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Taking Accessibility to New Levels: Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) much anticipated next generation cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas is ready for passengers. Rising sixteen decks high, she is the largest vessel afloat—and among the most accessible.

We toured the ship recently and can report first hand that the Oasis of the Seas offers the largest number of accessible staterooms of any ship, a total of 46. For the newer ships in the fleet, RCI has consistently maintained a standard of 1.7 percent of all staterooms designated as accessible, one of the highest percentages in the industry. Wider doorways, roll-in showers, grab bars and other assistive features ensure barrier-free vacations for guests. We especially like the fact that on the Oasis of the Seas, accessible staterooms are distributed throughout the decks, ensuring ample choices for location and category. One of the more deluxe choices is the ultra-modern, two-story Crown Loft Suite measuring 737 square feet–substantially larger than its non-accessible counterparts—and equipped with an elevator to transport guests between the upper and lower floors of the loft.

Of the 46 accessible staterooms on the Oasis of the Seas, 33 have balconies; eight with Central Park or Boardwalk views. Since most persons with disabilities travel with others, RCI designed half of the accessible staterooms on the Oasis of the Seas to accommodate more than two people. The ample number of family suites and adjoining staterooms facilitates multi-generational travel, a growing cruise trend. Twenty-two percent of all accessible staterooms connect to an adjacent non-accessible stateroom.

There are 24 dining venues onboard the Oasis of the Seas, all designed to accommodate guests in wheelchairs. Viewing space in lounges and theatres, including the ice rink, are configured for wheelchairs, as are card gaming tables in the casino. For those using “wheels” who want to ride the first Carousel at sea, there’s a ramp to help you do just that. As on every RCI vessel, at least one pool and one whirlpool have lifts.

The ship’s ease of accessibility is inviting news for travelers with limited mobility, and even those passengers who may not use wheelchairs or scooters at home, including show walkers, may want these aides to help navigate the Oasis of the Seas —she measures 1,184 feet from bow to stern.

When the Oasis of the Seas visits port and RCI’s private islands it’s easy to roll off/roll on via the gangway ramp for those in wheelchairs or on power scooters. No tendering.

The Oasis of the Seas and her staff effectively accommodate guests with physical disabilities relating to hearing, vision, breathing problems and other limitations. Like all vessels in the Royal Caribbean International fleet, the Oasis of the Seas is outfitted for people who are blind or have low vision. Menus, daily activity schedules and ship directories are available in both Braille and large print. Braille signage, including stateroom numbers and elevator information is a standard RCI feature. Your fingertips can even identify which deck you are on via Braille deck numbers on the staircases. The ship provides a 4 x 4 foot relief box for service animals.

State-of-the art, advanced technologies for people who are deaf and hard of hearing are available in staterooms and public rooms. If you are traveling with oxygen, the Oasis of the Seas welcomes all types onboard. Just alert the cruise line in advance of the quantity and type, and the method of delivery.

“Our goal is to allow persons with disabilities to enjoy a complete vacation experience,” according to RCI spokespersons.

As a preferred supplier for Royal Caribbean International, Special Needs at Sea / Special Needs Group is proud to help support the goal of a complete vacation experience for persons with disabilities. In fact, echoing a statement by Ron Pettit, Access Manager of RCI, taking a cruise onboard the new Oasis of the Seas is a chance to take a vacation from disability.

Welcome, Oasis of the Seas. We are glad this ship has come in.


December 3, 2009

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