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Worlds Largest Cruise Ship Oasis of the Seas Review
Oasis of the Seas
World’s Largest Cruise Ship Oasis of the Seas Review
To celebrate my sister’s birthday this month, we – just the two of us – embarked on a seven-day cruise on the world’s largest, biggest, hugest cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas. We left behind one husband, six children, 9 assorted grandchildren, and 1 ½ great grand babies (the half represents one due in December).
We are not newbie cruisers. My sister, Rita, has taken more than ten cruises and I have taken more than twenty with my husband and parents who are now, God bless them, taking heavenly cruises. I also went on an all-expenses-paid cruise every three weeks for two and a half years when I worked on a coaching assignment for Royal Caribbean International. And got paid for doing it! That dream assignment finally came to an end (awwwwwwww).
I mention that to let you know that this is a review of my own choosing and I am not being paid by RCI. Although I would be less than truthful not to mention that if the cruising- powers-to-be asked me to review the twin-sister ship of Oasis, the Allure of the Seas, by offering a prepaid cruise, I would be delighted to consider that option.
Tour the Oasis of the Seas
How large is the Oasis?
Do you know the length of a football field if you include the end zones? It’s 360 feet. The Oasis is almost 1,180 feet long, or the length of 3 1/4 football fields. We can tell you first-hand that the Oasis corridors are really LONG. How wide is the Oasis? This immense ship is wider than the wingspan of a Boeing 747 airliner.
How much does she weigh? 225,282 gross registered tons or nearly 50% larger than any other cruise ship afloat. Almost as much as the weight gained by the guests after seven days of cruising. More about the food later.
How many guests (cruise-speak for passengers) can she accommodate? 6,300 maximum capacity when all upper and lower berths are being used; 5,400 if they are not. Add 2,165 crew members. That’s a lotta people on one ship. The captain announced during our voyage that there were 6,202 guests aboard – in addition to the 2,100-plus crew.
Oasis Observation: It may be a trifle insensitive but I wanted to note that the Titanic carried only 2,223 – passengers and crew combined; the Oasis is five times larger.
Oasis Doing the Limbo Underneath Danish Bridge
Where and How Was Oasis Built?
The Oasis was constructed in Turku, Finland in less than two years. It cost $1.4 billion to build and is the crown jewel of Royal Caribbean International’s fleet of 22 ships (23 when Allure is completed).
Oasis was too big to be built the traditional way, from the bottom up, a deck at a time. So, instead, sections as large as buildings were finished on shore, then hoisted into place and welded together like so many Lego blocks. The Oasis required 181 of these blocks, each weighing about 600 tons.
On her voyage to the U.S., the Oasis was photographed sailing underneath the Great Belt Fixed Link bridge in Denmark. With a height of 236 feet from the water line, the Oasis was higher than the bridge's clearance of 213 feet. However, the Oasis managed to squeeze under the bridge by lowering the ship's telescoping smokestacks. The ship passed under the bridge with less than 2 feet of clearance. That’s what I call an engineering feet, I mean feat. With 18 decks, the Oasis easily dwarfs all other cruise ships.
Another Tour of the Oasis of the Seas
Because aboard ship you tend to lose sight of which day it is, every guest elevator, and I counted 24 in all, has a tiled insert set into the floor that tells you the day: “Saturday,” etc. I was dreading boarding the ship this Saturday afternoon because I know how numbing the long lines can be when you are boarding a ship half this size. So we were very pleasantly surprised at the efficiency displayed that cut our boarding time to less than 15 minutes.
We have an inside cabin – with a balcony – on the 14th floor, I mean deck 14. Stairs are called ladders and windows are portholes. We didn’t have any portholes in our cabin – we didn’t need any with a large sliding door leading out to our balcony with a table and two chairs.
Oasis Observation: Are you wondering how is it possible to have a balcony with an inside cabin? Instead of placing a block of cabins in the middle of the ship, the builders have stacked the cabins on either side of an immense, open atrium. If you have an inside cabin you can look down upon the Boardwalk or Central Park and also spy on, I mean view, the inside cabins with balconies on the other side. If you have an outside cabin, you have an ocean view.
