Central Park Aboard The Oasis of the Seas

The Oasis of the Seas is nothing short of an engineering marvel, with a host of features and amenities that can't be found on any other cruise ship. Perhaps the most impressive of these feats is Central Park; the lush, outdoor, tropical landscape found in the heart of the ship. When the Oasis was commissioned, conventional wisdom from the experts in the field claimed that Central Park would never work. They insisted the conditions would prove too harsh for a floating park at sea to survive.

Naturally, Oasis of the Seas proved them all wrong.

Oasis of the Seas Central Park

During our cruise aboard the Oasis of the Seas, we toured Central Park with the director in charge of maintaining the area. His insight into the design, maintenance, and operation of Central Park changed my entire view of the area. No longer was Central Park just a source of tranquility with some pretty flowers, but instead was an engineering wonder like many things aboard the world's largest cruise ship.

Oasis of the Seas Central Park

The first task in the design of Central Park was figuring out what plants would thrive in the high winds and salty air aboard a cruise ship. To find the answer, Royal Caribbean set up a scale model of Central Park on their private island in Haiti, and tested a host of plant species while Oasis was being built in Europe.

Oasis of the Seas Central Park
Meet Garry, the Central Park Gnome.

There was just one important condition that the test facility could not replicate: movement. The climate on a cruise ship changes each day, especially during the fall and winter months. The result was that some of the plants that flourished in Haiti, didn't do so hot once aboard the Oasis. It took a few years of trial and error, but they eventually figured out what plants tend to enjoy life aboard a cruise ship.

Oasis of the Seas Central Park

Another logistical challenge with Central Park was the installation of all the plants. The park is found on the 8th floor of the cruise ship, meaning there is a host of wiring and other infrastructure found beneath it. Digging up the flower beds every time a repair was needed would be a time consuming and expensive task, so the designers came up with another idea.

Oasis of the Seas Central Park
The decorative tube at the end is actually a giant fan designed
to pull smoke out of the Promenade below in case of a fire.

The flower beds in the park are actually a labyrinth of steel boxes that hook into place and are suspended over the deck below. In addition, no two boxes are shaped alike, essentially making Central Park one giant 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The design is complex, but solved an important problem for the ship's designers. Now, anytime a repair is needed or plants need to be changed, it's as simple as popping out a few boxes.

Oasis of the Seas Central Park

Finally, the last hurdle in setting up Central Park was figuring out how on earth to get hundreds of plants onboard a cruise ship. When the Oasis arrived in Fort Lauderdale to prepare for her maiden voyage, the planners of Central Park informed Royal Caribbean's management that it would take 6 weeks for the area to be fully complete. They were given 4 days.

Oasis of the Seas Central Park
The Rising Tide Bar

To pull off this seemingly impossible task, the crew brought in an enormous construction crane on a barge that lowered all of the plants into Central Park, as opposed to the original plan of bringing them in by hand. They worked around the clock and managed to do the impossible, completing the park before the ship's first sailing. In addition, the crane idea worked so well, a smaller one was permanently installed on the ship, just on the off chance they need to swap out a dead olive tree. Of course, rumors have persisted for years that the crane is actually a missile defense system for the ship. 

Oasis of the Seas Central Park
No, the white thing to the left of the smokestacks is not a missile launcher.

Central Park on Oasis of the Seas is both the first of its kind and a marvel of modern engineering. The best part about it, however, is the peaceful retreat from the other 6300 passengers that it provides. So pull up a chair at the Trellis Bar, admire the beautiful surroundings and, most of all, soak up the tranquility of this improbable park at sea.

Enjoy Your Stay

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