Thursday, November 26, 2009

Oasis 2-Night, Day 2

On Day 2 of our Oasis cruise, RCI top executives including Richard Fain, Adam Goldstein, Lisa Bauer, Vickie Freed, and Capt. Bill Wright invited interested passengers to a Common Ground session in Studio B--basically, an open Q&A forum. Comments and questions were wide ranging, but I’ll mention just a few topics here.

One question of particular interest to all of you (and us agents) is pricing—relatively steep when compared to industry standard, with some inside cabins topping $1000 per person. However, Goldstein was quick to point out that the Oasis is not an industry standard ship, a fact no one could contest. There are more options and activities included in the price (watch for details from our 7-day), and it is unique in the best sense of the word. Why not charge more if passengers receive more in return for their dollar? Right now, execs seemed pretty pleased with booking trends, so I wouldn’t count on price reductions anytime in the near future. As we all know, though, prices usually reflect what the market will bear.

Another interesting topic addressed: the ship herself. According to Fain, she’s about 30% more energy efficient than other ships. Case in point, the Master Switch in cabins. Turn it off, and you’ve lost both lighting and AC. Leave your balcony door open too long, and the switch is turned off for you. As Fain stated, he had no intention of cooling off the Bahamas with the ship’s AC unit!

How does the Oasis handle? If you saw the YouTube videos circulating of the ship crossing the North Atlantic, you may have heard Wright speak about the 80-foot seas and hurricane force winds encountered. Two glasses of wine placed on a table never so much as jiggled, and the shows in the theater continued without a hitch. As a matter of fact, Wright also spoke of an elevator test required, in which the ship must list 3.5 degrees to certify the equipment. It took a massive effort of furniture and people moving to one side and some maneuvering tricks on his part to finally reach compliance. She handles just that well.

Bauer addressed my question about the number of passengers gradually being added during the inaugural season. They began with 1100 and increased to 3600 for our sailing. There should be a good 4,000 onboard for the December 5 seven-night inaugural, with full capacity anticipated by January.

Now, I must also tell you about a really cool feature on each deck near the elevators. Want to find your cabin number really fast? Then go to the interactive touch-screen display, type in the number, and voila! The cabin is highlighted along with a trail to get there. Same with venues on that deck. Very spiffy. One thing that might prove confusing, however, is the fact that the deck number is not part of the number displayed on each cabin door. For instance, if your cabin is on Deck 9, and your room number is 9719, then all you’ll see displayed is 719; and that same number will be reflected on your room card.

Since I’m talking about rooms, let’s focus on cabin types now—some 37 different categories on the Oasis. Included in this post are three photos (in Blogger order, not mine!): view from an AquaTheater Suite, view from our Boardwalk Balcony Stateroom, and inside our stateroom.

I’ve already described our Boardwalk Balcony and the similar Central Park Balconies. Even more noteworthy, however, are the suites. As usual, you can book a Junior, Grand, Owner’s, or Royal Suite, and still available to families are the Royal Family Suite, as well as both the Family Ocean View and Family Interior Staterooms. Now on the Oasis, though, families will also have the option of booking a Family Stateroom with Balcony at a little lower price tag than the RFS. The bath only contains a shower, no tub, but is plenty roomy. And following the trend of Freedom Class ships, the Oasis features a Presidential Suite, holding up to 14 people and requiring a minimum of 8 persons to book.

But it was the Loft Suites and AquaTheater Suites that grabbed our attention. Loft Suites are amazing—very modern with sleek d├ęcor and spanning two levels. The Royal Loft Suite is top-of-line, accommodating 8 persons, but the Sky and Crown Lofts are nothing to sneeze at, either. And I was especially fond of the AquaTheater Suites. Three on each side of the ship’s aft overlook the AquaTheater, and we’re told that occupants can order dinner for their expansive balconies to enjoy while watching the shows. Very innovative! Although there was no show scheduled during our cruise, we did see some divers and synchronized swimmers rehearsing one afternoon. According to printed materials, the pool will be open for public swimming at times, too.

Finally for this post, I’d like to mention the little extra touches you’ll see around the ship. On the adult miniature golf course are clever “doggies” and other animals, and on the neighboring children’s course, you’ll see a “child” dressed in knickers and a riding cap teeing off. A series of viewing scopes located in various spots onboard allow close-up “looks” (all implanted, of course) at such sights as insect-bearing amber, beach scenes, or roadways, etc.

This ship truly does deliver the “Wow”!

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