By Michael Coleman
Three of the world’s largest cruise ships ever constructed are making their North American debuts this week.
MSC Poesia, Carnival Dream and the worldÂ´s biggest passenger vessel, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, were all unveiled to much pomp and circumstance.
And, justifiably so.
It’s a testament to the highly-competitive industry that executives still moved forward with their ambitious plans despite one of the worst economic times on record. As such, it’s also a great time to be a consumer as deals for couples and families aboard these ships and others, particularly in the Caribbean, are among the best in years.
MSC’s Poesia officially launched in 2008 but the 2,550-passenger vessel arrived this week from Europe to make her Caribbean debut.
The ship will feature itineraries of three, five, seven, eight and 10 nights throughout the Caribbean and to Bermuda during the winter season before returning to Europe in spring 2010.
The 93,300-ton ship features 1,275 staterooms, of which 80 percent are outside, 65 percent of which have a balcony. Guests can enjoy two pools and four hot tubs, a 13,000-square-foot spa, and four restaurants, including a sushibar themed restaurant.
Also, look for an outdoor cinema, a children’s splash pool and outdoor play area, golf simulator, mini-golf, tennis, volleyball, basketball, jogging track, shuffleboard, table-tennis,
darts, video games, Internet cafÃ©, Wi-Fi, in-room safe and mini-bar.
Poesia will also host an extensive lineup of theme cruises ranging from Latin, country, oldies, big band and even polka music to comedy, life modification and the line’s popular baseball theme cruises which have attracted some of the game’s greatest talent to the Caribbean seas.
The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, meanwhile, debuted in New York this week. It’s the largest ship Carnival has ever constructed and clearly ushers in a new “Fun Ship” era.
Look for a host of innovations, including Carnival WaterWorks, an expansive aqua park featuring the longest water slide at sea; Ocean Plaza, an indoor/outdoor cafÃ© and live entertainment venue; more than 19,000 square feet of space dedicated to children and families; and a 23,750-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa, the largest in the line’s fleet.
The 3,646-passenger ship will operate a series of voyages from New York before repositioning to Port Canaveral to begin year-round Caribbean service starting Dec. 3.
The largest cruise ship ever built by a long shot, at 225,282 tons, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas is both an engineering feat and jaw-dropping marvel. She begins sailing year-round from Port Everglades in December.
The ship introduces a host of industry “firsts” including a neighborhood concept — seven main themed areas providing guests with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences based on their personal style, preference or mood.
Look for Central Park, the first living park at sea with nearly 12,000 plants and trees; Boardwalk, a family oriented environment with a hand carved carousel; a zip line wire ride that races diagonally nine-decks above an open-air atrium; 28 multilevel loft suites (the first at sea) boasting floor-to-ceiling windows; an AquaTheater that serves as a pool by day and a dazzling oceanfront theater by night for high-diving and aquatic acrobatic performances.
Oasis also features 24 dining options including the upscale 150 Central Park, healthy fare at Solarium Bistro, sweets at The Cupcake Cupboard (a first at sea) and the traditional main dining room.