You already know that Oasis of the Seas is the newest and largest cruise ship ever built, but there are a lot of little things we bet you don't know about Oasis yet. We had a discussion with Richard Fain, CEO and President of Royal Caribbean International (the parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara), and he had a few surprises for us. We also got a few from gary Bald, head of Security for Royal Caribbean. We also got some tasty tidbits from the ship's master, William Wright.
Fain said it better than any of us when he described Oasis this way, "I don't believe anyone can really understand Oasis until they actually see it. The ship is much more of a quantum leap in cruise ship design than people ever realized. I would say only 1/3 of the ship is what we would consider familiar to most cruisers, then the next 1/3 of it we consider evolutionary and the last 1/3 is truly revolutionary."
Even with those somewhat equivocal terms, Fain accurately describes Oasis as a ship that even the best pictures can't quite do justice. It is just chock-a-block full of surprises with angles you can't capture in a sngle frame. It changes pre-conceived notions of cruise ships so much it is almost as if it was designed by people who had never seen a cruise ship.
But will Oasis be a financial success? Based on my own personal experience as a financial reporter, who has now been covering the cruise industry for the last 10 years, I certainly believe the ship would be a roaring success in better economic conditions. But this project was conceived six years ago and the decision to go "full speed ahead" was made back in 2006, when our economy had a monstrous housing market and a thriving stock market.
These are vastly different times, but still, I personally believe Oasis will be a huge success, not because of what people like me say about it, but because of what people like you readers will have to say about it after you see it yourselves. This ship will be win over the cruise world by word of mouth from regular cruisers like you.
Well, mostly cruisers like you. Fain also adds "I believe this ship will draw internationally more than most ships, we expect as much as 25% of our cruisers to be non-U.S. citizens."
As for whether Oasis represents the future of cruising; it certainly will not replace cruising as we know it today, but I think you can say with certainty that ships like this will be far more common in 10 years. Oasis will not replace cruising as we know it, but this kind of ship will be additive to what we have in the cruise world today. A whole new genre of megaships is coming, and they are only going to get more amazing.
As Fain also sagely noted, "14 years ago no one envisioned Voyager of the seas going anywhere but one very specific Caribbean itinerary. Voyager, a 138,00-ton cruise ship Royal Caribbean introduced in 1999, was the Oasis of its day. Voyager was 30% larger than any other cruise ship at the time it was introduced and several ports had to build new facilities to accommodate it. Today they are five Voyager-class ships, and three even larger (160,000-tons) Freedom-class ships. Today, the Voyager and Freedom-class ships are sailing in the Mediterranean, out of Los Angeles to Mexico, From the U.K. to France, from Barcelona and out of New Jersey to Bermuda.
But let's get to the 20 things you probably do not already know about Oasis of the Seas.
1. The captain of Oasis, William (Bill) Wright, is one of the few Americans serving as an officer anywhere in the modern cruise industry. Normally dominated by Italians, Greeks, Norwegians, Dutch and British, bery few Americans ever get to be captains of cruise ships. But Bill is not a just a full-time captain; his main job with Royal caribbean is as senior vice president of Marine Operations for the entire fleet.
2. According to Captain Wright, Oasis is by far the most stable ship he has ever sailed. The ship experienced seas as high as 40-feet diring the transatlantic crossing to America and she never listed more than 3.5-degrees. Wright says that no matter what he tried in steering the ship during sea-trials, even putting her into a full turn at top speed, the ship would not list much more than three degrees.
That is remarkable as many ships can commonly list between 10 and 15-degrees easily. The reason for the stability of Oasis is not the weight, or the keel, according to Wright. He says it is the extraordinary 154-foot width of the ship, known as the "beam." Even though Oasis has large gaps in the middle of the ship for Central Park and the Boardwalk, the wind is not a significant factor in either steering the ship nor in slowing it down.
