With the brilliant news that Oasis of the Seas will visit Southampton in 2014, what better time than to take a closer look at this cruise ship masterpiece from Royal Caribbean. The incredible vessel arrived on the scene only a few years ago yet instantly changed the rhythm of cruising with her astonishing features and awe inspiring design. From the moment she was unveiled, passengers have been falling over themselves to get on board and take it all in.
So what’s all the fuss about? Well for starters she’s the biggest ship in the world by far and from the moment she arrives in Southampton she will instantly become the largest ship ever to dock in the UK. Amazingly the statistics show she will actually be 40% larger than any other ship that has previously docked in Southampton, an incredible fact. At 225, 282 registered gross tons, she is almost unbelievable in size and can accommodate up to 6,400 passengers at a time.
With a ship this size you would expect some pretty specials features and facilities on board but what Royal Caribbean has done is beyond belief. The illustrious cruise line has taken entertainment to the next level and from the moment passengers arrive on board the jaw dropping spectacle begins.
We could talk about the features and facilities all day. Sometimes people say that and are clearly exaggerating but with this ship we actually mean it. There is so much to see and do, it’s incredible. It’ll be hard enough deciding what to do first!
The Boardwalk is just one area of the ship and the ground breaking design comes complete with a hand crafted carousel and a spectacular amphitheatre style AquaTheater with mesmerising high diving acrobatic shows. This location alone would be enough to entertain passengers for an entire cruise but the fun only just begins here. During the evening, once the AquaTheater shows have taken place, this venue then transforms into a magnificent open air night club to dance the night away with the pool area even converting into a dance floor.
Some of you by now may be thinking well hold on a minute, she sounds so big and grand but how am I even going to begin to navigate my way around this ship? Well normally we would agree, after all finding your bearings on board any ship can often take a few days to settle in but with this ship, part of the beauty alone is finding a new surprise around every corner. Royal Caribbean however, really have thought of everything. Knowing full well guests may be concerned about finding their way to their cabin, let alone the navigating the Boardwalk, they designed the ship with seven different neighbourhoods in mind. Interior variations and exterior signage is used so that passengers are always aware as to what part of the ship they are in. The neighbourhoods are broken down into clear and concise areas making the ship one of the most accessible and easy to navigate in the world, even despite her size. I guess despite all of this, if you do find it difficult navigating your way from one part of the ship to another, you could always just head for the top deck and take the 82 foot zip wire across! Sound crazy? It’s not; it’s actually on board and a hugely popular entertainment feature with everyone who sails on board.
The entertainment just keeps getting better with an incredible replica of New York’s Central Park having been created right in the heart of the ship. Here there’s over 12,000 forms of tree and plant life to discover whilst the overall size is larger than a football pitch. From there you can meander the upper deck areas if you choose and take in the marvellous sights of the FlowRiders! These breath taking features offer guests the chance to see if they have what it takes to ride the waves. The surfing simulators are brilliant fun and definitely worth a visit for an adrenaline fuelled experience. Don’t worry though; there are also slower paced activities to enjoy in the sunshine for example a fantastic mini golf course than twists and turns throughout the peak of the ship.
One of the most unbelievable design features of the ship has to be the open air corridor right through the heart of her. Accommodation choices seem endless on board this vessel as you can choose from so many different types of stateroom. With other cruise ships your choices are often between inside, ocean view, balcony and suite but Royal Caribbean weren’t content just stopping there and once again decided to take it to the next level. On board this masterpiece you have the choice of a range of cabins within each grade for example if you choose a balcony stateroom you can then decide what you would like your view to be. Not only does this ship offer passengers a view of the ocean from their balcony but you can also choose to have an internal facing balcony. You might think why would I want to do that? But with the amazing internal views on offer like Central Park and the Boardwalk, they provide new, unique choices for a point of difference, something regular cruise lovers often look for.
We’ve looked at the highlight features on board but one thing that needs addressing is the outstanding family facilities this ship has. Oasis of the Seas looks after families like no other ship in the world and it’s for reasons such as this that Royal Caribbean have developed the now Oasis Class and added a second ship in the form of Allure of the Seas as well as plans for further builds to take place. The Youth Zone on board is truly spectacular. There’s just everything children could possibly want on board. From a huge state of the art video gaming centre to their own social hubs, nightclubs and dedicated pool areas. The on board crew are always there to keep things and the activities available mean parents can sometimes barely see their children on holiday as their busy having too much fun. Not only are the indoor features excellent for children but there’s also the mindblowingly awesome H2O Zone, a waterpark design area that will entertain guests both young and old for hours on end. It’s this kind of genius design feature that separates this ship apart.
So that’s families covered, what about dining? You guessed it, this is pretty special to. For starters you have the main dining room known as the Opus Restaurant spanning numerous decks and offering exceptional silver service for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This superb dining venue offers guests the choice between early and late sitting dining options for the chance to be seated at the same table throughout your cruise or you can opt for My Time Dining and have the freedom to dine whenever you wish, simply arrive and be seated, it’s as easy as that. The new online features for check in prior to boarding even allow passengers to book times for evenings on board should they wish to do so or just take it as it comes, they’ve thought of everything on board this ship.
Away from the main restaurant the ship continues to wow with a wonderful range of speciality dining venues. These restaurants are at an extra cover charge but to be honest, when you sample the food and the venues themselves you won’t mind one bit, we certainly didn’t. 150 Central Park is a great restaurant for a romantic evening for two, especially when celebrating a special occasion. Giovanni’s Table is the Italian restaurant on board set in a great location. This restaurant offers a really good, diverse menu of Italian favourites and the Tuscan theme creates an authentic atmosphere. Chops Grille is the trademark Royal Caribbean steakhouse but of course on board this ship, its bigger and better than ever before. Here you’ll find a sublime range of grill and seafood dishes to choose from, we recommend booking here for certain though as it’s a very popular restaurant. Izumi is the Asian fusion restaurant and serves outstanding Japanese cuisine. We would particularly recommend the sashimi here, which is truly excellent.
Other dining options on board include the more casual choices of the ever present Windjammer Café across the Royal Caribbean fleet. This is the 24 hour buffet restaurant and serves dishes from all over the world. If you can manage it, the midnight feast here is mind blowing. Be sure to check out Jonny Rockets to see the waiters dance on the tables in true American 50’s diner style. This is the burger joint on board and the kids will love it. There’s also the Seafood Shack and the Solarium Bistro for al fresco dining under the stars, not a bad way to spend an evening, especially when in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean.
We’ve covered a lot but in truth we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of this incredible cruise ship. Oasis of the Seas offers an unforgettable cruising experience like never before. If you’re looking for a cruise with a difference then this is the ship for you. With the news of her imminent arrival to UK shores in 2014, we cannot wait to book the perfect Oasis of the Seas cruise for you.