Cruising toward gigantism
Just when you thought the era of bigger-is-always-better was over, the Oasis of the Seas heads on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to Florida.
This isn't just a really, really, really big cruise ship -- 40% larger than the previous title holder. It looks like my grandparents' Bronx apartment building perched on a barge and topped with a flying saucer. The $1.5-billion ship has entire neighborhoods, seven of them, and no wonder. With capacity for 6,300 passengers and more than 2,000 crew members, this isn't exactly the setting for an intimate cruise. By lowering its smokestacks, the 20-story-high ship was barely able to squeak under a Danish bridge on its way from Finland. And for those who yearn for the biggest and newest in travel, its home port will be Fort Lauderdale, with passenger cruises scheduled to begin in December.
So far, cabins are selling well, reports Royal Caribbean, owner of oasis of the Seas, even with the ship's urban-development design and curious name. An oasis is a wet, lush part of the desert, and even though it has come to mean a refuge of any sort, I can't help the picture of passengers' feet sloshing in puddles of water on deck in the midst of the Caribbean.
Photo credit: Johnny Holmen / EPA
-- Karin Klein