Life Aquatic: Oasis of the Seas

Life Aquatic: Splishing, Splashing, Sliding & More On The Top Decks

Big ships bring theme-park-like features to the upper decks as they vie for title of world’s largest cruise ship.

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In the battle to boast the biggest and best, Royal Caribbean International will debut in December Oasis of the Seas, which will hold the title as the world’s largest cruise ship.

But Oasis of the Seas will boast much more than size. Sure to make a huge media splash, the world’s largest cruise ship will take the industry a step closer to fulfilling aspirations among lead designers: to incorporate theme park elements on the top decks of ships.

Clearly, the upper decks of cruise ships are getting more interesting, and while that may not please everyone, expect the innovations to continue.

harri_kulovaara.jpg“Yes,” chuckles Harri Kulovaara, Royal Caribbean’s executive vice president, maritime, “maybe we do like building big ships. The purpose, however, is not just to build the biggest ships. The purpose is to build outstanding vessels that provide great facilities for our guests. And we need a lot of real estate for that. That’s the reason we’ve constantly been growing the size of our ships. We have a lot of good ideas that we want to incorporate in the ships.”

Capable of carrying more than 6,000 passengers, Oasis of the Seas will be 40 percent larger than the company’s Freedom-class vessels, which currently reign as world’s largest cruise ships.

A Thrill A Minute
With more than 30 ships under his belt, Carnival’s chief designer Joe Farcus has expressed interest in the past to put a steel-structure roller coaster on a ship. “It would be a very sculptural thing,” he explains, noting that the roller coaster would be designed in a way so as not to disturb sunbathers.

If a roller coaster requires a leap of imagination, consider what Designteam wants to put on a cruise ship: an 825-foot ski slope wrapping around the ship’s funnel and sloping to the back of the top deck.

An “inflatable roof” would keep the manmade snow from melting in the Caribbean,” Designteam’s Frank Symeou says with the conviction of a man who expects to be taken seriously.

The roof would be removed when cruising cold-water destinations such as Alaska. “It’s perfectly feasible,” chimes in Symeou’s partner, Eric Mouzourides, “although the weight of the snow was one concern.” Not a safety hazard, he explains: The additional weight adds to fuel costs.

Whether these designs will see the light of day — or the upper decks of ships — remains to be seen, but what is certain is that cruise lines will continue to build ever-larger ships with features previously unthinkable. “There’s no question that big ships have a great public relations value,” says Carnival’s Farcus.

And while Oasis of the Seas may be the best indication of what to expect on big ships of the future, there is still much more on the drawing boards and in the minds of designers who increasingly are looking at successful entertainment venues outside the cruise industry for inspiration.

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