I enjoy outlandish.
For years, I attended business events in Las Vegas. Sin city offers plenty of conference space for large gatherings and hotel rooms to house everyone. In afterhours, entertainment lights up. But most of all, I enjoyed the wink-and-a-nod towards this being reality. It is a Disney reality, built as a 360 degree, all-encompassing escape.
So, when a writer’s conference would be held aboard the largest cruise ship in the world*, I was all in. I’ve cruised before, but not on anything like the Oasis of the Sea. Imagine a portion of the Las Vegas Strip with a sixteen-story hotel and six-thousand guests sliced off and floated into the Caribbean. Royal Caribbean took the traditional cruise ship design with balcony cabins on the outside and no-view cabins in the middle and made a large cleft down the middle. Now most of those no-view cabins had a balcony overlooking the interior. And what an interior!
In the rear, you have the Boardwalk, open to the sky, with a Johnny Rockets serving hamburgers and Baskin Robins dishing out ice cream along with other places serving the hot dogs and fries you expect along the beach (although this is more an infinite beach). It even has a full size carousel for the kids.
Walk further to the middle of the ship and you enter Central Park with lush plants and trees growing. The park is built on the roof of the promenade below where shops and restaurants line the way.
For entertainment, you have shows in the Opal Theatre. At a capacity of 1,380 patrons, it is larger than the Eisenhower Theatre at the Kennedy Center. At the end of the Boardwalk, under the open sky, there is the Aqua Theatre with a pool where the depth is varied during the show. Think Sea World on the Sea without animal acts, but rather high divers and synchronized swimmers.
What would an entertainment venue be without an ice rink? Located amidships, the rink hosts ice shows and when no show is on, passengers can skate.
“Mom, where’s my ice skates?”
“Right by the sun screen and bathing suits, dear.”
Scattered around the ship are pubs, bars, and a jazz club, all of which offer entertainment. There’s a casino. Yeah, it’s Las Vegas, but with occasional movement beneath your feet. Oh, that’s right. I forgot. We’re in the ocean.
*The Oasis of the Sea was the largest cruise ship in the world when it was launched in 2009, but Royal Caribbean launched three additional ships since then of similar size and even larger ones are in the works.