The Oasis of the Seas. Photo courtesy
of Royal Caribbean International
The Big Boat
Mystery on the Oasis of the Seas
Story by Ringo Boitano
Photographs by Deb Roskamp
he world is a big place. And it's easy to get lost. Particularly when
you want to. All I had to go on was that she had a spark for the ocean,
rock climbing, zip line trekking, Central Park and all-you-can-eat donut
bars. It took me all but five minutes to figure she had to be on the
RCCL's new Oasis of the Seas -- billed as the largest cruise
ship on the sea. Reading the papers, I could see this floating pleasure
palace was a real piece of work -- 225,282 gross tons, carrying over
6,000 passengers, 2,175 plants and 56 trees, a carousel, ice rink, 21
swimming pools. You get the picture. Big.
My instructions about finding the skirt were a little
more vague: no name, no picture, no age, no nothing. Just bring her
home. Alive. Oh, yeah. And she also hated golf. Went ballistic at the
sight of 18-holes. Something about a sweet swing she once had with Tiger
Woods that ended up in the rough. Seemed she hated frogs, too. This
one I didn't get either. Maybe it was some toad broach Tiger once gave
her, or maybe she'd seen too many Prince Charming movies where the girl
would kiss the frog and the prince turned out to be Arnold Schwartzenegger
or something. My fee, though, was not so vague: a fat envelope stuffed
with 100 C-notes. For that kind of money, I could find a speck of white
peppercorn in a bowl of spaghetti with red sauce. Excuse me, I meant
Pasta ala Marinara. I told myself I'd have to start being a little more
contemporary with my speech for this trip.
Myself being Ringo Boitano, TravelingBoy writer and
part-time gumshoe. To be honest, if I had a few more of those fat envelopes
in regular rotation, I'd be a little more full time than part time.
Arriving at the Oasis homeport in Fort
Lauderdale, I almost lost my head, gazing up at the 16 deck, 1,187 feet
long vessel. Three times the size of the Titanic. Too big to
even squeeze through the Panama Canal. Speaking of squeeze -- as in
squeezing my style -- tagging along with me was an assistant. Something
that the agency insisted upon. I guess they needed someone to keep an
eye on me if I happened to get lost in the casino. Her name was Debra.
Sorry, De-bor-ah. To say she wasn't green was like saying it didn't
rain in Seattle. I figured, as long as she stayed out of my way and
didn't ask too many dumb questions, we'd get along fine. Besides, I
needed someone to carry my baggage and hold a place for me in the buffet
Entering the vessel with the D-girl in tow, I was impressed
that the Royal Promenade was the gangway, rather than one of them lower
decks, making it easy to find your way around. The sucker was long.
Over 339 ft-long. Not that I really studied my brochure or anything.
Lined with snazzy shops, cafes and bars, I coulda stayed down there
and pounded down a couple of highballs, but knew that finding my room
was the next thing in order. It was a snap: the glass elevator was fast
and there was some kind of touch information screen with a room finder
on the wall.
Get this. When I finally made it to my room (sorry,
cabin), I was surprised to find that It was one of them dark little
closets without a verandah, you know, not looking out at the sea or
anything. As I pulled open the cabins curtain, I expected to see
some artsy painting of a beach or something on the wall, but instead
there was a verandah overlooking Central Park. That's right. Central
Park! That's what they called it. Lush, tropical grounds with pathways,
flower gardens and canopy trees spanned the length of a football field.
Folks could sit at benches, play checkers, read Sports Illustrated,
surrounded by snazzy shops and eateries. Then the light bulb went off
in my head. Something the swells would call the brainstorm behind the
Oasis. A whole new deal in cruising. They wanted you to stay
on the boat and enjoy this modern Vegas-land of crazy attractions, rather
than go out and see the sights. This could be a kick in the pants. For
a second I even though of running the length of Central Park, but then
remembered my three-pack habit. Besides, best for me to just blend in
and be unobtrusive. You know, reading the Enquirer or counting the 12,175
plants and 56 trees - though it seemed more like 54 to me. Central Park
would be a walk in the park, with no one there to even mug you.
I also remember I had work to do. There was that fat
envelope, stuffed with 100 C-notes, and a girl to find. I asked the
D-girl to go fetch me one of these fancy coffee drinks. Black, with
no sugar. Then I'd start looking. I had a system and it always worked.
If you dont believe me, just ask the ghost of John Gotti, or OJ,
whos been busy playing patty cake with the inmates in the Big
House in Florida.
The Oasis of the Seas is divided into seven themed
neighborhoods and zones, giving folks plenty of stuff to do.
There was even a BOARDWALK, apparently inspired by Coney
Island, giving the place some sort of carnival atmosphere. Even I got
a kick out of it. It reminded me of the time when they took all us kids
at the reformatory to a state fair for the day.
The zip-line was a thing of wonder. The sucker spread
all the way across the Boardwalk. If it weren't for the scars on my
hands due to Charlie the Chump's numbskull plan back in 82 to
use barbed wire to slip out of our cell at Sing Sing I'd be tempted
to gave it a shot.
At the stern of the boat was a 735-seat Aqua Theater,
where you swim by day and at night it turned into some sort of theater.
But with a family crowd I figured thered be no strip poles or
burlesque. What did I care, I was on assignment. So I opted to go to
the kiddie pool and cool my tired old dogs.
Now the rock-climbing wall I didn't get. What type of
sucker would pay all that dough just so that they could climb some wall.
I still have a trick knee due to trying to climb the big one when I
was at San Quentin.
But then I saw it -- the golf course. Yeah, the golf
course. How could I have been so stupid. I was having such a good time
on the boat, I completely forgot about it. I figured I would nonchalantly
wander over and check it out. But where was De-bor-ah -- the D-girl
in tow? Last time I saw her she was hanging out at the all-you-can-eat
donut bar. Something didnt smell right. And it wasnt the
smoke from the Oasis chimney.
Stay tuned for Part Two.