cruises

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?

December 05, 2013
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Dining Overview

As befits a megaship, Oasis of the Seas offers more restaurants than any other cruise option, some of them included in the fare and some involving cover charges. In addition to the ship’s main dining room and primary buffet, Opus Dining Room and Windjammer Marketplace, there were eight sit-down restaurants involving a surcharge, plus nine other venues offering snacks and lighter meals, ranging from ice cream and cupcakes to pizza and tapas; some of these also involved additional fees, described below.

Among the surcharge restaurants there are two standout options, starting with 150 Central Park, the flagship restaurant on Oasis of the Seas. We found our meal to be excellent, not out-of-line with the not-insignificant surcharge. Foodies will definitely want to sign up for it soon after boarding. Another option is the Chef’s Table, offered only on select evenings in a private dining room, and priced $95 including paired wines. Both chef and sommelier talk you through the food preparation and wine selection as each of five courses is delivered. An intimate dining experience shared by just 14 guests at a time, we didn’t have time to try Chef’s Table on this cruise but you can read about a previous experience aboard Radiance of the Seas here.

But other restaurants involving an up-charge seemed okay, without being truly special. Some presented food that was a cut above what we tried in the Opus Dining Room, while others didn’t even aim that high. Two restaurants are found aboard Oasis that aren't on any other ship. Solarium Bistro—though available as a breakfast/lunch option on Allure of the Seas—is open each evening on Oasis with a menu of sophisticated fare against a backdrop of glass and stars. And on the Boardwalk is Seafood Shack, an open-air fried fish venue.

The specialty restaurants—most of which surround Central Park—do have a more quiet, relaxed atmosphere, and a couple represent a nice change-of-pace from Opus. Some of the venues book up quickly following embarkation, so it’s worth making reservations at the start of your cruise, especially if you have a larger party or want to dine at prime time, around 7-7:30. It’s also worth researching the dining packages Royal Caribbean sells, each shaving about 20 percent off your dining tab for three preselected restaurants.

Editor’s note: In October 2014 Oasis of the Seas went through its first dry dock, and substantial changes were made to the ship’s dining offerings. New menus are set to be introduced in March 2015, along with Royal Caribbean’s “Dynamic Dining” concept. Among the changes:

  • The three-story main dining room (originally called Opus) is now three separate dining options: American Icon Grill (comfort food), Silk (pan-Asian), and The Grande (classic dishes and formal wear). As part of Royal Caribbean’s Dynamic Dining plan, there will no longer be set seating times, or a “main” dining room.

  • Windjammer Marketplace, the ship’s crowded buffet option, has been expanded, taking over the space originally occupied by Izumi on Deck 16. Izumi has been moved to Deck 4 and features a teppanyaki menu.

  • Seafood Shack has been converted into Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar. The adjacent Boardwalk Bar is now Sabor Bar.

  • The former library has been converted into a new restaurant, Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine.

  • The Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 17 has been converted into Coastal Kitchen, a California-Mediterranean venue that is reserved for suite guests only.

Opus Dining Room

Encompassing three decks, Opus is an impressive space designed to seat 2,800 guests at a time. Round tables for six to twelve people are spread evenly about the room, and lining the walls are rectangular tables for two or four, covered with white linens. Between the table spread and the overall layout of the room, it’s elegant. But it is also huge and, in accommodating two seatings each evening, the operation mimics that of a big banquet hall, with servers rushing about, plates and glasses clanging.

For dinner, guests may choose from set dining times—6 and 8:45 p.m. on our cruise—or My Time Dining, which allowed seating any time between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. nightly. We made our booking about six weeks ahead of departure and My Time seating was full; we requested to change from the 9:30 seating after boarding, but our request could not be accommodated. Breakfast was available in the Main Dining Room daily, and lunch was offered on sea days.

There’s a nice selection of breads nightly but, as elsewhere on the ship, even though meals in the main dining room are included in the cruise fare, expect an upsell on things like bottled water. Filet mignon and lobster appear on the menu but they carry a surcharge: $14.95 and $29.95 respectively, or $37.50 for the surf and turf combo. Inexplicably, these items also trigger a 15-percent gratuity, even though guests are already paying a $6.80-per-day gratuity for dining room staff.

