I am at the St. Thomas airport after three enjoyable nights onboard Oasis of the Seas’ maiden voyage and then not so enjoyably missing my flight back to Miami. I’ll be back briefly in Nassau on Friday for the traditional plaques and keys ceremony but I’m finished cruising on Oasis for the time being. I hope you all get to cruise on her.
We have nearly 1,000 Diamond Plus and Diamond members of the Crown & Anchor society on this cruise. The loyalty of these customers to our brand is breathtaking. Many of them now travel together, design handbags and other accessories for each other and generally know more about Royal Caribbean International than I do. I had dinner the other night with four couples and one single guest each of whom has cruised with Royal Caribbean over 100 times. One couple is boarding a ship in February and will cruise nearly continuously until May. There is a bit of a competition amongst some of them to see who can get to 300 cruises first. I would be happy to get a week of vacation.
At the Diamond Plus brunch event, Captain Bill and I got a taste of what it’s like to be a godmother. There were paper invitations that were blank on the back side and that became the opportunity to have us autograph dozens and dozens of invitations. One family came with their official Oasis of the Seas inaugural poster and had us sign that. The best one is the guest who won a watch in the raffle. That guest asked Captain Bill and I to sign the little pillow that the watch band goes around inside the box it comes in. For some reason the acronym CEO wouldn’t come out on the pillow.
I’ve played Presidential Ping Pong with travel agents many times but yesterday was the first time I played with paying guests. Almost every match involved a picture taking session and one player had me autograph the entry for Presidential Table Tennis in the Cruise Compass. There was one great story. A female guest came to play with her own racquet inside a very nice racquet holder. I shook her hand and asked if she played tournaments. She replied that 12 years ago she and a partner were the U.S. National Champion doubles team in age group competition. She was talking about 65 and over. Now she is 78 and playing with a bum knee so I won easily despite the energetic support she received from the crowd. Afterwards we discussed how she took up table tennis in her 50’s to keep occupied after her husband passed away. And became the national champion!!! Wow.
I went to the bridge to watch Captain Bill, the St. Thomas pilot and our navigation teams bring us into Crown Bay for the first time. Apart from a helicopter hovering overhead with a videographer, a film crew on the bridge shooting everything going on, the ship being featured on the first six pages of the local newspaper and all sorts of hoopla on the pier, you would never know it was our maiden call. Seriously, it seemed like everyone on the entire island was talking about Oasis of the Seas in person and on cell phones. The guy I bought the local paper from at the airport wanted to know how he can offer shore excursions to St. John to our guests. The CBP officer at the airport was two hours away from going onboard. The woman sitting next to me at the gate was fretting that the guests coming off the ship might affect traffic for whoever she was talking to. We don’t have as many guests onboard as will have in January, but hopefully the ports of call will feel an immediate economic benefit from the ship’s arrival.