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  #1  
Old August 24th, 2009, 05:37 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Default What do you want to know about Oasis of the Seas AND Turku, Finland?

If Rome is the capital of ancient civilization, it’s fair to say that Finland’s Turku, an ancient, one-time capital city lying on the country’s southwest coast, is a hotbed of inspiration for modern cruising.

Indeed, Royal Caribbean’s new Oasis of the Seas, the most innovative ship of our time, is in the final throes of construction at Turku’s STX Europe shipyard. Oasis is slated to depart the yard at the end of October; its first official cruise begins December 5.

Oasis’ sister ship, Allure of the Seas, is starting to take shape next on the next dock. And it’s important to note that STX’s Turku yard has produced other prototypical ships, especially for Royal Caribbean, that include its then-revolutionary Voyager class of ships and its evolutionary Freedom class vessels. Turku is also home to Crystal Symphony and Holland America’s Prinsendam (built originally as Royal Viking Sun for now-defunct Royal Viking Line), among others.

On this visit, we’re here first and foremost to pay a call on Oasis of the Seas. As an added bonus (!) -- throughout the week we will offer a variety of perspectives not just on the ship but also on this gorgeous coastal region. The tales we’ll tell will focus on the fabulous cruise ferry industry, which hatched so many of the ingenious ship features we think of as being created by mainstream vessels.

For fans of cruising in the Baltic region, especially those who’ve sailed the usual itineraries that call at Stockholm and Helsinki, we’ll offer a locals’ perspective via a quick overnight voyage on Silja Europa, one of many cruise ferries that ply not only the Swedish but also the Finnish archipelagos. It’s the locals’ way to travel by ship. And Turku itself, with its historic capital, picturesque setting on and around a series of islands, and strong arts and culture scene, is delightful port of call that’s off limits for bigger ships (its dock is limited in length rather than draught). Kudos to Fred. Olsen for offering calls to Turku on some itineraries.

(If you’re reasonably adventurous and making a repeat visit to Helsinki, Turku’s an excellent day trip but do keep an eye on the clock -- and make sure you return back to your ship on time).

I’m traveling this week with my husband, Teijo Niemela, editor of the industry business-to-business Cruise Business Review (cruisebusiness.com) who, more importantly, is the world’s foremost expert on Finland and its cruise traditions. He can answer anything about cruising and is the source of most of the more interesting tidbits you’ll read here.

This being a blog, it’s your forum too. Please do not hesitate to ask questions (about cruise ferries, Turku, the Finnish and Swedish archipelagos, and last but by no means least, Oasis of the Seas, which we’ll get a good look at on Thursday and Friday). For more details on what’s on Oasis of the Seas’ agenda, read here: http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=3383.

Carolyn



Carolyn Spencer Brown
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  #2  
Old August 24th, 2009, 05:53 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Default The Journey Begins!

From its exterior, Silja Europa is a cruise-ferry that operates 23 hour voyages between Turku to Stockholm every day. It’s nothing like the extremely basic ferries that Americans associate with the term (on these no-nonsense vessels you’re often lucky to find a vending machine that dispenses snacks much less a gourmet restaurant and if you’re lucky enough to take a nap you do it sitting straight up on a chair rather than reclining on a comfy bed in your own cabin).

This ferry, which like many of its brethren, equally hosts travelers from the region out for a quick and indulgent getaway and tourists who are jumping between Finland and Sweden on grand tours. And on decks two and three, there’s plenty of room for cars, buses, and trucks.

Like cruise ships, it’s got private cabins with ensuite baths, color television and mini-fridges. There are numerous dining options from the swank Maxim’s to the Food Market, a buffet venue, and beyond. Entertainment wise, the pub has a singer/guitarist, the disco has a DJ (and special effects, complete with colored smoke), Windjammer does karaoke, and the casino, though being European is small, has games of chance. Silja Land, the kids club, is reasonably busy on this weeknight cruise (small kids only; school age children are already back at their lessons after the summer break).

The most bizarre thing about embarking on this cruise ferry – and this is not unusual for this kind of vessel whatever the cruise line – is how quickly the process goes. Silja Europa arrives in Turku at 7:15 p.m. and disgorges up to 3,000 passengers and several hundred vehicles in less than a half hour It begins embarkation shortly afterward and, depending on the season (as with mainstream cruising, summer and school holidays attract the masses and their offspring while off-peak times appeal to more senior travelers), 30 minutes later the ship’s pulling away from the dock.

