On Nov. 2, the world’s largest cruise ship, the 20-storey, 6,300-passenger Oasis of the Seas, lowered its smokestacks and passed beneath the Great Belt Fixed Link Bridge near Nyborg, Denmark—with about a half-metre to spare. It was the last physical hurdle the $1.5-billion Royal Caribbean International ocean liner had to cross en route to its new home base in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
What remains to be seen is whether the Oasis of the Seas can surmount non-physical hurdles, including a moribund global economy, growing concerns over the environmental impact of luxury ships the size of small cities, and questions as to whether passengers will be willing to shell out more money for more, well, everything.
And make no mistake, the Danish-built Oasis does have more of everything: more cabins (2,700 in all, ranging from the 172-sq-ft inside cabins
to two-storey suites complete with libraries and grand pianos); more restaurants (24, including the massive 3,000-seat Opus Dining Room); more amenities, like swimming pools, volleyball courts, basketball courts, a mini-golf course, and a 750-seat outdoor stadium modelled after an ancient Greek amphitheatre.
At approximately five times the size of the Titanic, and 40% larger than its nearest competitor, the Oasis of the Seas is so big it’s divided into “neighbourhoods.” Central Park features a square surrounded by boutiques,restaurants and bars. Another neighbourhood is designed to resemble a jungle, with palm trees, vines and thousands of tropical plants. A third resembles an outdoor boardwalk and amusement park. And a fourth, dubbed “Entertainment Place,” features a jazz club, nightclub and comedy club.
And where, exactly, will the world’s largest cruise ship sail? On its maiden voyage in December, it headed to St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau. With such a self-contained, floating universe, however, the real answer for passengers might well be, “who cares?”