Now that Oasis of the Seas has settled into her regular routine I thought this would be a good time to get an update on the ports we are visiting. I’ve asked Craig Milan to give us a glimpse of how the ports are handling Oasis as well as some of the guest feedback.
I thought it would be good to update everyone about how Oasis of the Seas is doing in her ports of call.
Oasis of the Seas is now in the midst of her 11th voyage (10th regular Eastern Caribbean itinerary) and by all accounts the ports of call have been going extremely well. You may recall the ship’s current itinerary is departing Port Everglades on Saturday followed by two sea days before she arrives in St. Thomas and then onto St. Maarten. We then feature one more sea day with a Friday arrival into Nassau, Bahamas. For operational reasons, we switched up itinerary over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays by calling at Nassau on Sundays instead of Fridays. Both versions have worked well but it would be nice to hear from you all as to if you think we should stay with the current Friday call in Nassau or the Sunday arrival.
Our new terminal in Port Everglades, Terminal 18, is working even better than we thought. We have been able to maintain our goal of getting our guests from curbside to ship in 15 minutes or less. This terminal is easily the most efficient of any within our worldwide system. Not only has the boarding process been going well but also the departure from the ship. US Customs and Border Protection processes have been smooth and have enabled us to clear the ship on most Saturdays by 10:30 am at the latest.
In St. Thomas we are calling at the Crown Bay dock, which is a departure for us since we usually use the dock at Havensight for all other ships. Crown Bay has been working very well. All guests who have purchased tours from us are dispatched from a segregated area only a short walk from the ship. There are ample taxis and other transport available and the shopping at Crown Bay, whilst not as extensive as at Havensight, seems to have resonated with our guests. St. Thomas remains one of the premier shopping destinations in the Caribbean and our guests on Oasis are taking full advantage of the myriad of shops available to them.
St. Maarten built a new dock expressly for Oasis and this facility is working great! In fact, just the other day our friends in St. Maarten sent me a picture of a six-ship day there with all six ships docked! This had not been previously possible. St. Maarten is another shopping mecca in the Caribbean and there continues to be a good assortment of shops available right next to the pier. The folks in St. Maarten have a very efficient water taxi service that takes our guests from a dock near where we berth to the downtown area. This service runs continually and is very inexpensive method to travel to/from the port to Philipsburg (Capital of the Dutch side). Of course, St. Maarten offers the unique aspect of having two very distinct flavors, Dutch and French. Transport to the French side of the island is always available and enables all of our guests to experience the full flavor of this great destination.
Nassau, which has always been a significant cruise destination, is almost done with their $50M dredging project. As you enter the port, one can see the massive amounts of dredge material that have been taken out. Our friends in Nassau took it upon themselves to begin this project so that Oasis would be able to maneuver more easily within the harbor. Captain Bill could not be happier with this project since Nassau has traditionally been a “tight” port according to him. The dredge, which is visible upon entering the port, came from Dubai and is one of the largest in world so look for it as the ship enters the harbor. One of the key aspects of the operation in Nassau is that all water tours are now dispatched directly at the head of the pier (only a short walk from the ship). This is a change from the way all other ships handle water tours. Nassau continues to offer everyone a full complement of activities from shopping to simply laying on the beautiful beaches.
Lastly, I wanted to comment on our new shore side security screening process at each port. When we began the Project Genesis six years ago, my team looked at all possible bottlenecks that might occur with a ship this large. We found that the security screening of our guests onboard typically caused some types of queues in each port, particularly at the end of the day when everyone was coming back at the same time. So to ensure the process of reboarding the ship safely and securely could take place without any queues, we took a page from our Private Destinations of CocoCay and Labadee. We have been doing shore side screening at both of these destinations for years and it has worked great. This was a major departure however for the “public” ports above. We worked closely with each of the destinations to construct attractive and efficient shore side security screening buildings at each port and the reboarding of Oasis is as smooth as silk! We think that this will become the standard in many ports in years to come.
So there it is! Oasis continues to “WOW” everyone who travels on her both onboard and on-shore.