Our dinners here were decent, but nothing spectacular. In addition to six “classics” that appeared on the menu nightly—fillet of salmon, Manhattan strip steak, linguini pomodoro, etc.—other options were nicely varied, a half-dozen choices nightly that included a vegetarian dish nightly, as well as options that were gluten- or lactose-free. We had a number of good appetizers including a flavorful smoked chicken breast with green apple, walnuts, grapes and blue cheese dressing; a lovely “Roman” salad of artichokes, peas, tomato and prosciutto in a warm bacon-balsamic vinaigrette; and a perky little ceviche of shrimp, scallops and lobster. Entrées we liked included beef tenderloin which was cooked just as ordered (medium rare) and—though it arrived disheveled—a fillet of sole with a lemon beurre blanc. Less appealing was the chef’s “inspiration” another night, a pasta that was overcooked and burdened with a flimsy sauce. Desserts were also inconsistent: A low-fat panna cotta was surprisingly rich and tasty, but lemon merengue was disappointingly sweet for our taste.

The breakfast menu covered the basics well, and there’s an “express breakfast” station, with a buffet set-up. The menu listed individual fruits offered, but we asked if a fruit plate was possible—our waiter pulled together a generous assortment from the buffet, all ripe and tasty. We also ordered oatmeal, and requested nuts, raisins and brown sugar. The waiter went to buffet again and assembled a dish of pine nuts, pecans and walnuts—we appreciated the personalized service. The coffee was decent, and served in an oversized mug.

Our lunch here was just okay. The salad bar, assembled by servers, is a great option, and with several meat toppings one can easily assemble a hearty lunch in a bowl. The “express lunch” area also includes heated items, but they didn’t look too special, so we ordered fish enchilada off the menu—it came with guacamole that was pasty and not fresh, the fish tasted fishy. It wasn’t worth ordering. Other lunch items that looked more appealing included a harissa-charred barramundi fish, palm sugar grilled chicken on an Asian salad, and a tomato risotto with prawns and scallops. For dessert our waiter suggested we try his two favorites—a caramelized banana mille-feuille with ocean ice cream and a praline chocolate crunch lathered with Nutella. We found both way too sweet and rich to finish.

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Windjammer Marketplace

With seating for 736, Windjammer is the ship’s second-largest dining venue, but it is smaller than the buffet restaurants aboard Royal Caribbean’s (smaller) Freedom-class vessels. While there are more breakfast and lunch options on Oasis, we think this venue is not well equipped for the number of people who arrive for the first two meals of the day. Although Windjammer was crowded the times we visited, it wasn’t a circus—there seemed to be a concerted effort to escort arriving diners to tables before they surveyed the buffet. This meant we spent less time wandering around looking for a seat.

The food selection was mostly unsurprising, but some of it was decent and we particularly liked some of the international fare on offer. This included such dishes as Malaysian coconut chicken, cauliflower and green pea curry, tandoori chicken salad, pappadams, stir-fried beef, spring rolls, and a spinach and gruyère tart. More conventional offerings at lunch and dinner included grilled sea bream, chicken Marsala, beef Guinness, teriyaki salmon, and there was a station that featured roast sirloin of beef and other meats carved to order. Desserts are also displayed on an island, and the choices are many: cheese cakes, chocolate cakes, mousse, tiramisu and panna cotta, along with no-sugar and low-fat dessert options.

For breakfast, Windjammer offers various egg dishes, French toast, pancakes, donuts, bread, cold cuts, cereals, and fresh fruits. For Asian guests, there were soups and rice-noodle dishes. There are multiple drink stations with juices, water, soda, and flavored waters, along with a vending machine selling coke products.

Izumi

Smack dab next to Windjammer high on Deck 16, Izumi is an informal Japanese-themed restaurant decorated with stereotypical bamboo, kimonos, and calligraphy. Open for dinner nightly and for lunch on sea days, the menu features sushi, salads, soups, and other Asian specialties. There’s a cover charge of $5 per guest ($3 at lunch), and all food is a la carte, starting at $2 for two pieces of sushi, or from $4 for rolls. While individual items are modestly priced, we recommend budgeting about $25 per person for dinner (not including drinks), and maybe about half that for lunch.

