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Cruising The Isles

Royal Caribbean International now has the largest cruise ship on Earth, the Oasis of the Seas. My first sensation after seeing shots of the oxymoronically named vessel lowering its smokestacks to squeeze under a bridge on its tiger cruise was something like admiration mixed with nausea, kind of like what I get watching the Nathan's hot dog-eating championship: "Does this represent achievement or merely excess, a show of competitive advantage or an elaborate performance art piece about consumption?"

As I watched footage of the $1.5 billion ship slip microns beneath the bridge's supporting girders, my imagination followed along. I pondered why such a vessel like this needs to actually go anywhere, as it encompasses within it a good percentage of the Earth's surface. I imagined the skipper's chagrin as the front of the vessel reaches its port of call in Nassau while the stern is still sucking mud in Port Everglades.

I have looked at the stats: the boat is so large that the Bermuda Triangle has actually disappeared into it. When they tested the on-board toilets by flushing them all at once, there was a measurable rise in regional sea levels. The boat's crew is, by itself, large enough to fill a standard cruise ship, which means the ship will have to be paired with a second vessel of standard size devoted to housing its 2,100 staff, along with a corollary staff of some 1,370 psychotherapists trained in treating post-traumatic stress disorder. The thing burns, I'm told, 10 tons of diesel fuel per hour just to run the electricity onboard, and the official literature says the ship will have to be followed by yet another vessel -- a barge -- entirely full of salad dressing for the buffet.

The behemoth is to have a central park that is, incredibly, Central Park, which will be removed to the ship with New Yorkers getting -- as a replacement -- an immense shuffle-board court designed by Donald Trump. The real Times Square will also be moved to the ship along with the New York Times (hoping for better circulation) and most of Scarsdale. Rumor has it developer Bruce Ratner is hoping to sell his New Jersey Nets to the steward, and Brooklynites, in their usual misguided idealism, are trying to sell Royal Caribbean the F train.

The ship is said to have a nascent legislature, a prime minister, Food, Drug and Cocktails Administration, and a healthy debate on immigration reform. You have to have a passport to travel from the swimming pool to the Jacuzzi.

This ship poses a marketing conundrum for Royal Caribbean that makes Chrysler's problems look like Hyundai's. Why? Because this thing is designed, clearly, for people who have no desire to experience what Melville called the universal desire to go to sea. This ship is for people whose universal desire is to go to the mall. Maybe a mall that rocks back and forth a little and offers Dramamine. No wonder the tag line is "The Nation of Why Not?"

But Weber Shandwick, the company's PR firm, should be applauded for doing a ship-shape job on publicity. Since taking delivery of the ship earlier this month, the company has had "Good Morning America" on board, for a show that featured callipygian host Melissa Rycroft bubbling that, "I love Oasis of the Seas; it's my new favorite ship." And next Monday, the company will christen the ship with not one, but seven "godmothers," including Gloria Estefan, Michelle Kwan, Jane Seymour, Daisy Fuentes and Shawn Johnson.

And kudos to RC for putting on its game face. We are guessing the company wanted to take delivery of that thing about as much as competitive eater Joey Chestnut wanted that 68th hot dog.

3 comments about "Cruising The Isles".
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  1. Tanya Gazdik from MediaPost, November 24, 2009 at 1:03 p.m.

    Karl, you crack me up.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 25, 2009 at 11:53 a.m.

    You are so right. The waste is a disgrace.

  3. Karl Greenberg from MediaPost, December 2, 2009 at 12:26 p.m.

    Thanks, now i'm hoping to get an invite

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