Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas Review
More than your average mammoth vessel, Oasis of the Seas left us awestruck in so many ways. But is it worth the added expense?
We could barely keep track of all the drinking options aboard Oasis of the Seas, with an ambience and crowd for just about any mood. Including four pool bars and three coffee bars, there were 20 options to choose from, not counting bars found at a few of the restaurants. Some of our favorites, described below, included the Latin dance club Boleros, the tapas and wine bar Vintages, the quiet Trellis Bar in Central Park, and the audacious Rising Tide, a bar that floated above an indoor fountain in the Royal Promenade.
The ship’s standard drink list included wines from all over the world, with an expanded selection available at certain venues, such as Vintages and 150 Central Park. About two dozen wines were available by the glass, ranging from Castle Rock chardonnay, Peter Lehman shiraz and Beringer White Zinfandel for $7, to Clos de Bois merlot ($9) and Ferrari-Carano chardonnay ($16). All of these were available by the bottle, while the Champagne Bar had a good selection of bubbly, by the glass or bottle.
The beer list was fairly rudimentary, including the usual domestics like Budweiser and Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Coors Light and Miller Lite ($4.25, or $5.25 for 16-ounce aluminum bottles) plus Blue Moon, Samuel Adams and Sierra Nevada ($4.75-$5.75 each). International beers included Beck’s, Coronoa, Dos Equis, Heineken Kirin Light, Pilsner Urquell, Red Stripe and Stella Artois. An expanded list was offered at the pub Globe & Atlas.
There were plenty of mixed drink options, along with special offerings at a number of bars, with prices ranging $5.75 to $10.25, though more extravagant cocktails could be concocted. Various drink packages could be ordered that offered the potential for slight savings: The soda package was $45.50 for seven days ($31.50 for age 17 and under), the beer package was $45 per day, the Premium package was $55 per day (including drinks priced $6.25 or less, except bottle water, soda and coffees), and bottled water and bottled juice packages were also available.
A 15 percent gratuity was added to all drink purchases, including drink packages. The ship’s drinking age is 21.
Open 24 hours, this was the main coffee shop for early morning java, located in the Royal Promenade. There was the ship’s brewed coffee, along with coffee drinks available for a surcharge. We didn’t try these, so we can’t compare it with the competent Starbucks offerings a few hundred feet away, but the main distinction here was the availability of liquor shots. Prices ranged $3.25 to $3.85 for 12- and 16-oz cappuccinos, mochas and chai lattes. Iced coffee drinks were available ($3.75 to $4) along with spiked coffee drinks for $6 and up. There was also a machine for fresh squeezed orange juice ($3.95 to $4.95).
There was a deli case here with different food offerings through the day, mirroring the cold selection available at other buffet stations. There were sandwiches, bagels with brie cheese, croissants, cinnamon rolls, cookies, brownies and scones—all of these were free. There are tables and chairs, but the ambience was less cozy than our coffee shops at home.
Located at the other end of the Royal Promenade, this was the first dedicated Starbucks outlet at sea, and we found most of the standard Starbucks coffee drinks on offer. Tazo tea and chai lattes are also available, along with Frappuccino drinks; prices were a little higher than we normally pay for Starbucks, starting at $2.85 for a tall (12-oz) cappuccino, $3.65 for a caramel macchiato, or $3.95 for a frappuccino. The cappuccino we tried was pretty comparable to the Starbucks we enjoy at home.
Vitality Spa Café
Located at the entrance to the spa, this bright spot was convenient for those coming off a workout, offering the same coffee drink selection as Café Promenade—it’s the first spa café we’ve seen where liquor can be added to drinks! But there was something here that wasn’t found elsewhere on the ship: smoothies that could be made with your choice of various fresh fruits and vegetables, including orange, apple, carrot, celery, beets, cucumber and ginger ($4.25 to $6.25); muscle builder, fiber fuel, l-glutamine and other powders could be added as well.
The seating area was a bit sterile for our taste, and completely lacking in natural light—not a great environment to enjoy the offerings. But we loved our carrot-orange-ginger juice, taking it out to Central Park to enjoy. There’s a small selection of sandwiches and fruit available, as well, at no charge.
Viking Crown Lounge
Now this is a room with a view. Perhaps higher above the sea than any other cruise ship bar, the Viking Crown Lounge is located on Deck 17, just above the Windjammer buffet. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer sweeping ocean views, as well looking over some of the ship’s pool areas. The handsome lounge has a more sophisticated atmosphere than most other bars on the ship, and the live entertainment included easy listening and jazz. This venue was sometimes deserted (especially during the day when it was a good spot for playing cards), but when there was a 20-percent off “happy hour” every table was taken. The ‘tini we had was crisp and cold—perfect.
Mast Bar, Sky Bar, Pool Bar, Sand Bar
These four bars are located next to the pools, two on Deck 15 and two on Deck 16. They had the same drink menu, but the upstairs pair—Mast and Sky—were less busy, and a lovely hangout as the sun began to set.
Wipe Out Bar
Located between the FlowRider surf simulators, the Wipe Out Bar is a good spot to enjoy the brave antics of would-be surfers strutting their stuff. To accommodate for the fact that lots of kids tend to hang out in this area, the Wipe Out offers juice and soda in addition to its extensive drink list.
We liked this spot on Deck 16, which we found was overlooked by many guests. Located right above the Solarium deck and restaurant, there were lots of lounge chairs, most of which were shielded from sun. Frozen drinks were popular here, but the ship’s standard bar menu was also available.
