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Super-sized cruise ships ready to set sail

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Entertainment,Andrea Farnum
When it comes to high-seas travel, cruise lines are banking on the idea that bigger is better. Within the year, most of the top cruise companies are launching new ships with colossal changes both in size and amenities.
Complete with over-the-top bells and whistles, Royal Caribbean will introduce, in the fall of 2009, its revolutionary new ship, Oasis of the Seas.
Weighing in at 220,000 tons (the next largest ship is 160,000 tons), Oasis of the Seas will  span 16 decks, feature 2,700 staterooms and be the first ship to tout the cruise line’s new neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas.
“The buzz has been tremendous,” said Dan Askin, assistant editor of Cruisecritic.com.
“Our members are particularly excited about the innovative features including an onboard boardwalk with vintage carousel; lush Central Park ‘neighborhood’ with real grass and trees; an Aqua Theater for Cirque de Soleil-style water shows; two-story loft cabins; and a rotating bar — all of which are unique to cruise travel,” Askin said.

“Royal Caribbean is proud to introduce a number of industry firsts on a level and scale that the world has never seen before,” said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. 
Although Royal Caribbean will corner the market on size, other cruise lines are upping the ante with new ships that feature cutting-edge design as well as innovative new elements. 
Norwegian Cruise Line will premier its next generation of ships, the F3, in 2010 complete with futuristic curved “wave” cabins, bowling alley, and an ice bar where the bar, walls, tables, stools, glasses and life-size sculptures will all be made of ice. “The F3 is unconventionally extraordinary,” said Colin Veitch, Norwegian’s president and CEO. “Every experience on board will be unique and like no other.”
With the over-the-top ship innovations, travelers may decide to put less focus on the destination and more on the ship features. 
“Royal Caribbean is taking the idea of ship as a destination to a new level,” said Askin. “You may not entirely forget you’re on a cruise, but the distinction between onshore and onboard is really being blurred.” 
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