In April, it's still winter in Finland. Docked next to the frozen Baltic Sea at STX Europe's Turku shipyard, Royal Caribbean's 220,000-ton, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas is nearing completion. Just eight months from now, the largest and most innovative ship ever built will be cruising out of Ft. Lauderdale to islands in the Caribbean.
Cruise Critic correspondent Teijo Niemela, publisher of Cruise Business Review, joined a Finnish media contingent today for a behind-the-scenes look at -- and inside -- the under-construction ship. Almost a year and half after the first block was laid, the main engines have been turned on and tested. The ship, now 83 percent complete, will take to the water for its first sea trial in June. Then it's onto the last outfitting stages, with TV's and artwork added to cabins; counter stools, booths and insignia inserted into the old-timey Johnny Rockets burger joint; and real trees and shrubbery planted in the ship's outdoor Central Park "neighborhood."
Oasis of the Seas will make its official cruising debut on December 5 (a preview cruise will take place on December 1). But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. Are you curious about what this ship looks like as its launch date approaches? Niemela has shared his impressions along with snapshots of several spaces undergoing massive transformations -- a balcony cabin, the Boardwalk, Central Park, the Rising Tide levitating bar and much more.
Check out Niemela's insights and rare photos in our Oasis of the Seas slideshow!
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor
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Photos: Cruise Critic Tours Oasis of the Seas at Shipyard
April 2, 2009