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VirtualRain

Oasis Review - Jan 26 - Details on BYO Wine and Prem. Drink Pkg

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Settle in for a rather long review with some photos of the ship. We just returned from our week long cruise on the Oasis of the Seas or "Monstrosity of the Seas" as I jokingly refer to her as. We usually book our cruises based on ports/islands we want to visit, cost/value, and newness of ship. So in a couple regards, we abandoned that to try the Oasis. We chose the Eastern itinerary because there is absolutely no appeal to us in any of the Western Itinerary ports.

 

In this review, you'll see I'm somewhat of a drinking enthusiast and therefore dive into details on bring-your-own-wine and the premium all-inclusive package. I'll also share our thoughts on dining options as well as comparing and contrasting some elements with other ships and lines we've sailed recently. In that regard, we've been on AOS a couple of years ago and more recently Crown Princess in the Caribbean and both Princess and Carnival in the Med.

 

Before I start in on specifics of the Oasis, I'll add that my opinion has always been that the various cruise lines offer largely the same quality of MDR and Buffet food with small variances by ship, line or resupply port, and the same goes for service... All of the US mainstream lines I've sailed... RCI, Princess, Carnival, and Celebrity, are more alike than different. Oasis hasn't changed my view in this regard.

 

Ports of Call

 

If you're interested in what we did on port days, I've created threads in the respective ports of call forums with details and photos...

Bahamas - Sheraton Resort

St. Thomas - Water Island and Shopping Downtown

St. Martin - Marigot, Maho, Butterflies, and La Galion Beach

 

Bringing Wine on Board and Corkage

 

As most people around here know, you are permitted to bring 1 bottle of wine per adult person with you on embarkation day. The fact is, if you're smart about it, you can bring a lot more than that. The fact is, screeners just don't seem to care. We brought on 6 bottles without a word from anyone. Here's how...

 

I preordered 6 bottles from Total Wine before we left home via email as their online system doesn't support non-US buyers. It was ready at the customer service desk for pickup on Sat. So we just stopped on our way to the cruise terminal. The plan was to consume two bottles on board and take two each home as part of our duty free allotment (as wine is heavily taxed in Canada).

 

I packed two bottles in my GFs carry on, two in my carry on, and one in each of our two larger checked bags. The security screeners at the port didn't even open our bags to inspect the bottles, and our checked bags were delivered to our room without incident. So even though I was prepared to have them hold 4 of my bottles until the end of the cruise, that wasn't necessary.

 

We took our wine to Giovanni's one night and the MDR the other night. In both cases I corked it earlier in the room to let it breathe and even drank a glass there. In both dining venues we were not charged the corkage fee which was a pleasant surprise. I'm not sure if precorking it before we arrived had anything to do with that or not, but that maybe a good strategy for the future to avoid corkage.

 

Premium all-inclusive drink package (and drinking in general)

 

Here is the formal literature I found elsewhere on CC if you're unfamiliar with this package:

RCI Brochure

Info Sheet (posted at most bars on-board)

FAQ on RCCI Website

 

The "un-inclusive" package (as I like to refer to it) is not all that great. My key problem with it was the lack of wine selection. Being a wine enthusiast, especially with meals, the selection of house wines included was a total disappointment. They use a French brand called St. Martin which in my opinion was drinkable but not up to the standard of food I was pairing it with. (They dont even serve it in Vintages... the wine bar).

 

Other premium liquors are excluded like Patron, a couple of specialty martini liqueurs and all cognac except the lowest Courvosier VS. I didn't pay attention to what types of Scotch we're included or not but I believe anything aged over 12 years is NOT included (cognac is more my thing). So, while its nice to not have to worry about it, it left me feeling like it was not living up to it's "all inclusive" name.

 

I won't repeat getting it in the future unless it becomes more" inclusive" with more wines ($12-14/glass?). It would be to RCIs advantage as expanding it would likely draw more buyers. As is, wiser folks than I would opt to pay as you go in moderation, resulting in less net revenue per guest.

