|What are you willing to pay to cruise on what will be the world's largest, most innovative cruise ship ever built when it debuts in December 2009? Last Thursday, August 21, Royal Caribbean's top past passengers were given first crack at securing a spot on the 220,000-ton, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas. Book they did -- and many to the tune of thousands per person.|
Immediately after the phone lines opened Thursday morning, members of the Diamond and Diamond Plus tiers (10 or more cruises with RCI) of its past-passenger program, the Crown & Anchor Society, were offering feverish running commentary on the Cruise Critic boards. They spoke of the frustration of being on hold, disconnections, and then the triumph of cabins booked and prices paid.
While Royal Caribbean had released a very general price list -- "balcony prices from..." (there are eight categories), "junior suites from..." -- it was not until the bookings opened that the complete list was provided. There are, after all, 37 cabin categories -- nearly twice the options of other ships in the industry, including accommodations overlooking the foliage of Oasis' Central Park neighborhood and two-story Loft Suites, as well as standard insides and balconies. Royal Caribbean's teaser price list included just five "starting from" prices.
The chart of per-person prices listed inside cabins starting at $729 (for a fall 2010 sailing) and $1,399 (for a July 2010 cruise), all the way up to $1,799 per person for an inside room on the New Year's sailing. At the higher-end cabin grade, Deluxe Junior suites ranged from $1,789 for a fall 2010 cruise and $2,799 for July 2010 to $4,199 for that New Year's voyage.
But again, these "starting from" costs for five general cabin types encompassed 37 total categories.
So what are cruisers actually paying to get a taste of Oasis of the Seas?
As a solo cruiser, Dellas1000 shelled out $3,196 for a cabin with a view of Central Park on Deck 9. The price is accounted for by the high single supplements charged -- and the fact that she's sailing on the December 12, 2009 inaugural.
Lido Boy will have a view of the carousel and AquaTheater in his Boardwalk View Balcony. He and his co-traveler dropped $1,535 per person (taxes and fuel surcharge included) for an early January 2010 sailing. He noted: "I think these B1's that overlook the boardwalk ... are going to be popular. Get yours now! My only concern is they are right next to the rock climbing wall. Hopefully no one will be trying to climb into my balcony, if it's even possible."
Melbur opted to sail aboard Oasis in April 2010 in a more standard oceanview balcony cabin located on Deck 12. Price paid? $1,479 per person (plus taxes of $86 and fuel supplement of $70, both per person).
As a point of comparison, those sailing in a comparable cabin at a similar time on the now ho-hum Freedom of the Seas will pay roughly $150 less.
And the splurgers?
SRD127 was especially exuberant about her booking. "I'm about to burst with excitement already!!! I booked a Junior Suite on the inaugural cruise and the solo cost before Diamond Discount is $5,554.86. I figured up the double JS cost to be $5,869.72 including taxes, fees and fuel surcharge of $70 per person.
"I told my beau I may have to marry him before the cruise. The cost is rather above my means to go solo, but worth EVERY DIME, even if it's beans and rice for dinner for the next 16 months!!!"
WEPunkin plunked down $4,629 (that's per person) for space in one of the coveted AquaTheater suites (January 16 cruise). Located on Deck 9 aft, these cabins feature private wraparound balconies on one side, a bird's eye view of the AquaTheater below, and on the other side, an outdoor bar for entertaining with a table for six for oceanfront dining.
transam84 snagged a two-story Sky Loft Suite. The cost: $5,485 per person for an August 14, 2010, cruise.
Phone lines next open on Thursday, August 28, for Crown & Anchor members (at least one cruise with RCI), and on September 3 for the general public.
And don't forget, tonight Royal Caribbean will announce more Oasis of the Seas features at a unique virtual trade show. The event, sponsored by Royal Caribbean and travel agencies AAA and CAA, will take place from 6 p.m. until midnight (EDT); cruise line insiders tell us that Royal Caribbean's special presentation begins at 8:30 p.m. and ends at about 9:30 p.m.
We know you won't want to miss the big "reveal," but be sure to join us before, during and after for our special Cocktail Party -- or Pajama Party, for folks east of the Atlantic!
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor