Ever wonder what is the best cruise ship in the world? Everyone will have their own opinion, and what’s best for one person may not be best for another. But while we have yet to sail every single ship out there, in our book nothing tops Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class cruise ships… at least for now.
First introduced in 2009 with Oasis of the Seas, the cruise line is still building this family of vessels, with Wonder of the Seas in 2022.
In total there are just five of these ships in the world:
- Oasis of the Seas
- Allure of the Seas
- Harmony of the Seas
- Symphony of the Seas
- Wonder of the Seas
So what makes them so special? In a word: Size.
Despite being introduced more than a decade ago, Oasis-class vessels are still the largest cruise ships on the planet. For some people, bigger ships are a drawback. But because of that size, Royal Caribbean is able to do things that are simply unimaginable on a smaller vessel. The result is that your experience on the ship can be completely different than sailing a typical cruise, and in so many ways, we believe it is better.
To give you an idea of exactly why, here are what we think are the major reasons Oasis-class ships beat anything else sailing today.
Something for Everyone
You may not realize how much larger Oasis ships are compared to other big ships from other lines.
For an idea, these ships come in around 225,000+ gross tons. The next largest group of ships, such as Carnival’s Mardi Gras and Costa Smeralda, are about 185,000 gross tons. So the Oasis ships are about 20% larger. But it’s not just the tonnage.
Oasis-class ships are roughly 200 feet wide at their widest point. Most of the other large ships from other lines are about 140 feet wide. That means Oasis provides so much more space — especially in the width of the ship — to pack more in.
The result is that due to the size, Oasis ships have more things to do, meaning there is something for everyone. Whether you want a quiet spot to relax and eat a great meal or you want thrill rides, it’s all available.
Passenger Capacity & Space
With all that space, you might think that the cruise ship can pack on more people. You’d be absolutely right, but there is a caveat to know.
At double capacity, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships hold about 5,500 passengers. That number can reach upwards of 6,700 people at maximum capacity (meaning more than two passengers to some cabins).
But despite being the largest ships in the world by a substantial margin, that passenger figure isn’t much higher than some smaller ships. Mardi Gras, the largest ship in Carnival’s fleet, holds nearly 5,300 passengers at double occupancy and about 6,500 at maximum capacity. That’s nearly the same as Oasis-class ships.
In other words, the Oasis ships may have more passengers, but they also have more space for everyone.
Sailing with a balcony on your cruise is one of the luxuries of sailing. You get your own private space with a million-dollar view. But on most ships these balconies are very small. They provide a space that’s just enough for a couple of chairs and a small table, and not much more.
With the luxury of size (specifically the extra width of the ship), Oasis ships offer about twice as much space on a typical balcony. There’s plenty of room for people to sit, stand, and stretch out, without having to bump into railings or patio furniture. In fact, if you wanted to do so, there’s even enough room for you to lay out to get some sun.
One of our favorite spots on Oasis ships is without a doubt is Central Park. It’s like nothing else you’ve seen at sea.
The design of the vessels features a large divide down the middle of the ship. Within this divide, Royal Caribbean has installed a legit park for passengers to enjoy. It features shrubbery and trees, winding paths through, and is lined with restaurants and shops. There is even the sound of birds chirping piped in to add to the atmosphere.
Either side of the park is walled in with cabins that look down into the park, giving the feel of being in an oasis in the middle of a city. If the hustle and bustle of everything to do on the cruise gets you feeling a bit worn out, there is no better place to relax quietly on the ship in our opinion.
One other idea? Wake up early to enjoy a quiet breakfast at one of the many spots to sit in the park.
Another difference that you’ll find is the Aqua Theater, located on the back of ships in this class. On most Royal Caribbean vessels, the back of the ship is fairly quiet. In this case, the area is an outdoor theater that’s like nothing else at sea.
There’s wraparound seating that all faces a pool that’s an engineering marvel. The pool deck moves up and down, so it can be completely full of water, or allow performers to dance on top of the pool in a matter of seconds. There are also wires that allow the cast of the aqua shows to fly over the audience and diving platforms for them to jump from during the program.
There are plenty of shows at sea, but the performances at the Aqua Theater are like nothing else you’ve seen on any other ship. The space at the back of the ship is something you can’t miss.
The Aqua Theater sits at the end of another unique space on Oasis-class ships: the Boardwalk. Similar to Central Park, the area is part of a lower deck that’s in the middle of the ship, between two soaring stacks of cabins on either side.
This open-air area has a “carnival” theme with a full-sized carousel you can ride, arcade games, and a number of restaurants and shops. For instance, on Oasis of the Seas there is a large open-air Playmakers sports bar with dozens of TVs, Sugar Beach (candy store), and Johnny Rockets.
