In November 2009, Barbara Jacobson and Christine Deming from Flying Wheels Travel were privileged to be invited on a 2 day inaugural sailing of the brand new mega cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas.
Weighing in at 225,282 gross registered tons, this is by far the largest ship ever built for recreational cruising.
The Oasis is home ported at Port Everglades in Florida where the port authority has built a brand new accessible facility with 90 check in counters and a goal of 15 minutes from shore to stateroom when travelers check in shoreside !
The size of the ship may sound overwhelming, but RCCL has done a wonderful job of dividing it into neighborhoods, so the only time you notice the size is when you are in that loooong corridor going to your stateroom .
Some of the unique features are the Central Park neighborhood,
the first park at sea with more than 12,000 plants and trees, the Boardwalk neighborhood, a family oriented environment with a hand carved carousel and the AquaTheater, an amphitheater that serves as a pool by day and a dazzling ocean front aquatic theater at night, a thrilling zipline ride that races diagonally 90 feet above Boardwalk.
Stateroom categories include 40 plus disabled accessible rooms and even 2 storey loft suites with a wheelchair elevator between floors.
These could be used to accommodate families along with the disabled travelers and their attendant.
The late Judd Jacobson, founder of Flying Wheels Travel, and a C4/5 quadriplegic himself, felt that cruising was the ultimate acation for a person with a disability and also for their caregiver, and family members. Oasis of the Seas would have fulfilled all of his dreams – where else can you shop, gamble, enjoy a choice of 24 restaurants, watch world class entertainment, imbibe in the accessible Rising Tide Bar, while your attendant and/or family members relax in the Vitality at Sea Spa – and guess what, its all accessible and you don’t need to worry about finding a wheelchair parking place close by!
The Oasis of the Seas departs on weekly 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruises from Ft Lauderdale to St Thomas, St Maarten and Nassau.
Western Caribbean 7 night cruises to Labadee, Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico will be added in May 2010.
Facilities at all these ports have been enhanced to accommodate the new mega ship.