The Oasis of the Seas arrives in Ft. Lauderdale.
Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International
A Room with
a View on The
Oasis of the Seas
By Ringo Boitano
hat weighs 225,282 gross tons, carries over 6,000 passengers, has 12,175
plants and 56 trees, a carousel, an ice rink, 21 swimming pools, zip-line
and all-you-can-eat donut bar? If youre up on your latest travel
news, you know Im talking about Royal Caribbean Internationals
of the Seas - the largest cruise ship on the seas today. And
big it is: three times larger than the Titanic; too big to even squeeze
through the Panama Canal. I was intrigued to see this floating pleasure
palace up close and personal. Was it just a larger version of a cruise
ship where Id never find my room or truly a revolutionary architectural
wonder, offering a whole new concept in cruising? So when I received
an invitation for a preview sailing out of Fort Lauderdale, I jumped
at the chance.
The 339 ft-long Royal
Credit: Deb Roskamp
Arriving at the Oasis homeport, I
gazed up in wonder at the 16 deck, 1,187 feet long vessel. As
I ventured inside I was pleased to find that the Royal Promenade
served as the entry point for all guests, rather than the traditional
lower decks, making it easy to get oriented. Glass-arched skylights
sent a flow of light along the 339 ft-long promenade, lined with
shops, sidewalk cafes and bars. I was so dazzled I didnt
want to leave, but knew that the quest to find my cabin was the
next thing in order. It was a snap: the glass elevator was fast
and efficient, and there was a touch information screen with a
room finder on the wall.
Central Park spans the length of a football
field. Credit: Deb Roskamp
I was surprised to find that I was in an inside room,
not a cabin with balcony, looking out at the sea. As I pulled open the
cabins curtain, I expected to see a painting on the wall, but
instead there was a balcony overlooking Central Park. Yes, Central Park!
Lush, tropical grounds with pathways, flower gardens and canopy trees
spanned the length of a football field. Passengers sat at quiet nooks,
reading books and relaxing, surrounded by elegant shops and dining venues,
with the sky above. Then I got it the brainstorm behind the Oasis
it really was a whole new concept in cruising. The ship was literally
a destination unto itself - where your attention is focused inward,
rather than out.
Central Park is dotted with 12,175 plants
and 56 trees. Credit: Deb Roskamp
The Oasis of the Seas is divided into seven themed
neighborhoods and zones, giving passengers not only an endless array
of entertainment options, but also making it an intimate experience
of their choice. I couldnt wait to explore the vessel.
The nostalgic carousel
in the Boardwalk neighborhood.
Credit: Deb Roskamp
by Coney Island, the open-air Boardwalk neighborhood has a carnival-like
atmosphere, ideal for all age groups. Attractions include a nostalgic
carousel, casual eateries like Johnny Rockets, shops and games.
At the stern of the ship is the 735-seat AquaTheater, which serves
as a pool by day and an ocean-front showplace at night.
ROYAL PROMENADE. The
centerpiece of the before mentioned Royal Promenade is the Rising Tide
Bar. The first moving bar at sea, it spans three decks, allowing passengers
to enjoy beverages as they slowly move between Central Park and the Royal
The Rising Tide Bar and merriment
on the Royal Promenade. Credit: Deb Roskamp
POOL AND SPORTS ZONE.
Stretching the length of the ship, this zone features two rock climbing
walls, two FlowRider surf simulators, a number of pools, miniature golf,
plus Sports Court for basketball and volleyball. The lines were too
long to try the new zip trek line, but it was still exhilarating watching
guests travel across the open-air atrium, suspended nine decks high
above the Boardwalk
VITALITY AT SEA SPA AND FITNESS
CENTER. A RCCL fixture, the beautiful, spacious Center encompasses
amenities that support healthy lifestyles and body wellness.
The Boardwalk at night. Credit:
Another new RCCL innovation, the after-dark Entertainment Place is modeled
after a contemporary nightclub district, complete with jazz, stand-up
comedy, salsa dancing, karaoke and more.
YOUTH ZONE. A haven for
children and teens.
SOLARIUM. My favorite
of all the zones, the adults-only, open-air Solarium, features a two-deck
high, glass-paneled enclave, with six whirlpools, tranquil swimming
pool and bistro. Plush lounge chairs are arranged on “islands,” surrounded
by water, where guests enjoy the sensation of floating on air. No wonder
I was so relaxed.
A two-day cruise was clearly not enough time to experience
everything on the Oasis, but I was there long enough to know
that I will return again.
South Florida at night. Credit:
When in South Florida for a cruise, Fort
Lauderdale rates a 24 hour stay. Dubbed the "Venice of America,"
due to its expansive canal
system, the city is a major yachting center, boasting 42,000 residential
yachts and over 100 marinas. A pleasant alternative to the glitterati
of Miamis South Beach, the city is low-key and unpretentious,
but still offers world class beaches, an historic downtown, riverwalk
and promenade, plus hordes of resort hotels, restaurants and clubs.
Make sure you purchase an all-day $13 water taxi pass, which offers
an insightful overview of the city. My pick for accommodations is the
recently renovated four-diamond Harbor
Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Tucked away on 16 oceanfront acres,
just 10 minutes from the airport, it too, like the Oasis, is
a destination unto itself. A classic Fort Lauderdale retreat, the resort
offers tropical seclusion, complete with 650 rooms and suites, an upscale
specialty restaurant offering American seafood creations, two casual
eateries, 10,000-square-foot oceanfront ballroom, and 20,000 square
feet of outdoor terraces overlooking South Floridas largest private
beach. Listed in 100 Best Spas of the World, the Spa at
Harbor Beach is itself a seaside oasis with 17 private treatment rooms,
a private spa pool, sauna, whirlpool, eucalyptus steam rooms and fitness
center. Fort Lauderdale's dining, shopping and entertainment are conveniently
located right out your doorstep.