Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oasis of the Seas, Part 1

Sunday April 29, 9:54 p.m.

Well, I'm back! Got back from a 1-week Caribbean cruise on board The Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship on the planet (although technically her sister ship The Allure of the Seas is 2 inches longer...but I'm not gonna get into that).

This was a family event that was nearly a year in the making. Soon after I'd returned to Japan last year, my mother phoned me up to say that a cruise was in the planning with my sister-in-law spearheading the event. It kinda felt like The Olympics...all this planning with the final execution being last week and now it's all over.

Before I get too introspective, though, let's get into the overall trip. Last Saturday, my family got together at Pearson Airport. We had to take the Air Canada Toronto-Ft. Lauderdale circuit. Both going there and coming back had its trials and tribulations. Getting there involved one move to another airplane because of a technical problem which was enervating and frustrating, but in defense of the currently beleaguered Air Canada, this is pretty much the sign of the times anywhere in the airline industry. Just glad that our cruise liner didn't have to launch until 5 p.m.

My parents are decade-long cruise veterans but for myself and my brother's family, it was our first adventure on a cruise ship. Basically our exposure to cruising had been limited to reruns of "The Love Boat"and perhaps "Titanic"(believe me, the irony that I would be boarding the largest cruise ship on Earth in the centennial year of the sinking of the world's largest cruise ship of that time was not lost on me).

To say that The Oasis of the Seas was a ship would be kinda like saying Godzilla is a lizard with a thyroid condition. Boarding directly onto the main Promenade Deck (5) was entering the idealized main street of a small town. Basically, the ship was designed to encapsulate chunks of Americana. The Promenade is Disneyland with stylized cafes and shops siding along the weaving center road which links the fore Opal Theater and the aft Boardwalk.

A few decks up on 8 was the smaller tony Central Park which had plenty of greenery and benches. Although a lot of the restaurants' fare onboard is complementary, there are a couple of  restaurants which require reservations and a fully-charged credit card. Of course, even further upwards are the more sporting decks such as pools and solarium and mini-golf...and even a zipline.

Pretty much once The Oasis of the Seas set off at 5 p.m., I felt as if we had all entered a different country of sorts. As my niece so precociously put it, we were in "No Country". We all had to go through another round of security checks (although we were spared the stripping of shoes and belts). But once we were all onboard, it was a rarefied atmosphere of strangely friendlier service and copious amounts of food. It was further enhanced by the epic size of the vessel and the Disneyland effect. The passengers also seemed a bit more narcotized than usual. There's something about being on a gigantic ship in the middle of a large ocean that could make people gain this somewhat Tahiti Syndrome.

Anyways, I'll go further into my weeklong cruise over the next couple of days.