By law, cruise ships must be taken out of the water every five years for inspection and maintenance. Oasis of the Seas entered service in 2009. Consequently, in the fall of 2014, Oasis crossed the Atlantic to Europe and spent two weeks in a drydock in Rotterdam. During this time, Royal Caribbean hired some 1,500 contractors and spent millions of dollars on maintenance and improvements to the ship.
Martin Rissley has been the Hotel Director on Oasis for the last four years. As such, he knew the ship before the drydock, was involved with the planning of the work as well as its implementation and lives with the finished product. I asked him to discuss the changes and the new Oasis.
Perhaps the most visible result of this interlude was that Oasis emerged from the drydock with her hull a different color than before. While technically Oasis' hull has always been blue, it was a shade of blue that looked white in most lights. Now, the hull is distinctly blue.
“We re-painted the hull a deep blue. [However,] we were not concerned with aesthetics at all. It was all about efficiency through the water and reducing fuel consumption. It cost several hundred thousand dollars to re-paint this hull but it pays off in efficiencies.”
While in drydock, other nautically-related work was done on the ship. “We replaced an engine. We did massive maintenance work on the propellers, the azipods and things like that - - just a general tune up across the board.”
Because Oasis was going to be out of service for two weeks, Royal Caribbean also decided to do work on the ship's hotel. This work falls into two categories: refurbishment and revitalization.
The first category includes largely cosmetic work done in order to give the ship a fresh atmosphere. Cruise ships do refurbishment work such as replacing carpets on an ongoing basis even when they are in service but some refurbishment work must wait until there are no passengers around.
“We did a lot of work that is either noisy or dusty that you can't do in service. [For example,] we did a lot of tiling. On any ship, with the movement, you are going to get cracked tiles that need replacing. We re-tiled the entire Boardwalk, for example. It was a massive job.”
“We also did what we call 'revitalization.' These are major changes to the ship and that is generally what the guest is going to see.”
Beginning with accommodations, “we increased our overall stateroom capacity by 44 rooms - - a combination of 10 suites and 34 of a variety of different types of rooms.”
“These ideas came from designing Oasis 3 [Harmony of the Seas].. As they were designing it, they were looking for more effective use of the space.” Since Harmony will be very much like Oasis, the Harmony designers' ideas for efficient use of space could be transplanted to Oasis.
“We found some very creative spaces that we were able to [covert]. For example, we built six additional Aqua Suites. They are all the way aft on Decks 14, 12 and 11. They were basically empty verandas. Guests had access to them but nobody knew they were there. They were just empty space. So we converted that.”
“We also converted what used to be the Diamond Lounge - - we made that five staterooms.” Diamond and Diamond Plus level members of the Crown and Anchor Society loyalty program now have access to the former Concierge Lounge on Deck 11, which has been renamed the Diamond Club.
“Also, we converted a lot of what was technical space into what are now guest staterooms.” This included “what used to be air conditioning fan rooms, which take up a lot of space that can be better used for essentially generating revenue.”
“We took our previous Royal Suite and we broke that up into six individual ocean view staterooms with balconies.”
This does not mean, however, that there are no more Royal Suites on Oasis. “Previously, up on Deck 17, [we had] a wedding chapel as well as a Pinnacle Lounge. They were not actively utilized so now they are two beautiful Royal Suites with double deck floor-to-ceiling windows.”
Cruise ship interview - Royal Caribbean International - Oasis of the Seas - Hotel Director