The Oasis cruise ship is over-the-top in every department
CRUISING ships come in many shapes and sizes, most are really enjoyable.
However, if you want a cruise that is exceptional, you need to try one of the mega cruise ships.
The Royal Caribbean line has one of the biggest, Oasis of the Seas.
This is a huge ship at over 225,000 tonnes and it carries over 6300 passengers and 2350 crew.
Comparing Oasis of the Seas to a normal cruise ship is like comparing a standard hotel to a Las Vegas casino.
The Oasis is over-the-top in every department.
It has 16 decks, taller than many city structures.
Most shopping centres would love to have a mall as big as the one on Oasis.
The ship has 24 eateries, anchored by three large formal dining rooms.
There are 20 bars and lounges, 24 high-speed lifts, over 20 pools and spas, large kids' entertainment areas, a special place for teenagers and a retreat exclusively for adults.
The sports deck features a full-sized basketball court, mini-golf, table tennis area, two flow riders, a zip line and there is even an ice skating rink.
A huge fitness centre has every kind of gym machine imaginable.
The superlatives continue. One deck has Central Park which is a proper garden, complete with full-sized trees and countless shrubs and flowers.
It even has resident live butterflies. Two walls are covered in vertical gardens.
It is a real retreat, away from the hustle of the busy areas.
The stern deck has a Boardwalk which focuses on a carnival theme, with carousels, clowns, face painters, balloon artists and two five-storey high rock-climbing walls.
The Aqua Theatre is the venue for the water shows.
An amazing fountain display and three levels of diving platforms feature in the shows.
The pool is the deepest on any ship, at 5.9m.
There are so many entertainment venues that none are crowded, although some are filled on a first come, first served basis.
Numerous live acts are repeated daily so that everyone has a chance to see them.
The main theatre seats over 1300 people.
The ship has a resident Broadway musical which runs for five years.
Recently it was Hairspray but is about to change to Grease.
Comedy shows, game shows, bingo, trivia, gambling in the casino, card games, craft classes, sports tournaments and dancing continue through the day and into the small hours.
On every cruise the food is a highlight. This is certainly the case on the Oasis.
If the cuisine in the three main dining rooms is not to your fancy, you can opt for one of the specialty restaurants, or maybe go for a pizza or to one of the bistros where you can eat as much as you want as often as you want.
The choice is astounding and would satisfy even the most fastidious eater.
The ship is so large that its movement is barely discernable, even in rough seas. Hence, seasickness is not a problem.
Disembarking for shore excursions is a streamlined event that is efficient and fast.
The whole ship is cashless. Your Seapass card works as a stateroom key and as a credit card for all on-board purchases.
Shore excursions are available when the ship docks in such exotic destinations as the Bahamas, Jamaica, Haiti, Grand Caymans, St Maarten's or Cozumel in Mexico.
Arrivals are timed to give passengers maximum daylight hours on shore and the activities on offer are as many and varied as those on the ship itself.
Are there any negatives? Well maybe one.
Since the ship is essentially American, tipping is virtually mandatory.
In fact, unless you pre-pay the tips, the company debits your account at least $12 per person per day, more if you are in a suite.
Most on-board purchases also attract a 15% automatic tip, then they offer you the chance to add an extra tip!
To Aussies, this may be slightly off-putting, but if it is budgeted in to the total, it is not so bad.
All up, the Oasis of the Seas offers an unforgettable experience, one you are unlikely to regret.
You will certainly be talking about it for a long time.