BOSTON (TheStreet) -- When it departed on its maiden cruise in December, Royal Caribbean's (RCL) - Get Free ReportOasis of the Seas took the title of "world's largest cruise ship." The staggering engineering achievement cost $1.5 billion to build, measures five times larger than the Titanic and can hold nearly 6,300 passengers.
Part of the new Oasis Class from Royal Caribbean, the new super ships prove that demand for bigger and bolder cruises is growing. In addition to the Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean is due to take shipment of its sister ship, Allure of the Seas, in late 2010.
Divided between seven theme neighborhoods including a boardwalk and urban-style park-at-sea called "Central Park," Oasis is also home to an outdoor amphitheater that's a water park by day and outdoor stage by night that was even graced by an inaugural performance from Rihanna.
For anyone that's ever been on a cruise, the worst lines are usually upon embarkation and disembarkation. Cruisers arrive via Ft. Lauderdale International Airport before being bused or chauffeured to Port Everglades, where the ship is currently docked. While your luggage is tagged at the airport and promptly sent aboard, you are usually left to wait in a cumbersome check-in and customs line.
You'd think larger ship equals larger lines, but not the case on Oasis. New terminal 18, where Oasis of the Seas is docked, offers a fully updated terminal with 90 check-in counters that's mostly succeeded in its ambition to get guests from curbside to gangway in around 15 minutes.
From gangway to the Royal Promenade, the first impression of the Oasis comes along a dramatic indoor pedestrian mall under a three-story atrium with cobblestone streets and brick storefronts like Regalia fine jewelry or Willow clothing store.
The Promenade is home to The Rising Tide Bar -- think moving lounge that ascends three decks to a micro-Central Park above, with its specially engineered garden of evergreens and flowers chosen especially for the saltwater climate. If drinking isn't your thing, there's also a perky coffee shop that can fill a
fix with the next best thing (Seattle's Best).
On the upper floors of the ship is a boardwalk and its open air atrium with amusement park-style carousel, quirky Candy Beach candy store, outpost of premium leather retailer
and a children's apparel store if the little ones aren't completely preoccupied with the buzzing zip-line that connects everything together overhead.
When not zip-lining across deck, on one of two rock-climbing walls or getting your cardio on in the professionally equipped workout area, a plethora of activities awaits on the Oasis.
By day, a pool-lovers paradise awaits with AquaTheater, the largest freshwater pool found on the seas, with organic kidney-shaped pool surrounded in terraced platforms with sun loungers and chairs.
At night, AquaTheater morphs into an outdoor performance venue that compliments the ship's more conventional Opal Theater and Center Ice rink where stage shows like "Hairspray" and live concerts are accented by Cirque du Soleil-style acrobats and solo performances.
The classic seven-day cruise was once a dressy affair with formal dinners like Captain's Night that had all the guests at your pre-selected dinner table. Now dining options include a lot more than just the traditional dining room, with Asian bistros and glitzy steakhouses that require advance reservations and also come with a hefty fee.
Oasis of the Seas offers one of the most diverse dining options to date, a total of 24 eateries ranging from soda-fountain casual to sushi chic spread throughout the ship to balance congestion and weight-balance issues. Booking in advance? The best options include upscale 150 Central Park and Chops steakhouse that come with so-called upcharges of $25 to $35 per person and often book up well in advance of sailings.
Entry-level staterooms are a mere 170-square with twin or queen-size bed, with tastefully minimalist aesthetic and flat-screen LCD screens and circular windows, if not full balconies. One-person bathrooms require navigating and awkward movement to actually get dressed within, but with everything you need aside from elbowroom. A new boardwalk-view room category offers an interior-facing stateroom with balcony and natural light with 10-square-feet of extra wiggle room.
Those looking for the best should book into the corner Royal Loft or Sky Loft Suite on the 18th floor. Bi-level living spaces contain bathrooms with two-person showers, formal dining room and massive outdoor terraces. Upwards of 800-sqaure-feet, Sky Lofts are decorated in a more modern design aesthetic while the Royal Suite has a larger living area with baby grand piano and wet bar ready for Captain Stubing.
For its first year, Oasis of the Seas will travel an East and West Caribbean itinerary that includes ports like St. Thomas, Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Labadee, Costa Maya and Cozumel. With spring cruises in the Eastern Caribbean to be found for around $1,099, budget travelers should keep in mind that Royal Caribbean can impose an additional fuel supplement of up to $140 per cruise ($10 per guest per day) should "the price of West Texas Intermediate fuel exceed $65 per barrel."
Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.