ONBOARD THE OASIS -- We departed Fort Lauderdale sometime during dinner Friday night, and I say "sometime" because few people could tell we were moving.
The Oasis of the Seas is extremely stable, and I went outside to confirm that in fact the ship was sailing and did not stay moored at Port Everglades.
Travel agents and members of the press onboard are stunned at the great leap that the Oasis makes from any other cruise vessel at sea.
Whether or not you are a fan of the big-ship experience, it is difficult to not be impressed by this one. I’ve yet to talk to someone who is disappointed -- people here are calling the Oasis spectacular, amazing, awesome.
It is also easy to forget that it is a ship.
Besides barely feeling the movement of the sea, there is so much happening in the ship’s interior areas -- including the outdoor but still interior Boardwalk and Central Park, two of the seven neighborhoods on the Oasis built into the spine of the ship -- that for the two short days I have been onboard, I rarely saw the ocean.
Adding to this is that my balcony cabin overlooks Central Park, not the sea. The Boardwalk cabins also face the interior neighborhood but do have a view of the ocean looking to the sides beyond the outdoor AquaTheater.
Since Royal Caribbean gets a premium for these cabins compared with the balcony cabins overlooking the ocean, people clearly find this appealing.
But when choosing an interior neighborhood balcony, choose Central Park if you prefer a quieter "adult" space. You will hear some music and people chatting below, but overall it is a quiet area, day and night.
Choose the Boardwalk if you like the sound and action of a Coney Island-type area.
Boardwalk is bustling during the day when the carousel is going around, zipline riders are shrieking as they fly by nine decks above, and families eat lunch al fresco at Johnny Rockets and the Seafood Shack.
This area also is popular with kids for its stuffed animal-making shop, candy store, face painting and homemade ice cream parlor.
The AquaTheater and its diving shows are not operating during this cruise, so there isn't anything going on here at night.
Central Park, home to 12,000 plants and trees, has winding walkways, benches and a small outdoor bar called the Trellis. It is also home to the first Coach store at sea.
Three of the ship’s specialty restaurants are located here: the upscale 150 Central Park (which has a $7,800 bottle of wine on its menu); Chops Grille, Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse; and Giovanni’s Table, an Italian restaurant where the head chef grows fresh herbs outside.
By day, people sit in the central piazza area and read. The casual Park Café, like every Central Park and Boardwalk eatery, has both indoor and outdoor seating.
By night, lights illuminate the plants and trees around Central Park's walkways. The Trellis is a quiet place to have a drink, as opposed to the louder venues on the Royal Promenade, such as the Latin-themed Bolero's and Schooner’s, Royal Caribbean's signature bar.