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In our first ship review by cruise expert Tom Baker, we go onboard Royal Caribbean’s new Oasis of the Seas. –Ed.
Size Queens: Oasis of the Seas is five times larger than the Titanic, and the original Love Boat Pacific Princess could fit comfortably in the Oasis’ Opus Dining Room–amazing!
Overall I rate the ship a 10 for innovative features. I would choose to vacation on this ship.
- Atlantis Events has a sold-out full ship charter in February of 2011 on identical twin ship Allure of the Seas, you might wait-list with rates starting at $1249pp.
- Aquafest Events has a Labor Day-Getaway Summer group September 4, 2011 on Allure of the Seas with rates starting at $759pp.
- This is a great ship for families, both multi-generational and families traveling together.
- It’s great for couples, honeymooners, and singles!
- While it has features for handicapped guests, it is a bit big and accessibility could be challenging although there were a large number of disabled guests on my cruise and they all seemed to be getting along just fine.
- I would not recommend this to seniors or for folks looking for a more traditional cruise experience. There is nothing traditional about this ship whatsoever…
- If you want to be part of something really special-cruise on this ship. You will pay a premium to do it but it is different than anything else out there.
- Bargain hunters-shop elsewhere. There are lots of great deals on cruises but this is an experience that is unique and promises to be for years to come!!!!
After sailing on some 250 cruise ships worldwide, I am in absolute amazement after disembarking the new Oasis of the Seas. For gay cruisers looking for something totally unique, Oasis of the Seas and her sister ship coming late in 2010 are here just for you…
Stats. As the largest cruise ship ever built, Oasis is 1,187 feet long, 208 feet wide, with 18 decks above the sea. There wow factor everywhere. I am overwhelmed by its architecture, array of cabins, entertainment venues, dining options, and massive size-again WOW!
Unique. Oasis and her to-come sister-ship are in a class of their own, There has never been anything like them and may not be anything to top them for many years to come. There are no plans to rival them by any other cruise line and even Royal Caribbean has no plans to top this incredible outing. It would be ten years before a ship could be drawn up, financed and built.
Pricing. These ships are so unique that they are collecting a premium price by guests willing to pay for something they cannot find on anywhere else. Deal seekers…sorry, this one isn’t for you. Prices start at a low of $1099 per-person for interior cabins. The cabins ands suites are bigger and better than any other ship in the company’s fleet. Smallest cabins start at 149 square feet; the largest suite is 1,524 square feet plus a balcony of 843 square feet.
Embarkation. The new terminal at Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) built exclusively for Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas is the best designed and flowing terminal anywhere. Check-in took less than two minutes and boarding was within 20 minutes of arrival at the pier. Cabins are not open for embarkation until 1:00 p.m. but you can enjoy a welcome aboard meal, make spa appointments, and tour the ship to get a feel for your exciting cruise!
Overview. I visited many cabins and suites, and felt all were above cruise industry standards, well decorated, and
ample for a cruise for 7-days.
Most of the cabins on this ship consist of balcony staterooms, standard at 182 square feet and balconies that range in size from 50-82 additional square feet depending on your location. Since 90% of the ships accommodations are this type of cabin, I will focus on this specifically. These are spacious rooms with twin or queen sized beds, a full sized couch, vanity, 32 inch flat screen television with internet connectivity and plenty of channels .
- Storage. There are three drawers for storage a couple of narrow cupboards, and a small refrigerator which will act as a mini-bar. The closet sits alongside the bed or next to the couch depending on the cabin configuration. There is ample storage for a couple (maybe for a third guest). There are a few shelves and a tiny safe one of the lower shelves. Cabin doors open outwards into an alcove so there seems to be more internal space.
- Bathrooms are well laid out with a long vanity but tiny, impractical sink. There is enough storage space for toiletries, although it’s awkward. The shower stall had nice space with sliding doors for total privacy.
- The phone is digital, easy to use, has a clock, alarm, and can be used for any reservations or room service. The same can be done by using your interactive cabin television.
Oasis of the Seas has more dedicated space to passengers than any other in history.