Our cabin is located aft – toward the rear of the ship also known as the stern. The front of the ship is forward. Right is starboard and left is port. I learned how to remember that on my first cruise (in the Pleistocene era) by recalling that left has 4 letters and so does port. Clever?
What about the food?
After boarding the ship (between 12 noon and 4 pm), guests hasten to the Windjammer – the large, glass-enclosed restaurant on Deck 16. You get your own plate and tableware and then select your food from over ten stations:This restaurant is located next to the swimming pools and lounge chairs so it is casual. It is open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner and most popular for cruisers who do not wish to “dress up” but remain very casual for their meals.
Are there many selections of food to choose from?
Just to give you an idea of some of what is available, here is the layout for breakfast in the Windjammer. Before you enter, there is the ubiquitous sanitizing stand dripping viscous sanitizing liquid which you rub all over your hands, much like a surgeon preparing to operate. These stands are located all over the ship as a precautionary measure against the transmittal of germs. The first station you see has bacon, sausage, ham and some unidentifiable smoked meats. Another has breads, rolls, croissants, Danish, doughnuts, biscuits, scones, cornbread, butter and a selection of jams and jellies. Another has scrambled eggs or eggs cooked to order: poached, boiled, or within omelets. Another has fruit: pineapple, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, pears, prunes (very popular with many guests), apples, oranges, bananas, kiwi, and plums.
Another has waffles, pancakes, French toast and toasted muffins – all made to order. There is also a station with boxes of every cereal ever produced - even Froot Loops. One station has drinks: water, orange juice, apple juice and cranberry juice. For lunch and dinner, the available culinary selections change each day.
Oasis Observation: It is impossible to go hungry on this ship. There are 24 cafes and restaurants including three specialty restaurants requiring reservations: Chops and Grille (steaks), Giovanni’s Table (Italian), and the Captain’s Table (gourmet). AND … 24-hour room service.
The first night we decided to honor the dining room with our presence. It is enormous and covers much of three decks. It’s named the Opus Dining Room. And the theater at the other end of the ship is called the Opal Theater. Guess whoever named the Oasis had an “O-fixation.” The menu contained numerous fish, chicken, meat and vegetarian entrees with numerous appetizers, soups, salads and desserts. Steak is available every night and lobster once on the cruise. You can order as many choices as you desire – all the entrees if you are REALLY hungry. And I know you won’t be surprised to learn that many guests occasionally do just that.
Oasis Observation: There is also a complete menu for guests who are watching their calorie intake. From my personal observation I can assure you that the majority of guests are on the “seafood” diet. They only eat when they see food.
Cruising & Cruise Ships
John Travolta in drag in "Hairspray"
How big are the cabins?
The 2,700 cabins seem to be the same size as those on the next largest RCI Freedom class ships with the same tiny shower that if you drop the soap, that’s the end of your shower. There is no way you can bend down to retrieve it unless you get completely out of the little, oval shower stall.
But larger sumptuous cabins are available. There are also twenty-eight 1,600 square foot, luxury penthouse Loft Suites available on the Oasis which have floor-to-ceiling windows which accent these two-level suites. Sleeping areas are upstairs and overlook the living area and ocean views below. Very sumptuous and jet-set priced.
Instead of the usual television set in the stateroom there is a very large HD TV screen with an interactive keyboard. On previous cruises with only 3,500 or 4,000 guests, the evening entertainment would be presented twice each night: once for the first seating guests and once for the second seating guests. But with over 6,000 guests, other arrangements had to be made.
So we were presented with a list of the entertainment choices and the times scheduled for each evening. We reserved the ones we chose for each night by using the interactive keyboard and the TV screen. Neat!
The first night we saw a one and a half-hour professional production of the play, “Hairspray.” You may have seen the film where John Travolta, in drag, plays the morbidly obese mother of the teen girl who wants to dance on a Dick Clark-inspired TV program. The Oasis singers and dancers were easily as talented as the original Broadway players.