3. The efficiencies of the ship, with its new engines and the number of passengers it carries makes it one of the "greenest" ships, in terms of carbon footprint, ever built. It is estimated to be 30 to 40% greener per passenger day than the average cruise ship.
4. The original coast guard inspection of the ship gave her a report with zero deficiencies.
5. The smokestacks are the tallest on any cruise ship, and they are built so they can be mechanically lowered to assure clearance of certain bridges including the Verrazano Bridge in New York Harbor.
6. Oasis can drop from full speed to a dead stop in 4 1/2 ship lengths (Oasis is 1181 feet long). This is coincidentally almost exactly one mile at 5314 feet). In the case of a man overboard alarm the ship could turn around and return to the same GPS coordinates where the alarm sounded within 10 minutes.
7. There are 10 medical staff people onboard including three doctors, six nurses and an administrative person. There is currently a total of over 200 years of medical experience onboard. The medical staff's primary job is providing healthcare for the crew, more so than the passengers.
8. There are 2161 crewmembers onboard from 71 different countries, 95% of the crew have previous Royal Caribbean experience with the average amount of experience onboard being four contracts.
9. The Oasis crew has its own "Windjammer" buffet-style restaurant down below very similar to what the passengers enjoy. There is also a surprising number of single crew cabins so that even waiters may have single cabins (based on seniority and job title). There is a crew bar onboard, a gym and Wi-Fi Internet access (they pay a small fee to use it). The crew is allowed to drink alcohol, but on a limited basis to two drinks per day. Being overly imbibed, on or off-duty, can result in termination.
10. There is a safety and technology training web site for the crew with 113 different training sessions with everything from the proper procedure for making beds to knowing the locations of all public rooms on the ship. Completion of these sessions was mandatory for certain job titles before any passengers were boarded.
11. There are 28 galleys onboard, 108 catering areas and 1075 Food and Beverage department employees all together. Among those workers are 19 chefs, 221 cooks, 102 cleaners, 15 bar managers and 188 bartenders.
12. The Rising Tide bar can carry 3076 guests per day, which means on the average 7-day cruise every passenger could take it three times. For those of us who don't care to take a 15-minute elevator ride, we make it possible for another passenger to go six times per cruise.
13. The Solarium Bistro has no single dish containing more than 500 calories. It is possible to eat a vegetarian and even vegan diet on Oasis of the Seas.
14. You can pre-purchase beer and wine packages online before your cruise and save money.
15. Suite guests are given no preferences when it comes to show or restaurant reservations. The top suites on Oasis of the Seas are already booked for the next two years.
16. The onboard reservation system for shows and specialty restaurants was based on market research that said people like the ability to pre-plan their vacation. It works very seamlessly by registering the show or restaurant reservation on the guests' cruise cards. So far, however, most venues are NOT selling out pre-cruise, which is actually very good for the "spontaneous cruise people" who do not want to pre-plan every element of their cruise before they board.
17. The ship has a large, onboard wireless Intranet system that runs the card scanners for the reservation system and also runs the onboard "walkie-talkie" system with voice over IP technology. Should the network go down the reservation system will still work since each scanner keeps a copy of the entire reservation schedule internally, downloaded with updates regularly.
18. Oasis has 1275 surveillance cameras, storing images digitally for an extended period of time.
19. All of the stateroom doors on Oasis of the Seas have time-sensitive key technology to record every key owner who enters any given stateroom at any given time.
20. The AquaTheater has an extensive stage system with a kidney-shaped pool 22x52 feet and 18-feet deep. The stage pool can be transformed into a hard floor in under a minute using three separate underwater lifts. There are two diving platforms on each side of the stage pool, one at 10 feet and the other at 30 feet. Inside the rock-climbing walls are red and green "traffic lights". These are actually for the divers in the shows; a green light tells the diver all the underwater stage rigging is safely stowed away giving the "all clear" signal to dive from the 30-foot platform.
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