On this cruise we tried Izumi for lunch (you can read about dinner here aboard Radiance of the Seas here). The lunch menu is limited to a few rolls, priced $4 to $7 apiece. Following complimentary starters of miso soup and edamame, we enjoyed the salmon lovers roll—salmon sashimi and avocado atop of roll of crab and asparagus. It was light but tasty, and we enjoyed bantering with the cheerful Philippine waitresses; a sweeping view out to sea didn’t hurt.

Although you can order a la carte for dinner, there are also a few combo plates that shave a few dollars off the meal price. These included a soup and appetizers, and ranged $15 to $23 for a complete meal. The dinner menu included hot rock entrées—on which diners can grill their own meat—and hot pots (shabu-shabu), a kind of soup. These were good options for those who don’t care for sushi or sashimi. Izumi carries the ship’s standard drink list, but also features several sakes that could be ordered by the glass or bottle.

Solarium Bistro

Perched on Deck 15 overlooking the Solarium, this venue is almost two restaurants in one setting. By day, breakfast and lunch are served from a buffet counter. It’s not as large a selection as what’s available at Windjammer Marketplace, but the emphasis is on healthier fare. At breakfast there were a few hot items, such as turkey bacon and scrambled eggs, but the focus is cereals (mostly packaged), fruit and yogurt. At lunch, we found various salads, couscous, fruits, soups, and a few hot, healthy dishes. For dessert, there were fruits, yogurts, and cookies. It was a nice, semi-al fresco atmosphere offering fresh air and sunlight—our one complaint was that chairs were a little clunky to move in and out of.

Unique to Oasis of the Seas, Solarium Bistro converts to a dinner venue after dark, with a $20 surcharge for dining. As with the other meals the dinner menu promises lighter preparations and leaner proteins, and we were looking forward to it. But the dishes we tried were disappointing, lacking in subtlety or finesse. We tried the Mexican shrimp bowl, with a crustacean buried in tomato salsa; the promised avocado was almost undetectable. The cauliflower and leek soup was a puree, topped with toasted almonds; we liked that it wasn’t loaded with cream, but rather than letting fresh vegetable flavors take the spotlight the soup was heavily salted. A salad of beets and spinach was okay, if conventional. Other starters on the menu included ratatouille in a baked eggplant, turkey rissoles, yellowtail tuna sashimi, chicken minestrone, seafood bouillabaisse and various salads.

For our entrée we found the salmon to be fairly decent, crusted with wheat germ and citrus flavors and sitting on a parsnip-spinach coulis. Other entrée options included char-grilled pork tenderloin, peppercorn seared bison tenderloin, Muscovy duck breast on lentils, and chipotle-spiced basa fish fillet. Desserts were presented on the buffet counter, and we choose sampler plate—none of the desserts we tried stood out as anything special.

The room, surrounded by glass and other hard surfaces, offers poor acoustics for an intimate, romantic night out. The clunky chairs were covered with fabric at night, which presumably helps mute the clatter, but despite the restaurant being barely a quarter full when we dined, it was loud.

Chops Grille

Royal Caribbean’s steakhouse has been a bit hit-and-miss for us on other ships, and on Oasis our meal at Chops Grille was marginally satisfying, but the service really missed the boat. There’s an upcharge of $30 to dine here, which doesn’t sound unreasonable for a quality steak dinner, but remember: You’ve already paid for a meal at the main dining room so the steakhouse should be at least a cut above. It wasn’t.

We arrived right at our 9 p.m. reservation time and waited several minutes to be acknowledged at the front desk, then waited for a table to be set up. It’s a comforting room, with subdued lighting and wood accents, suitably he-man. After receiving the menu from the host, we decided on our order but then waited for more than 10 minutes to be greeted by our waiter. When the upbeat chap finally arrived we were welcomed to “the best steakhouse on the highs seas.” Despite the languid pace until now, suddenly everything shifted into overdrive, as though our distracted waiter was determined to process us as quickly as possible. Dishes arrived in swift succession, dressings were spooned onto salads heavily (right as we were saying “not too much”), and there was a push for the wine list’s more expensive selections.