This was our first port on Day Two. Although I have visited Nassau more than twenty times, I always take a stroll down the dozen-block Bay Street and its alley-ways where most of the shops are located. They are still selling jewelry, watches, liquor, perfumes, souvenirs and tee-shirts. Lower than U.S. prices and tax- and duty-free. Same as always. But we did notice that a brand new pier had been built especially to accommodate Oasis and were told that the harbor had been modified as well.
Nassau has some of the most spectacular beaches in the Caribbean: Cable Beach, Nassau Beach, and the beaches at Atlantis and Paradise Island to name a few. Atlantis is a mega luxury hotel/resort with shops, an aquarium and its own shark pool.
Oasis is so huge – how huge is it? - that the ship has been literally divided into seven different and diverse “neighborhoods.” The first is “Central Park,” an immense outdoor park with 12,175 plants, trees and hanging gardens which features boutiques and specialty restaurants.
The second is “The Boardwalk” with its hand-crafted-21-horses-and-other-animals working carousel. Along with the Coney Island boardwalk theme, there is Madame Zamara’s psychic and tattoo parlor – offering semi-permanent tattoos that last up to six months. Shops for children’s clothes and those for teens are nestled between five restaurants and bars on the Boardwalk which include: Johnny Rockets, Boardwalk Donut Shop, Seafood Shack, The Boardwalk Bar, and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
Oasis Observation: The carousel on the Coney Island boardwalk required 130 square feet of real gold leaf paint.
The entertainment we reserved for tonight was at the Comedy Club. Like the comedy club show you may have watched on television, there was a host and two very unique and very funny comedians. So far, the entertainment has been far superior to that I have encountered on the previous smaller ships.
“Laughter is an instant vacation.” – Milton Berle
Day Three was an “at sea” day since we were sailing from Nassau to St. Thomas, Virgin Isles. We did a thorough inspection of all the neighborhoods today and can attest to the fact that the Oasis is more like a floating resort – a floating Las Vegas resort with a full-service casino – than a cruise ship.
The third remarkable neighborhood is the outdoor 750-seat “Aqua Theater” aft of the Boardwalk with its 30-foot diving platforms. This area resembles a Greek amphitheater with stadium style seating which leads down to a large outdoor pool. This pool is the largest on any cruise ship measuring almost 22 feet by 51.6 feet. The depth of the pool can be raised or lowered so that it can be used by day as a swimming pool for guests, and at night as an aquatic entertainment venue.
In addition to several high diving boards for the shows, there are also underwater cameras that film the performers in the pool and project the images on to large screens on each side of the stage. A huge trampoline is raised (or hidden) so that the gymnasts and aerialists in the Aqua Show can flip and dismount into the pool. There are also trapezes mounted for additional stunts.
The fourth neighborhood is “The Pool and Sports Zone” located nine decks above the main deck. This area covers much more that the outdoor space on a traditional cruise ship. I saw four swimming pools, two children’s pools, several Jacuzzis, two rock-climbing walls, a jogging track, a basketball court, a miniature golf course, two surfing rides, and a zip line for the adventurous that you can be buckled into and glide over the Boardwalk far, far below. There is also a Solarium where you can swim without being exposed to the sun with its own lounge and bar.
Oasis Observation: The many swimming pools and Jacuzzis throughout the ship contain 2,300 tons of water. Upon reflection, there are some facts I would rather not know.
“The Spa and Vitality Fitness Center” is the fifth neighborhood offering numerous state-of-the-art fitness machines complete with personal trainers, tooth whitening treatments, and 24-carat gold facials as well as massages and complete hairdressing services.
“Entertainment Place,” neighborhood number six, contains Studio B (deck three) where first-class ice shows are presented each evening on a sizable ice rink and guests can ice-skate themselves during the day. A Comedy Club has a host and two comedians performing every night. Broadway shows and other professional entertainment are offered in the ship's Opal Theater each night.
