travel-aqua-theatreA ship’s size is one of the more important aspects to consider when choosing a cruise to fit your lifestyle. The larger ships have more activities and amenities onboard and tend to be newer.  They’re great for family reunions, incentive groups and even weddings. The smaller ships are more port-intensive and have a more community-like ambience, creating a whole different experience both onboard and ashore.  “Small ship” has recently undergone redefinition and here’s where you shouldn’t make an assumption of size based on the company as you’ll see in these two ships from Royal Caribbean.

THE LARGE: Recently I was invited to tour the Oasis of the Seas® which, along with her sister ship (Allure of the Seas℠), is one of two ships in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class. The ship holds 5400 passengers and there are 37 categories of cabins to choose from sailing alternate Eastern & Western Caribbean itineraries. With seven unique themed neighborhoods, you’ll never run out of exciting things to see and do onboard.  Trying to see a ship like this in a few hours is, indeed, a marathon – and yet we somehow managed to overcome the urge to stop and ogle too long to be able to take it all in.  Let me tell you about the “neighborhoods:” CENTRAL PARK® opens to the sky and boasts the first “living park” at sea. It features specialty restaurants, dining & entertainment venues and boutique shopping. THE ROYAL PROMENADE features Rising Tide (a bar that ascends & descends over 3 floors) and more shops & restaurants, including the first Starbucks Coffee® at sea. BOARDWALK® includes an exclusive Aqua Theater with seating for 600 and stunning ocean views travel-flow-rider-boogiealong with high-diving performances; a handcrafted carousel; and casual restaurants and amusement and attractions to keep everyone entertained. VITALITY℠ AT SEA (SPA & FITNESS) supports your healthy lifestyle combining traditional spa services & workouts and the latest in aesthetic skin treatments (we all were ready to sign up when we saw a photo of these services being performed onshore under a cabana on one of the islands)! ENTERTAINMENT PLACE is a mixture of show-stopping theater, live comedy, a nightclub, a jazz club, and an ice-skating rink. Play your favorite game of chance in Casino Royale℠ or take in a hit Broadway show like Chicago The Musical or Hairspray. POOL & SPORTS ZONE offers everyone a place to play or simply relax in the sun with two FlowRider surf simulators, a zip line, miniature golf, sports court, rock climbing wall and a pool area with a sports pool, a beach pool, an adult-only Solarium and 10 whirlpools. THE YOUTH ZONE is where kids and teens find their perfect place – they can have fun, learn and make new friends. THE DREAMWORKS® EXPERIENCE is a Royal Caribbean exclusive and part of Youth Zone: a world filled with Shrek®, Madagascar® , Kung Fu Panda™ and more via live shows and 3-D movies – with a chance to meet the characters up close and personal.
You’ll see a few of the pictures that I took onboard (as they say: “worth a thousand words”).

THE SMALL:  A few years ago, I had been invited to celebrate the inaugural sailing of one of two of Azamara Club Cruises’® newest ships: The Quest® (the other is called The Journey®). Azamara represents the “small” side of Royal Caribbean. In 2012 they will sail to 181 ports in 55 countries throughout the world.  Azamara has a “resort casual” dress code and many extras are already included such as gratuities and boutique wines with lunch & dinner. Their Land Discovery excursions are led by the best local guides to not simply see a new place but to discover its authentic nature.  The itineraries are very destination-oriented (with more overnights or longer stays that allow time for night touring).  For example, in Venice you could enjoy an early evening gondola ride and later dine with locals at a small restaurant, then bask in the pleasure of a Vivaldi concert in the city of his birth. On select evenings, local entertainment is brought onboard so you don’t even have to leave the ship! Sailing on Azamara gives you the opportunity to connect with real life and local culture in great destinations.  

Watch for announcements upcoming from Royal Caribbean on their new “Sunshine” Class ships.  This class is said to combine the best from all their levels of sailing.


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