 

Since my GF has a slight reaction to alcohol (she goes flush red after half a glass of wine) I came prepared with a Dr. note to that effect. When I approached the sales desk for the package after embarkation on deck 5 (middle of the promenade) I told the guy there that I wanted to buy the package "solo" as my GF had an alergy to alcohol and I had a Dr note. He deferred me to the guy in charge who said... "No problem" without even looking at the Dr. note. And they signed me up... Solo. Nice :)

 

While I didn't have trouble getting value out of it, it will be challenging for moderate drinkers to get value out of it without being hung over every day. At $7-$8 per drink, you need to have 6-7 drinks a day to make it worth while. I would generally have a couple of glasses of sparkling or white wine with lunch, a few glasses of red with dinner, a few umbrella drinks or beers during the day, and another couple of cognac or martinis in the evening... Giving me a max of about 10 drinks per day on sea days and maybe 6 or so on port days. I consumed exactly 51 drinks over the week which would have cost me about $385 before tips or about $440. Which means I only saved about 15% with the package... And drank poorer wine than I'd like.

 

While we didn't really test this, none of the waiters or bar staff seemed concerned if I was going to buy a drink for someone else. In fact, on more than one occasion a bartender asked me if my GF wanted a drink as well (with my all inclusive card). I guess they assume she has the package as well, so it doesn't matter who's card is used to fund the purchase.

 

A couple of other things about the drink package: watch out for those guys walking around the pool areas selling drinks with a tray full of them. I waved one guy over and said I'd take one... He handed it to me as i handed him my seapasss card with my sticker on it... and he said "take a sip of that for me". I did, wondering why, and then it became obvious... He said, "oh, your package doesn't cover drinks in the souvenir glass". I was annoyed. I knew the package didn't include the special glasses but didn't realize this was one. He knew full well when he took my seapass card but asked me to take a sip anyway. Jerk. Had I not taken a sip, I could have just handed it back to him. Annoyed at his attempt to trick me into buying this glass, I asked him instead to pour it into a regular cup. Which he then strolled off to do... equally annoyed at that point. So beware of the extra cost souvenir glasses.

 

One nice thing about RCI compared to other lines is that they use glass not plastic beverage containers at a lot more bars. For example the outdoor Trellis bar and Boardwalk bar offer real glass and let you drink Corona from the bottle. Even the pool bars allow Corona in the bottle, where other lines would be pouring it into a plastic cup. It's nice being treated like an adult. Of course, all other drinks I tried at pool bars were in plastic to reduce broken glass and bare feet risks.

 

Sadly you need to ask for garnish or an umbrella on most drinks, but the bar tenders are usually happy to oblige. (Princess doesn't even have umbrellas!... I mean seriously, how can you have an umbrella drink without an umbrella?!)

 

Also, I had a couple of bartenders pour me a drink I knew was included only to tell me it wasn't, but they would do me a favour and include it for me... Do these guys think they are the only bar on the ship?! Their bar computer will tell them if its $0 or not, there is no guess work or favours required. If you have any doubt you can ask them to check the computer if the drink would be included in the package or not.

 

Oasis Bar List

 

I achieved my objective of having a drink at each of the 20 bars on board as well as most of the venues with bar service. Here's a complete list if you want to try this yourself. Note that at show venues, your only real chance to get bar service is if you sit on the aisle. Otherwise bring a drink from elsewhere.

 

Deck 3

 

Main Theater (bar service)

Studio B (did not go)

Main Dining Room (bar service)

 

Deck 4

 

Blaze Night Club

Comedy Live Club (bar service)

Jazz on 4 Club (bar service)

Casino Bar

 

Deck 5

 

On Air Club

Boleros (awesome live Latin music)

Promonade Pub (Globe and Atlas)

Rising Tide Bar (coolest bar ever)

Campagne Bar (dead bar despite prime location)

 

Deck 6

 

Schooner Bar

Boardwalk Bar

Aquatheater (bar service)

 

Deck 8

 

Vintages (wine bar - nothing included in package here)

Trellis Bar (best bar setting ever)

Dazzles

 

Deck 15

 

Pool Bar (open late into the evenings)

Sand Bar

 

Deck 16

 

Solarium Bar (nice quiet bar)

Sky Bar (best bar for sunsets)

Mast Bar (as above)

Wipe Out Bar

 

Deck 17

 