Located on Deck 8, Dazzles is a two-level dance club with live music aimed at an older crowd. Behind the bandstand is a huge window overlooking the Boardwalk. With oversized black-and-white photos of Hollywood glamor icons, it’s a very comfortable venue to sit and listen to a live band (or have a private function). Every night, Dazzles has a live band play tunes from the ‘60s to the ‘90s, and everybody can get on the dance floor to show off their moves. But the space seemed oddly underused and, unlike Viking & Crown, it did not get busy during happy hour (when drinks were 20-percent off).
Rock and roll, oriental belly dance
Note that the upper level of Dazzles is one of two designated smoking areas inside the ship.
Rising Tide Bar
Perhaps the most audacious bar concept on the seven seas, Rising Tide looks like a hovercraft out of a sci-fi movie—and that’s before it even takes off from the Royal Promenade. When the bar is open, every 15 minutes waist-level glass doors on either side of the bar close and the venue rises three floors to Central Park, where one may disembark or stay aboard for the slow descent back down. As the bar rises, a fountain emerges under the bar that can be viewed in the Royal Promenade.
Rising Tide also serves drinks (though we noticed plenty of guests who just came along for the ride), offering the ship’s standard drink menu, and the local special—a blue lychee martini. There are “singles” events several times a day, so it’s also a good place to find a date.
This lovely spot is located outdoors amid lush Central Park. There are just a few high tables and chairs, as well as some bar stools. Margaritas, martinis, mai tais and other smart cocktails are available, along with beer and wine.
Doubling as the wine bar and a meal option for tapas, Vintages is located in Central Park, offering tables both inside and out in the park. It’s a great spot for a pre-dinner glass of wine. The bar is full of plush sofas, comfortable chairs with pillows, all surrounded by wines in temperature-controlled coolers. A range of wines from around the world were offered, in regular-sized glasses, or in a smaller portions. Vintages also offers wine seminars, with times and prices available upon request.
What we liked was the small-plate tapas served daily till 1 a.m., priced $2 to $4 apiece. The Spanish menu included everything from tortilla de patatas (potato omelets), gazpacho, croquetas with rice, potato, chicken or crab, paella, pata negra ham, Iberian sausages, sardines smothered in marinara sauce, and a half-dozen desserts. A number of the items were available as part of combo platter: 5 tapas for $8, 7 for $11 or 8 for $13, plus dessert.
With lovely seating out in the park, a couple could make a fine, informal meal out of the combo platters. Vintages was overlooked by most guests—we felt it was worth discovering.
This is the outdoor bar located on the Boardwalk, between the carousel and the Aqua Theater. It was little used, except just before and after shows at the theater. In addition to the ship’s standard drink menu, some food items were available at no charge (“from Johnny Rockets,” a sign said, but they didn’t appear to be). Popcorn, however, was extra—$1.75 a bag.
Overlooking the Royal Promenade, the Schooner Bar will be familiar territory for Royal Caribbean regulars—its the line’s trademark sailing-themed bar with nautical decor, glass tables, blue armchairs, and a piano in the center of the room. There’s a long martini menu, various margaritas, iced tea, wine, and beer. Most of the ship’s trivia contests took place here—several daily, each themed around a different subject—and live piano music nightly.
The Latin-themed bar offered fun drinks and a dance floor to match. Boleros is decorated in bright orange and red tones, features comfortable leather armchairs, and it would be a wonderful place to hang out at night if not for one great flaw: Boleros is one of just a few places inside the ship where smoking is allowed. In fact, the smell at Boleros was so intense that smokers and non-smokers alike will quickly become uncomfortable in it. Day and night, the lounge was the smoker’s hub. We suspect the ventilation is not adequate for its use.
With its Latin focus, Boleros offers lots of rum and tequila-based drinks like caipirinhas, mojitos, and wines from that region. Boleros hosts the occasional live band and is a great spot to dance, with salsa dance lessons and competitions held on some nights.
Three guesses as to what was served here? Champagne was available by the bottle and by the glass, along with a short list of more intrepid concoctions—Moscow Mule, Gin Basil Smash, Cucumber Fizz, etc. It was a pleasant environment when there wasn’t anything loud like a parade going on, and in the evening a spread of toasts, caviar and fixings were put out.
This was primarily the ship’s sports bar, with TV screens lining the walls. We stopped by to take advantage of the nightly happy hour and a trivia contest had just concluded—the bar went from jam-packed to completely empty in a matter of minutes. Other events scheduled here included the requisite towel-folding demo and karaoke sessions as well as trivia.
Globe & Atlas
The old-style English Pub in the Royal Promenade offers a quieter place for a drink. The room is covered with dark, wooden panels, wood furniture, maritime accents, and comfy leather armchairs. The pub has the largest beer list of any venue on the ship, and in addition to its selection of international beers, the Bow and Stern also offers cocktails, wine, and liquor. Beer prices start at around $4.25, while cocktails begin at $5. Every night, the Globe & Atlas hosts a live musical act with the occasional sing-along.
Located on Deck 4, Blaze is the dance club on Oasis of the Seas, and mostly attended by younger adults (no one under 18 is allowed, though a couple early evenings there were young adults sessions announced in the daily newsletter). Red leather chairs and benches with high backs decorate the club, and an oval bar dominates the room. The dance floor is decent, and there are plenty of seats if you don't feel like getting up.
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