Sunrise at the Oasis

I spent three days on the inaugural cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Oasis. Unless you have been under a rock, you are aware that Royal Caribbean has deployed the largest cruise ship in history, just in time for vacationers seeking something new under the sun.

In some ways, the Oasis of the Seas represents a beacon of hope for the travel industry. During some of the darkest hours in travel, in sails the Oasis.  Words, statistics, and press releases have none of the catharsis a new opening does. It offers proof that travel still lives and breathes, and will come back.  And unlike a typical hotel or restaurant opening, the Oasis creates demand for hotel rooms and airline seats, not to mention a significant number of jobs.*

So, it felt really good to see the Oasis, the excited faces boarding the ship, and the feeling of palpable enthusiasm from the thousands of travel professionals I sailed with.

So what can I tell you about the Oasis?  Well, here are a few stats:

•           16 decks

•           24 Elevators

•           2706 State Rooms

•           1187 Feet Long

•           2165 Crew

•           5,400 guest capacity

More can be learned at the Royal Caribbean site here.

Here is what I learned.  The ship is certainly big, but at no time did it feel cavernous or cold. The ship’s public areas are populated by ‘neighborhoods’ which do indeed provide variety and a sense of place.

Another thing that travelers will appreciate is the stateroom design; every inch is made to count.  Hallways and high traffic areas are ample, and the longest my party ever waited for an elevator was 30 seconds during the peak evening meal period.

Interactive kiosks, which were by every elevator landing, show restaurant capacity, venue schedules, what’s open, and directions on how to get there.

The variety offered in the realm of dining is vast, though the meal I enjoyed at 150 Central Park offered the definition of intimate fine dining.

So yes, the Oasis is indeed big news, and I cannot fully explain how it feels during this economic time to experience something this exciting and something this real.  Though the Oasis of the Seas is big, it doesn’t cast such a big shadow that an intimate guest experience will be lost in the grandeur.

*Thought: The US government could commission an Oasis of the Seas in every major US port, and create a job producing juggernaut, which would attract foreign travelers intoxicated by the weak dollar, for less than $20 Billion, which is a mere fraction of the federal bailout budget, and less than the amount that was lent to Wells Fargo bank.

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