Tomorrow is the big day – the shipbuilders hand over Oasis of the Seas to Royal Caribbean Cruises, and chairman Richard Fain finally gets to say that the $1.4 billion behemoth is his.
But as if he has not been busy enough over the past few days checking that everything is as perfect as can be, Richard has still found time to keep followers up-to-date through his blog. And there have been some surprising revelations.
Like, for example, the fact that the biggest cruise ship in the world has gained four extra cabins. We’ll have to re-calculate its capacity from 5,400 passengers to 5,408.
Richard explains: “I don’t know how they could have lost four cabins, but apparently they have now found them. Actually, it is not as surprising as it sounds because when a shipyard builds a ship, it commits to a certain number of cabins, in this case 2,700. But they build in a cushion because they normally lose cabins during the construction process (for equipment, storage etc). Thus, we rarely get any extra cabins back because the yard ends up using them for other purposes.
“In the Oasis contract, we included a bonus for any extra cabins and today, the yard advised that they would increase the cabin numbers by four. It may not sound like a lot, but it definitely helps.”
There are lots of innovations too. Already every lift on a Royal Caribbean ship (Richard calls them elevators, but we’ll forgive him that because he’s American. He even thought the name of his last new ship was pronounced Celebrity EE-quinox but we put him right on that) has a carpet panel which changes to denote the day of the week – useful when you have been at sea for a while and have lost track of time.
The lifts on Oasis will have a button marked “gangway” so passengers don’t have to remember which deck is being used for disembarkation – it varies from day to day depending on the port.
Richard has already changed his fleet’s policy on lifeboat drills, so that passengers are no longer required to wear bulky lifejackets – now he is introducing a smaller design which will be just as safe but less cumbersome.
The policy on announcements over the ship’s public address has been examined as well – the Captain’s midday broadcast will still go ahead, but most other information will be conveyed to passengers via the interactive televisions in their cabins.
There was a party on board last night for 1,000 key workers, contractors and special guests. Tomorrow, Richard gets the keys and in two more days the Oasis will leave the STX yard at Turku heading into the Baltic and on to Florida.
Check back for more updates.