The list of entrées includes the usual steaks, broiled veal chop, mixed grill, herb-crusted jumbo shrimp, Alaskan halibut and pan-fried barramundi. We asked for the waiter’s steak suggestion and before the words were out of our mouth he recommended the filet mignon, which we ordered. He hurried off to the kitchen and barely two minutes later was back with the starter—beefsteak tomatoes, red onion and blue cheese. The tomatoes were hearty and beefy, the red onion ephemeral, but it was satisfying in its simplicity. It didn’t take long to finish this appetizer, and no more than a minute after the plate was taken away, another waiter brought our steak. The filet was slightly overcooked—we ordered medium-rare—but, egregiously, the meat was not a melt-in-your-mouth cut, as the best filet mignon would be. It was certainly edible, but nothing we’d make a detour for at home. The accompanying broccollini was fair, the stems undercooked and minimally seasoned. When our hefty baked potato arrived, the waiter was ready with condiments. We asked for “just a little” butter but he forked in several tablespoons worth. His suggestion: “You can pour some out.”

There’s not a lot of competition on the high seas when it comes to steakhouses, but if you’re going to promise the best, you’d better at least strive for Morton’s or Fleming’s quality (believe it or not, we find Carnival comes closest of the mainstream lines). Our food was adequate but not special, the service was rushed and inattentive—we felt like our table was the least-important one in the room. As the waiter brought the bill he said, “the service is up to you.” Actually, the service was up to him; the tip was at our discretion (Royal Caribbean says the $30 surcharge includes the gratuity)—we didn’t feel compelled to leave anything extra. In fairness, our waiter may have lacked some finesse and training. The restaurant overall was not properly staffed for the level of business, though not all the tables were booked. Whether this was an anomaly or not, we don’t know, but our experience at Chops was less than satisfying.

Giovanni’s Table

A trattoria-style Italian restaurant on Oasis of the Seas, Giovanni’s Table is located along tree-lined Central Park. With tables both inside and out the venue has an easy-going atmosphere that is popular among many guests. While the food isn’t terribly special, and the service we experienced was spotty, it’s a satisfying meal overall that justified the $20 surcharge. Giovanni’s is also open for lunch on embarkation day and sea days with a similar menu, and a $15 cover—actually, it would be a great spot for lunch on the first day.

A mouth-watering display of freshly cut prosciutto on the way to our table set the tone for a menu of pastas and Italian specialties like pan-seared sole, beef tenderloin, osso buco, and veal meatballs. Our waiter brought a basket of Italian bread and a plate for olive oil, reduced balsamic, and a grate of fresh, moist parmesan for dipping the bread.

For an appetizer we had the scallops, two served in the half-shell and topped with dollops of almond and red pepper mixtures. A lentil and root vegetable soup was deliciously robust, almost meaty-tasting. The risotto with forest mushrooms was served perfectly al dente—the flavor was warmly nourishing. For entrée we ordered the grilled lamb chops. They weren’t great cuts and arrived slightly overcooked, but the dish was reasonably satisfying with the chops surrounding a tasty vegetable caponata and sautéed spinach. The dessert, however, was a loser—a singular cherry in a thick cream atop Jell-O. The waiter noticed our disappointment and was ready to replace it, but we were already stuffed.

We found the service slow, paced to lovers staring in each other’s eyes (or maybe, as at Chops Grille, we had another waiter spread among too many tables). A couple dishes were delivered only after picking up an empty plate that had been sitting a little too long; our wine order was briefly forgotten. But lots of diners here seemed to be having a good time, and the outdoor tables are lovely set against the park—a nice, easy atmosphere.

150 Central Park

Facing tree-lined Central Park, this is one of the most elegant restaurants at sea, providing a refined menu, confident and attentive service, and an intimate atmosphere that is perfect for date night out. With seating for a mere 50 guests, it is the smallest dining room aboard Oasis of the Seas, with lush décor and voluptuous high-backed armchairs that reminded us of something out of Alice’s Wonderland.

