A female acrobat sparkling in her white leotard kicked off the festivities by lifting and twirling herself in the air, suspended from the ceiling by two long pieces of fabric. (Also suspended from the ceiling? Merry-go-round horses which, at the end of the event, began moving up and down, making the whole room feel like one big carousel!)
Next up: Showtime! If you haven't already seen the video at oasisoftheseas.com, take a gander. This presentation of renderings and insights from Royal Caribbean's execs premiered today in the NOKIA Theatre on a huge screen, and it was our first introduction to all of the new features planned for Oasis, including:
More neighborhoods! When Central Park was announced, Royal Caribbean promised there would be seven neighborhoods in total. Today, we learned of two more -- the Boardwalk and a two-level Royal Promenade -- leaving four more to go (other reveal events will take place as the launch date draws nears, execs tell us).
The Boardwalk. We pretty much hit the nail on the head with this one. It's not called Coney Island, but the Boardwalk will feature everything from a psychic and tattoo parlor to a seafood shack, and the first-ever at-sea carousel, with each horse handmade in an antique style. A, gasp, zip-line will carry passengers from one end to the next!
AquaTheater. Also, as we predicted, there will be a water fountain for light shows -- but the surprise was that it's actually part of a much larger venue. The AquaTheater, at the end of the Boardwalk (aft of the ship), features the largest pool at sea where cruisers can relax during the day (you can even take SCUBA lessons!). In the evening, the area is transformed into an amphitheater-style space that will hold nightly performances).
Itineraries. We knew Oasis of the Seas would be sailing from Ft. Lauderdale. Now we know that it will sail Eastern Caribbean itineraries to start, followed by a season of alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.
Accommodations. Several new categories of cabins were unveiled today, including Loft Cabins (which feature a living space on the first floor, and a loft-style second level bedroom) and Aqua Cabins (whose balconies will overlook the AquaTheater, offering its occupants private box seating to all of the events taking place below).
Royal Caribbean Cruise Director Ken Rush emceed the event, introducing Royal Caribbean's head honchos: Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Adam Goldstein, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. Also on hand were Harri Kulovaara, Royal Caribbean's executive vice president, maritime (in layman's terms, the guy in charge of the gargantuan new-build projects); and several tourism and governmental officials from the regions this particular gargantuan will visit, including Jamaica, the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Though Fain and Goldstein were hesitant to share what they think will be their personal favorite features onboard, neither could hide their excitement about the Boardwalk. Fain, who has earned a reputation for being quite the surfer after challenging many of his colleagues to competitions on the Freedom-class FlowRider, has not issued a zip-line throwdown yet. "Some of the people here know that I am not in love with heights. I even found it awkward to come up on this stage [about six feet off the ground]." But after thinking better of it, he proclaimed, "I'll challenge Adam to start with."
Indeed, the excitement about the Boardwalk was catching. After the press conference was wrapped up, attendees were treated to popcorn, freshly squeezed lemonade and cotton candy, as well as street performances by jugglers. A craftsman hand-carved what will be one of the actual horses on the wooden and brass carousel. And a model of the ship's three decks, featuring the Royal Promenade, Boardwalk and Central Park, was on display.
As for parting words? Goldstein promises this: "Stay tuned for more -- there's still more coming about this ship and we look forward to more reveals. We have four neighborhoods to go."
Keep a close eye on Cruise Critic News for the latest on Oasis.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor
Another Oasis Neighborhood Opens: The Boardwalk
Oasis Itinerary Announced for Debut Season
Royal Caribbean Raises Curtain on Oasis' AquaTheater
Royal Caribbean Reveals First Genesis Gem: Central Park
RCI Reveals New Cabins for Oasis
Royal Promenade on Oasis Will Be Bigger and Better