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Oasis of the Seas
Inaugural Cruise Back-to-back
Dec. 1-12, 2009
by Mary & Vincent Finelli
There is an old adage that goes something like this: It's not where
you are going, but rather, how you get there. Well, in this case,
the Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has
constructed the largest cruise ship afloat, which is a destination
in itself. Its home Port Everglades of Ft. Lauderdale had to
increase its Pier #18 in order to accommodate this behemoth, as did
each of its destination ports.
Her 225,282 gross tons, is an increase of more than 65,000 tons over
the RCI Freedom Class. It is not just size that is important, but
rather the fact that the Oasis has more outdoor space than any other
cruise ship: a fact that makes sailing on her so different an
experience from sailing on any other cruise ship. Her seven
neighborhoods concept makes for a wonder of a cruise--a vacation
like no other. So much has been written in anticipation of the Oasis
of the Seas Maiden Voyage, that this review will instead center on
our personal experiences while cruising with Captain Bill Wright (a
terrific Renaissance man) and our old friend Hotel Director Francois Wachè
and the many new acquaintances we made.
We looked forward to Tuesday Dec. 1, 2009 for over
a year, having booked this cruise on the first day available to
Crown & Anchor Society Diamond Members. As physically challenged travelers, we knew that the ship size and number of passengers
(over 5,000) could possibly create chaos. However, this was one of
the simplest and most orderly boardings we have ever had. Crown
& Anchor members and wheelchair passengers had special lines. Each
Deck had a special check-in line, thus, cutting down on the waiting.
We arrived in Port Everglades at 12:45pm and had curbside assistance
with our luggage, wheelchair, and scooter. We were on board and in
our stateroom by 1:15pm. There were several venues for Welcome
Aboard dining, but we chose the closest to our cabin #14166
portside, the Solarium Bistro on Deck 15 forward. Some good advice
is to keep the Oasis Deck Plan handy, which is part of the Cruise
Compass' Daily Planner, thank goodness! In the Bistro we had
terrific assistance from Manager Melinda. At 4:00pm there was the
mandatory Boat Drill which was totally painless: We took the
elevator down to Deck 4 and the “On Air” studio, which is part of
the Entertainment Place; comfortably seated, we didn't even have
to bring life jackets, since they are kept at the muster stations.
We then returned to our stateroom to enjoy the sail away from our
The statistics of the Oasis are stunning: 225,282
Gross tons (over four times the size of the Titanic), 208 ft. wide
(this is no Panamax ship!) 1,187 ft. long (almost four football
fields), 236 ft. high above the waterline, all with a draft of only
30 ft. We were shocked when we first saw her in port, she floats so
high. With all her size, her cruising speed is 22.6 knots. There are
15 passenger decks, 24 passenger elevators placed both forward and
aft, so they are less than a quarter of the ship's length from
anywhere on board. Neat! Guest capacity is 5,400 (double occupancy
of its 2,706 guest staterooms), but she can accommodate over 6,296
total guests. Her international crew of 2,165 are all eager to
The art work on board is so eclectic and numerous (9,800 pieces)
that RCI has published a book “Wonder Book: The Art on the Oasis of
the Seas.” The common theme of this vast collection is “The Wonder
of Our World (p8).” There are photographs of everything from tiny
micro-organisims to unending fields, all contribute to the wonders
we encounter on our beautiful Earth.
Larry Kirkland presents 23 pieces of tiny wonders in “hand forged
interior-lit bronze microscopic vessels... placed randomly
throughout” (p100) the ship. The Oasis is so full of art that it is
obvious that one cruise is not sufficient enough to appreciate it
all: An excellent reason for which to return! An overview of the art
does make one take a closer look at our world--the photograph of
a volcanic eruption by Ernst Haas (p108) brings this phenomenon to
life. Then, an oil and embroidery on canvas by Nikkie le Nobel
depicts an obvious sentiment “I'm so Sorry” (p131), and a sunlit
Icelandic landscape photographed by Magnus Sigurdarson (pp120-121)
reveals nature. Our world with all its life forms past and present
makes up the beautiful art work of the Oasis of the Seas. Take time
and look closely, you will be rewarded and touched.