Mind you, most travelers aren’t weighted down with steamer trunks (there’s no luggage check-in; you bring it, you carry it). On our trip, some 1,500 passengers (not to mention cars and trucks) were hustled aboard Silja Europa in about 20 minutes. That’s partly possible because there’s absolutely no security beyond having your ticket scanned.

Because it’s late August and Finland still has the late summer sunsets, our 8:30 p.m. departure gives us a good hour or so of daylight.

Carolyn


Last edited by Dan Askin; August 28th, 2009 at 03:12 PM.
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  #3  
Old August 24th, 2009, 06:05 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Default Ship Spotting: Oasis of the Seas!

I hope that this is the tiniest view of Oasis of the Seas you’ll see from this trip! We’ll get closer (so much closer in fact that we’ll be on it but this shot, taken from Silja Europa as we sailed south on the River Aura, shows the shipyard, and Oasis, way in the distance).

My initial reaction to seeing Oasis, my first sighting of the ship since a visit to the shipyard way back last November? It was too big just to be Oasis of the Seas. “Wow, Allure of the Seas is really taking shape,” I commented authoritatively. My husband laughed for about five minutes before saying, “no, that’s all Oasis.”

You know, and we know that it’s a big ship (and it’s definitely pretty far away) – but still it sneaks up on you how large Oasis really is.

A couple of details you can pick up even from here: Behind the signature top-of-the-ship Viking Crown Lounge you can see the tower that’s part of the aqua theater (it’s like a long inverted comma, sort of).

Can you pick out any other distinctive features?

Carolyn
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  #4  
Old August 24th, 2009, 06:18 PM
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Default Sleeping on a cruise ferry

A member wrote in to ask this question and it’s a good one: on a cruise ferry’s overnight trip do you stay in a cabin?

Yes. As with the more mainstream cruises that we’re accustomed to, even the one nighters on Silja Europa and other cruise ferries offer a range of accommodations that start with the “executive suite” (248 euro, about $360, holds two people) and wind up with the “c class” cabin, on deck 2 below the two car/truck decks, that cost about $85 per cabin and sleep up to four people (not for the claustrophobic or for those who have vivid imaginations of cars sinking through decks and smothering them -- highly unrealistic by the way -- and they're totally basic with two twins, two bunks that come from the ceiling and a small bathroom with shower).

The per cabin price is not a typo – because everything, and I mean just about everything, on the ferries is a’la carte, from meals to using onboard pools. So the staterooms are priced like hotel rooms.

A couple of exceptions to the fee-extra policy that is prevalent on most if not all cruise ferries of this type – entertainment, such as karaoke and performers, is not charged for, and kids clubs are still complementary.

We booked a deluxe cabin (basic cabin with color television, small sitting area with two chairs and a table, gorgeous bay window, utilitarian bathroom with shower and skimpy towels, and way more closet space than anyone should need on a one night cruise, for 148 euro ($211).

We probably spent another 80 euro on a very nice dinner at the Maxin restaurant and a few drinks at the Windjammer before and the disco after. You could do worse….

Carolyn

PS If anyone's interested in more details about Europe's cruise ferry experience, I'd be happy to provide them; drop me a note. And check out our story on Europe's cruise ferry market: http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=342.
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  #5  
Old August 24th, 2009, 06:22 PM
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Thank you very much for all the updates! I cant wait to hear more about the Oasis and Allure Of The Seas!
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2009 Mariner Of The Seas (Inaugural Cruise From LA),Liberty Of The Seas, Mariner Of The Seas (Pacific Coastal) Oasis Of The Seas (First Pre-inaugural plus front row seats for Rihanna!) Oasis Of The Seas (TV Crew, Interviews, A Dream Come True!) Oasis Of The Seas (Inaugural)
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  #6  
Old August 24th, 2009, 06:25 PM
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Default Traces of Allure....