Viking Crown Lounge

Cigar under the stars Bar (open late into the evenings)

 

Dining

 

MDR: we ate here all but one evening when we went to Giovanni's Table. The food was generally outstanding, the service excellent and the venue beautiful. Making it extra special was the live music in the dining room... Something that we really enjoyed that's missing on Princess and Carnival and even the other dining venues on Oasis. We had my time dining and they made a point of seating us with the same MDR staff every night which is great for rapport and consistency. I had made online reservations for 8pm every night and whether we showed up at 7:30 or 8:15, we were seated immediately. This is better than other ships in the past where I never bothered with my time reservations, and we'd end up with a pager to wait or sat with a different wait staff. I will use reservations from now on.

 

Giovanni's Table: Based on other reviews here, I looked at the MDR menus for each night and decided which one was least interesting in order to figure out which evening to book Giovanni's. For us that was night 3. Now, having experienced Portofino's on AOS, extra cost Italian restaurants we've tried since have not measured up and Giovanni's was no exception. The appies were good, the pasta was cafeteria quality (Windjammer pasta was just as good in my opinion!), and the main dishes were very good but not any better than MDR food. It was fine but not worth the cover charge... It's not a step up from the MDR in my opinion. I would only try it again if it was nice enough to dine outside on the patio in Central Park (something we were unable to do thanks to excessive wind)

 

Other Extra Cost Dining: based largely on the great MDR reviews here we didn't opt to eat at any other extra cost venues for dinner. Chops just doesn't seem worth it. The only attraction to Chops (for me) is the fillet which you can get in the MDR for a $15 cost (or half the cost of a visit to Chops). Chops also doesn't offer lobster which is very strange. You can order lobster at extra cost... but you can do that from the MDR too ?! This is one venue where Princess has a better product with a cheaper cover and much better menu. 150 Central Park also didn't strike me as good value compared to the great food in the MDR but everyone's tastes are different.

 

Seafood Shack: We did eat lunch at the Seafood Shack one day... And it was probably the best lunch I've ever had... Anywhere. We shared a plate of King Crab legs and the lobster feast and it was devine. Sharing one of each amongst two people was just right for lunch and the cost was only $15 each! I was tempted to go back and surprised by the lack of people there every time I went by. I highly recommend it. I don't understand why I haven't seen more people rave about this place.

 

Johnny Rockets: requires a $5 cover charge that is really unjustified. The burgers are underwhelming... Especially compared to my favourite... Fat Burger. They compare with burgers available for free elsewhere on the ship or that you can make yourself in the Windjammer. Nothing special.

 

Windjammer Buffet: was neither better or worse than any other line or ship we've tried. It is what it is... Food for the masses. A quick breakfast on port days and one lunch is all we used it for. It would have been nice to have an outdoor seating area though... Especially on a ship designed to sail the Caribbean year round.

 

Solarium Buffet: we tried this on embarkation day and found the choices limited and unappealing to our tastes. The seating area is very nice however... If you can find a spot.

 

Park Cafe: I'm not sure why people rave about the Roast Beef

sandwiches here - Maybe I'm not doing it right but what makes them good? Compared to what? It's a slab of beef in a bun!? My local Italian deli at home puts the Park Cafe to shame. However, the salads and fruit cups make for a nice healthy between meal snack.

 

Entertainment

 

I can't add much that hasn't already been said countless times. The entertainment is the best at sea and a show like Come Fly with Me almost competes with any show I've seen in Vegas for entertainment and wow factor which is incredible given the constraints. The only show we opted to skip was the ice show and we had reservations for all of them done online in advance which was a great way to go.

 

Ship

 

The ship is monstrous, hence my nickname for it. It never felt any more crowded than any other ship I've sailed on and in fact, it seemed less crowded at times. My favourite time of the day is around 6-7 pm when the early seating is at dinner and the later diners (like us) are getting ready. Outside the Promenade or MDR, it's like I have the whole ship to myself for an hour or so. Awesome!

 

As everyone knows, the ship is very uniquely designed with fantastic spaces like the Boardwalk, Central Park, the Aqua theatre, the huge Promenade, and the very cool Rising Tides Bar.

