(5:15 p.m. EST) -- Celebrity's Solstice-class ships may boast the first-ever real grass lawns at sea, but Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas will have the first-ever park, filled with plants, trees and flowers. It's no easy task to plant a garden on a cruise ship, so we asked Denise Eichmann -- Senior Project Manager for Ambius, the landscape contractor in charge of creating Central Park -- how it's done.
Central Park was designed by landscape architect firms Wilson Butler Architects and Waterfield Design Group, and Ambius' job is to make their vision a reality. That means selecting which plant varieties to use (researching salt tolerance in plants and working with the USDA to find plants unlikely to transport pests and diseases between Florida and the Caribbean), getting the flora grown, transporting it to the port and loading it onto the ship.
Take a closer look at the process with our Central Park fun facts -- by number!
46: The number of large planter beds onboard Oasis of the Seas. The beds are constructed with knee-high stone walls and false bottoms, under which you'll find the electrical, irrigation and drainage systems.
2,000: The number of individual planters that will fit like jigsaw puzzle pieces into the larger planter beds. The aluminum modules were constructed in Finland and sent to a Fort Lauderdale nursery for planting. Each planter is sequenced, numbered and color-coded to make positioning it into the correct spot in Central Park much easier.
400: The number of luggage carts used to load all the planters for transport. Why luggage carts to haul plants? Eichmann tells us that the carts were chosen because the dock workers are already used to handling them.
12: The number of trucks that will transport the luggage carts from the nursery to the port.
150: The number of people coordinating the plant installation now that Oasis of the Seas has arrived in Fort Lauderdale. The entire group will load one planter as a test on Friday night before the official operation begins on Saturday. Talk about teamwork!
24: The number of hours Ambius' team has to load the plants onto Oasis of the Seas. The carefully orchestrated installation will begin at 6 a.m. on Saturday. The park has been divided into six sections, coordinated with the color-coded planter modules, so it should be clear where each module needs to go. In case of problems, an aluminum fabricator will be on the scene to create a new planter if one doesn't fit. A carpenter is also on hand to create wooden planters as temporary substitutes. Hopefully, the team will get to sleep in on Sunday after the marathon session.
57: The number of trees that will be lifted into Central Park by crane over the top of the ship. Trees that will appear onboard include black olive trees and ficus trees, as well as agricultural trees representing the four major spices: nutmeg, clove, allspice and cinnamon. The trees were picked for the canopies they create, so passengers can enjoy al fresco dining in the shade. One tree missing from the list is the palm tree -- the quintessential Caribbean tree will not have a presence on Oasis. Interesting factoid: Adding greenery to the ship affects the "fire load" of the ship (the amount of combustible material in an area). In addition to discussing the effect of the plants with the ship's engineers, Ambius needs to make sure that all the trees and plants are pruned so as not to interfere with the firebreaks (gaps in vegetation that are necessary to slow down the progress of a potential fire).
4: The number of full-time gardeners sailing with Oasis of the Seas. Ambius' Eva Matos will sail with the ship for its first 30 days at sea, training the gardeners and keeping an eye on the greenery. After that, she'll be on and off the ship, checking in on turnaround days and, if necessary, joining the ship for a week here and there to troubleshoot. Passengers will see the gardeners working in Central Park on every cruise. Feel free to ask questions!
600: The number of seasonal, flowering plants rotated regularly for color. For example, on December 1, poinsettias will come onboard to provide holiday cheer. Orchids will also be rotated in and out of the park, based on their bloom time. Other plants onboard will represent species native to the Caribbean and were chosen for their various colors and textures. Another factoid: Due to agricultural regulations, no plants can be removed from the ship. Old or dead plants will instead be incinerated on the ship.
Now that you know everything possible about Central Park's greenery, you can read more about the rest of the ship in our Oasis of the Seas review.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor
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