Royal Caribbean’s five Oasis-class ships (Oasis, Allure, Harmony, Symphony, and Wonder of the Seas) are the largest cruise vessels in the world, which means sailing on any of them will be unlike any other cruise you’ve ever experienced.
Because of this, there are some unique things you should know and tips we have to offer before setting sail.
1. Try something new.
The Oasis ships are absolutely brimming with things to see, do, eat, and drink. Each one is just a little bit different, which means that even if you sail multiple vessels in this class, you’ll still find something new to enjoy.
When you book your cruise, go in with the mindset that you’ll try new things, whether that be the FlowRider surfing simulator, getting a robot-created drink at the Bionic Bar, or even something you’ve had the opportunity to do before but haven’t been brave enough to, like singing karaoke or volunteering to participate in a game show.
Never been ice skating? These ships all have an ice skating rink, and it’s free, so now’s the perfect time to try. Plus, how many people can say they’ve gone ice skating on a moving ship?
Never gone zip lining? You’re in luck — every single Oasis-class vessel features a zip line over the Boardwalk neighborhood.
Don’t like to venture outside your food comfort zone? Book a table at Wonderland, which is unlike any food (or experience) you’ve probably ever had before.
You may find something new that you love, but even if you don’t, at least you can feel good knowing that you tried.
2. Don’t attempt to do everything.
It can be SO tempting to try and do everything that piques your interest during a cruise on one of these massive ships. But if your list is long — like many of ours is — you may wear yourself down and set yourself up for disappointment if you think you’ll truly be able to do it all.
If you have a list of activities and a list of restaurants to try, consider numbering each of them in order of importance. Make a plan for when you will be able to check off the top items from each list, and then give yourself some leeway. If the other things happen, great. Do what you can to make them happen but don’t cause yourself stress over it.
If you really want to experience it all, consider booking a back-to-back cruise or get back on that ship again in the future.
3. Reserve your “can’t-miss” things as soon as possible.
Along with our last point, for the top activities, shows, and restaurants you don’t want to miss during your cruise, make sure you reserve your spot for them as soon as you can. Some things (such as restaurants) may open for reservations online a few months before the sail date, while others (such as entertainment) open just days ahead of embarkation day. Other things may not be available for booking until you are physically on the ship.
If you missed out on a reservation for something you really wanted, it doesn’t hurt to still check during the cruise to see whether some slots were held for in-person reservations, or whether there have been any cancellations.
4. Carefully consider which stateroom to book.
The Oasis-class ships have a lot of stateroom categories, thanks to an abundance of suites as well as window and balcony cabins that can face both inward and outward.
First, you need to select a category. These ships have everything from two-story suites with baby grand pianos all the way down to standard interior rooms. What makes the Oasis-class particularly unique are the inward-facing window and balcony staterooms. You can choose a regular ocean-facing balcony, or you can opt for one that faces the open-air Central Park or Boardwalk neighborhoods — some are even suites with a perfect view of the AquaTheater. There are also window cabins that face the indoor promenade lower on the ship.
Keep in mind that the balcony railings are clear for the interior-facing balcony cabins, and you’ll be directly across from other balcony staterooms on the other side. If you value your privacy, consider a standard ocean-facing one.
As always, if you’re prone to seasickness, we suggest getting a cabin towards the middle of the ship on a lower deck, because that will minimize the movement you feel.
You also need to consider potential noise when choosing a cabin (such as near the elevators, above a nightclub, below an outer deck, etc.) and what things you may want to be close to (buffet, promenade, bars, etc.).
Once you have these variables sorted out, you should have an easier time choosing which cabin you want.
5. Don’t miss AquaTheater shows.
A signature venue on every Oasis-class ship is the AquaTheater — a space at the aft that features amphitheater-style seating facing a curved deep swimming pool with high-dive platforms above it.
The high-energy performances are like a mix of diving, synchronized swimming, and acrobatics, and they’re probably unlike anything you’ve seen before. You won’t necessarily find the same show on different ships — Royal Caribbean has a few that feature across the Oasis-class vessels. So at least once during your voyage, be sure to prioritize seeing one of these entertainment spectaculars. You’ll be glad you did.
6. Know that itinerary options are limited.
Because the Oasis-class ships are so massive, there are many ports that they are simply too large to get into. So if you want to sail an Oasis-class ship but have very specific ports in mind when considering your next cruise, you may have to decide whether the ship or destinations are more important this go-around, and then prioritize what you don’t choose for next time.
This is why, if you’ve been doing research on which Oasis-class ship to sail with a certain region in mind, you’ll find many of the same ports on each itinerary and ship. This isn’t a problem for most people because they treat the Oasis ships as destinations in and of themselves — many won’t even get off in port because a port day is an opportunity to enjoy what’s on board with significantly fewer people around.
7. Be prepared to get LOTS of steps in.
The Oasis-class ships are the largest cruise vessels in the entire world, with the capacity to carry over 8,000 people, including guests and crew. Because of this, expect to do a lot of walking during your time on the ship throughout the voyage. Elevators help tremendously, but they can only go vertically — they aren’t going to get you from the bow to the aft of the ship for all of the activities, entertainment, and dining you’ll want to enjoy.
We recommend bringing a comfortable pair of walking shoes if you’ll be flitting around a lot — especially during sea days. Bonus points if they’re sneakers: You’ll need secure, closed-toe shoes to ride the zip line that soars over the open-air Boardwalk neighborhood.
8. Manage your expectations.
No matter what cruise you embark on, managing your expectations is always good. There will be many times when your expectations are absolutely blown away, which is one reason so many people love cruising. But when things may not go according to plan, you need to remember that nothing — and no one — is perfect.
For example, f you’re looking to be close to the ocean, you should probably pick another type of ship. These vessels are very inward-facing, as evidenced by the carved-out interiors that make up the Boardwalk and Central Park areas.
Another example is the sheer amount of people on board. The ships do a great job of spreading people out and not making it feel like you’re sailing with thousands of other passengers, but the reality is that you are. When it comes to really popular shows or activities, you might feel that more when you have to wait in line for a bit to enjoy certain things.
9. Go exploring at night.
My first time on an Oasis-class ship was a media preview cruise for Symphony of the Seas following its christening in PortMiami. It was a short two-nighter, which means many of the people sailing were up late at night and again the next morning trying to get all the content we wanted in a short time — including me.
Because of this, I found myself out taking photos of spots like Central Park and the Boardwalk neighborhoods around 2 am. I realized how much I actually enjoyed being out there at that time, so if you’ve got enough energy the night before a sea day, consider heading out with your camera in hand to capture some of the beauty of the ship when the lights are glowing, and most people are tucked away in their cabins.
Even if your goal isn’t to take photos, do it anyway. The peace that comes at night on a ship so full of vibrant energy during the day is relaxing and gives you a chance to really explore the architecture and details you might not notice otherwise.
Plus, one of my absolute favorite things about cruising is hearing the ship cutting through the water and listening to what I can only describe as “ship sounds,” and nighttime is obviously one of the best times to do this.