 

Interior design is tasteful and modern... not obnoxious like Carnival. Most lounges have very nice furniture and some bars (eg. Viking Crown) are beautifully lit. RCI also has the nicest night club venues I've seen on land or sea and Blaze is no exception. On the outside decks, it would seem the company blew its budget on the Boarwalk and Central Park which are unbelievably well done, while the rest of the exterior deck areas on 15 and 16 are notably bland and boring. In fact, the pool areas on other RCI ships are better than the Oasis with their ancient Roman/Greek inspired decor. You won't get any old-world feel on this ship either... Something I think Princess excels at.

 

The ship is super easy to get around on. There are plenty of elevators meaning we never had to wait much at all, and you have the choice of crossing from the forward area to the aft area via the Promenade, Central Park, or the top side pool decks (or, of course, via any decks seemingly endless cabin corridor).

 

Large touch screen monitors throughout the ship obsolete having to carry your daily itinerary with you everywhere.

 

The adults only Solarium is one of the nicer places to hang out on sea days but sadly falls far short of similar spaces on Princess and Carnival. Both these competing lines offer a more exclusive space with better furniture choices for relaxing with the Princess Sanctuary getting top honours in my books (even though it comes at a small premium charge of $10/person).

 

People who say the ship doesn't list or move, must have experienced extremely calm seas on a Western itinerary which offers more protected waters. We had calm seas too, but in the open Atlantic, the ship lists back and forth just as much as any other ship I've been on. In fact I think it's wide beam exaggerates its movements making it appear worse.

 

Also, I don't understand the comments I've seen that say you're disconnected from the ocean on this class of ship. While I suppose you could spend all your time at venues without any view of the ocean, that's true of any ship. The fact is, there is more linear feet of railing overlooking the ocean on this class of ship than anything else. All of decks 15 and 16 offer great views of the ocean and there's a great viewing deck above the bridge on deck 14, a track around the outside on deck 5. The Viking, Windjammer, and Solarium offer great views and there's lots of places to hang out aft with a view of the wake near the Aqua theatre.

 

The only real problem I see with ships this size is port logistics... overwhelming ports with too many people and making some ports impossible due to tendering (which simply wouldn't be practical with 6000 people). The only downsides I witnessed was possibly the added line ups to board at the end of a port day (but even those are not much longer than I remember on other smaller ships), and a similar situation to clear US customs upon debarkation (more on that below).

 

Small ships really don't have anything on these much larger vessels. Any comments about a loss of intimacy or crew interaction on these larger ships are unfounded in my opinion... I noticed the same staff at every bar or venue throughout the week, making it easy to build rapport with the staff at your favourite hang-outs.

 

In terms of debarkation, they let Canadians use the US only customs line which was about 15-20 minutes long at 8AM. However, the non US passport holders line was much much longer... You may want to allow up to an hour for customs clearance if you don't have a US or Canadian passport.

 

Summary

 

Personally, I would welcome another cruise on this class of ship but the port selection would have to improve or change before I return. Perhaps if they stationed one in San Juan? For now, I will continue to book my cruises based on ports or islands I want to visit, price/value, and newness of ship, regardless of line or gross tonnage, just as before.

 

Photos

 

Mid-ship looking forward at the pools and Central park...

 

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Mid-ship looking aft over the Boardwalk and Aqua Theater...

 

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Royal Promenade (from the forward end looking aft)...

 

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Main dining room...

 

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150 Central Park (where I attended a wine tasting)...

 

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More Photos

 

Looking down on Central Park...

 

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Central Park...

 

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Entrance to Central Park...

 

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Trellis Bar (one of my favorites)...

 

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Chops Grill in Central Park...

 

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Even More Photos

 

Carousel on the Boardwalk...

 

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In motion...

 

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Johnny Rockets on the Boardwalk...

 

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Solarium Bar...

 

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Bolero's Bar...

 

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Some of the seating at the Viking Crown Lounge...

 

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Thanks for your review. We sail on the Oasis in April, so I love hearing what people thought. And glad you liked the Seafood Shack, was planning on having lunch there, but you never hear much about it.

 

The limited wine available on the drink package is one of the reasons we decided against getting it. Like you said, if they had better wines, we might be willing to purchase it.

