Oasis of the Seas Update 2010

Oasis of the Seas is now carrying 5900 guests on each cruise. But the AquaTheater is still facing challenges.

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Bows: stage right   Synchronized Swimmers   bows: stage left

The AquaTheater on Oasis of the Seas is the first entertainment venue at sea to offer water-based shows. This is a special brand of entertainment first offered in Las Vegas in shows such as "La Reve" at the very posh Wynn Hotel in and the show "O" (a play on the French word for water, 'Eau') by Cirque D' Soliel at the Mirage.

I have been communicating with one of the producers of the AquaTheater shows Royal Caribbean planned for the Oasis, who prefers to remain anonymous. This person reports that while Royal Caribbean has the best intentions, but they are finding it a greater challenge to pull off a water-based show than they originally thought.

Royal Caribbean hired some of the best water show creators in the world for these productions, including some of the technical staff who created La Reve in Las Vegas. The staff is great, but they are finding the the theater itself has some very specific problems with design (especially in high seas) and with the technology that was installed. Word is that some of the underwater apparatus does not work as specified, and that errors were made in the stage lighting installed, leaving important parts of the stage in the dark. This was obvious to me when I saw the show on the first passenger cruise.

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Fancy Dive from the 32' platform   Acrobat in Dramatic Pose   Icarus dancers lost in darkness above pool

In the picture on the right above you can see how the performers are lost in darkness. Also, there are two of what appear to be halogen-style industrial lights on. Not only is the light not on the performers, those two lights are not standard stage light instruments, and if they are meant to be on, then all four across the top should be on. In other words, even though the lighting designer for the shows comes from Le Reve, a $100,000,000 show at the Wynn is Vegas, he is working with equipment that was not installed according to spec. Word is this was due to mistakes by the shipyard builders, not Royal Caribbean.

The good news in this report, however, is that they are now presenting AquaTheater shows regularly which are receiving standing ovations regularly. Another very interesting tidbit is that my source tells me that Oasis itself is selling extremely well, with passenger loads in the neighborhood of 5900 - well over the berth capacity of 5600, so over 100%. Shareholders should be very pleased.

Keep in mind that the ship was built in Finland and completed in November. The cast never had a chance to try out the AquaTheater before Oasis arrived in Ft. Lauderdale. Once the ship arrived they had technical setbacks with the pool and other events that delayed rehearsals, and unlike the Opal Theater stage shows there is no land-based rehearsal facility to use. The AquaTheater itself was virtually untested before Oasis made it through the high seas it encountered crossing the Atlantic after leaving the shipyard.

As of now, the main show "Oasis of Dream," presented onboard Oasis is still a scaled down version of what was originally planned. I am told that parts of the technology have not been working as designed and need to be replaced. Additionally, they now realize that even the smallest amount of movement in the ship magnifies the danger for the high divers. The theater is made to feature dives from as high as nearly 60 feet into what amounts to only 13 feet of working depth of the pool.

The Theater itself is situated at the very far stern (back end) of the ship, and all movement is magnified from the diving platform in the same way the crow's nest on the mast of a sail ship has a wider excursion than the lower decks when the ship moves.

My source tells me that when a high diver jumps from the highest platform they hit the bottom of the pool. If another performer happened to be in the pool when a high diver jumped it could be disastrous. There is a warning system for the high divers, the red and green lights on the rock climbing walls are there to give the "all clear" signal for the pool below. But other performers' actions can be unpredictable and one could swim into the way at the last moment. The main point is that movement of the ship makes everything that happens in the shows unpredictable to the point where they have now decided that when the seas are too high part of the show will be omitted or they will cancel the entire show.

Click Here for an AquaTheater High Dive Video from the Show - Opens in New Window or Tab. Click Here for the Portion of the AquaTheater Show We Did Not See

If you are familiar with cruise ships you know that stage shows are rarely canceled just because of high seas, even though when a cruise ship is rocking ballet-style leaps are especially precarious. I personally remember a dancer on the old NCL Norway being fired by Jean Ann Ryan (a well-known cruise show producer) becaused she refused to go onstage in fairly high seas. She was a young dancer, only 19, and she could have suffered an injury that ended her career forever. The producers say it is up to the dancers to tone down their performances and "deal with" the motion on the stage. But in the case of the AquaTheater, once you are on your way down from a 60-foot platform doing a somersault into a 13-foot pool - there is not a lot you can do to compensate for unpredictable motion of the ship.

With all due credit, Royal Caribbean has already accomplished excellent ice-based shows in the onboard ice rinks on all of the larger Voyager, Freedom and Oasis-class ships since 1999. But the ice rinks are all placed more midships and on the lowest public decks possible - minimizing any motion.

Oasis is the first ship ever to have an AquaTheater and there has been a steep learning curve. The show "Oasis of Dream" now includes five of the eight parts originally written, but my contact tells me those abbreviated shows are going extremely well and they are getting standing ovations every time. I am very happy to hear this since I saw the second performance ever in this theater and while it was interesting, it was obvious there was a lot missing from what was supposed to be happening. The other show created for the AquaTheater, "Splish-Splash" is still not in the schedule although they are making some progress with rehearsals.

Part of the problem with "Splish Splash" is that it has some of the same cast members as "Come Fly wih Me," an acrobatic show presented in the Opal Theater - the main inside entertainment venue on the ship. One of those performers was injured in rehearsals for "Come Fly with Me" during the first cruise and so she could not perform in either AquaTheater show.

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Acrobats balanced on balls   Icarus swimmers strike a dramatic pose

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