Floating city, a holiday oasis

Eight thousand people, seven neighbourhoods, an amphitheatre, a central park, 24 restaurants, a bustling promenade, a plethora of entertainment venues.

A small city or a huge resort? To all intents and purposes Oasis of the Seas is a floating city containing some of the most luxurious and breathtaking attractions on its decks.

Oasis, which made its inaugural sailing on December 5 from its specially-built terminal at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US, is the world’s largest cruise ship, about 40 per cent bigger than any other afloat today.

Owned by Royal Caribbean International, the ship is described as bringing revolutionary concepts to the cruise industry – a  destination in itself.

As one analyst put it, the Oasis of the Seas will do for cruise ships what Disneyland did for amusement parks. “The image of cruising is about to change forever,” Paul Motter was quoted as saying. “I think it’s going to be the first ship where people truly book just for the ship and hardly care where it goes.”

You will need to suspend your disbelief, reads the promotional literature. The massive size of the ship is truly matched by the enormous scope of facilities and innovative features she contains.

Oasis is not big for the sake of being big, says Adam Goldstein, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. The size of the ship has made it possible for the liner to provide innovative features that are not available on any other ship, he says.

“You’ll run out of time before you run out of things to do,” adds Goldstein.

Oasis of the Seas weighs 225,282 gross registered tonnes, spans 16 passenger decks and has 2,700 staterooms. It can carry more than 6,000 guests and has over 2,100 staff on board.

Oasis of the Seas has introduced several industry firsts including the neighborhood concept – seven main themed areas providing guests with the opportunity to seek out experiences based on their personal style, preference or mood.

Within these seven neighbourhoods – Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, Pool & Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Centre, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone – are elements such as the first living park at sea; a zip line that races diagonally nine-decks above an open-air atrium; an original handcrafted carousel; 28 multi-level urban-style loft suites boasting floor-to-ceiling windows; an amphitheatre that serves as a pool by day and a dazzling ocean-front theatre by night and an array of restaurants.

It also offers FlowRider surf simulators, an ice-skating rink, cantilevered whirlpools, rock-climbing walls and the Royal Promenade, an entertainment boulevard stretching nearly the length of the ship.

The liner has four swimming pools and volleyball, basketball and table tennis facilities.

Entertainment is the key to engaging the vast numbers of guests and there is plenty of it, much of it world-class. From the Broadway musical ‘Hairspray’ and heart-thumping diving and acrobatic shows, to top comedy acts and popular theme nights and parades, the ship aims to entertain all ages and interests.

The cutting-edge amenities and activities are complemented by a variety of retail venues – 13 stores, including open-air shopping, that cover more than 930 sq m. Retail outlets range from children’s and teen-themed shops to jewellery and duty-free stores. Several international brands also make their debut on board.

Oasis offers a wide variety and flexibility of dining options thanks to 24 distinct outlets, ranging from an exclusive signature restaurant, to neighbourhood-specific themed venues. Accommodations include staterooms, loft cabins and luxury suites. Oasis has very few totally inside cabins, most have a balcony over-looking the Boardwalk, Central Park or the ocean.

Children and youngsters are a major focus of the ship. The Youth Zone has a wealth of  child and teen-friendly adventures.

Despite the huge size of the ship, the chances of one getting lost are rather slim. There are 12 elevators at each end and on every floor there is an interactive board that gives information on where you are, where you can go and what is going on at that time.

The ship is said to be 25 per cent more environmentally efficient than similar, but smaller ships. It dumps no sewage into the sea and has a large, state-of-the-art water treatment facility.

Scared of getting sick while on board? Not to worry. Oasis has a fully-fledged medical centre including ICU facilities.

During her inaugural season, Oasis of the Seas will have 19 consecutive seven-night sailings to the Eastern Caribbean, with ports of call at Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas; Philipsburg, St Maarten; and Nassau, Bahamas.

Ticket prices, according to industry sources, range from $1,299 to $4,829.

Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Richard Fain describes the new ship as a game-changer.

by Sree Bhat