Reporting Aboard The Oasis Of The Seas—"Wait'll you see the ship!" Myra, the Royal Caribbean check-in agent, gushed as I prepared to board the Oasis of the Seas. "We're going to have to pull you off by the teeth on Saturday."
FOR THE RECORD:
Maybe. Maybe not. With room for 6,296 passengers, this largest-in-the-world cruise ship seemed a prime candidate for impossibly long waits, endless onboard queues and claustrophobia-inducing crowds. That's what I had expected.
Incorrectly, as it turned out. And, yes, Myra, after four nights onboard, I was hooked.
Our cruise carried 4,800 passengers on its Dec. 1 sailing, its inaugural voyage after seven cruises to nowhere -- and there was no sense of crowding.
The hoopla about the size was impossible to ignore, but the sheer fun of the ship was a happy surprise. You would have to be a hermit to be bored, and although the ship's destinations -- the eastern and western Caribbean -- may not be your dream trips, this is a case where getting there is more than half the fun.
Passenger Eric Hyde, an Angeleno, described it well. "It's kind of like Disneyland, outside of reality," he said. "You're literally spending four nights in an amusement park, then you wake up in the morning and you're already in line again."
Hyde, regional director of admissions at Concord Law School, had just wowed the crowd in the karaoke bar with his big voice. This was his 67th cruise, his 34th on Royal Caribbean, and he was wowed.
"The design and engineering are absolutely magnificent," he said. "Every space, there's something to see, something to marvel at."
If you go
OASIS OF THE SEASThis year, the Oasis of the Seas will make seven-night cruises from its home port of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to the eastern Caribbean through Dec. 4 and to the western Caribbean through Dec. 23. Fares start at $729 per person.
ALLURE OF THE SEASAllure of the Seas, its sister ship, will debut Dec. 12 with a seven-night Caribbean cruise. General bookings for the Allure will open April 13.
TO LEARN MORERoyal Caribbean International, (866) 562-7625, www.royalcaribbean.com.
Lonnie Cunningham, a Los Angeles CPA traveling with his wife, Linda, a travel agent, also was a fan. "An amazing experience," he said. "There's something for everyone. It's a city, right here."
Which city? Try Las Vegas.
There's a casino, of course. And an ice show and skating rink, a water show, surf simulators, rock-climbing walls, 21 pools and Jacuzzis, miniature golf, a zip line, all included in the price of your ticket. (I got in line to zip, then made the mistake of looking down. I couldn't do it.)
On departure day, I arrived by cab at bright, new Terminal 18 in Florida's Port Everglades, and within 25 minutes had my Seapass identification card, had cleared security and was onboard, carrying my bags so I wouldn't have to wait for them.