I’m starting to receive some client inquiries about Alaskan cruises in 2019, which has got me to thinking about my awesome transatlantic cruise on the Norwegian Bliss last April. Along with her sister ship Norwegian Joy, Bliss will be sailing 7-night Alaska cruises out of Seattle starting in late May. Book soon for the best rates!
Royal Caribbean has recently introduced its fourth Oasis-class (read: big) cruise ship, the Symphony of the Seas. She joins her sister ships Oasis, Allure, and Harmony of the Seas, and the four ships share a number of common characteristics.
One of my first Royal cruises was on Allure of the Seas in 2015. It was a transatlantic, and we loved it – we had eight sea days, and we never ran short of things to do. It was almost like we’d moved to a new city! We had different restaurants to eat at every day and there was always something to do – go to the gym, go to the casino, participate in the onboard activities, etc. The entertainment was fantastic – Allure’s performance of Mamma Mia was just as good as the one I saw in the West End in London. The variety of public spaces on the Oasis-class is also one of my favorite things about the class – I love the Central Park area myself, but I can see where if I had kids, I would want to take them to the Boardwalk. Just look at that carousel!
One of the things that surprised me about the Oasis-class ships was that they didn’t feel overly crowded. On our Harmony cruise, we had three sea days, where all passengers were on board. Even still, we often found decks full of empty chairs, and we didn’t really see a huge crowd in the Windjammer until the very last day.
As much as I loved our two Oasis-class cruises, I’m not sure I would recommend this kind of ship for everyone. On our most recent cruise, on Harmony of the Seas, the hubby and I agreed that, well, it didn’t really feel like we were on a cruise ship. Everything on the ship seemed to face in, not out, and there were very few places we had to just sit and look at the ocean. (We didn’t have an oceanview or outside balcony room.) We still enjoyed our experience, of course – the entertainment was still stellar, and we feel like the range of specialty restaurants on the Oasis class ships is a real bonus. But the size of the ship felt like a real inconvenience on Harmony, because our room was all the way at the front of the ship – I felt like we spent so much of our time walking down the hallway to our cabin.
So let’s answer the question: Should you go on an Oasis-class ship? I decided to become a travel agent in large part because I love helping people find the right cruise for them. With that in mind, I think going on an Oasis-class ship is good for you if:
- You love entertainment on your cruises. With Broadway-style shows and a variety of music venues, there’s always something to watch or listen to on the Oasis class of ships.
- You’re traveling with a bigger group, or with kids. Your group will never get bored and will always have a place to hang out, and your children will love the variety of slides and rides, not to mention the ship’s dedicated children’s activities.
- You like fine dining – the Oasis class has some of the best specialty restaurants in the fleet. Our meal at 150 Central Park on Harmony of the Seas was one of the best I’ve ever had! (You can read my post on getting this dining at a discount here.)
- You love seeing the latest and greatest the cruise industry has to offer. The Oasis-class ships are the newest and primarily they have all the bells and whistles.
- You like an energetic vacation with a lot of activities – as I said, you’ll never be bored on an Oasis-class ship (even if you spend eight days at sea like I did!).
While the ships in the Oasis class are great options, they might not be the best fit for some cruisers – and that’s okay! If the following describes you, you might want to think about taking a cruise on an older, smaller ship:
- You like to sit on a lounge chair and look out at the ocean. Sure, the bigger ships do have lounge chairs (you just saw pictures of them earlier), but you’ll find significantly less places where you can do this on the newer ships.
- You don’t like to walk a lot, or have difficulty walking a lot. The big ships are, well, big. You might find that you spend a lot of time walking from one end to another, or planning your day so you don’t have to do so – and that’s not always what you want to have to do when you’re on vacation.
- You consider yourself an “old-school” cruiser. This point might be a little controversial, and certainly I’ve met plenty of long-time cruisers on Oasis-class ships that love these new ships. But these new, big ships often attract a different breed of cruiser, one who doesn’t much care for the traditional formalities such as dress codes in the dining room (you’ll see a lot of shorts). If that’s something that bothers you, then maybe the Oasis-class ships aren’t for you.
Would I book another cruise on an Oasis-class ship? You bet I would, especially to see Mamma Mia or Hairspray (on Allure or Symphony), eat at 150 Central Park, etc. As a travel agent, though, I just think it’s important that people know what they’re getting into. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Oasis class or booking a cruise, click here to contact me!