One of the lifeboats intended for Allure of the Seas waits forlornly for pick-up at Turku’s cargo port, just opposite Silja Europa’s dock. This isn’t one of the really fancy, extra-large lifeboats that have been designed for both Oasis and Allure, but it’s still pretty state-of-the-art. These are made by Norway-based Schat-Harding and brought to Turku by cargo ship where they’re transported to a barge and make their way to the shipyard from there.

Not everything that goes onboard Oasis and Allure is made in Finland!

Among the aspects of the ship that are created here include cabins, which are pre-fabricated and built on-site at a factory about 30 minutes north of Turku (curious? See our story on that process here: http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=405).

Carolyn
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  #7  
Old August 24th, 2009, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by editor@cruisecritic View Post
One of the lifeboats intended for Allure of the Seas waits forlornly for pick-up at Turku’s cargo port, just opposite Silja Europa’s dock. This isn’t one of the really fancy, extra-large lifeboats that have been designed for both Oasis and Allure, but it’s still pretty state-of-the-art. These are made by Norway-based Schat-Harding and brought to Turku by cargo ship where they’re transported to a barge and make their way to the shipyard from there.

Not everything that goes onboard Oasis and Allure is made in Finland!

Among the aspects of the ship that are created here include cabins, which are pre-fabricated and built on-site at a factory about 30 minutes north of Turku (curious? See our story on that process here: http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=405).

Carolyn
That sure is a big life boat! If i remember correctly the suites on the Oasis/Allure will not be built at the factory but built right on the ship. Do you if that's for sure?
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Past Cruises At Only 15!
2003 Radiance Of The Seas
2004 Mariner Of The Seas
2005 Mariner Of The Seas
2006 Voyager Of The Seas
2007 Explorer Of The Seas Mariner Of The Seas
2008 Voyager Of The Seas
2009 Mariner Of The Seas (Inaugural Cruise From LA),Liberty Of The Seas, Mariner Of The Seas (Pacific Coastal) Oasis Of The Seas (First Pre-inaugural plus front row seats for Rihanna!) Oasis Of The Seas (TV Crew, Interviews, A Dream Come True!) Oasis Of The Seas (Inaugural)
2010 Oasis Of The Seas
I'm now Diamond Plus!

NEXT UP:




Allure Of The Seas December 5, 2010
Allure Of The Seas January 2, 2011
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  #8  
Old August 24th, 2009, 06:31 PM
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Thanks Carolyn ...really enjoying this thread especially as it brings back memories of our first 'cruise' experiences...to Norway and to Sweden on these type of ferries...oh heck we thought we were so spoilt and posh then going on a 'ship'

First cabin we had was so small I had to make sure Alex was on his bunk before I opened the shower door in case I knocked him out with the door.
The casino was I think one roulette table.
We saved our hard boiled eggs from breakfast and ate them later for lunch to save money as we didnt know when we got on that we had to pay for all the meals...and they werent cheap meals

But the scenery made up for that...absolutely stunning up there
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  #9  
Old August 24th, 2009, 06:31 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Hi, and thanks for all the great questions. I'll take them with me and will, at the very least, have answers and more to the point should have many photos to share, too. We'll be updating the blog -- which incidentally is here: http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1047565 -- throughout this week and into next with new info and graphics so please check back often!

And we hope you'll chime in, too, but do head over to the blog to comment and participate.

Thanks for voting in the poll!


Carolyn
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  #10  
Old August 24th, 2009, 06:39 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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I'll double check but recalling my tour of the cabin factory, the suites are definitely "built in" to the ship. It's just standard cabins (balcony on down to insides) that are manufactured off site. But it's a little bit of a stretch to say "manufactured" (my word, LOL) because the cabins are assembled not by robotic tools but by workers....

Carolyn

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Originally Posted by Cruiserccl View Post
That sure is a big life boat! If i remember correctly the suites on the Oasis/Allure will not be built at the factory but built right on the ship. Do you if that's for sure?
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  #11  
Old August 24th, 2009, 06:53 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Hi, Liz, LOL re shower door!

And I'll tell you, I thought the restaurants were pretty pricey. We paid about 20-plus euro for each entree at Maxim's and I scouted out some other tariffs. A burger at a very casual restaurant was 16 euro. Where I come from a burger that costs 16 euro should have something, er, beyond cheese on it. Perhaps a diamond chip?

