The largest class of ship afloat, Oasis of the Seas is a one of a kind cruise ship. Offering multiple neighborhoods, signature entertainment, and over 220,000 gross tons of fun, there is plenty to do, see, and eat onboard this mega-ship. Having sailed on all four Oasis-class ships, we have compiled some of our tested and true tips for booking an Oasis of the Seas cruise.
Tips to Plan an Oasis of the Seas Cruise
Investigating Your Oasis of the Seas Cruise
1. Book Early – Given the popularity of Oasis-class ships, they are rarely part of any last minute promotions run by the cruise line or other travel providers. The best cabins book-up early, and in our experience, the best prices can be had by booking at least 6 months out from sailing. We actually prefer booking closer to a year or more in advance. For this Oasis of the Seas cruise, we booked 8 months in advance because of a great promotion (see below). For our 2017 Harmony of the Seas cruise, we booked 18 months in advance. Conclusion: early is better when planning an Oasis of the Seas cruise.
2. Set a Budget – The great thing about cruise vacations is that they offer an exceptional value, with the cruise fare covering most meals, drinks, and entertainment onboard. However, there are plenty of hidden costs associated with your vacation, and they can add up quickly. Before you begin planning, decide on a budget. Knowing the max amount of vacation dollars you have to spend, you can then decide how to spread it out between your cabin, specialty dining, shore excursions, drinks, and other vacation must haves.
3. Watch for promotions – There are some typical promotions run by the cruise lines each year, like “wave season” deals (Jan-March), but Royal Caribbean is now offering more frequent sales! Some sales are better than others, so keep an eye out for deals like “Kids Sail Free”, “Buy-One-Get One”, or onboard credit offerings for booking certain cabin categories. If you book early and find a deal that ends up saving you money, you can always contact your travel agent to get the better deal. For our Oasis of the Seas Cruise cruise, we booked a mini-suite, a first for us, because of a special promotion including double Crown and Anchor cruise points, free internet, and $350 onboard credit. And that was just from the cruise line, not to mention the additional perks we scored from our online travel agent (see below).
4. Shop Around for Additional Travel Agent Deals – Some cruisers have their trusted travel agents and others like to do the work themselves. We like doing the research ourselves, but once we decide on a sailing, we use one of a few discount online travel providers for the booking. While they may not have the knowledge to help you decide on a specific ship or itinerary, they can help you save money by offering you some great incentives! For this trip, we booked with one of our preferred vendors, scoring all of the above perks offered by Royal Caribbean plus free gratuities and an additional $250 of onboard credit. That is over $400 worth of additional value for doing nothing more than spending 10 minutes on the phone.
5. Compare Itineraries – Given her size, there are only select ports of call that can handle Oasis of the Seas. That said, there are a few different Caribbean routes that you can choose. Right now, you can take an Oasis of the Seas cruise to the Western Caribbean visiting Labadee, Haiti, Cozumel, Mexico, and Falmouth, Jamaica. A few different Eastern Caribbean routes are also available including stops in Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Labadee, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, and the Bahamas. For us, this ship trumps the islands.
6. Review Cabins – With a capacity of over 5,000 passengers, there are plenty of different cabin options, so check the Oasis of the Seas deck plans to help you decipher the different categories and price ranges. We tend to save money on a cabin to afford finances elsewhere; however, given current promotions and deals, you might get a better value by upgrading the stateroom. Know your family’s cabin preferences and price ranges ahead of time.
7. Decide on Traditional vs. My Time Dining – Are you looking for a set dinner time and table arrangement every night or do you want more flexibility? Oasis of the Seas provides two dining options, Traditional and My Time Dining. With Traditional dining, there are two seatings- early (6:00pm) and late (8:30pm) with the same table and same waitstaff all cruise. If you like to change things up, My Time Dining allows guests the option to pre-book different dinner times before the cruise or “walk-up” for a table at any given time. With either choice, you will have the same menu and main dining room experience.
Once You Have Booked Your Oasis of the Seas Cruise
8. Register On Royal Caribbean’s Website – Once you have your reservation number, you should immediately go to Royal Caribbean’s website to set up an account. Here, you can view your cruise and utilize the Cruise Planner feature. If you are a current member of RCI’s Crown and Anchor Society, then you probably already have a login account. If you are new to cruising, or to RCI, you can set up an account here. Once you have registered for an account, the real vacation planning begins as you start to customize your Oasis of the Seas cruise experience.
