/ The Cruise Traveler
Cruise — By rwahlstrom on November 15, 2009 at 12:03 pm

My Oasis of the Seas story

Let me begin by saying it was a perfect South Florida day. The sky was cloudless and blue. The temperature, around 72 degrees with a cool, 9 mph breeze out of the northwest.

I had spent most of Saturday teaching my online business statistics class, so by 3:30 in the afternoon I was most definitely ready to get out and go run somewhere. I have, until now, resisted posting an “Oasis of the Seas” story because, frankly, everyone else on the web already has. You probably already know, the Oasis is the new world’s largest passenger vessel with a jaw dropping capacity of 5,400 (this doesn’t include the crew). Why should I pass on the same press you can already read elsewhere? A google search reveals over 2,000 news stories alone. Here is one from my own Miami Herald.

Yes, the ship has its own Central Park featuring boutiques, restaurants, a tattoo parlor and bars (the Rising Tide bar can be raised or lowered to three separate levels). Yes, the ship houses the first living park at sea with over 12,000 plants and 56 trees as well as a boardwalk featuring a handcrafted carousel. But it was also a nice day, and I just needed somewhere to go run. So I decided to head up to Ft. Lauderdale and check things out for myself.

I prefer to drive up A1A, so I can enjoy looking at the oceanfront hotels, condos and private residences as I make my way north – some might call it the scenic route.

Unlike the Port of Miami, Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale is closed off by security – so rather than trying to talk my way in with a Planet Eye Traveler press pass, a decided to enter via John Lloyd Park. I paid my four bucks to go into the park and after winding my way back to the boat launch, anticipation working my heart rate up, I began to see cruise ships. The top decks of the truly monstrous Oasis appeared towering from behind now relatively small sister cruise ships waiting to embark on their own glorious journeys. Proud and beautiful in their own rights, I imagined them being slightly jealous as passengers aboard their decks were lined up looking at the Oasis. The hair stood up on my arm. I needed a better view.

Driving out of park and around to the port I saw people lining up in their cars along the fence that surrounds the port – standing on fenders to try to get high enough for photos. It was as if Paul McCartney of the Beatles (or Miley Cyrus for a more contemporary analogy) had been sited. A police officer in his patrol car soon appeared with lights flashing as he called out through a loudspeaker “move on – you can’t park here.” I decided to look for another angle.

The best view was from SE 17th street bridge, which was lined with gawkers taking snaps. The Oasis is truly an amazing feat of engineering – it looks to be half again as wide as the other ships. And there were a number of them; Celebrity, Princess, Costa, Seabourn’s new Odyssey, Holland America. The stars were all out and I was at the Oscars. In fact, Rihanna will be performing on the Oasis on Nov. 19, followed by a national television debut on ABC’s Good Morning America Nov. 20 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Having satisfied that itch, and still wanting to jog the beach, I returned to John Lloyd Park.  However, by the time I got back it was nearing dark and closed. So I parked at the Dania Pier and ran north into the park along the two-mile stretch of sand beach that ends at the “cut” where ships pass in and out of Port Everglades.

Dania PierIt was an incredible South Florida sunset. Those colors on the Miami Dolphins uniforms aren’t made up, they come from South Florida’s aqua and coral evening skies. As I proceeded forward, each step left a mark in the sand behind me, forming zig zag tracks as I darted left and right to avoid the white froth shooting up onto the beach with the rhythm of the waves. In front of me, one cruise ship after the other slowly sailed out through the cut. Each spread its own sparkling jewels of light into the darkening night; ultimately a total of six cruise ships formed a floating illuminated chain that drifted away to unknown destinations throughout the Caribbean and perhaps, the world.

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