But you can bring your own food (people did) and buy cold sandwiches at the Food Market buffet that were freshly made and reasonable....

The best place of all was the Swedish smorgasbord!!! 24 euro for lunch, including wine and beer, beautifully prepared and a vast array of treats, from seafood to stews (and even, inexplicably, a Tex Mex station) and you don't need to eat again for a couple of days

Carolyn

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elizanessie View Post
Thanks Carolyn ...really enjoying this thread especially as it brings back memories of our first 'cruise' experiences...to Norway and to Sweden on these type of ferries...oh heck we thought we were so spoilt and posh then going on a 'ship'

First cabin we had was so small I had to make sure Alex was on his bunk before I opened the shower door in case I knocked him out with the door.
The casino was I think one roulette table.
We saved our hard boiled eggs from breakfast and ate them later for lunch to save money as we didnt know when we got on that we had to pay for all the meals...and they werent cheap meals

But the scenery made up for that...absolutely stunning up there
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  #12  
Old August 24th, 2009, 07:25 PM
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Hi Carolyn, I am enjoying this thread. Please keep 'em comming!!
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Old August 24th, 2009, 09:03 PM
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Love hearing about this ship! Keep it coming!
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Old August 24th, 2009, 09:13 PM
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Love hearing about this ship! Keep it coming!

ditto
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  #15  
Old August 25th, 2009, 03:33 AM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Default Oasis gets royal visitors!

The big buzz this morning in Turku is that Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and his wife Queen Silvia are jetting in this morning to visit Finland's president (the presidential summer palace is located in Naantali, near Turku) and guess what else?

You got it! They're going to be touring Oasis of the Seas. We'll try to get some pictures later.


Carolyn
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  #16  
Old August 25th, 2009, 03:55 AM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Default Forgot to mention

The Swedish royal visit is a very big deal in Finland. Did you know that Finland has two official languages? Yep, Finnish and Swedish. It's mandatory for school kids to learn both languages.

The country (well, not when it was officially "Finland" -- that didn't occur until 1917) had been ruled by Swedes (and Russians as well!). Certain parts of Finland are very, very Swedish -- especially Turku.

Carolyn
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  #17  
Old August 25th, 2009, 07:45 AM
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The most interesting part of our morning tour of Turku (which in fact was quite lovely all around) was the chance to visit the Raisio Marina. It's not that the marina, which is in the suburban town of Raisio, is anything special but for ship watchers it's got the best view in town!

Sorry for the hazy sky -- but here's what Oasis looks like today!

There are some signature landmarks that are easy enough to spot: the Aquatheater's structure, for one. The Solarium pool is forward (under the curving band of steel that's catching glimpses of the sun). The loft suites are on the back side of the Viking Crown Lounge (at least best I can tell); the balconies are covered for protection.

Anybody else catching anything interesting?


Carolyn
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  #18  
Old August 25th, 2009, 07:49 AM
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If the locals profess to dismiss Oasis as "just another big ship we have built in Turku" (someone said that today to me, seriously), at least tourists are excited! Raisio Marina's clearly not a secret for ship building fans!

Here's another angle of Oasis -- it's a backdrop for some tourists who are posing in front of it and you'll get a closer look at the forward part of the ship.

Carolyn




Photos are courtesy of Teijo Niemela, publisher of Cruise Business Review.

Last edited by Dan Askin; August 31st, 2009 at 01:26 PM.
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  #19  
Old August 25th, 2009, 08:02 AM
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Allure of the Seas, Oasis' twin ship, is being constructed on an adjacent dock at STX Europe. You can see it here -- and wow! The ship's really taking shape. It looks like -- from this angle at least -- that Allure of the Seas is waiting for its aft section and also is pretty much built up to the sundeck level.

Carolyn

PS Those fisherman in the foreground (including one fisher-woman) have a great view, don't you think? I didn't get the sense, alas, that they were catching anything though.
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  #20  
Old August 25th, 2009, 08:06 AM
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Default Oasis and Allure

The two ships, which are lined up bow (Allure) to stern (Oasis) are so long that I seriously couldn't find a place in Raisio where I could get both entirely in a photo. So the edge of Allure is cut off just the slightest bit -- remember though there's no aft section at all yet on Allure so you're not missing much.

Carolyn
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