The Oasis has many innovative venues. She has a Flow Rider for
surfers, an 82 ft long Zip Line Ride, an Aqua Theater Pool, a
Central Park, a Boardwalk complete with Carousel and a myriad of
other attractions in its Seven Neighborhoods. This review will
describe the seven areas of the Oasis rather than describing the
ship Deck by Deck. It is the open air atriums and split
superstructures which mandate this review format.
One: Central Park is based on Deck 8 with five decks
of balcony staterooms opening on to it. It certainly lives up to its
name with 2,178 trees, vines and flowering plants, beautifully
arranged among winding paths. There are several seating areas, some
covered for when it rains (yes, it is open to the sky like a park).
There are delightful pergolas covered with blooming bougainvilleas
and poles wound with night blooming jasmine. Each type of plant is
identified with tags.
This is an ideal spot in which to sit and read among the flowers and
trees or even dine “al fresco” at Giovanni's Table ($15 fee) for
excellent Italian cuisine under the jovial Senior Executive Chef
Marco Morrama and friendly Maitre d' Alessandro, or at 150 Central
Park featuring celebrity Chef Kerriann Von Raesfeld ($35 fee).
There are also fine shops featuring designer handbags, sports wear,
etc. However, it is the wonder of sitting in an endless garden at
sea, which drew us back daily: no crowds, peaceful with an
occasional Strolling Scot bagpiper playing soulfully. In the evening
there are moonlight serenades with the “Black Pearl Strings” and
guitar melodies with Wilfredo Arca.
Two: The Boardwalk is on Deck 6 aft and features a Carousel with 18
hand carved animals, in its entrance are several horses in various
stages of carving and painting, both informative and beautiful art.
Along both sides are typical Coney Island style shops and stands:
Johnny Rockets a 1950's hamburger joint, candy/taffy shops, coffee
and doughnut and a terrific Seafood Shack ($8 fee). All the way aft
is the 600 seat Aqua Theater--with two shows, one of Dancing
Waters (fountains timed to music--reminiscent of the famous
fountains of Lugano, Switzerland). The other show, “Oasis of
Dreams,” is a water extravaganza of high diving, synchronized
swimming, and acrobatic routines: Stunning! This is also the seat of
two rock climbing walls.
Three: The Royal Promenade on Deck 5 is retained from the Voyager
and Freedom classes of ships and features a village center with
coffee shops, Pizza parlors and the Globe & Atlas Pub with music
each night by Scott Perham. The on board shops located here have the
logo wear, perfumes, jewelry, etc. The Promenade is the site of
Captain Wright's Champagne welcome on board party and numerous
parades and entertainments. The innovative Cupcake Cupboard provides
a unique spot for Birthday and Anniversaries. The biggest attraction
is the “Rising Tide Bar” an oval shaped spacious glass enclosed
elevator which will lift you up three decks to Central Park. The
automobile attraction for this ship is a 1936 Auburn Speedster, a
supercharged convertible, with four exhaust coils on each side. This
sleek sports car is a combo of black and silver with white wall,
wire spoked wheels--an eye-catching feature of the Promenade.
Four: The Pool & Sports Zone is located on Deck 15 and offers more
sports activities than any other ship at sea: The Flow Rider is fun
for both surfers and spectators, Mini Golf has real turf and unique
bronze statues of golfers and a caddy and brightly colored animals
for the children. Take the Zip Line across the ship, Whee! There is
a basketball court, and ping pong. The Solarium is Vincent's
favorite place: Every morning he relaxes in a whirlpool in the adult
only spa among plants and flowers. There are also eight restaurants
and bars some catering only to children. Try the serve your self
ice cream machines.
Five: Vitality at Sea Fitness Center is forward on Deck 6. There is
a “Thermal Suite,” massage center and gym with over 100 cardio &
resistance machines, the longest jogging track at sea (2.4 laps =
1 mile). There are classes in yoga and kick boxing and a Health Spa
for adults and children with juice and snacks.
Six: The Youth Zone is completely dedicated to children and teens
with Adventure Ocean Theater, Science Lab, Video Games and even a
nursery at sea. Teens are treated to their own area with an out door
deck, nightclub, video arcade and even a Hangout spot. We went
through this area several times, since it was located just above our
Seven: Entertainment Place has something for everyone: Cruise
Director Ken Rush is an old acquaintance who keeps ship activities
humming. This cruise there were three terrific shows:
“Hairspray” and the “Nelson Brothers” in the Opal Theater (seats
1,380, be careful in choosing your seat because there are several
poles blocking the view of the stage) and thirdly. “Frozen in Time.”
