On the way to Turku. Miami to Frankfurt to Helsinki and then a two hour car ride. Along the way I almost lost my laptop and then my Oasis start up jacket. I think I have everything with me as we get ready to land in Helsinki. I’m pretty sore as my self-administered punishment for not running the 5k fast enough on Saturday was to do another 5k race on Sunday. That’s insane but at least I can add consecutive days of sub-20 minute 5k’s to my list of running accomplishments. Oh, and I crammed in a table tennis lesson before the flight as well.
Excitement looms ahead. Three of my colleagues were on the flight with me to Frankfurt. There is a profound if temporary shift in our center of gravity from Miami to Turku with delivery of Oasis of the Seas in less than 48 hours. By Thursday this force of gravity will have re-set away from Turku and back towards Miami so definitively that we are trying to figure out how to properly acknowledge the float out of Allure of the Seas in three weeks because no one from Miami will be in Finland then.
Needless to say, when I arrive in Turku, Richard Fain will have already been scouring the ship for over 24 hours. Well, maybe he will sleep for a while but I wouldn’t bet on it. Of course I am also keenly interested in the physical ship, but my interest in how the team is doing is of equivalent intensity. Tomorrow morning our leadership will host two sessions with our officers and crew. Why two? Because our crew complement does not come close to fitting into the main theater on Oasis. We have no choice but to do this twice.
As we approach delivery, there are three totally distinct challenges directly in front of us. First is the crossing. This is our one chance without distractions to do what we need to do. We have 103 different training programs taking place. We also expect the crew to help us test out the guest offerings around the ship and, of course, learn how to perform their jobs in this new environment.
Second is the inaugural program. While the main purpose of the program is to ensure operational readiness, it is also crucially important to create the right first impression for travel agents and the media. The focus and array of tasks during the period from November 15 to 30 is incredible. From the Good Morning America broadcast to the Rihanna concert to Godmother details to charity cruise sales to a company board meeting to tours for major CEOs to dockside information programs for government officials, our preparations are already resulting in a whirlwind of activity. And did I mention the 12,000 plants and trees that need to go into Central Park?
Finally there is “normal” service beginning December 1st. There is great excitement about the first call to the “new” Labadee on December 3rd. On December 5th we start our first seven night itinerary and I will be onboard celebrating with all of our guests and crew, and in particular, welcoming our Diamond and Diamond Plus Crown + Anchor members. Despite everything that has to happen between now and then, we cannot take our eye off of the prize, which is the successful every-day operation of the most amazing ship ever built inclusive of a positive destination experience at all ports.