I was particularly taken with two areas.
- The Royal Promenade spans decks 5 and 6. It is a huge area that offers the ships Guest Relations desk, coffee bar, Champagne Bar, photo shops, Pubs, Bars, Dining Venues, Cupcake Shop-they are delicious, and an amazing Rising Tide Bar. An elevator wine bar that travels from deck 5 to deck 8 (Central Park). It is a unique feature that has a wonderful waterfall that works under the bar as it moves up and down into a gorgeous skylight above embarking guests on decks 5 or 8. It is something to behold!
- The 6 level high Central Park area which spans an area in length of nearly 500 feet and flanks two massive glass enclosed stairwells and elevator shafts that transverses from top to bottom of this massive luxury liner. The gorgeously landscaped Central Park is filled with tropical trees, plants, and flowers-nearly 12,000 and lined with elegant boutiques, bars, and fee-based alternative restaurants that offer gourmet international cosine. There is a really awesome dining venue that is like a bistro market called the Park Cafe which is open for breakfast and lunch and was popular.
These are only two of 7 neighborhoods–I could go on and on but you get the picture.
There are dozens of dining venues on this ship ranging from the casual Windjammer Cafe on Deck 16 to the massive and most popular Opus dining room spanning decks 3-5, Sorrento’s Italian Cafe on the Royal Promenade, and the gorgeous gourmet fee based 150 Central Park. I tried a number of venues and found the food to be above Royal Caribbean standard (impressive as I was on a travel agent/press junket as guinea pigs for this massive start up ship). The quality was good to excellent and the variety would give the most sophisticated palate a run for their money. A week onboard would not even allow one to try everything this ship has t offer unless you spent your entire time running from venue to venue…
Was friendly from stem to stern. While the ship is ramping up and half the staff has never worked on a ship before, a pleasant hello was always in order from the staff met throughout the ship. I think this will be a very friendly ship. All staff that I spoke with was very proud and happy to be a part of this one-of-a-kind exciting cruise ship.
Entertainment If you ever thought you would be bored on a cruise ship, Oasis will prove you wrong. It has seven unique neighborhoods–each with a theme and unique style giving the ship a kaleidoscope of style and decor.
- Rock climbing, ice skating, flow-riding, or zip lining are available.
- Oasis has a huge number of entertainment venues ranging from the professional Broadway Opal Theater which will have production shows and a full rendition of the popular show Hairspray.
- Aqua-Theater offers a great aquatic and diving show.
- Excellent gym, pools, and fitness areas–perfect for the gym-bunnies!
- Royal Promenade parades with themes ranging from 70’s disco to zany cirque like costumes
- Multiple dance clubs both indoors and out.
- Jazz club, karaoke club, comedy club, strolling singers, musicians, piano bar, live music everywhere
- Beautiful ice skating rink with magnificent ice show,
- and much more…
My Top 10 Favorite Things
- The best designed user-friendly “find it” board. The ship has easy access electronic maps telling you how to find your cabin, public spaces, daily programs, and dining venue capacity offerings everywhere. It is well signed and fairly easy to find your way around.
- It has the best architecture of any cruise ship ever built-period!
- There is an incredible array of comfortable and well designed cabins suites for all budgets and tastes
- The food is above par for any other Royal Caribbean ship I have been on and the variety of dining venues is exceptional.
- The Aqua Theater and many entertainment venues will never allow for boredom as there are so many multiple options for everybody.
- The spa and gym are among the best I have seen anywhere in the World
- This ship will WOW kids and teens of all ages with the most extensive and cool programming and dedicated areas. It is amazing!!!!
- The Central Park area is romantic and high-end, filled with designer shops, wine bars, and gourmet dining venues. It is perfect for adults, honeymooners and up market travelers looking for the BEST!
- Embarkation and disembarkation was the easiest of any ship I have even been on
- This ship has the most variety of any ship I have ever been on-book a cruise on it and enjoy all that it has to offer.
10 Things I Did Not Like
- The ramp at embarkation was way to steep for almost anybody but it is being corrected.
