Oasis of the Seas During Recent Sea Trials
Oasis of the Seas is Delivered
The web site for the new ship Oasis of the Seas (oasisoftheseas.com) is overwhelmed with traffic today with news that the ship has been "delivered" to Royal Caribbean. As we explained last week, "delivery" means the shipyard has finally officially turned possession of the vessel over to the cruise line - much like a car salesman handing you the keys to your new car.
Needless to say, this is an event the company has been anticipating since they first conceived the "Genesis" project five years ago. They've done the test drives, felt the upholstery, cranked up the sound systems and took a few corners at top speed. She passed all the tests with flying colors and Royal Caribbean is reportedly thrilled with their new ship.
Seatrade is reporting the ship is about to begin its trek across the Atlantic Ocean from Turku, Finland, and scheduled to arrive in Ft Lauderdale on November 11. What we don't know yet is what Royal Caribbean plans to do with the ship for the nine days it will be alongside in Ft Lauderdale before it sails on its first scheduled cruise with guests onboard on November 20th. Most likely there is still some interior work to be done that is more easily accomplished stateside.
It appears they are waiting until they reach Florida to install the lawn and trees that will bring Central Park to life - crossing the North Atlantic in the dead of winter probably isn't a good environment for the perfect lawn. One thing I know they are waiting to do in Florida is rehearsals for the stage shows since a required last minute reconstruction of the stage rigging meant the cast of entertainers couldn't use the theater for dress rehearsals during the Atlantic crossing.
The ship is already full of 2165 crewmembers who will be putting many last-minute touches in place, such as the artwork. There are also some 300 additional people onboard for training the crew and testing the new merchandise.
Richard Fain, the CEO, has revealed some crucial numbers about Oasis, "The ship has 4,100 toilets, 42 elevators, and 4,500 air conditioning units. Inevitably some of each of those won't work properly when first turned on. Every one of them has been tested out and vetted prior to delivery, but I guarantee there will be some breakdowns when they first go into actual operation. We have added extra plumbers, air conditioning, engineers, and elevator maintenance people on the early sailings to deal with those inevitable problems, but we want them all to be tested during the shakedown cruises and not during the formal revenue cruises."
What is especially surprising, however, is the weakness in fares to cruise on this beautiful brand new ship. If Oasis had come out in a different economic climate, we would be hearing about it being booked to the brim months in advance. But in this economy that just isn't the case - too bad for such an innovative ship.
A few months ago we heard cruise moguls saying cruise fares had bottomed out and were not going to get any cheaper. They were exactly right, but they haven't gone much higher, either. The theory is that many people who planned on buying a cruise nailed the bargains last month and now the next wave of people booking will be the last-minute buyers who don't pull the trigger until they are sure the prices are not going any lower.
Reports are out that there is still availability of several categories onboard Oasis of the Seas for the holiday cruises, and most other sailings even including the 4-day inaugural cruise for passengers.
When you consider that we are still in the "value season" season between early September when school starts and the holidays it is not surprising that cruise prices have not ticked up yet. But with the strong trend towards last minute booking these days it also won't be surprising to see Oasis fill up at the last minute.
What does that mean for you? If you are wavering about whether or not you want to go - now is the time to book for the best cabin selection. Cruise lines do NOT drop prices the week before a ship sails just to fill the ship - that is a myth, ships always fill up at the last minute anyway.
There are amazing bargains out there right now, but oil prices are going up and the value of the dollar is dropping. This may force cruise prices go up soon, especially if the economy starts to rebound again. Get onboard those beautiful new ships now. This is a rare opportunity for the experience of a lifetime at a bargain price.
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