For those who don’t get enough time to gamble in the full-service casino, there is Bingo twice a day. There is also a well-stocked library (mostly mystery and adventure novels) and an Internet room with computers.
If you are a repeat cruiser with numerous RCI voyages under your belt, the Concierge Club is open to you each evening with free hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
One more neighborhood to mention is number seven – “The Youth Zone.” There are arcades for each age group and activities planned daily with accompanying staff leaders to chaperone your children.
Oasis Observations for Speed and Strength Statisticians: Cruising speed can reach 22 knots. The propellers are 20 feet in diameter. Four 7,500 horsepower bow thrusters maneuver the ship with each one ten times more powerful than a Formula One racing car.
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. We arrived at Charlotte Amalie, one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, on Day Four. It is a short taxi ride to downtown’s two main shopping streets – Main Street and Waterfront Highway. The stores offer much of the same merchandise available in Nassau but I have always found the prices more attractive here. Rita and I stopped in at my favorite jeweler and she bought a beautiful bauble. I resisted temptation since I already own more bling than I could ever wear. Most of us don’t buy jewelry because we need it. We buy it because we want it.
We explored the indoor Promenade deck when we returned. This Royal Promenade is twice the size of the next-largest Freedom-class cruise ships of RCI. There are enormous glass-arched skylights which form a decorative roof that looks up into Central Park and allows natural light on to the Promenade. Ten feet above the floor of the Royal Promenade is a giant globe that looks like it could crack open. When it does open, it becomes a hydraulic bridge that cast members can stand on to sing or dance or narrate fashion shows.
There are shops for gifts and souvenirs, perfume, clothing, fine jewelry, handbags and several restaurants – Sorrento's where you can make your own pizza (no charge) and the Café Promenade with sandwiches and cookies and desserts (no charge). Also several bars, lounges and a store offering only cupcakes. Just above the Promenade is a very large camera shop and photo gallery where you can view all the thousands of photos that have been taken of you by professional photographers during the cruise. Seems that almost everyone, even with cameras taking pictures of their own, purchases at least one photo as a memento of their trip.
There is another "wow" factor on this deck – the Rising Tide Bar. This oval-shaped bar, surrounded by a low glass wall, moves between three decks. Hard to tell, I think, if you have drunk too much when the bar itself is moving. This mobile innovation transports guests between the indoor Royal Promenade up several decks to the outdoor Central Park. As if that were not enough, as the bar rises to the upper decks, fountains like miniature imitations of those at Las Vegas’ Bellagio Hotel come to life underneath it on the Royal Promenade deck, complete with multi-colored spotlights.
Tonight our reservation after dinner which was as usual, superb, was for the Aqua Show. We have been looking forward to this entertainment since there has been so much advance word of mouth publicity about it from other guests. The show – about one hour long – did not disappoint. The fourteen young men and women athletes from all over the globe are more than swimmers – they are gymnasts and acrobats and divers and entertainers. The guests wouldn’t let them go demanding encore upon encore. Best entertainment so far.
Forgot to mention when writing about cabins that there are also Aqua Theater suites which have private views of all the action at the Aqua Theater. So the occupants can watch the shows all during the week from the privacy of their own balcony.
St. Martin and St. Maarten
San (or St.) Maarten, Dutch West Indies
It’s Day Five and we arrived in Philipsburg, on the Dutch side of this two-nation island. The other side is the French side - St. Martin. You can walk to the downtown area from the pier or take a short ferry ride. The cobble-stoned Front Street is the main drag and has many of the same stores you saw in the previous two ports as well as unique boutiques.
Oasis Observation: If you allocate your time wisely, you will be able to take a 30-minute cab ride and visit the world famous Orient Beach on the French side of the island. If you want to swim or sun or stare at that beach and have forgotten your bathing suit, no problem. ‘Nuff said.
