6,296. 6,296 people. That is how many passengers the Oasis of the Seas can hold. Add to that 2,000 crew members and we are over 8,000 people on one boat. It is a floating city. It is terrifying.

David Foster Wallace once wrote, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” It was about cruising. Well played, Dave. Well played.

I arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday morning with the notion that all-inclusive cruises were the reason why the world hates Americans (I’m thinking of you, midnight buffets and the march of the XXXL’s). Don’t get worried – I haven’t had some life-affirming experience that has changed my outlook on cruising, but there are a few upsides to this floating Las Vegas that could help put it in a new light.

First of all, it’s a floating Las Vegas. Let’s look at the positives of that. Last year I went to Vegas four times (all for business, relax). When you go somewhere that often you need to learn how to make the most of it, which is how I have been approaching this sea titan. The upsides: Excellent restaurants, legitimate pool/hot tub scene, great bars and a spa/fitness center. And the views of the ocean don’t exactly hurt, which is something Vegas sorely lacks. Also – let’s not forget that cruising at this level was designed for the truly lazy (and no this does not belong in the negative column). When you are in Italy, you would be an idiot to sit by the pool all day. When you are in Ho Chi Minh City, you aren’t signing up for multiple spa treatments. But when you are on a Caribbean cruise? You go ahead. You lay by that pool, you meander off the boat at a leisurely pace only to return an hour later having accomplished nothing. It’s okay! Good for you!

Truth be told, cruising has come a long way and this ship was a definite game changer. You are no longer forced to eat at the same time with the same people holding awkward conversations (although you can, if you still want to). The entertainment has upped the ante in terms of electronics (and perhaps pyrotechnics) and everything just feels fresher and newer.

The downsides: Much of it is all-you-can-eat, which is often grossly taken advantage of. (I once heard a story about a guy at an all-you-can-eat that sucked sauce off of his plate to make room for more food. Oh, America.) Second, it’s all families and couples and once again I’m here alone, though that’s just the nature of the biz and no fault of the cruise line. Bucket of champagne for two for one? Yes, I will drink that all alone and further drown my loneliness by eating all of those chocolate covered strawberries….what?

Ahem. Point being, it’s not awful. I could actually see myself having some fun. But going back to Mr. Wallace, his outlook is probably with where my allegiance will align.

Advertisements