The Nelson Twins did a tribute to their father Ricky Nelson of Rock
and Roll fame. They also showed clips and told anecdotes about their
famous grandparents Ozzie and Harriet Nelson of TV fame. Great
selections, great voices, and great stage presence. Excellent! Like
the Voyager and Freedom classes the Oasis has an ice skating rink
and an Olympic quality ice show: “Frozen in Time” is based on Hans
Christian Andersen's tales, “The Emperor's New Clothes,” “The Snow
Queen,” “ The Little Mermaid,” “The Red Shoes,” and “The Ugly
Duckling.” Fantastic! Don't miss it. Within this show there is also
a new attraction: a young lady who does sand painting or sculpting
to tell stories. Breathtaking is not even adequate, with a wave of
her hand or touch of her finger, she created scenes with characters
and animals, etc. Live entertainment all over the ship includes
jazz, comedy and string music in the dining rooms--delightful.
Stateroom #14166, a wheelchair accessible cabin on
Deck 14, is large, airy, and cheerful. However, there is plenty of
room to widen the front door to make entry easier, and it would be
more helpful if it were an automatic door, although the stewardess Suleva always helped us if she was in the corridor.
When entering, on the right there is a large bathroom with shelves
for toiletries a bit too high and too deep to locate items. There is
ample room to place a wider set of shelves. The same goes for the
drawers below. All the hooks on the door were placed too low, some
higher hooks for nightgowns and robes are needed. The shower was
perfect with safety rails all around. Next there was a king size bed
flanked by two sets of very low shelves, but alas, no drawers for
medications. The reading lamp was too far from the bed, one had to
get out of bed to shut it off. We think the reading lamps should be
exchanged (the one on the left of the headboard moved to the right
and then the one on the right moved to the left) thus, it places the
switches nearer the bed rather than on the far side. Same equipment
just better placement, it means a lot to the handicapped. Next, is a
comfortable love seat and a tiny coffee table, too small to be
On the left
there is a double maple wood armoire with
a set of shelves and a private safe, a refrigerator, and a 32” wide
screen TV, a vanity/desk with three drawers, and a lighted mirror
and one chair. The far wall is mainly glass and a door to the nice
large balcony, with two chairs and a large table, to which the lovely Suleva added a chaise for Vincent. He enjoys sitting on the balcony
watching the stars at night. The walls are all beige and the
furniture all maple wood. There are two pictures: one of a branch of
apple blossoms blowing in the wind, and the other a close up of a
green banana leaf with water drops. Both are on beautiful sky blue
backgrounds. The carpet is multicolored streaks of blue, green and
speckled with pink.
Our excellent Stewardess Suleva Bryan-Forbes was not only efficient,
smiling but, she also anticipated our every need. Kudos!
SERVICE & FOOD
On board of the Oasis, under Hotel Director Francois
Wachè, the service is top notch. The crew attitude is that it aims
to please the passengers. The Opus Dining Room is spread over three
tiers (Decks 3, 4, and 5). It has a stunning chandelier set just
over the Captain's table. On formal night, we dined with Captain
Wright, who enthralled us with stories of the Oasis of the Seas, her
sea trials and her Maiden Transatlantic voyage, where she
encountered a storm with waves as big as 50 ft high. Great lady that
she is, the Oasis sailed safely through it all. He attributes her
extraordinary stability to her width and engineering and finds her
exquisite in every way. The Captain was born in Miami, Florida and
educated in Vestfold College in Norway. He is also an RCI Vice
President--very interesting man.
Dinner was Escargot Bourguignonne , Lobster Bisque, Papaya/Pineapple
soup, Beef Filet, Caesar Salad, Shrimp Ravioli and a bittersweet
Chocolate Souffle for dessert. Wonderful food, wonderful service,
and wonderful conversation, all with the best view of the Christmas
garlanded balconies of the Opus Dining Room.
