The colossal 16-deck Oasis of the Seas will launch in December with a carousel, onboard zipline and seven neighborhoods, including a park-like setting bigger than a football field.
By Tracey Teo
In December, Royal Caribbean International will launch Oasis of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship. This 16-deck mega ship has seven neighborhoods that will help to facilitate navigating around this floating resort for up to 5,400 passengers. With so much to choose from, it’s always a beautiful day in the neighborhoods.
Above: The massive ship on one of its sea trials early this summer to test its navigation and mechanical systems.
Below: An artist’s rendering of the family-friendly Boardwalk area, which will feature a zipline suspended nine decks above the Boardwalk and a carousel. Royal Caribbean International photos
“Royal Caribbean continues to evolve and enhance the cruise vacation experience,” said Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean’s chairman and CEO. “Oasis of the Seas is truly an architectural and nautical feat. We have made a major leap forward in ship design offering a cruise experience that is personalized with neighborhoods designed around common functions and themes that are sensational yet intimate in nature, and provides an immersive ambiance for each guest.”
Passengers embark here–at the heart of the ship–as opposed to the lower decks, a tradition in cruising. With several shops, restaurants and bars, this neighborhood is the at-sea equivalent of a shopping mall.
Enjoy a cocktail in the Rising Tide Bar that goes up and down like an elevator and you can say you had a drink in the first moving bar at sea. Guests can enter the bar from the Central Park neighborhood on deck eight or from the Royal Promenade on deck five.
Central Park is the town square of the ship. Music and dancing are found here at night, but during the day, it’s a peaceful retreat. Sunlight filters in through twin glass domes to the lush Caribbean gardens below in the Royal Promenade. A central piazza branches off into a number of tranquil pathways that wind through a maze of 12,000 plants, covering an area larger than a football field. Passengers get the feeling that their feet are planted firmly on the ground in a quiet park instead of being miles out to sea, which may be a blessing for first-time cruisers.
A number of dining options can be found in Central Park, including the ship’s most exclusive restaurant, 150 Central Park, which serves trendy, upscale cuisine. There is a $35 cover charge per guest.
The Boardwalk has a nostalgic, Coney Island-in-its-heyday vibe, and with carnival games and ice cream, it is one of the most family-friendly neighborhoods on the ship. Kids are sure to make a beeline for the Boardwalk’s carousel.
For thrill-seekers who require something a bit more exciting than a carousel ride to get their blood pumping, the Boardwalk offers another first–ziplining at sea. Suspended nine decks above the Boardwalk, riders speed across a distance of 82 feet. Those brave enough to look down have a bird’s-eye view of the Boardwalk below.
When the sun sets, the magic begins at AquaTheater, an amphitheater venue just off the Boardwalk. Colored fountains seem to shoot for the moon during choreographed water shows set to music. The AquaTheater is home to the largest freshwater pool at sea, making it possible to stage dramatic aquatic performances, such as “Splish Splash” that features professional high divers.
Although Oasis of the Seas seems to offer endless cutting-edge activities and amenities, old favorites haven’t gone anywhere. Adventurous cruisers set on making it to the top of Royal Caribbean’s trademark rock climbing wall will find not one, but two, 43-foot walls flanking the AquaTheater.
The Pool and Sports Zone
Royal Caribbean knows that for some cruisers, fun in the sun means a water volleyball showdown with the family, while for others, it means sipping a fruity cocktail on a poolside lounge chair undisturbed. With four pools and 10 whirlpools spread out around the ship, everyone can enjoy the water their way.
In the beach pool atop the ship, swimmers enter rolling water from a gently sloped “shore.” Colorful beach umbrellas enhance the feeling of relaxing at a seaside resort.
The H2O Zone has infant and toddler pools for Oasis’ tiniest guests, as well as waterslides and other play equipment for older kids.
The surf’s always up on the sports deck. Catch a wave on one of the two FlowRider surf simulators.
The Solarium, an adults-only haven, has been expanded to two levels that include a serene swimming pool and six whirlpools, perfect for those wanting to relax with a best-selling novel.
Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center
Passengers looking to decompress can kick back in the spa’s new thermal suite– complete with heated tile loungers, saunas and steam rooms–before indulging in a pampering spa treatment in one of 29 treatment rooms.
In the largest fitness center on any cruise ship, passengers have more exercise options than ever. The latest cardio and resistance equipment is available, as well as a number of group fitness classes including yoga, Pilates, spinning and kickboxing.
Guests ready for a night on the town head straight to Entertainment Place. Tempt lady luck at Casino Royale, which is modeled after the classic casinos along the French Riviera, or burn up the dance floor at Blaze.
For a slower pace, check out Jazz on 4. This club, reminiscent of Chicago’s prohibition era, hosts bands playing funky jazz and soulful blues.
The crown jewel of Entertainment Place is the 1,380-seat Opal Theater. This grand, venue allows for more audience interaction, and is guaranteed to deliver more captivating performances than ever before. The Tony-award winning Broadway musical, “Hairspray,” will debut on the ship’s maiden voyage and play for at least three years.
With 28,700 square feet dedicated to Oasis’ younger passengers, parents should feel no guilt about leaving the kids for an evening to have a romantic dinner and catch a show. Whether tots to teens, the Youth Zone is a kid’s dream.
At last, Royal Caribbean is providing a nursery for infants and toddlers (6 months and older). The Royal Babies and Tots Nursery gives parents several drop-off options during the day and in the evening.
The Adventure Ocean program offers fun, age-appropriate activities like crafts and scavenger hunts. An exciting addition to the program is The Adventure Ocean Theater, a real theater with a stage and production equipment where kids stage their own performances.
Teens love having their own space, and that’s what brings them to the Living Room, a place to hang with new friends over a soda or surf the net. Another favorite teen-only area is Fuel, a disco where the under 21 crowd goes to groove to the latest hip-hop and pop.
“There is a tremendous amount of buzz and interest surrounding Oasis of the Seas,” said Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president, Maritime Operations. “We have truly created a ship that rivals any world-class destination and opened the door for a whole new sector of consumer that might not have otherwise considered a cruise vacation.”
Tracey Teo is a contributor from Evansville, Ind.