There’s just a single, six-course tasting menu—actually, two different menus: one for the first four days of the cruise, the second used for the latter part. The courses are prepared with great care and detail using produce from small South Florida farms, by a dedicated kitchen and chef not shared with any other venues. There’s a $40 cover charge for dinner, and wine pairings are $75 (that's six glasses, but couples can request to share). Whichever way you go, we found the splurge well worth it.

Dinner began with a basket of breads accompanied by a sampler of six salts from around the world, each with their own distinct flavor. The first course of the Heirloom Menu was a delightful salade composée of multi-hued carrots (from Swank Farms, the menu announced) with pickled fennel, radish, olive and micro greens. This was followed by a robust, smoky tomato soup (Borek Farms), anchored by a dollop of house-made organic ricotta. The third course was a pair of divine scallops, perched atop brown rice and a smear of butternut squash—these would have made a fine entrée. The chicken that followed was superb, a sliced breast sitting over a ragout of dark leg meat, with a trio of lighter-than-air gnocchi gilding this succulent dish. Roasted lamb loin came next, served with chickpeas, preserved lemon and yogurt—another dish that stood well on its own. The menu wrapped up with a basil panna cotta, rising from a tarn of strawberry consommé, a pistachio biscotti propped on the side.

The meal was excellent, adventurous—there wasn’t a single course we would have changed. We did find the service a tad rushed, and we’d suggest alerting your waiter ahead of time to a leisurely evening, if that’s what you prefer. In addition to the wait staff being spread a bit thin, we also didn’t need the big upsell on bottles of wine and water.

Although we had no problem securing a table after we boarded, we recommend making reservations for 150 Central Park online ahead of your cruise (several evenings later in the week were completely booked). And although we loved the Heirloom Menu, we were sorely tempted to try a second visit to sample the Hearth Menu, which featured such items as cauliflower soup, pan roasted pompano, duck confit ravioli and beef filet. Ah, next time.

Johnny Rockets

Situated right where you’d expect, on the Boardwalk, Johnny Rockets is familiar turf for anyone who’s been to any big-city mall. The chain offers burgers, hot sandwiches, and breakfast with a dose of retro diner charm, and the atmosphere is replicated right down to the (non-operable) nickel jukeboxes on each table.

From around noon till midnight daily, there’s a surcharge of $4.95 per person for meals, including dessert. Shakes and other drinks are extra ($3.95 for our root beer float), so we’d budget about $10 a person. We’re not sure why someone would opt for a meal at something as ubiquitous as Johnny Rockets, but we have to admit: We sat down, the 60s and 70s tunes pulsing gently in the background, and by the time our waitress brought over plates of fries and onion rings and squirted the ketchup into a smiley face, we felt happy to be here. No food item will take you by surprise—it's a half-dozen burger options along with sandwiches, hot dogs and a chopped salad—but it was all delivered quickly by an utterly charming waitress. And the root beer float? Some things just take you back to the best of childhood.

Johnny Rockets is also open for breakfast daily (perhaps to ease the crunch at Windjammer) and there’s no upcharge for the meal. Fried or scrambled eggs with sausage or bacon, omelets, pancakes, French toast—the selection wasn’t robust. We’d also say breakfast wasn’t finessed quite as well as the standard burger-and-fries menu, but it wasn’t crowded and it was al fresco.

Seafood Shack

Unique to Oasis of the Seas, Seafood Shack is an outdoor fish house opposite Johnny Rockets. Completely open-air, it has a boardwalk-y ambience, which is appropriate (given the location), and decorated with nautical flotsam and jetsam like buoys and surfboards. The menu is even stenciled onto a wood kickboard, surfer-lite music plays in the background. There’s an a la carte fee to dine here—appetizers are (mostly) $2.50 to $4.95 and entrées are (mostly) $4.95 to $11. The exceptions are Alaskan crab legs, served as an appetizer for $11.95, and the lobster feast, which includes two 6-oz grilled lobster tails for $18.

