Oasis of the Seas nears completion
Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) Oasis of the Seas hopes to change cruising and shipbuilding forever. Recently, I made a trip to the STX shipyard in Turku, Finland, to see the 95-percent completed vessel, and it is clear to me that she will have a lasting impact on the cruise industry — and not only for her record-breaking size. The features and technical triumphs of Oasis are truly the real story.
The amount of work that has gone into designing and building Oasis is mind boggling. The 5,400-passenger ship will have seven neighborhoods, a Royal Promenade twice the size of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s other ships’ and a new mezzanine level. Oasis will boast the first zipline at sea, two FlowRider wave generators, 28 new loft suites, an Aquatheater, a full carousel and more.
Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president, maritime, called Oasis the largest marine design project in history by virtue of its complexity.
“The shipyard did it differently,” Kulovaara said. “They outsourced to a lot of new players, and there were countless innovations that had to be made.”
The unprecedented richness of experience on board couldn’t possibly be experienced in a week or even two weeks without some serious determination. Guests who book the loft suites, in particular, will have to tear themselves away from the airy, spacious two-level apartments, with floor-to-ceiling windows and colorful artwork decorating the walls. The entire ship has a high-definition system, and guests can access the astonishing range of entertainment on the interactive system in their rooms, beforehand on the Web or at the box office in the Royal Promenade. And, there is no need to stand in line for tickets to see shows. In fact, there are no tickets as everything is tied to guests’ key cards, and all entertainment remains free. Choices include a comedy club, dive show with 12 divers and six acrobats, live bagpipe music, jazz club, string trio, karaoke, disc jockey shows, improvisational acts and much more.
Among the experiences that shouldn’t be missed is the Boardwalk’s carousel featuring gorgeous horses in brilliant trappings. The attention to detail on the Boardwalk is amazing, and the candy shop near the carrousel is stocked with goodies such as Charleston Chews and candy necklaces. Nearby, the Seafood Shack has hidden its steel construction under the typical rotting wood appearance adding a vintage feel to the surrounding area.
The snacking and casual dining choices on Oasis are beyond dangerous. There’s a free doughnut shop and casual venues everywhere offering wraps, cupcakes, special steak sandwiches, sushi, ice cream, burgers, tapas and much more. For more formal dining, an entire level of the main dining room is given over to My Time Dining, while guests choosing the traditional assigned seating use the other two levels.
The serious cuisine by Keriann Von Raesfeld at 150 Central Park is out of the ordinary because the award-winning chef is actually in residence rather than just planning the menu and training staff. Von Raesfeld is the first American and the first woman to ever win the honor of Best Young Cook in the World at the 2008 World Association of Cooks Society Congress. The 150 Central Park restaurant’s $35 flat fee for dinner is the highest restaurant add-on (the lowest is Johnny Rockets at $4.95) A six-course Chef’s Table for will cost $70, including paired wines.
Besides enhanced features that guests will experience firsthand, environmental issues have been taken into consideration, too, according to Kulovaara.
“Oasis leaves 30 percent less of a carbon footprint than smaller ships, and the difference in draft is minimal compared to the Freedom ship,” he said. “The width is the dimension that has changed radically, and additional width has so positively affected the ship’s stability that the sea trials were far beyond our expectations. I don’t know why we haven’t been making these wider ships earlier.”
Captain William Wright called this ship the pinnacle of his career, and the same sentiment was echoed by any number of people with the cruise line and shipyard.
“It is the standard to be met,” Wright said. “This is the most stable, survivable ship that has ever been built.”