Before boarding Oasis of the Seas — the 5,400-passenger Royal Caribbean ship that gave new meaning to the term "mega-ship" when it launched in 2009 (only sister ship Allure of the Seas is bigger) — I expected it to feel like a combination of a Las Vegas hotel and an amusement park.
And with a boardwalk, a Central Park and a bar/elevator onboard, my suspicions were proven correct. I was surprised, however, that the behemoth of a ship still managed to have its own personality. It didn’t feel crowded, and I didn’t feel claustrophobic, even though Oasis can hold as many people as the town I grew up in. Overall, I think the size of the ship actually made me feel more comfortable than I have felt on some smaller cruise ships.
The point of my trip was to check out the fortnight’s worth of beauty treatments the ship received during its “revitalization” dry dock in Rotterdam. Here’s what’s new onboard one of the world’s biggest cruise ships:
Cruise Critic staffers set sail every week, traveling the globe to bring you the latest cruise ship trends, port sneak peeks and onboard observations. Here’s where we are this week.
(Got questions about any of the ships we’re boarding or ports we are visiting? Ask us in the comments!)
Ship: Paul Gauguin’s flagship, Paul Gauguin
Where: Roundtrip from Papeete, Society Islands
Who: Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor
Why There? We’re checking in on the luxury ship, which exclusively sails year-round Society, Tuamotu and Marquesas islands.
We Can’t Wait: I’ll be sailing with Paul Gauguin for the first time. The line — and the ship of the same name — routinely receive rave reviews from Cruise Critic members, who love the food, service and small-ship luxury experience. This also will be my first trip to Tahiti and the Society Islands, which is a diver’s and snorkeler’s paradise. You can bet I’ll be in the water as much as possible
Where: Athens, Greece
Who: Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor
Why There? As Lido Deck editor, I’m pleased to be speaking at TBEX Europe, a conference for travel bloggers and digital content producers. While I’m there, I’ll be visiting the headquarters of Variety Cruises, spending the day on MSC Fantasia and taking a four-day cruise of the Aegean Sea on Louis Olympia.
We Can’t Wait: There’s no better way to explore the Greek Isles than on a cruise. I’m looking forward to visiting historic sites, touring several different vessels and taking in some spectacular sunsets.
While a smaller ship, Travel Dynamics’ 130-passenger Yorktown, paid a couple of visits in February, this was the tender port’s first mega-ship – Jewel has 2,500 passengers. The stop heralded the official start of the cruise season here. The Honduran press attended in force (it was all over local TV), as did the mayor of Trujillo, numerous dignitaries, the Minister for Tourism, and of course, Cruise Critic.
At Cruise Critic we’ve seen, read and heard pretty much everything there is to do with cruising. Then every once in a while something comes along that takes even the most seasoned cruisers by surprise. In this instance it’s the curious case of tiny mussels can bring down a big cruise ship’s cooling system.
It all began with reports on the forum last week that things weren’t right with the air conditioning onboard Princess Cruises’ 2,590-passenger Golden Princess, as the ship made its way south to Mexico on a four-night roundtrip from Los Angeles.
With fall foliage at its height, Quebec is experiencing its busy season as cruise ships large and small visit ports ranging from cosmopolitan Montreal to woodsy Gaspe. Looking to experience the savoir faire of the French-speaking Quebecoise? Here are a few things we learned on our recent ten-night cruise to the Canadian Maritimes aboard the Seabourn Quest that will help make your voyage a tad more bon.
#1: To us, it’s cold. To Canadians, it’s normal. We recently set out to explore Saguenay in Quebec dressed in ski jackets, hats, and gloves…in early October. We were not overdressed. “Should’ve been here last year at this time! We had four feet of snow!” a port official gleefully told us. So when your cruise company advises you to bring layers—”sweaters, or a light jacket”—do not believe them. You’ll need a coat, not a wimpy jacket, at some point during your sail, especially if you’re on the foliage circuit.
Also Quebec looks this gloriously green for a reason. Bring a waterproof shell—one that fits over a layer of fleece, all the better (see above.)
Cruise lines are quick to point to their onboard entertainment and dining options as proof they’re keeping up with the times. It’s much rarer to see a cruise line modernize its cabin offerings. And while it’s been done on a small scale here and there (Disney introduced virtual port holes, Norwegian debuted solo inside cabins), Royal Caribbean is going way beyond small scale with Quantum of the Seas’ innovative cabin designs.
At first glance it may appear the ship has all the usual suspects: inside, oceanview, balconies and suites. But a closer look reveals some startling changes.
Every Wednesday, we’ll be taking you on a journey around the world to some of the most interesting places our members have trekked, swum or merely witnessed from afar while cruising.
Whether these photos inspire you to plan a relaxing escape or walk on the wild side, we hope they ignite your senses and give you ideas for your next cruising adventure. If you have a photo you’d love to share, send it to us at email@example.com or post it in our member photo gallery.
The Panama Canal is a popular bucket list cruise for many. While the locks are one of its more distinctive features, there are a number of other reasons to awe — like this shot of Gatun Lake taken by Cruise Critic member USTWORCREW. The artificial lake spans 166 square miles, making up a significant portion of the canal. Craving more? Read on for Panama Canal tips, cruises, member reviews and more.