Royal Caribbean Ship Makes Maiden Port Call After 14 Years in Service

Oasis of the Seas has finally visited one Caribbean hotspot after 14 years in service. What took so long for the ship to sail there?

Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas has made her inaugural visit to the beautiful destination of Aruba – more than 14 years after the ship first set sail.

It certainly isn’t unusual for new cruise ships to visit ports for the first time, but it is more unique for an older vessel to have new destinations on her itineraries.

Oasis of the Seas Visits Aruba for the First Time

Oasis of the Seas made her very first-ever visit to the gorgeous island of Aruba on Wednesday, January 2, 2024 – more than 14 years after the ship debuted. The stop was part of the ship’s current sailing, a 9-night Southern Caribbean Perfect Day itinerary that departed Miami, Florida on Friday, December 29, 2023.

“We couldn’t be happier today with another first call in our Port of Oranjestad. Welcome to Oasis of the Seas’ first visit,” said Aruba Ports Authority (APA) while commemorating the occasion.

Inaugural visits are often marked with special ceremonies and greetings. Port officials will frequently present the ship’s master with a token to mark the occasion, such as a plaque, photo, or small sculpture. These items are typically displayed onboard in a gallery of sorts, which can be a fun exhibit for passengers to browse.

Similarly, the ship’s officers may also present port officials with a commemorative item, cementing the connection between the ship and the port and ensuring a good relationship for future visits.

Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship
Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Artesia Wells)

Also in port during Oasis of the Seas‘ first visit was P&O Cruises’ Britannia. Additional Royal Caribbean International ships will also be calling at the port this month, including Rhapsody of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, and Grandeur of the Seas. Even more ships will visit throughout 2024.

Aruba was the third of four ports of call on Oasis of the Seas‘ current sailing. Prior to arriving in Oranjestad, the ship enjoyed visits to CocoCay in the Bahamas and Willemstad in Curacao, and afterward, is visiting Falmouth, Jamaica, before returning to Miami on Sunday, January 7.

Why Hasn’t Oasis of the Seas Been to Aruba Yet?

Oasis of the Seas debuted with her maiden voyage on December 5, 2009 as the first in the revolutionary Oasis class of ships. During the 14 years the ship has been in service, she has sailed to many ports worldwide, including throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, Canada, and more.

The ship has been homeported in various locations to offer such diverse itineraries, including Miami, New York, Fort Lauderdale, Barcelona, and Rome.

It is not uncommon for cruise lines to move new ships around to various homeports in their first few years, especially when a ship is debuting a new class with all new features. This brings the new vessel to more travelers and generates greater interest and more bookings.

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas (Photo Credit: BA Arts)

Because Oasis of the Seas has been homeported several times from Fort Lauderdale and Miami, it is unusual that the vessel had not visited Aruba until this year. The tropical island – part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – is not as frequently included on Caribbean itineraries as many travelers may expect, however.

This is because of the island’s distance from US homeports. Aruba is 1,300 miles (2,092 kilometers) of sailing distance from Miami, the southernmost major US cruise homeport, and 1,500 miles (2,414 km) from Port Canaveral, the busiest passenger cruise homeport in the world.

Cruising to Aruba

Aruba is one of the stars of what are casually called the A-B-C itineraries – Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire. This is a popular Southern Caribbean itinerary for cruise lines, but because all three islands are just 60 miles (97 km) off the northern coast of Venezuela and so far from popular homeports, these are not frequently scheduled itineraries.

Cruises to reach Aruba do tend to be longer, with 7-night sailings generally the minimum to visit one of the A-B-C islands. Longer 8, 9, or 10+ night itineraries are more likely to include one or more of the coveted destinations.

Read Also: Best Things to Do in Aruba

These itineraries frequently have several days at sea in order for ships to comfortably reach the region, and may also include stops in other ports of call such as Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, or the Bahamas, depending on the cruise line and sailing route.

In addition to Royal Caribbean ships, vessels from Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, TUI Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Virgin Voyages, and more will be calling on Aruba in 2024, giving cruise travelers plenty of options to see this amazing destination.

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