The Royal Comeback: Oasis of the Seas Returns

The Royal Comeback: Oasis of the Seas Returns

After 18 months, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas is set to return to public sailings September 5. TravelPulse Canada was the only Canadian media on board last week for an inside peek during their simulation cruise to the Bahamas.

The ship recently went through a $165 million amplification. The first to introduce the unique seven-neighborhood concept and one-of-a-kind AquaTheater entertainment venue in 2019, Royal Caribbean International’s original ship will set a new standard for family vacations with first-to-brand experiences and the latest Royal Caribbean hits.


As Senior VP Hotel Operations Mark Tamis explains the word “gamechanger” is often overused, but this amplification truly is one.

“When Oasis first launched, it really was, not only for us, but for the entire industry, a gamechanger. That’s probably a term used too often, but it truly was. It was something that even people within the cruise industry didn’t think could be done; that a ship this size could not only be built, but then still deliver a great vacation.

We took the best from the new ships which at the time were Oasis, Harmony and Quantum and brought it here to the original and that’s really what the amplification is about.”

The neighbourhood concept is working. With a ship of this scale – 226,838 gross tons, and a capacity of more than 6,000 guests and over 2,000 crew, it would be easy to think the ship is going to be busy and packed.

“It’s not, and that’s because the ship was so very specifically designed with the neighbourhoods and each neighbourhood has experiences within it, whether dining, entertainment or accommodations.”

The iconic Oasis of the Seas setting sail from the New York area in advance of its Big Apple debut on Sept. 5. The game-changing ship will be the largest ever to call the region home.

(Stay tuned this week for an in-depth look at all the updates)

If the amplification is a “gamechanger” then it must be said that so is the level of safety protocols in place on the ship. Royal Caribbean doesn’t just follow the guidelines set by the CDC, they helped create them.

“We started the work with what our internal team called “Healthy Sail Panel” – where we brought together major experts for meetings. I remember doing the introductions and thought wait, you were just on CNN, you were on MSNBC. We had very high-profile experts on our team to guide us.

“The Healthy Sail Panel came up with 74 solid recommendations and every meeting was done in cooperation with the CDC, there was always a CDC representative present.

Almost all those recommendations ended up as part of the official CDC guidance for all cruise lines to come back into business. “

Tamis says the only place he feels completely comfortable is on a cruise ship, so much so he had his 83 year old mother on board, her first trip since COVID.

“Where else are most people vaccinated and you know they’re vaccinated? We don’t know that walking around in the general population. I’m not talking politics around vaccinations, but it’s a proven way to help mitigate the spread and the effect and severity of COVID. That plus the testing – we know that every guest has a negative test. “

Tamis says when he was thinking about coming back into service he wondered how could Royal Caribbean could provide everyone a great vacation while wearing a mask, while enforcing protocols and while reminding guests to please put their mask back on? Life is more stressful than it’s ever been and they’re here because they want to get away from that.

The answer was the crew.

In addition to “smizing” training (smiling with your eyes), Tamis says the best thing about Royal Caribbean International has always been the crew who are the heartbeat of Royal Caribbean International and the way they have responded has “blown him away.”

Like the “Smile Behind the Mask” badges crew wear, showing a picture of what they look like without the mask. A crew member came up with the idea, went to the photo department and made one. Royal Caribbean loved it so much, they implemented them across all ships, starting in December 2020 with Royal’s first ship Quantum in Singapore.

“Crew come up to me all the time, some with tears in their eyes and tell me how grateful they are to be back at work. And how grateful they are to us as a company for getting the company back into business.

I think that’s the most amazing part.”

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