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Cruise ship interview - Oasis of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Hotel Director Raimund Gschaider
Oasis
of the Seas
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THE OASIS
EXPERIENCE

A CONVERSATION
WITH HOTEL
DIRECTOR RAIMUND
GSCAIDER OF OASIS
OF THE SEAS

by
Richard H. Wagner
CLICK HERE FOR A PDF VERSION OF THE ARTICLE
Hotel Director Raimund Gschaider began to work on Oasis of the Seas
long before the ship was delivered to Royal Caribbean International.  In
early 2009, the Austrian-born veteran of 17 different ships journeyed to
Turku, Finland where the ship was under construction to coordinate the
start-up planning for when the ship entered service.  He became so
intimately involved in the process that he received the nickname "The
Oasis Tsar."

Mr. Gschaider has nothing but admiration for the people he worked
with in making the world's largest ship a reality.  "You cannot go to a
shipyard and tell them: 'Build me an Oasis of the Seas.'  Everything you
see here has been developed together in conjunction with STX [the
shipyard] and the brightest minds in the industry.  You need to have the
right people to be able to do it.  You have to have the right guidance
from the visionaries within the cruise line on what it should be.   [The
senior management of Royal Caribbean was]  very much involved and
directed and challenged the operating groups to come up with new
concepts, new ideas and everything else."

He is also very pleased with the finished product.  "It is a new and
very different experience.  The way it is operating is beyond all
expectations.  It just flows, it just works, it just does what we all
imagined it to do."  

The Basic Formula

Mr. Gschaider explained Royal Caribbean’s approach to the task of
creating Oasis. "The formula of our new building strategy is one third
traditional, one third evolutionary and one third revolutionary.  You will
find that very well [implemented] here onboard Oasis of the Seas."

"We have kept a lot of the traditional elements [of a cruise ship] - -
certainly, what is traditional to Royal Caribbean such as the Viking
Crown Lounge and the Schooner Bar."

"Other elements continue to evolve from what we had on our latest
class of ship, which was the Freedom class."  To illustrate, Freedom of
the Seas was the first ship to have a surfing simulator (the "Florider")
onboard and to have hot tubs cantilevered over the sides of the ship.  
Oasis has two Floriders and cantilevered hot tubs that are half again as
large as those on Freedom.

"Then, Oasis is definitely revolutionary.  It just doubles what you can
do on a cruise ship - - what your cruise vacation experience can be.  It
is all about options and choices - - that is the big revolution."

For example, in the entertainment area, Oasis offers an array of
choices.  "We have the Aqua Show, which you pretty much only find in
Las Vegas.  We have an ice show all year round.  (I believe [Royal
Caribbean is] the largest producer of ice show performances year round
because we have nine ships which are continuously performing ice
shows).  In our main showroom now, we feature a full Broadway
musical.  We still have the entertainer programs.  We still have other in-
house produced shows, which rival any production you see these days
in design, technology and production values."

The way these entertainment facilities is used is also different from
most other cruise ships.   The shows are not performed consecutively or
one time only.  Rather, there are simultaneous performances with a
given show being repeated several times during the cruise.  "Like we
have an Aqua Show and a show in the theater taking place at the same
time.  It allows guests to really make choices.  It is not just talking
about them."

Along the same lines, Oasis offers numerous choices for daytime
activities.  "We have four different pool areas, which are distinctly
different.  You will see that they attract a very different profile."

"There is the kids' area [the H2O Zone].  All the little kids are there.  
Also, the other people onboard do not feel uncomfortable because the
kids have a place of choice to go to."

"You have the Sports Pool where we keep certain activity elements
going."  This pool area is particularly attractive to guests who like
organized sports and competitive activities.

"We have a Beach Pool.  You can lounge in the water.  It is also the
one salt water pool that we have."

The fourth pool, called the Main Pool, presents "a regular pool
environment" with a large pool, two big Jacuzzis and deck chairs.

"In addition to that, we have the Solarium area, which is for adult
guests only.  That is a very serene environment - - a little toned down,
nice and relaxing."

At the other end of the ship and at the other end of the activity
spectrum, Oasis has a large sports area with everything "from the rock
walls to the zip line, to the Floriders, to a full size mini-golf course.  
The pool deck is amazing.  It is a neighborhood, a sports active
neighborhood."

"Neighborhoods" is another revolutionary concept implemented on
Oasis of the Seas.  The public spaces are grouped into areas which
follow coherent themes, some of which are functional such as sports,
while others are idealized urban communities such as a seaside
boardwalk, a city park or a city street.  "I think the initial thought was to
offer several different experiences within the same ship.  
Neighborhoods are distinctly different one from another, so [the idea of
having] neighborhoods on the ship came to mind."  Once there was "a
core understanding" of the theme for each neighborhood, "the
surrounding areas were tailored around it."  As a result, the Boardwalk
area, for example, includes not just seaside entertainment facilities such
as the AquaTheater and a full-sized carousel but also casual dining
venues including a Johnny Rockets diner and a seafood restaurant and
shops geared toward a childhood day by the sea.

The passengers

Who is Oasis designed to attract?  "The marketing for Oasis is not
different than the marketing for the remainder of our fleet.  The ships
are designed for a more active mindset."

Still, that does not mean that Oasis is only for the young.  "We are a
cruise line that provides a fantastic vacation experience for all ages.  If
you are retired couple who want to enjoy quiet time, you will find your
space onboard this ship just as will the young family with a six and an
eight year old who want to try everything there is to try.  We get a lot of
multi-generational families traveling with us from the grandparents to
the kids and all of them find something to do onboard Oasis."

Mr. Gschaider acknowledged that older people tend to like smaller
ships for ease of movement.  However, on Oasis, the neighborhood
concept makes it unnecessary to walk back and forth the length of the
ship all day.  The neighborhoods combine entertainment venues, dining
and shopping in relatively small areas.   "You can do everything you
want to do in Central Park.  You don't even have to go out of Central
Park."

Although the ship is based in Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades),
Florida, the guests are not exclusively from America.  "Oasis really got
a lot of publicity all around the world.  This week we have around 60
different nationalities on the guest side.  Approximately 50 percent of
our guests right now are non-US guests.   Every cruise has slightly
different nationalities but it is very international."

Oasis has the flexibility to adjust to such changes in the mix of
nationalities. "Last week, we had 1,700 Brazilians.  We know their day
starts a little later and lasts a little longer.  We know they like to party.  
There is a very social aspect in the Brazilian culture so it is always
larger groups.  We created a couple of Brazilian parties and geared our
activities program towards them.  They were happy.  Fortunately, this
ship is so big that we can target programming in one area to say the
Brazilian aspect and the other areas maintain their more traditional and
international programming."

Inasmuch as Oasis is a  new and different experience, do people who
cruise often on other more traditional ships feel comfortable on Oasis?  
"This cruise alone we have 60 guests who have been with [Royal
Caribbean] for more than 25 cruises.  We have a thousand guests who
have sailed more than five cruises with us.  It is the same every single
week.  It is fair to say that a lot of these people are very traditional - -
they prefer or like the traditional element.  But even they - - people who
have been on 50, 80, 100 cruises - - are amazed and intrigued by what
Oasis has to offer.  It is simply because it flows; it is nice; you do not
feel the people."
CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE THE INTERVIEW
Colorful lights play upon the Beach Pool area.

The Solarium.
Central Park night and day.
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