With a ship of this immense size, I envisioned constantly encountering guests having difficulty finding their way around. Not so because of another great innovation. On each deck near the elevators, there is a large, wall-mounted interactive panel that you can press to see where you are on the ship, what is happening each half hour, and how you can get there from here. All entertainment venues are listed as well as various shops, bars and restaurants on the Promenade together with their respective locations.
There is no doubt that Royal Caribbean has created a Las Vegas resort that floats. The large casino contains all the entertainment (?) you could wish for: row after row of slot machines of all description, roulette, craps, poker, blackjack and Caribbean variations of the game.
Create your own towel animal
Tonight the entertainment is called a Headliner Show in the Opal Theater. It features a group of four men called the Mosaics. It is their first appearance on this cruise so none of the guests, including the two of us, knew who they were or how they planned to entertain us. But entertain us, they did.
They use only their extraordinary voices and their hands – no orchestra – to perform. Somehow they manage to produce the sounds of different musical instruments while they are singing. Difficult to explain but incredible to hear and see. Another outstanding show.
Day Six and Day Seven were “at-sea” days since this is the longest leg of the journey: from St. Maarten back to the pier at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. There are literally dozens of activities to indulge in during this segment of the return voyage. You can lounge on the promenades, in sun or shade, swim in any one of the many pools, loll in the Jacuzzis or the solarium, or sit or stroll the Royal Promenade while people-watching.
Activities include napkin-folding, towel-folding (which is actually how to make those little animals of towels that your room attendants create for you each evening.) There are art auctions each day, bridge and blackjack tournaments, dance classes, and of course non-stop eating is available. Who could ask for anything more?
At the end of Day Six, the evening entertainment was the Ice Show in Studio B which was based on the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. Another enchanting evening watching professional ice skaters from all over the world as they performed their intricate lifts, spins and dazzling choreography. An exciting bonus near the end of the performance was something I have never seen before. A console with a large white computer tablet was wheeled out onto the ice and a large screen was displayed. Then a woman, an artist from the Ukraine, stepped to the console and painted scenes with black sand – yes, sand – which were projected on the screen while the skaters performed the tale of Andersen’s The Snow Queen. The audience, including us, couldn’t stop applauding.
The entertainment on Day Seven in the Opal Theater was also unusual and unique. It was entitled “Come Fly with Me,” and consisted of performances by gymnasts and dancers using trapezes, cables, wires, trampolines and even, I kid you not, lengths of cloth. Dynamic and unbelievable artistry.
On Day 8, the Oasis returned to Ft. Lauderdale from its cruise in the eastern Caribbean to begin another seven days cruising the western Caribbean with a new set of guests. Rita and I would have stayed for another seven days but our room steward couldn’t keep a secret!
Today, the Oasis and its twin, the Allure, are the biggest, baddest, largest, hugest cruise ships in the world, and Rita and I would cruise on them again in a heartbeat. But tomorrow??? I say that because I read a recent news release as follows:
If you need to find a second job to finance your cruise, read this book.
“Watch for the newest World's Largest Cruise Ship, the Princess Kaguya (which has no affiliation with Princess Cruises of the same name). This ship of 450,000 tons is a city-at-sea concept that has been presented to Finland's Aker Yards, according to media reports. If financed and ultimately built, the ship would measure more than one-and-a-half times the size of The Oasis. It's not a cruise line behind the idea, but a company called Japan Contents Network Inc., whose CEO, Hajime Tanaka, has launched three golf courses and a Formula One circuit. The 20-deck Princess would operate differently from the cruise ships most travelers are accustomed to. In addition to carrying a maximum number of 8,400 passengers, up to 10,000 visitors could board in each port to enjoy its urban amenities. JCN has even considered selling some of the rooms as residences.”
But for now, Oasis of the Seas is still the largest, hugest, biggest, “baddest,” most exciting cruise ship in the whole wide world!
Definition of vacation - a period of travel and relaxation when you take twice the clothes you need, and spend twice the money you have.
Copyright BJ Rakow 2010, 2011, 2015. All rights reserved
Author, Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So