Head Waiters Roscoe and Melinda secured us table #401 near the
entrance. We don't like to go throughout the dining room with the
wheelchair and the scooter, since it disturbs so many diners. Our
waiter was Agnelo and his assistant was Harley Davison. They were
both excellent. We had reserved a table for two near the entrance of
the dining room; however, the first night the reserved table was
occupied by others and we were taken to another table far away from
the entrance and not very practical for the parking of either the
scooter or the wheelchair. When we finally were assigned to table
#401, we found that it was a table for four and we shared it with
another couple. Fortunately, we met a friendly couple Kate and
Charlie from Chicago, with whom we had enjoyable dinners and
We had breakfast served in our cabin each morning at 7:00am, and it
was always on time, hot, and delicious (eggs, hash browns, bacon,
sweet rolls, jams, fruit, coffee, and hot chocolate). There are
many venues at which to eat, plus the Buffet, called the Windjammer
Market place. There is 24 hr. room service, a donut shop on the
Boardwalk, a fantastic coffee, sandwich, cookie shop on the
Promenade and don't miss the delicious pastries at the Mondo Cafè
Bar. And for those interested, the Promenade Bar opens at 7:00am!
At night the Solarium Bistro is transformed into an upscale
restaurant with lovely table setting of flowers and white linen
covered chairs. We dined there with Hotel Director Francois Wachè
and three other couples. It was an unforgettable evening. Just
lovely with twinkling lights overhead and interesting conversation.
Thank you, Francois! The food is great, abundant and everywhere. The
service is amiable and the crew as gracious as their Captain.
This ship is an entertainment destination. From
surfing, to rock climbing, Spa facilities, sports venues to several
shows nightly, the problem is to decide which attraction to attend.
We were blown away by the live skating show and the Nelson Brothers,
but also enjoyed many music opportunities and the on board comics--Strolling on the Promenade or spending quiet time in the library can
be pleasant too. It is impossible to be bored on the Oasis.
Sleepless? Join Cruise Director Rush for “The Quest” an adults only
game starting at midnight in Studio B on Deck 4. Hilarious. There is
something for everyone on board.
Back-to-back Cruises (Dec. 1-12 2009)
Ft. Lauderdale: For us this is the closest port to our home, less
than half an hour drive. Terminal #18 in Port Everglades has been
expanded from 67,000 to 240,000 square feet to accommodate the new
gigantic ship. The embarkation and debarkation process has been
facilitated significantly by the increased number of check-in desks.
Labadee, Haiti: Oasis docked here. Until now, in this port,
cruise ship passengers had to be tendered ashore. A large pier has
been built and this RCI resort has received extensive improvements,
including the new Dragon Trail roller coaster, the “Town Square”
where local musician and dancers perform, and the “Artisan Market”
with the many wood carved souvenirs, pottery, and other artifacts that
can be bought at bargain prices.
St, Thomas, USVI: One of the best shopping ports of the Caribbean,
with a new shopping center built near the new pier. A tour
accessible to the handicapped is the “Scenic Island Drive and
St. Maarten: This island is divided between the Dutch and the
French. Many tours visit both sides. Physically challenged guests
should consult the Exploration staff before booking a tour.
Nassau, Bahamas: Here a visit to the amazing Atlantis Hotel Resort
with Casino, sparkling white sand beaches and a spectacular aquarium
on Paradise Island is a must for the first timers.
These back-to-back cruises (Dec. 1st to 5th and Dec.
5th to 12th) represent the 39th and 40th cruise credits toward our
Crown & Anchor Society membership, thus it is evident that RCI is
one of our favorite cruise line. We have had some great cruises, but
this one has been awesome, mainly for the extraordinary novelties
that the Oasis has brought to cruising: The signature neighborhoods,
particularly Central Park, Boardwalk, and the enhanced Royal
Promenade which are spectacular places we never thought conceivable
on a cruise ship.
It was an extraordinary cruise, not because of the itinerary, food,
service, or any other aspect, but for the Oasis herself, which offers to
the passenger what other ships cannot offer: her grandiosity. We
will still cruise on other ships, small, medium, large, gigantic, and
enormous, since we are addicted to cruising and love them all.
However, we know that certain experience we have had on this ship
cannot be matched on any other ship until the launching of the
Allure of the Seas, which we have booked for our anniversary in Jan.
2011. For the near future, we'll go back to normal having booked the
following cruises: Celebrity Solstice, on Jan. 3rd, Liberty of the
Seas, on Feb. 7th, Star Princess, from Rio de Janeiro to Ft.
Lauderdale, on March 16th, Crown Princess, a transatlantic cruise to
Italy, on May 1st, and the return from Europe with the Norwegian
Epic, on June 24th. Happy Cruising!
Guide & Cruise
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