Edited by tyry

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Thanks everyone for the kind words. Photography is one of my passions so I especially appreciate the compliments on the photos.

 

Great review! Awesome pictures. What type of camera did you use?

 

I use a Canon 5D Mark III and a few different lenses. I used my small travel tripod for many of the evening shots.

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What time did you take these pics? There's hardly ANY people in them!

 

My fave pic is the 150 CP one, and I really like how the guy is standing in the back too out of focus.

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What time did you take these pics? There's hardly ANY people in them!

 

My fave pic is the 150 CP one, and I really like how the guy is standing in the back too out of focus.

 

Thanks... we paid a lot to book almost the entire ship for ourselves. :D :p

 

Honestly, between 6 and 7 PM, the outside decks are a ghost town as everyone is either at dinner or getting ready for dinner. It's my favourite time to wander around as it feels like I have the ship to myself. Strangely, even around sunset at 5:30-6PM in Jan. there was often only one other person out on deck enjoying the sunset on any given day. I'll post some pics of sunsets in a bit so all those folks on our cruise can see what they were missing! :D

 

Oh, and that pic of 150... the guy at the back immediately moved to step out of the frame as I started to take the picture, but I waved him back realizing it would be more interesting with him in it... thanks for noticing! :)

Edited by VirtualRain

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Thanks... we paid a lot to book almost the entire ship for ourselves. :D :p

 

Honestly, between 6 and 7 PM, the outside decks are a ghost town as everyone is either at dinner or getting ready for dinner. It's my favourite time to wander around as it feels like I have the ship to myself. Strangely, even around sunset at 5:30-6PM in Jan. there was often only one other person out on deck enjoying the sunset on any given day. I'll post some pics of sunsets in a bit so all those folks on our cruise can see what they were missing! :D

 

Oh, and that pic of 150... the guy at the back immediately moved to step out of the frame as I started to take the picture, but I waved him back realizing it would be more interesting with him in it... thanks for noticing! :)

 

Nice! It makes it look like you were the professional photog and he was a hired model. :D

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"I asked him instead to pour it into a regular cup. Which he then strolled off to do... equally annoyed at that point. So beware of the extra cost souvenir glasses. "

 

Well played VirtualRain. Well played! Oh and I love your photos!

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"I asked him instead to pour it into a regular cup. Which he then strolled off to do... equally annoyed at that point. So beware of the extra cost souvenir glasses. "

 

Well played VirtualRain. Well played! Oh and I love your photos!

 

LOL... thanks!

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Here are some of the sunset photos I took while on-board. Again, as I said above, I was amazed no one was out on deck to enjoy these. It was usually me and one or two other people. :confused:

 

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Thanks for your honest review of the drink package. Like you, we're wine enthusiasts and were going back and forth on buying the package for our cruise next week. But knowing the wine isn't that great isa deal rebaker for us.

 

Your pictures are fabulous!! I love the sunsets you captured!

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Thanks for your honest review of the drink package. Like you, we're wine enthusiasts and were going back and forth on buying the package for our cruise next week. But knowing the wine isn't that great isa deal rebaker for us.

 

Your pictures are fabulous!! I love the sunsets you captured!

 

Yeah, I think if you're a wine drinker, you're better off brining as much of your own wine on board as you can get away with (at least the 2 bottles permitted) and then either adding a wine package or buying wine as you go... for the $385/week/person that the drink package costs, you can buy some pretty nice wines to enjoy.

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Here are some of the sunset photos I took while on-board. Again, as I said above, I was amazed no one was out on deck to enjoy these. It was usually me and one or two other people. :confused:

 

p1421236102-4.jpg

 

p1421239868-4.jpg

 

p1421239156-4.jpg

 

p1421239502-4.jpg

 

p1421236700-4.jpg

 

Wow these are absolutely gorgeous. Looks so unreal! Great job! I keep telling myself I gotta get myself a "big girl" camera one of these days. LOL

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I loved your review, and thought that your pictures must have been post cards, not real pictures!

I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed the Seafood Shack! We wanted to try it, but heard that it was nothing special, and just fried fish. We will make sure that we go there now.

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Loved your Review and the pictures are awesome! We will be going back on Oasis in September-can't wait.

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