It’s five times larger than the Titanic, has seven neighbourhoods, an ice rink, a golf course and a 750-seat outdoor amphitheater. The world’s largest cruise ship is finally finished and beginning to glide toward its home port in Florida. The Oasis of the Seas will meet its first obstacle Saturday when it exits the Baltic Sea and must squeeze under the Great Belt Bridge, which is just 1 foot (30 centimetres) taller than the ship - even after its telescopic smokestacks are lowered.
To be on the safe side, the ship - which rises about 20 stories high - will speed up so that it sinks deeper into the water when it passes below the span, said Lene Gebauer Thomsen, a spokeswoman for the operator of the Great Belt Bridge.
Once home, the US$1.5 billion (S$2.1 billion) floating extravaganza will have more, if less visible, obstacles to duck: a sagging US economy, questions about the consumer appetite for luxury cruises and criticism that such sailing behemoths are damaging to the environment and diminish the experience of traveling.
Travel guide writer Arthur Frommer has railed against Oasis and other mega-ships he calls ‘floating resorts,’ suggesting that voyages on such large vessels are ‘a dumbing down of the cruise experience.’
Oasis of the Seas, which is nearly 40 per cent larger than the industry’s next-biggest ship, was conceived years before the economic downturn caused desperate cruise lines to slash prices to fill vacant berths.
It has 2,700 cabins and can accommodate 6,300 passengers and 2,100 crew members. Accommodations include loft cabins with floor-to-ceiling windows, and 1,600-square-foot (487-meter) luxury suites with balconies overlooking the sea or promenades.
The liner also has four swimming pools, volleyball and basketball courts, and a youth zone with theme parks and nurseries for children.
Tropical theme aboard $1.5 billion vessel
The enormous ship’s various “neighbourhoods” feature parks, squares and arenas with special themes. One of them will be a tropical environment, including palm trees and vines among the total 12,000 plants on board. They will be planted after the ship arrives in Fort Lauderdale.
In the stern, a 750-seat outdoor theatre — modelled on an ancient Greek amphitheatre — doubles as a swimming pool by day and an ocean-front theatre by night. The pool has a diving tower with springboards and two 10-metre high-dive platforms. An indoor theatre seats 1,300 guests.
One of the “neighbourhoods,” named Central Park, features a square with boutiques, restaurants and bars, including a bar that moves up and down three decks, allowing customers to get on and off at different levels.
Once home, the $1.5 billion floating extravaganza will have more, if less visible, obstacles to duck: a sagging U.S. economy, questions about the consumer appetite for luxury cruises and criticism that such sailing behemoths damage the environment and diminish the experience of travelling.
Oasis of the Sea is due to make its U.S. debut on Nov. 20 at its home port, Port Everglades in Florida.