- The shower head does not slide up and down bad for shorter guests who cannot reach it.
- The Boardwalk and Central Park cabins face each other so privacy is a real issue.
- The bathroom sinks in virtually all standard cabins is tiny and your head will hit the mirror if you stoop down to use it properly-use caution!
- The noise factor is higher than most ships due to huge cavernous spaces and hard surfaces
- The Windjammer Cafe is smaller than most other Royal Caribbean ships and although the design is excellent, the space is very crowded.
- The pool areas albeit designed well and there are many of them are small. I think when the ship is full, there will be some issues finding deck chairs in the sun and around the pool itself.
- One must have a reservation for all shows. This does not allow for flexibility for people like me who decide on the cuff. It is more like going to Las Vegas.
- The ship has some going up and around to get to certain places making transverse difficult. This isn’t bad but could have been planned better.
- The Central Park area on Deck 8 where the gorgeous plantings is very muggy and does not have enough breeze going through it.
Conclusion: The pros far outweigh the cons in the big scheme of things. A colleague asked me if I would vacation on this ship and I was very quick to say YES!!!
Let’s face it, if Johnny Depp boarded my cruise ship as Captain Jack, well he could have his way with me. But modern real-world piracy is a completely different thing.
While it’s been a lot of years since pirates killed a passenger onboard a cruise ship, it’s interesting to note that pirates and cruise ships are together in the news again–of course I’m talking about the Indian Ocean.
Unfortunately, the messy situation in Somalia continues to create a ripe climate for sea-going pirates, and there has been no shortage of media attention given to this.
Today I read that at least one cruise company has started to cancel exotic itineraries to the region, likely based on piracy dangers.
So I’m curious: would worries about piracy make YOU less likely to sail in the region?
Sail safely, gays!
If you’re sailing from Seattle to Alaska (or repositioning) this fall, you may want to arrive a day early and catch the
Broadway touring musical Wicked at the Paramount Theatre. Of course you’ll get lots of great entertainment on your cruise, but Wicked is musical theatre at its best.
If you’re not familiar with Wicked (and it’s hard to imagine a gay person who isn’t), it is the re-imagined back-story of the two witches from The Wizard of Oz. And it’s simply brilliant.
Amazingly, Seattle ticket prices start at just $27…a number you’re unlikely to find on Broadway, and a price we likely will never see again once the recession is over.
Ports where you could see Wicked in the coming months:
This is one of the coolest cruise options I’ve seen in a long time.
A company called New West Special Projects has managed to arrange for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star to provide additional “hotel” space during the winter Olympics, to be held in Vancouver, BC, Canada during February 2010.
Packages start at US$2,010 per person for a four-night stay, but just like a regular cruise you can cheaply add a 3rd person in the cabin, starting at $400. And like a cruise, onboard food is included. Packages also include some ground transportation, and the Olympics will be shown on shipboard TV…although I’m unsure whether they’ll feature NBC or Canada’s CTV.
The ship will make this unusual winter sailing into Vancouver from Los Angeles, and you can book the sail-in cruise, too. The sailing date is February 6 from LA, arriving Vancouver February 10. Prices for the sail-in from L.A. start at a very cheap $99, inside cabin.
I personally think we gays should quickly book out the ship and have quite a party!
The ship will dock on North Vancouver for the entire run of the Games, as Vancouver’s normal cruise terminal at Canada Place will be blocked by security.
Too cool. As always, if you book the sailing or to stay aboard during the Vancvouer Winter Olympics, be sure to post it to your MeetMeOnBoard.com profile!
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Morning cruise fans,
I get a LOT of emails about different cruises and deals, from a variety of sources. This itinerary struck me as
very unusual (New Orleans to Boston, with several interesting stops) and I know there is some great pricing available on it. I’ve seen it advertised as low as $549/person/inside. That’s only $45/day. Wow. Check with your favorite agent who might even be able to get you a better deal or some perks.
I’ve personally never sailed NCL, but friends report they enjoyed the experience.
There is also at least one MeetMeOnBoard user (couple) planning to take this trip, connect with them here.
