How wacky is this: A cruise line, knowing its newest new-build has generated the most buzz since the launch of Titanic, is inviting its most dedicated customers to book and pay deposits on cabins -- knowing only a handful of details and having a far from complete picture of the ship?
That's indeed the case with Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, which goes on sale tomorrow to the line's Diamond and Diamond Plus members; these folks have ratcheted up 10 or more trips with the line.
The 220,000-ton, 5,400-passenger ship, as most Cruise Critic readers know, is slated to be the biggest and most innovative cruise vessel ever to launch when it debuts in December 2009. And it's a sign that the fever pitch over this mammoth ship has reached outlandish proportions when seemingly sane travelers -- which include many, many seasoned cruise veterans (and, ahem, a few staffers here at Cruise Critic) -- are willing to book with at best an, er, obstructed view.
What's a first for us is that people are ready to plunk down deposits -- even if some cabins don't have prices yet -- based on general ideas about the ship. They have info about three of the seven themed "neighborhoods" -- the Boardwalk, Central Park and Promenade -- but not about design scheme of the other four major onboard areas. RCI has revealed details about its upper crust staterooms, such as the two-story Loft Suites, but has been mum about features, layout and amenities of its more standard cabin offerings. And we haven't been told a thing about any of the ship's major dining venues.
Still, some info has been dribbling out in the past few days, and here's the latest:
Cabin category information: Oasis of the Seas will have a breathtaking 37 different cabin categories (far surpassing the 20 found on Freedom of the Seas and its Liberty and Independence siblings). Among the first-ever options for Royal Caribbean are the aforementioned lavish Loft Suites; balcony staterooms that overlook Central Park and the Boardwalk; and five different styles of family accommodations.
More specifics? We priced out one of the more innovative new cabin types (and had no luck whatsoever getting fares for others, such as the Boardwalk and Central Park balcony staterooms). Using the date of January 9, 2010 (prices are higher on some sailings, particularly around the holidays, and lower on others, generally summer cruises), we priced the two-deck-high Crown Loft Suite (category CL, found on decks 17 and 18, 545 square ft. with a 114-square-ft. balcony). It features a loft bedroom and master bath and downstairs living area with full bath. Cost? $4,209 (that's per person, based on two sharing).
For more, run-of-the-mill options, there's the Deluxe Junior Suite (category JS, Decks 6 - 12, 14, 287 square ft., 80-square-ft. balcony), with a sitting area with couch and a bathroom with tub; cost is $2,079. A standard (oh so ho hum!) balcony cabin facing the ocean (category D8, Decks 6 - 8, 182 square ft., 50-square-ft. balcony) is $1,229. Cheapest of all: An inside (Q category, Decks 7 - 12, 14, 149 square ft.) will run $879.
Deck plans. To get a better idea of where you may end up, check out the just-released deck plans (of course what has yet to be revealed on Oasis isn't shown on the plans).
Deposits. Deposits are at the relatively standard industry rate of $250 per person.
Rules. Diamond members can only book for themselves (rather than booking one cabin for personal use and five others for friends and family) and the same applies to other Crown & Anchor members on August 28. Once general booking opens on September 3, anything goes.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief and Dan Askin, Assistant Editor
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Oasis of the Seas Goes On Sale
August 20, 2008