Rented Paradise Sailing to a Port Near You
Moving cities are no longer a science-fiction marvel. One, in particular, is making its way across the Atlantic for a Nov. 20 U.S. debut.
Remember the decadent fountains, majestic opera house and city-like interior of the gargantuan Fhloston Paradise in "The Fifth Element"? Or the blazing billboards of dozens of shops and cafés and at-your-foot entertainment aboard the Axiom in "WALL-E"? Well, move back a couple of centuries, and you'll find that the amenities of those ships are now available on the world's largest cruise liner, the Oasis of the Seas.
A Tale of One City
Oasis of the Seas is about 1,181 feet long and 213 feet high. It weighs 220,000 tons, beating former record holder Independence of the Seas by 60,000 tons. Its 2,700 cabins can accommodate 6,300 passengers and 2,100 crew members - that's greater than the population of resort cities of Provincetown, Mass. and Solvang, Calif. combined.
The ship boasts a 750-seat outdoor amphitheater and 24 dining venues, including one headed by Keriann Von Raesfeld, winner of the World Association of Chefs Societies Congress' "Best Young Cook in the World" title in 2008. There will be something for everyone: a jazz club, a dance club, a comedy club, ice-skating, golfing, a carousel, zip-line and rock-climbing wall. But the entertainment doesn't stop there. Those looking for a culture fix can watch Broadway's "Hairspray," which will be performed at the grand Opal Theatre. Themed "neighborhoods" such as Central Park and Boardwalk adorned with thousands of live plants will provide an area for relaxation that might make you feel like you never left land.
The price for renting cabins in this moving city is steep, exceeding other Royal Caribbean cruise fares by $300 to $500. However, you can find good deals for off-season sailings and for those interested in cruising in 2010, Royal Caribbean is throwing in $25 to $50 onboard credit and free travel insurance.
If money is no option, rent one of the luxury loft suites (right) at $2,000 to $7,000 per person, which range from 545 square feet to 1,524 square feet. The suites present their guests with large balconies and double bathrooms and each is outfitted with LCD flat-screen televisions, contemporary furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows.
For luxe-lovers with a budget mind, a departure on Oct. 9, 2010 would be best. For $849 a person (plus pocket money to indulge your shopping and/or drinking needs), you'll get to experience the real-life version of a Titanic-Fhloston Paradise mélange, although much safer, and available for non A-listers. Sure, you'd be sleeping in a closet-size inside stateroom, but it's really no different than what you'd get when renting in NYC. Plus, with all the available entertainment on board, who'd want to spend most of the time in a cabin anyway? And when you'd just need to rest your head for a couple of hours after a night partying at one of the ship's many lounges, an inside cabin is a prime choice. Besides, we think a vacation on this moving paradise tops any staycation in your hometown, no matter how cosmopolitan it is.
Sail-cation vs. Staycation
For an off-season, one-week cruise in an inside cabin aboard the Oasis of the Seas, you'd pay $849, which includes entertainment, food and use of sports facilities. It does not include alcohol, but even if we allow ourselves two cocktails a night at $10 apiece, the total is still under $1000 (and we're guilty of spending more than that for a week in Miami, NYC, or San Fran). Now let's compare all the ship's offerings to getting them à la carte when on a staycation.
When on vacation, you don't want to slave over the stove, so what do you do? You dine out! After all, you are trying to relax. Even if you make breakfast from the items you had in your fridge, eating out for lunch and dinner (with two glasses of wine included) at top-rated bistros and restaurants, would average approximately $60 ($20 lunch, $40 dinner) a day, or $420 a week. Cover charges to clubs could average anywhere from $10 to $40, and if you're the partying type, a weekend of letting loose at popular clubs could cost you around $80, no matter if you got a helpless sap to put your drinks on his tab. So that comes out to $500. Catching the latest flick or two adds up to $10-$20, and let's not forget a Thursday night musical to satisfy your cultural appetite ($50-$100). A daytime venture to the ice-skating rink with your gal pals could range anywhere from $15-$25, depending on the price of skate rental. If you decide to get your buns in shape, with a bit of digging, you can get a one-week free gym pass to the fitness center of your choice. But activities such as zip-lining and rock-climbing could cost you around $25 a pop, so even if you go once, that's still $50 spent. That's already at least $625, and we haven't even mentioned the cost of transportation: another $35-$75 a week, depending on what you use to get around town.
Ok, fine, so maybe you'll save a couple of hundred dollars with that math. But you won't get to come home to a clean room, chocolates and cleverly folded towels on your bed, you won't get to dive into crystal blue waters and bury your feet in white sand of a Caribbean island. And unless you live in South Beach, you won't get to lounge around in your bikini for a whole day, catching sun rays and sipping a chilly beer.
What do you think of the world's largest ship? How much would you pay to spend aboard a 'moving city?'