If you book it (or ANY cruise), be sure to update your profile so others gay, lesbian, and friendly cruisers can find you!
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The sounds of ukuleles fades farther away as the Mercury continues toward Ensenada, Mexico. We’ve got 72 hours at sea before that happens.
Tonight is Celebrity’s version of Dancing with the Stars, and two gay guys are participating—one is our pal who owns a dance studio in Canada, the other is one of the onboard professional dancers. Unfortunately, they’re not dancing together…
We’ve continued to enjoy getting to know our new MeetMeOnBoard.com pals Mike & Joey. I think I told you that because of our MMOB pre-cruise connection, we all arranged to sit together at dinner. Nice.
Signing off…the string quartet is about to play in the Cova Café and I want to enjoy them…cruising is great. Book one—prices are super-low right now! And invite me along!!
It’s Christmas Eve eve, and onboard the Celebrity Mercury plenty of creatures are stirring as we finally feel Hawaiian breezes blow across the decks.
The gay guys are all having plenty of fun. Sun, gym, sublime food, dancing, connecting. Gay staffers have noticed us and are warming up. (As yet, haven’t met any lesbians).
It’s all good. In fact, it’s better than good. It’s fantastic. It’s why I continue to believe cruising is the best vacation value on earth.
We’re enjoying getting to know our MMOB pals Mike & Joey. And all the other gays we’ve met seem pretty keen on learning more about how to use the site. Perhaps they’re just a little jealous that Mike & Joey already had good dining partners lined up before the cruise.
Meanwhile…happy KwanChrisMakkuh. I’m off to find a fruity drink and flirt with a hot homo. Wish you were here. Loving this cruise!
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Welcome aboard the M/V Celebrity Mercury! It’s 7:20 a.m. on our second morning at sea, and the ship’s position is someplace between California and Hawaii:
Within minutes of boarding the Mercury in San Diego on December 19, and during our first wander around the 1,800 passenger boat, Kevin (my partner) pointed at two guys and said, “aren’t those the guys we’ve been connecting with through MeetMeOnBoard (MMOB)?”
Voilá, we dashed across the atrium to greet Mike and Joey—a couple from Anaheim, who we had indeed already “met” through MMOB.
Hello handshakes have now been replaced with friendly hugs…even on a mainstream cruise, and we’re enjoying getting to know these new and very interesting friends.
Meanwhile, our group of 9 gay men has started wearing our matching t-shirts (The Rainbow Mounties), and people are noticing us—great ice breakers.
Last night was the first Friends of Dorothy party, and about 30 gay men showed up, all in suits and ties or tuxes—guys from all over the U.S. and as far away as Germany and England. Cool.
I’m telling them about MMOB, and perhaps you’ll meet some of them on a future cruise. This is a great website, and gay cruisers seem to instantly love the idea. Please tell your friends about it and encourage them to sign up.
Now, I’m off for a second cup of coffee…then I’ll go see if I can wake Kevin up.
Key observations thus far:
- Couples who want one bed should clearly state to their cabin attendant that they are a couple. Mike and Joey say their attendant keeps asking them if he should split the beds. Meanwhile, our attendant (Luis from Honduras) clearly knows who we are. The fact is not all cabin attendants immediately “get it.”
- Friends of Dorothy should be asked for immediately after boarding the ship. Call the Cruise Director’s office and ask if they automatically organize a FOD on your ship. If not, request it
- Bringing your own booze, while it’s officially against cruise regulations, a lot of people have successfully smuggled plenty-o-booze on board. We’ll look at how this is done in a future article. After all, who makes a cocktail better than us gays!
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Tom Baker, owner of Aquafest Cruises (an agency that organizes gay groups on mainstream ships, among other things), was super lucky–he got to check out the brand new Celebritiy Solstice on a recent agent preview cruise.
Tom’s a shutterbug, and has a couple hundred photos posted at SmugMug, including the shot at right. Check them out.
As for Celebrity…I’m happy to say I’ll be sailing on them for the first time next week, with a small gay group. Should be a blast. Stay tuned for updates!
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