Exclusive Report: Oasis of the Seas: 100 Days to Go

“The Oasis of the Seas is one third revolutionary, one third evolutionary, and one third traditional,” Richard Fain, chairman and CEO.

There are 100 days to go before delivery of the of the largest passenger/cruise vessel ever built, the 225,000-ton, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas, which is being built by STX Europe at its Turku shipyard. Meanwhile, the sister ship, the Allure of the Seas, is on schedule for delivery in 2010 – 100 days plus one year to go.

In a whirlwind tour of the Oasis this week, it became clear that the size is allowing Royal Caribbean to offer more variety of staterooms, activities and public spaces than ever – nearly defying imagination, including 24 different eateries, 37 bars and seven different “neighborhoods” of which Central Park is one with no less than 12,000 (that’s right) live plants (which will be brought onboard in Ft. Lauderdale).

On our visit, we also had a chance to ride the Rising Tide bar, one of the many innovative spaces onboard. It is a full-size bar that is also an elevator, rising or descending slowly between decks five and eight.

The Oasis is not just about being bigger, however, but also about more effective use of the space, according to a very passionate and animated Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain. He also noted that the ship is generating 50 percent higher ticket prices than the Freedom of the Seas gained on her predecessor.

“We do not believe that one size fits all,” Fain said, “but this ship has so much variety to offer, including disabled access to all decks and cabin categories.

The customer base is anyone who takes a land vacation – between the ages of six months and 103, commented Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales.

Lisa Bauer, senior vice president of hotel operations, said that the Oasis will have a crew of 2,160 of which 95 percent will come from the line’s other ships. The other 5 percent, she said, are for jobs that did not exist on the other ships, such as landscaper and horticulturist.

New technology helps manage the passengers, such as ticketing for shows (to guarantee seats), electronic face recognition for photos, and digital signage – which will tell passengers how to find the way back to their staterooms if needed.

Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president of maritime, said the size is a result of responding to guest expectations, and that more “real estate” allows broader product offering, more energy efficiencies and less environmental impact, and more safety by scale (more space enables more redundancies and better engine rooms, including double hull protection).

Captain William Wright, senior vice president of marine operations, will take the ship out and be master for the first months, before handing her over to Captain Tore Olsen.

Other newbuilding executives were also on hand, including Raimund Geschaider, director of hotel operations.

Martin Landtman, CEO of STX, introduced his team, including Project Manager Toivo Ilvonen, who said 2,000 workers were busy on the Oasis, making sure she will be delivered on time.

Detailed reports follow in the Cruise Industry News newsletter and a special Oasis of the Seas section to be featured in the fall issue of the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine.

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