It’s impossible to have missed media coverage of the world’s biggest cruise ship in the past fortnight unless you’ve been away visiting another planet.
In addition to main TV news clips, the travel pages of all the major national daily and Sunday newspapers have been full of Oasis of the Seas ahead of its maiden voyage this week from Fort Lauderdale.
And why wouldn’t they be? After all, this is a genuine one-off news event and one of the major travel industry stories of the decade.
For Oasis – variously dubbed ‘Monster of the Deep’, the ‘Sea Monster’ and S.S. Stupendous – needs to stands up to public scrutiny if it is to live up to all the pre-launch hype.
Not unsurprisingly, the tabloids mainly took to the ship and poured many a superlative into their descriptions of the vessel.
What the papers say
The broadsheets – or what’s left of them – took a slightly more critical and objective view with The Observer in particular noting that one experience you don’t get being on board Oasis of the Seas is of being at sea.
While the double page spread went on (and on) to talk amusingly about the many ‘experiences’ to be found on board the 6,000-plus passenger ‘apartment block’, there was a grudging respect for what cruise line Royal Caribbean International has created.
The article pointed out that passengers soon become accustomed to the gargantuan size of the 225,000 ton floating city, going so far as to praise how Oasis is ‘cleverly intimate’ in its public spaces and the corridors are punctuated with ‘local interest’ rather than stretching for a quarter of a mile.
Writer Tim Adams could not resist weaving in comparisons with the girth of certain passengers and the immensity of the ship.
Sadly for journalists sailing on one of the preview voyages, the weather turned nasty with rain squalls and choppy seas. Good to know, then, that Oasis had no trouble gliding through such a swell with not a hint of seasickness being mentioned by the assembled hacks despite significant cruise line hospitality.
Cruise and stay is the way
I enjoyed Mail on Sunday travel editor Frank Barrett’s somewhat sardonic take on the ship and completely agree with his recommendation of combining a week in the Orlando theme parks with a seven night Oasis cruise.
Of course, there were bound to be issued raised about the logistics of embarking and disembarking a ship the sheer size of Oasis. Unfortunately for Royal Caribbean, the Daily Telegraph’s writer had to wait four hours for his luggage to be delivered to his cabin. Now that may be down to initial teething troubles, but is a serious issue that needs addressing particularly if you happen to have just got off your transatlantic flight to board the ship.
I particularly enjoyed reading The Times’ take on Oasis, in which writer Joanna Walters – a former colleague of mine – lauded the 107m-long Central Park complete with its 12,175 plants and made a point of putting the scale of Oasis into perspective.
Her description of the jaw-dropping aqua theatre at the stern really captured my imagination, not least the height of the diving boards and depth of the pool where only Olympic-standard divers can perform.
With the pre-launch media coverage done and dusted, the proof of this giant floating pudding will be in the eating.
The truth of how well all of the different on board elements perform will only fully emerge once Oasis of the Seas has been in action for three months or so with full complements of passengers. Only then will we start getting a true reflection of what life is like travelling with 6,296 passengers and more than 2,000 crew.
However, to my mind, it’s one cruise experience that we should all do at least once, just to witness the sheer magnitude of this marvel of maritime engineering.
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