With a 4am wake up call even my son looked a little shocked, but this was the day we would welcome Oasis of the Seas to the port of Southampton and I was not going to miss a moment of it. With nails and umbrella painted in yellow and blue, my camping chair, coffee flask, waterproofs, snacks, cameras, chargers, batteries and baby essentials packed, we set off for Mayflower Park.
We arrived at 7.30 am to find a group of around 20 people already gathered in anticipation. This was to be the first time I would attend a ship’s arrival so I had no idea what to expect. In my head there was a party going on but others appeared more relaxed and ‘in control’.
As I pulled into a parking space I saw my fellow cruise specialist, ship geek, cruise lover Lee Mudkins (who has since abandoned land based work for a life at sea) and his father, which made me feel at ease as I had cruised with them earlier in the year. They helped me with my many bags and we set up by the railings. This was a spot suggested to me by my trusted source Patricia Dempsey, who’s knowledge of Southampton’s best ship spotting locations and knowledge cannot be beaten.
I was prepared for a long and boring, cold and tiring wait. Why I bothered to bring the chair I don’t know because with all the excitement I couldn’t sit down or relax. Everyone was chatting about it and there was a real buzz in the air. Over at the Pier you could see a huge crowd had gathered to get a closer look of Oasis and she passed.
There were a couple of men with walkie talkies listening to the Port of Southampton’s Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) for communication between them and the ship’s Captain. Royal Caribbean had generously offered complimentary tea, coffee and bacon rolls for visitors that morning, so Lee kindly went and gathered supplies, which were proving popular with the local workmen as well as the slowly increasing numbers of people turned out to welcome the ship. A tug boat moved out of the harbour starting whispers from people saying that it was ‘going to bring her in’. To my relief some female faces started to fill the gaps in what had been a predominantly male crowd. Like me, they were finding it a challenge to contain their excitement.
Then I saw my first sign, the jet. The spray from the tug boat celebrating the first arrival of Oasis of the Seas into Southampton. I jumped up and down and grinned from ear to ear. “Here she is” I said and the atmosphere grew. Everyone was just staring for their first glimpse of the ship. Then she finally came into view. There she was, the awesome, the incredible, the amazing Oasis of the Seas. A truly phenomenal feat of engineering.
It is impossible to describe or capture on a camera the enormity of the ship. You can’t believe your eyes and you just have to keep looking at the other ships to compare.
Oasis blew her horn and a Saga ship and Azura responded with what seemed to be a squeak in comparison.
We watched her as she passed us, everyone clicking their cameras, eyes wide, lots of WOW’s could be heard along with an awe inspiring quietness.
Passengers lined the top deck and others were taking in all the glory from the comfort of their own balcony staterooms. You could see the huge Aquatheatre, Boardwalk and interior balconies at the aft as she docked.
What an incredible ship, perfect for anyone who thinks cruising is too boring or don’t like the idea of being on a ship. It’s more like a floating resort. I was lucky enough to cruise the Caribbean in 2011 on Oasis of the Seas and it completely changed my view of huge cruise ships.
Feel free to contact me directly for further information on this ship and the cruises available. Alternative ly you can go to www.royalcaribbean.co.uk or contact your local travel agent.