zipliningIn just a few short weeks, TBEX at Sea will board Oasis of the Seas, one of the world’s biggest cruise ships – and even if you’ve been on plenty of cruise ships before, there’s a lot about this one in particular that makes it exciting.

Oasis is no longer the newest ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet (that honor belongs to Anthem of the Seas, which will make its American debut in early November).  But it’s one of the most beloved, when you take a look at the passenger reviews compiled on Cruise Critic, the world’s leading cruise review site and online cruise community. More than 1,000 people have rated their vacation on the 5,400-passenger ship “excellent” or “very good,” with plenty to do for everyone in their family.

The best reason to be excited about Oasis of the Seas is that the ship itself is an engineering marvel. When the vessel was built in 2008, it immediately created a new term in cruising: Megaship. Despite its size, cruise experts such as our editor in chief Carolyn Spencer Brown remark on how uncrowded the ship feels and how organized embarkation is. The ship also received a dry dock in late 2014 that added new restaurants, faster internet and new suites.

Here are the top reasons why participants in TBEX at Sea should be excited to travel on Oasis of the Seas (and if you want more info, do check out our full Oasis of the Seas ship review. If you’re going, we’re looking forward to seeing you there!

1.  Central Park. The leafy neighborhood is one of Royal Caribbean’s innovations, and by all accounts, the space feels as special now as it did when it debuted. This is the place to go if you want to escape families with a quiet book or have a glass of wine “outdoors” in Vintages.  The roast beef sandwiches at Park Café are to die for.

2.  AquaTheater. With 20 performers involved – six divers, four synchronized swimmers, six acrobats and four specialty divers – the show at the AquaTheater needs to be seen to be believed. Tip from Cruise Critic readers: While it’s best to reserve your seat ahead of time, there are a lot of no shows the day of – so go 10 minutes early, and you’ll likely get a spot.

3.  Vitality Spa and Fitness area. As dedicated spa hounds, we find it impossible to take a cruise without getting a treatment. Oasis’ spa area is a neighborhood unto itself, including a thermal suite, gym and café. If you’re worried about over-indulging in food and drink, bring your running shoes: the ship’s wraparound track on Deck 5 comes complete with motivational slogans.

4.  Solarium. Oasis has four pools and 10 whirlpools, including a Beach Pool that has bright umbrellas and a Sports pool specifically for water volleyball and other games. But one of the best escapes is the Solarium, the adults-only area on the bow – hello, great views! (Click here for a complete gallery of Oasis of the Seas photos).  

5.  Prohibition Party. While the ship will have plenty of free parties, including sailaway, one of the newest is the Prohibition Party, held in the Jazz on 4 Lounge. The $35 cover includes drinks, and the passengers, age 21 and up only, are encouraged to dress up in Jazz Era duds. Seeing as TBEX at Sea will take over Halloween, this is yet another chance to dress up!

6.  Specialty restaurants. Oasis of the Seas has a staggering amount of restaurants onboard, including a few that were added in 2014. Among the ones we recommend: Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar (for the tableside guacamole); Izumi for sushi; and 150 Central Park, the ship’s showcase restaurant. Tip for TBEXers: Specialty restaurants usually have discounts on the first day.

7. Casino. Like to gamble? Well, even if you don’t, you’ll want to check out Casino Royale, one of the largest and most sophisticated casinos afloat. Not only does it have a Museum of Gaming, dedicated to exploring the history of gambling, there are dramatic sculptures, crystal chandeliers and an area for non-smokers. Plus with 450 slot machines, we’re bound to get a little bit lucky, right?

8.  Zipline, Ice Skating, Rock Climbing and FlowRider. A truly wide range of activities is the reason that Royal Caribbean stands out from other lines – and Oasis of the Seas has options in droves. Wanna zipline across the entire ship? Learn how to surf? Ice skate at sea? You can do all that, plus climb a giant rock wall. Don’t worry if you’re not active. It’s still fun to camp out and watch – maybe you’ll capture a wipeout on your camera!

Author Bio:  Chris Gray Faust is Senior Editor at Cruise Critic, where she oversees all of the website’s destination and port content, as well as news coverage and blog. Creator and publisher of Chris Around The World, Chris has won a Lowell Thomas Travel Writing award for blogging and has worked as a staff writer at the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, the Philadelphia Inquirer and USA TODAY, where she served as travel editor. She has a journalism degree from Northwestern University and a master’s degree from Brown University. She lives in a renovated barn in Bucks County, Pa. with her husband, two cats and a dog.

Chris will be speaking at TBEX North America about How to Write a Review. Cruise Critic is a sponsor of TBEX at Sea.