It’s rare that mass-market ships bring any non-frozen fish (or meat) aboard during embarkation, so what caught our eye on the menu was being urged to “Ask about our Fresh Catch Specials.” The special was dover sole, deboned at the table for $11—not a bad price, but fresh, we asked our server? “We bring it onto the ship frozen each week,” she said. Hmmm. If that was “fresh” how were the other items brought aboard?

Tortilla chips and salsa arrived with the server, and we ordered the “grilled catch of the day,” which turned out to be sole served with mashed potatoes, corn and peas, with a lemon beurre blanc. It was surprisingly similar preparation to what we had in the Opus Restaurant a couple nights later (without a surcharge and with slightly different accompaniments). A cone of Cajun potato wedges came on the side. Other entrée possibilities included a fried seafood basket with popcorn shrimp, calamari and fish fingers, a grilled Cajun platter and grilled jumbo shrimp; there were a couple burgers and barbecued baby back ribs available for the non-pescatarians in your party.

Seafood Shack never seemed very full, even just before and after shows in the nearby Aqua Theater were scheduled. While we found the open-air seating pleasant, loudspeakers from the video screens at the theater could be loud.

Wipe Out Café

Designed to serve as a utilitarian relief valve for the too-small Windjammer, Wipe Out Café is a limited-option buffet on Deck 15 for breakfast and lunch, open till 5:30 p.m. each day. It was great for kids, preoccupied by diversions on the Sports Deck, but we mostly steered clear. There are no tables inside the café, but limited seating was available next to the ping pong tables.

At breakfast the limited selection included eggs cooked to order, with a short list of fillings for omelets—ham, cheese, pepper and mushrooms. Our order took about 4 minutes one morning, but this was shortly after opening; the wait appeared to be longer as the morning wore on. Fresh fruit, cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes, French toast, hash browns, and breakfast meats were also available. For lunch the menu shifted to burgers, hot dogs, fries, pizza slices and small selection of sandwiches and chips.

Park Café

Another relief valve for Windjammer, we like Park Café mostly for its location (Central Park) and a few variations on the usual buffet spread. For breakfast this included a bagel station with various spreads—cream cheese flavored with sun dried tomato and roasted garlic, with salmon, with apricot and craisins, etc. There’s also a make-your-own bagel station, with fresh salmon, cheese, tuna salad, and cold cuts. There were also packaged cereals, muffins, pastries, sliced and whole fruits, as well as breakfast sandwiches stuffed with scrambled eggs.

For lunch there was a salad bar along with several sandwiches, served cold or focaccia style with packaged chips. We ordered “today’s special”—turkey, avocado and cheese—though the waitress said it was served every day. The dessert counter offered cookies, cheesecakes, profiteroles, tarts, and sugar-free options.

Only complaint: Park Café was popular throughout the day, and at prime breakfast and lunch hours there was usually a shortage of tables.

Sorrento’s

Located in the Royal Promenade, Sorrento’s offered pizza—both whole pies and by-the-slice—against a clichéd Brooklyn backdrop of faux brick, garage doors and Sinatra references. We’re sure somebody felt right at home and, being open till 3 a.m. nightly, this was the spot to satiate late-night hunger pangs.

By-the-slice options usually included cheese and pepperoni, along with daily specials like Florentine, rustica or Mexican. There was a make-your-own station, arranged like a salad bar, where one could concoct their own recipe. Ingredients were a bit limited—ham, chorizo, shrimp, mushrooms, potatoes, olives, sliced tomatoes and arugula. Pizzas were turned around in 15 minutes. There wasn’t a great seating area here, so most guests took their pies elsewhere (to-go containers were available).

Other Food

There are lots of other food options on Oasis of the Seas, though most involve a surcharge. At the Cupcake Cupboard we found an array of colorful creations, loaded with frosting—flavors such as chocolate mint, bubble gum, red velvet and turtle. We’ve had Royal Caribbean’s cupcakes on other ships and find them less-than-subtle, though admittedly they hit the spot for some. Cupcakes are priced $2.75 each, and gluten-free and sugar-free are also available (by advance order only). Cupcake Cupboard offers cupcake-decorating classes—we’ll try it someday, but the $22 charge for a one-hour lesson seems steep to us ($15 for kids age 4 to 11).

