Is your group interested in booking a group cruise or a family reunion cruise? If so, there’s something on the horizon that you’ve just got to see. What is it? It’s Royal Caribbean Cruise’s newest addition slated to enter their fleet in December 2009 – Oasis of the Seas. So,what makes this ship so great for group cruises? Where do I begin? Let me count the ways…
1. SIZE DOES MATTER
Small ships are a poor choice for multi-generational group trips, as they generally have limited activities, smaller public spaces, and fewer choices for members. If you will be traveling with people of varying ages and interests, a larger ship provides more options, making it easier to meet everyone’s individual expectations about the group cruise. The Oasis will be the largest ship on the ocean – boasting a passenger capacity of 5,400 at double capacity with 2,700 staterooms. It’s important to select a group cruise that will fit everyone’s budget. On a larger ship, there is generally a wide range of stateroom categories in a variety of different price ranges. It’s likely that everyone will find something they can afford – whether it be an interior stateroom, an oceanview, a balcony, or a suite. However, the Oasis of the Seas takes the typical stateroom choices and turbocharges them. This ship was built with an abundance of staterooms that overlook interior public spaces — like the tranquil Central Park, the bustling Promenade Deck, or the outdoor Boardwalk.
2. CENTRAL PARK, THE PROMENADE DECK & THE BOARDWALK
For those who are familiar with Royal Caribbean’s Voyager or Freedom-class ships, you already know they are a big “wow” for just about everyone. These three public spaces (where both Central Park and the Boardwalk are new concepts) provide a memorable spot for groups to gather. Central Park is a change from the typical flashy and colorful cruise ship decor. The designs provided by Royal Caribbean reveal neutral, spa-like colors and cozy spaces that would be conducive for quiet chats and catching up (great for family reunion cruises). All sorts of interesting plants will be represented in Central Park – including Calla Lillies, ferns, vines, an assortment of trees, pineapple plants, bamboo, and more. Right below Central Park will be the new and improved Promenade Deck featuring a skylight called the Crystal Canopies that shines light from Central Park above.
The Promenade Deck is also a really great place to hang out informally with people at the coffee shop, ice cream shop, or any of the lounges or restaurants. A new addition to the Promenade Deck is the Rising Tide Bar – a high-tech 集運 water feature where the bar rises up on a plume of water from the Promenade Deck to Central Park (three stories up). Additionally, embarkation for this ship will take place at the Promenade Deck rather than on one of the lower decks (as has been with the other RCC ships).
In addition to the standard entertainment fare (theater, movies, casino, etc.), Oasis has the coolest outdoor amphitheater ever called the AquaTheater. By day, the large pool (51′ x 21′) can be utilized by guests. With a depth of 17 feet deep and filled with fresh water, this is much different than the typical cruise ship pool. At night, the area transforms into an outdoor theater with a water and light show. Trapeze artists take to the heights and artistic swimmers fill the pool. Cameras have been installed under the water and the images are projected on large screens on each side of the pool. I’m not sure how groups could utilize this space, but it was too cool not to mention it.
4. CHOICES, CHOICES AND MORE CHOICES
The key to successful cruise group travel is choices. You want to have choices for stateroom accommodations so everyone can find something within their budget. You need choices for dining – so finicky eaters will be happy, as well as accommodating those with restricted diets (such as diabetics or those with food allergies). With a group cruise, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single activity that everyone will agree on, so the more choices there are, the more likely it will be that everyone will find something fun to do.