Agents applauded return of Oasis of the Seas to New York market: Travel Weekly


The “new” Oasis of the Seas recently completed its first round of cruises since the pandemic closure of Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ, and travel advisers on board have welcomed its return to the New York market.

Renovated in 2019 for $ 166 million as part of Royal Caribbean International’s Royal Amplified improvement program, to be dry-docked by Covid a few cruises later, the Oasis now offers new brand concepts: the first Portside BBQ restaurant, a boardwalk ice cream and candy display case and an extensive zero-proof cocktail menu for the growing number of non-drinking young adults.

There’s also a new Aqua Show as well as all the familiar hits on other Amplified ships from the Oasis’ early days: an expanded pool deck with a Lime and Coconut bar, a Playmaker’s Bar and Grill with open-air seating. air on the boardwalk, the colorful Ultimate Abyss slides that run from the top of the ship to the boardwalk, a Starbucks and a karaoke bar.

Our Oct. 17 cruise carried 3,145 passengers, including many from the New York area car market who were ready to sail but not necessarily to fly, including me.

On board were a variety of curious and enthusiastic cruise enthusiasts, travel counselors, solo travelers drawn to a single supplement waiver promotion, casino-guest high rollers, customers using future cruise credits and 196 children under 12 (around 6% of passengers).

The Perfect Day view at CocoCay from the Oasis of the Seas. Photo credit: TW photo by Cheryl Rosen

As with every start of sailing on every ship I have sailed on in recent months there have been some drawbacks and issues, but as always these were more than made up for by the exhilaration of sailing again, the exuberant welcome from the crew and a sense of helping the industry recover.

The Oasis has been a popular addition to the local market, said Empress Travel owner Mona Carol Albala of Sayreville, NJ, who made back-to-back crossings with small groups. Many of her clients are just starting to travel this quarter, and she herself started sailing in July, “giving my clients confidence that this is a very safe way to travel.”

“I’m pushing cruising because with all the tests and stringent measures that cruise lines have been subjected to, confidence is still low,” she said. “But I think the positive about coming out of Covid is that we will see a lot less outbreaks of any kind of disease; everything is quickly being brought under control and mitigated. And for me, that is really history.”

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The 150-foot Ultimate Abyss, the tallest water slide in the sea, transports guests over 10 decks in 13 seconds. Photo credit: TW photo by Cheryl Rosen

Room for more “amplification”?

On our cruise, a “combination of problems” led to a two hour check-in; some have said that the dark, slow “cats” were an odd choice for a cruise ship show; others lamented that “amplification” does not include a cabin refurbishment – or the addition of at least one USB port. And since we couldn’t book shows and dining times through the app, some were disappointed that they didn’t get their preferences.

A number of onboard travel advisors agreed that adding the Ultimate Abyss seemed more of a mistake than an upgrade. They noted that there is not a lot of traffic, but that it blocks the balconies facing the promenade, “so we cannot sell this wonderful view,” said Susan Schaefer of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel. in Nashville. Worse yet, said JoAnne Smoot of Dallas, one of twelve travel counselors at an onboard offshore seminar, it blocks the view of the Aqua Show she was using to sell those balconies.

Still, the cruise did not disappoint. The Portside BBQ, with its outdoor dining areas, live music and great food, has received rave reviews from all. The service everywhere was brilliant; the food in the restaurants of exceptional specialties; the entertainers, groups, the ice show and the Aqua Show were top notch.

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Refreshing tropical drinks served at Lime and Coconut Bar, a staple of the Royal Caribbean Pool Deck. Photo credit: TW photo by Cheryl Rosen

With five cabins in Central Park (and the rest in adjoining ocean-view rooms), Albala’s group had opened up all the partitions between the balconies, and each evening they sat outside, listening to music from the outside. ‘downstairs and enjoyed a glass of wine overlooking Central Parking. Everyone was happy with the experience and Albala was delighted to welcome nine more customers the following week.

Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales, business support and services for Royal Caribbean, said that when it debuted in 2008, the Oasis “single-handedly revolutionized cruising.”

“And what makes this vessel so easy to sell is that there are so many different experiences that appeal to all types of customers,” she said. “Families in search of bond, couples in search of escape, groups, corporate clients.”

The Oasis returns to Cape Liberty on May 5 after a winter season in Miami.


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