Myth – I hear some ships carry 6,000 passengers. It must feel very crowded.

Actually, it’s just the opposite.  Since before the time of the Titanic and the Queen Mary (both the largest ships of their respective eras), cruise ships have been getting larger and larger.  Today’s largest cruise ships dwarf those of the 20th century.  The Oasis-class ships (Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, and the soon-to-be-completed Symphony of the Seas, with one more un-named ship in the series to be launched in 2021), all owned by Royal Caribbean and each costing about one and a half billion dollars, are roughly five times larger than the Titanic.  Each one can accommodate about 6,300 passengers plus another 2,100 crew and staff.

When Lyn and I first boarded the Oasis of the Seas we couldn’t wait to see the one ship on the planet that carried as many people as populated the entire village in which we lived.  Previous to our Oasis cruise, Lyn and I had been on several cruises, experiencing ships that carried passenger loads from about 2,000 to more than 3,500.  Until the launch of the Oasis of the Seas (the first of the planned five of the series), these ships were among the largest in the world.

The Oasis wasn’t just a modest increase in ship size.  It was a giant leap forward (pun fully intended), almost doubling the capacity of most of the larger of the world’s cruise ships.  When we booked our cruise on the Oasis, Lyn and I both were a tad concerned that the ship was going to feel crowded.  Wow, were we ever wrong.  The effect was just the opposite.  The ship was far bigger than we expected it to be.  This gave the architects the ability to not only accommodate over 8,400 people with staterooms and crew’s quarters, but they also left tons more room for everything else.  More theaters, more dining areas, more stores, more pools, more everything.  Not only more of everything, but everything got so much bigger. A lot bigger.  Even hallways and stairwells and elevator areas got bigger.

The ship is so massive that they had room to create a replica of a Manhattan Boulevard, with retail shops, a pizzeria, coffee house, sandwich shop, ice cream parlor and candy store, several pubs, and more.  It’s not only wide enough and long enough for an evening stroll, but it is several stories tall with a ceiling painted like a New York sky.  And if that wasn’t enough, on the open-air deck above that they created a replica of Manhattan’s Central Park, with a meandering sidewalk bordered by all sorts of live bushes and trees (first ever on a cruise ship), and surrounded by several restaurants.

Wherever we went on that ship we marveled at the size of the spaces.  And because of its huge proportions, the seemingly impossible number of humans roaming around its many decks (this ship sails full every week) is so dispersed that Lyn and I continually asked ourselves and each other, “Where is everyone?”