|by JD Rinne||Cruises||7|
This December, Royal Caribbean debuts the largest cruise ship in the world, the Oasis of the Seas. We reported on the "gi-normous" (and very cool) ship last summer. At 220,000-tons, with 18 decks and seven distinct neighborhoods (including one with a zip line!), it'll be quite a sight.
If you'd like to be part of cruising history, bookings are still available on the ship's earliest trips departing from Fort Lauderdale. The inaugural voyage for the Oasis was originally set for December 12, but Royal Caribbean recently elected to move it up a week, to December 5, 2009. Additionally, there will be a quickie four-night cruise on December 1, to mark the opening of Labadee, the cruise line's private island in Haiti.
On its website, Royal Caribbean is offering interior cabins starting at $699 for the four-night cruise, $1,299 for the December 5 inaugural seven-night cruise, and $1,089 for other dates in December. Stops on the seven-night cruises include St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Nassau in the Bahamas.
I did a Kayak cruise search today to see if other booking sites could beat those prices. I didn't have any luck. But, booking agencies such as cruises.com, cruisesonly.com, and cruise411.com are offering bonuses like 10 percent off shore excursions for all bookings and a free spa treatment if you book a balcony cabin or above on the Oasis. And Travel Themes and Dreams, one of Budget Travel's favorite booking agencies, is offering balcony cabins for the December 12 cruise for $1,369 (the regular rate) but also throwing in a $100 shipboard credit.
There's a chance prices could come down as the dates get closer—after all, the ship can handle nearly 6,300 passengers. Keep watching Kayak, and be prepared to book at the last minute for great rates.
Port Report: Cruise Terminals Across the U.S.