Out on the Boardwalk is the Ice Cream Parlor, with cups and cones starting at $2 for a single scoop, and a long list of toppings available for 25 cents apiece. Shakes, floats, sundaes and banana splits range $3.75 to $4.95. Opposite the ice cream is Candy Beach, where several dozen different candy varieties are dispensed, at 75 cents per ounce. Nearby is the Boardwalk Donut Shop, where very basic frosted donuts are offered, at no charge. We tried one, with sickly-sweet gloppy icing oozing from the top—we couldn’t finish it. (We had to ask: Why charge for cupcakes and not for donuts? We were told the cupcakes have a lot more frosting, and they’re made fresh onboard; the donuts are brought on board in bulk, before the cruise.)

A few other food options are worth mentioning, at venues described on the next page. In addition to coffee drinks, Café Promenade has a deli case with light snacks—croissants, walnut bread, scones, cookies and small sandwiches—available at no charge throughout the day and evening. The Vitality Café at the entrance to the spa had a small selection of more nutritious fare, also at no charge—wraps, sandwiches, fruit plates and yogurt. The Boardwalk Bar also had sandwiches and prepared salads, at no charge, along with bags of popcorn for $1.50 (most cruise ships offer popcorn for free).

At the Champagne Bar toasts with caviar, sour cream, diced onions and capers were put out at cocktail hour. Best of all was the tapas selection at Vintages, which included Spanish fare such as gazpacho, octopus salad, Serrano ham and Manchego cheese, with a small upcharge. We could have made a very satisfying meal out of those tapas.

In-Room Dining

Although there are plenty of options for dining on Oasis, there is also room service available, albeit with a somewhat limited menu. Breakfast can be ordered using a door tag left out before 3 a.m., or by calling room service. Delivery times for breakfast are in 30-minute increments between 6:30 and 10 a.m. Options included four varieties of packaged cereal, yogurt, a fruit plate and whole fruit (apple, banana, orange). Hot selections were limited to scrambled eggs or scrambled Egg Beaters, with sides of bacon, sausage or hash browns and baked tomato available. Apple or orange drink, coffee, tea and milk were offered while the baked items included wheat or white toast with butter and jam or pastries. Real, fresh-squeezed orange juice, mimosa, bellini and bloody Mary were also available, with a surcharge.

The standard room service menu was a little more diverse and included a soup of the day, fruit plate and Caesar or Mediterranean chicken salads. Sandwiches available were baguette with smoked salmon and cream cheese, turkey and Swiss cheese Panini and a steak sandwich served with fries. Entrées included fried honey-stung chicken, hamburger, spinach and artichoke dip with corn chips, breaded fillet of flounder, and cheese or pepperoni pizza. Desserts available were a cheese plate, chocolate and pear tart, raspberry cheesecake or cookies. A late night service charge of $3.95 was assessed for orders placed between midnight and 5 a.m.

We ordered breakfast for an 8:30-9 a.m. delivery. A call came to our room at 8:06 saying breakfast was on the way, the knock on the door came at 8:25. Our fruit plate included kiwi, pineapple, cantaloupe, a slice of orange and red grapes—a smallish portion, but nicely presented, as was the plate of pastries. But we also ordered Raisin Bran with a banana and there was no milk (apparently we were expected to check it off on the order form); the server offered to retrieve a carton for us and came back about 10 minutes later. Coffee was delivered in a carafe with creamer and sugar.

We ordered lunch one afternoon and were told to allow 30 to 40 minutes for delivery. But there was an attempt to deliver our order about 15 minutes later, when we were out of the room. A phone call came when we were back inside and redelivery was made a few minutes later, exactly 35 minutes after the order was placed. The sandwich was described as turkey and Swiss cheese Panini served on ciabatta bread, but it was prepared with crisp French bread—with the tomato and lettuce the sandwich was literally taller than it was long. We didn’t mind the bread substitution, but it was hard to eat, with the contents spilling out the sides with each bite. There was a side of cole slaw sweetened with pineapple. In a bowl on the side were packets of ketchup, mayo and mustard, along with salt and pepper. A glass full of ice was brought for our drink; the can of soda was delivered at room temperature.

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