You would expect there to be plenty of watering holes on the world’s biggest cruise ship – it’s called the Oasis of the Seas, after all.
But there will be an equally impressive number of restaurants, as the latest announcement from Royal Caribbean reveals. So many, in fact, that you could be on board for three weeks and eat in a different restaurant every day.
As the ship will mostly be sailing seven-night cruises from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean when it comes into service at the beginning of December, that means most of the 5,400 passengers will eat in only a fraction of the restaurants and cafes during their holiday. For many, that will be a decision dictated by cost, because although some of the venues are included in the fare, several carry an extra cover charge.
So what’s the choice? Let’s have a look at what has been revealed.
The Windjammer cafe, familiar to all Royal Caribbean passengers – and for my money among the best buffet restaurants at sea for both quality and variety of choice – will be the Windjammer Marketplace on Oasis. Round-the-clock. No extra charge.
The Opus dining room, a magnificent three-level restaurant providing traditional fixed seating, flexible My Time dining, and – a new one on me – My Family Time dining with a quick 40-minute turnround for smaller appetites. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. No extra charge.
150 Central Park will be the ship’s most exclusive fine dining venue, open for dinner only. $35 cover charge. In the same neighbourhood are Giovanni’s Table, an Italian restaurant replacing the signature Portofino’s ($10 lunch, $15 dinner); Chops Grille steakhouse ($25 dinner);the Park Café, offering all-day salads and snacks (no charge); and Vintages wine bar, with tapas and a selection of cheeses at a la carte rates.
In the Boardwalk neighbourhood will be the Seafood Shack ($7.95 lunch and $9.95 dinner); the ever-popular Johnny Rockets burger bar ($3.95 breakfast, $4.95 lunch and dinner); the Boardwalk Bar, open for snacks throughout the day; a Donut Bar, and Ice Cream parlour.
On the Royal Promenade, Oasis’s indoor shopping and party street, the venues are the Mondo Café, and the Café Promenade serving coffee and snacks, and Sorrento’s Pizzeria.
The Solarium Bistro provides healthy meals throughout the day, with a $20 cover charge for dinner, and calorie-counted snacks and smoothies are available in the Vitality Café. The Wipe-Out Café, serving pizza, sandwiches and burgers, is aimed at the teens on board.
New to Royal Caribbean is the Izumi Asian-fusion restaurant, which offers sushi and hot rock cooking (a la carte prices).
Passengers who can’t decide between any of the venues can always opt for 24-hour room service, which carries a $3.95 service charge between midnight and 5.00 am.
Bewildering as it all may sound, the really mind-boggling thing about the Oasis restaurants is that passengers can start making table reservations from July 7, even though the maiden voyage is not until December 1. Now that’s what I call forward planning.