9. Begin Using the Cruise Planner – With your RCI account, you can now use the online Cruise Planner tool to reserve many of the entertainment and dining experiences for your Oasis of the Seas cruise. We suggest that you check your Cruise Planner regularly as RCI does not immediately notify you when items become available for booking. Also, be aware that RCI may add items to the Cruise Planner as your cruise approaches and that showtimes may change and/or additional dining times may become available for My Time Dining.
Oasis of the Seas Cruise
10. Book Your Entertainment – All of the shows on your Oasis of the Seas cruise are complimentary, so we highly recommend you pre-book when they become available. Each entertainment offering will have at least a few different day/time options for you to coordinate around your other plans.
It is still unclear exactly how early entertainment reservations open for booking as guests seem to still be reporting different time frames. For us, entertainment reservations opened up around 100 days out from our sailing. Stay on top of the Cruise Planner and get your seats reserved as soon as possible. For our 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise, the following schedule was available pre-cruise:
– The main theater offers three different shows. The Broadway show CATS had performances in the evening on nights 1 and 2 and a matinee on Day 7. The production show Come Fly With Me was available on Days 5 and 6 with a total of three showings. Likewise, the headliner show was open on Days 3 and 4 with three evening shows across the two days.
– In the Studio B ice rink, the show Frozen in Time was available for evening performances on Day 2 and Day 5 and early afternoon shows on Day 7.
– In the outdoor Aqua Theater, the diving Show Oasis of Dreams had six showings during our cruise. Two evening shows were available each night on Days 1, 3, and 4.
– The Stand Up Comedy Show offered at least one show every night Days 2 to 7. There were a total of 14 shows, including three “midnight shows” offering more adult oriented comedy.
Completing the Oasis of Seas Cruise Planning Process
11. Purchase Shore Excursions – Once you have your dining and entertainment reservations secured, the last thing you need to do is plan what you will do when at port. A shore excursion is the chance to get off the ship and explore a new port of call or perhaps try a new and adventurous activity. You can certainly book through RCI, possibly get a better deal through third party vendors, or customize your own tour. Whichever you decide, there are plenty of options so book early to secure your spot. Check out our Ports of Call section of the website for shore excursion reviews, guides, and planning advice.
Oasis of the Seas Cruise
12. Consider Purchasing a Drink Package – Royal Caribbean offers many alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink packages that can be purchased ahead of time to make your onboard experience truly all-inclusive. If you are considering whether a drink package is right for you, read our detailed analysis on drink packages. Recently, Royal Caribbean has been offering a 20% discount on these packages for select sailings if purchased prior to the cruise. Keep an eye out in the Cruise Planner for this special promotion.
13. Book Specialty Dining Reservations – If you want to make your Oasis of the Seas cruise special, you may choose to dine at a specialty restaurant on one or more nights of your cruise. The ship offers several different restaurants, including 150 Central Park, Izumi, Sabor, Solarium Bistro, Giovanni’s Table, and Chop’s Grille, with prices and availability varying. There are also specialty dining packages available for those who plan to sample multiple restaurants. You might also be able to score a discount if you purchase dinner on the first couple nights of a cruise.
14. Book a Pre-Cruise or Post-Cruise Hotel Stay– Whether you are traveling by plane, train, or automobile, a pre-cruise hotel stay is the best way to provide you with some wiggle room in case there are any travel delays. Or, you may want to extend your vacation post-cruise to bask in the Florida sun. Either way, staying at a hotel near the port will get you access to the city, as well as prepare you for your Oasis of the Seas cruise.
15. Pack Your Smart Phone or Tablet – Royal Caribbean has really improved their digital offerings with the Royal IQ app and Voom internet. While many cruise to get away, most travelers still want to have access to at least email and social media. With the Royal IQ app, you can view and modify reservations, view the daily compass, or communicate with other members of your traveling party. With Voom offering the fastest internet at sea, you will also be able to stay connected to those back home. Staying connected on your Oasis of the Seas cruise doesn’t mean you should be tied to your device though, so get out there and enjoy all the ship has to offer!
How did you plan for your Oasis of the Seas cruise? Do you have any other travel tips you want to share with your fellow cruisers? Drop us an anchor below to tell us your secrets to planning the perfect cruise vacation.