeling we were responsible for the A-B of it.

  5. October 20, 2014 / 5:43 pm

    We’ve been on a family cruise before and absolutely LOVED the concept but didn’t really enjoy the tour operator (nicknamed council cruises!). We would definitely go again sometime and I’m told that Royal Caribbean are the people to travel with. This looks amazing! I bet you had a fabulous day ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  6. October 20, 2014 / 6:36 pm

    Wow1 You’ve certainly blown away my idea that cruises were just for retired people and Hercule Poirot ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. October 20, 2014 / 8:30 pm

    Wow! Looks amazing! x All that on a boat! It’s amazing!

  8. October 20, 2014 / 8:40 pm

    I’d quite like to go on a cruise, but there’s no way I’d get the OH on one. I’ve a couple of friends who’ve done lots as a couple (mostly easycruise so it’s mostly about the places they visit) and another friend who’ve taken their family on a few – more ocean village style with lots of families on board.

  9. October 20, 2014 / 9:20 pm

    It looks amazing and yes, I would love to take a cruise one day… I really hope I will.

  10. October 21, 2014 / 9:05 am

    I have to admit it looks amazing, Im just not sold on the idea of being on such a big boat in the middle of the sea x

  11. October 21, 2014 / 10:59 am

    As someone who suffers terrible sea sickness this fills me with fear and dread!

  12. October 21, 2014 / 11:49 am

    Impressive, we did cruises before we had Emma but I think this would be a good time to introduce her to the high life lifestyle :-). Looks like you had a lovely time!xx

  13. October 22, 2014 / 5:15 am

    I was in Southampton when it docked, can’t believe I didn’t apply – it looks fabulous

  14. October 22, 2014 / 5:06 pm

    That does look incredible! Almost like a little town. I have never been on a cruise ship before and would love to if it is as remarkable as this one x

  15. October 22, 2014 / 9:29 pm

    Wow, that looks amazing! I’d love to go on a cruise and that ship looks like it has absolutely everything you could possibly wish for!

  16. October 23, 2014 / 2:17 pm

    I would go on a cruise in a flash if I could! It all looks wonderful ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. October 26, 2014 / 10:40 pm

    Wow, my girls are badgering me for a cruise at the moment, I think they have a long wait! lol Mich x

  18. November 5, 2014 / 1:43 am

    Looks lovely but I think I’d rather do a cruise as a couple rather than as a family though.

  19. June 8, 2015 / 6:43 pm

    Looks like you had a great day! We are lucky enough to have just returned from a week’s cruise on the Allure of the Seas which I believe is pretty much identical to the Oasis, and it was fantastic, it’s just such a huge ship you can hardly believe it! You are braver than me though, I decided against the zip line although I did go ice skating. Cruises are great family holidays, there is always plenty to do on the ship and it’s a chance to visit lots of different places on one holiday. Visiting you via Time Traveller!

  20. June 12, 2015 / 12:04 pm

    What a fantastic visit! We went on the Independence of the Seas a few years ago and I feel in love with cruising there and then however I have yet to go on a cruise holiday. It is one of my dream holidays and I can’t wait for it to come true as one day I will make it come true.
    Funny how this dream has lasted so many years. I seriously hope I won’t be disappointed!
    Thanks for linking up to #TimeTraveller and sharing your fabulous day out. *sigh*

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