A Comment By Joe Lee III
The Oasis of the Seas is the second largest cruise ship in the world — at least for now.
She briefly enjoyed the title of the world’s largest. Then her sister — the Allure of the Seas — was completed and measured out two inches longer at 1,186.7 feet (more or less). The difference in the two vessels’ length was attributed to temperature deviation at the time of the measurements. Her displacement — 100 short tons — is slightly less than that of a Nimitz-Class aircraft carrier, according to Wikipedia.
The Oasis’s maximum occupancy is 6,293 passengers, and it has about 2,400 crew members. The $1.4 billion boat is a little too big for Grenada Lake.
Recently, the Boss of the House and I joined her brother and his family for a short Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas, St. Maartin, and St. Thomas. Grandson Beau wanted to go so he could visit Atlantis, but he was unable to make the trip.
We had been told the area was dangerous, but that report proved to be totally ludicrous. First the security on the cruise ship — as always — was very tight, and the tourist areas were quite well-attended. The primary reason the BOH and I felt secure on the islands is the attitude and hospitality of the folks. They make no secret of their appreciation of and desire for tourists, and I suspect that if a pick-pocket or other potential evil-doer surfaced, the locals might run him off the island — bad for business. The place seemed safer than many areas of Mississippi to me, but on to the “fun” stuff.
Atlantis was big and impressive and had extensive and seemingly endless aquarium displays. It was really impressive. (Another top-notch water attraction is the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. You can hop a train or take a car down there for a long weekend!)
Atlantis has rates ranging from “economy” to quite exotic. It is certainly a nice place to visit, but I still remain a Walt Disney World devotee.
Many food choices
The ship — operated by Royal Caribbean International — is quite a deal. It has a skating rink, zip line, two rock climbing walls, a beautiful hand-crafted carousel, miniature golf course, volleyball court, and who knows what else. It has several pools and two surfboarding simulators that stayed busy most of the time.
It has two-dozen or so restaurants, cafes, and bars. Too many options for us to keep up with. A few of the eateries are “free,” and the others have either a set charge or a per menu item charge. Please be aware that the designation “free” means you paid for it in the initial fee. Literally, there is no such thing as a “free” lunch, and this ship is definitely no exception!
A Coca-Cola was another “plan” entirely. Cokes did not qualify for “free” anywhere that we found. You could buy one by the drink or you could spend about $6.50 a day (plus gratuity) for a “soda” package, or up to the “Premium Beverage Package” for $55 a day. The latter includes house wines and other alcoholic drinks. If you buy one of the beverage packages, you get the privilege of carrying a big plastic cup around with you everywhere you go. You can either hand it to a waiter for a soda (that’s Yankee talk for Coke) or you can stick it in one of several machines around the ship. The machine obviously knows who you are, and if you present the cup for a refill too soon, it refuses and makes you wait. Coffee and tea were “free” at the “free” outlets.
If you were to go in search of a snack or a meal and forgot the list of “free” places — they were easy to spot via the line outside.
We did not get around to even half of the restaurants. We tried a couple of premium ones. Chops Steak House was as good a meal as we have ever had. We were not impressed by the Japanese place. Johnny Rockets was good.
How is Royal Caribbean and the giant Oasis of the Seas? It’s OK. If you are traveling with a group — especially a family group with varying ages — there is something for everyone. The ship would also be fun for newly-weds (but what venue wouldn’t be).
Would we go again? Yes, if the family wanted to, but for just a couple wanting a very nice cruise, we recommend one of the five much smaller adult-oriented ships in the Oceania fleet, headquartered in Miami.
On Oceania, you have to forfeit the rock climbing experience. There is just one swimming pool, and no carousel or zip line. However, the premium restaurants — except for one really high-end joint — are included in the original price. Every cabin gets one reservation at each. After one rotation, the reservations are open again on a first-come, first-serve basis.
You can choose to eat alone, or you can choose to share your table with one or two other couples. Big boats tend to be like big cities — harder to mix with other folks.
As far as making new friends and acquaintances, the river cruises are the best. The boats carry a range of 60 to 176 or so passengers. By the time we got off the ship, I think the BOH knew every couple and their grandchildren by name.
In our opinion, river cruises are the best bargain, but if you shop carefully and have a little flexibility in your calendar, you can probably find a good deal on the big ocean-going ships. Back on the river, Vantage is a good company, and, although we have not traveled with them, we understand Viking is quite good, too. Of course, there are others.
As for the Oasis of the Seas, it may soon be the third largest cruise ship in the world — maybe even number four.
The ships are going to get bigger than the islands they visit.
Imagine what that does to a small island’s tourism resources when one or two of those giants show up as the same time.