By Michael Coleman
I walked Central Park and was entertained on Broadway this week but New York City was nowhere to be found.
My destination was actually the world’s largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, as she sailed her maiden voyage into sun-drenched Western Caribbean waters.
Although port calls included Labadee, Haiti plus Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, make no mistake: the ship has become a destination in and of itself.
At some 220,000 tons and a passenger complement over 5,000, Oasis is both a joy to behold and an architectural marvel.
Like most passengers, however, I boarded the vessel for my week-long journey excited about what was to unfold yet hesitant over her sheer size. Would Oasis be too big? Would I constantly be stuck in a line? Worse yet: would I feel like cattle, herded from point A to B?
Oasis, after all, is huge in every manner.
She features 2,700 staterooms housed over 16 stories. Her galley space is 2.5 acres. There are 24 dining choices plus another 20 bars and lounges. Just over 7,000 works of art were commissioned to adorn her. To build her alone it took 3,200 construction workers some 8,000 work years to complete.
From bow to stern she features seven distinct neighborhoods – Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, Pool & Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone — complete with extraordinary elements such as the first living park at sea; a thrilling zip line nine-decks above an open-air atrium; an original handcrafted, working carousel; plus 28 multi-level urban-style loft suites boasting floor-to-ceiling windows.
She also has an Aqua Theater with a pool depth of 17.9 feet — the deepest at sea — a skating rink, putting green and parent company Royal Caribbean’s ubiquitous rock-climbing wall is featured here too. Two of them each stretch 43 feet into the sky. Two onboard production shows are runaway guest favorites: Hairspray, the eight-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical and Oasis of Dreams, a dive show featuring Olympic and NCAA champion athletes.
Two surf simulators, a basketball court, fitness center, spa, shops, casino, art gallery, main show lounge, jazz, comedy and dance venues round out the physical locales. “Cruise Compass’’, the ship’s daily planner, is typically 10 pages in length and features listings for every imaginable onboard activity, from lectures and towel folding demonstrations to pool games and church services.
As such, Oasis doesn’t feel crowded. There’s simply too much to do and passengers, depending on personal interests, find themselves dispersed throughout the vessel at various times day and night enjoying all she has to offer. Convenient touch screen technology, located near elevator banks on each deck and in other strategic onboard locations, provides real time information complete with ship maps, event/activity information and even wait times, if any, in the restaurants.
Too big of a ship? Too crowded? Not at all.
My only disappointment is that the voyage wasn’t longer.
Next week: We’ll explore the amazing dining choices aboard Oasis of the Seas.
On the web: www.oasisoftheseas.com