As an outdoor area that is also protected from the wind and sun, it’s a great place to be outside on the ship without having to fight the heat and sun you might find on the pool deck. Other ships just don’t have this sort of area.
If you’re out on the Boardwalk, then you’ll likely notice two purple slides that wind down from way above your head. These two slides are the Ultimate Abyss. They actually begin 10 decks above, on Deck 16.
The large angler fish at the top of the ship serves as the launching point. You walk up into its mouth, sit on the specially-made mat, lay back, and hold on tight. The slide drops you down as you spin around. In total the ride only takes about 10-15 seconds but it’s a big thrill.
This sort of slide would be a major attraction on land, much less a cruise ship. There’s simply nothing else like it at sea and if you (or your kids) love excitement, then it’s another reason Oasis-class ships are tops.
Want something more “refined” than 10-story slides? Oasis ships have you covered as well.
On Royal Caribbean ships, many have the Solarium — an adults-only pool area that’s calmer and more relaxing than just hanging out on the pool deck. In fact, many other cruise lines also have adult-only areas. They are definitely not unique to Oasis-class ships.
What is unique is how Royal Caribbean has built the Solarium on Oasis cruise ships as a focal point. The area is at the front of the ship, offering sweeping views across the horizon. The colors are subdued instead of bright. There’s no loud music like you might find at the mail pools. In fact, the only sound you hear is the pool fountain running.
But perhaps the biggest design feature are the windbreaks that provide an outdoor spot without dealing with the constant breeze as the ship is underway. There are also spots that are more shaded thanks to the tinted glass canopies, but also areas where you can lay out in direct sun.
In short, if you want a quiet, relaxed place to enjoy being outside, then it is perfection.
Every ship you sail will have suite options. But it’s doubtful they will have anything that’s like what you will find on Oasis-class vessels.
Due to the size of the ship, Royal Caribbean is able to do some creative things when it comes to special suites. Think about two-story options, or those that are simply bigger than what’s found on other ships. There are also unique spots like Aqua Theater suites that have wraparound balconies overlooking the theater at the back of the ship.
One more unique spot being introduced is the Ultimate Panoramic Suite, which is directly above the ship’s bridge and offers a bedroom with 180-degree windows, jutting out over the side of the ship.
When it comes to suites, what you’ll find on Oasis ships is just a step above what you’ll find on other vessels, even in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.
When you’re on a ship for a week, it’s nice to have a lot of dining choices. Nobody wants to eat at the same spot over and over again, or have every meal come from the buffet. The good news is that cruise lines put lots of places to eat on every ship, covering a wide range of cuisines. The difference is with the size of Oasis ships, there is simply more space for more options. You can stay on the ship a week and still not try every single spot.
For instance, on Oasis of the Seas there are 20 different places to grab a bite to eat or a snack, ranging from fine dining to grabbing a hot dog to-go. Compare that to Liberty of the Seas — a smaller Freedom-class vessel in the Royal Caribbean fleet. That ship only has 11 different restaurants.
With the weight of water and the fact that pools have to go high on the top of the ship to get the sun, there are lots of limits on what’s feasible. That’s why you normally find only one or maybe two different pools on most ships, and they are usually small.
But create a ship the size of Royal Caribbean’s largest ones, and you can have so many more options. In total, Oasis-class ships have four different pools, including three in the main pool area, and one in the Solarium. Then there are the whirlpool hot tubs, Splashaway Bay, and Perfect Storm water slides.
In short, there is no shortage of options to take a dip or get wet, whether you just want to swim in a traditional pool, soak in a hot tub, or have a kid that wants to play.
Other Perks of Oasis-Class Ships
In addition to everything we’ve mentioned, there are also other perks that you might find on a few other ships, but they are part of Oasis vessels as well.
One item is the zipline that crosses the back of the ship, soaring over the Boardwalk decks below. Another are twin Flowrider standing waves. While the Flowrider is a staple on Royal Caribbean, Oasis-class ships boasts two of them.
Then there are some unique bar features like Bionic Bar, which has two robots that mix and serve drinks. It’s on a handful of Royal Caribbean ships, including their largest vessels. And there’s also the Rising Tide bar. This spot features a moving bar that slowly rises and lowers in the middle of the ship so you can enjoy your beverage.
Bottom line is that the Oasis ships are unlike anything else in Royal Caribbean’s fleet… and unlike anything else in the world (at least right now).
We know that some people aren’t always fans of the biggest ships. But in our opinion, that size is a huge advantage that provides so many more options for things to see, eat, and do. That’s what makes these ships the best in our opinion. If you haven’t sailed them yet, then there’s a lot for you to experience.