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Diamond Club on Royal's Oasis starts to shine

I am so glad to read that I am not the only one who looks at a cruise ship under construction and sees, well, a building site.

In his latest blog on the progress of Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' chairman Richard Fain admits it's very frustrating that all he can really ever see when he visits the shipyard in Turku is scaffolding. Do they put it up just because he is coming? It love the image and just wish I could draw the cartoon!

For Fain, seeing the ship as a building site must be like buying clothes without seeing if they look good. He's about to fork out $1.4 billion to pay for this little bundle of clothes.

However, he does say that the Diamond Club lounge is taking shape and uses the moment to admit - sort of - that Royal made a mistake by changing the rules and taking away Crown and Anchor Diamond members' (10-24 cruises on Royal) access to the ships' concierge lounges on ll but the very biggest ships.

Lounge access meant a nightly happy hour with free alcohol and a concierge to book spa treatments, shore excursions and the like. As a replacement, they were offered one party night per cruise with free drinks.

The official reason given for restricting access to Diamond-plus members (25 or more cruises with Royal) is that the lounges are getting too full. Strangely, most Diamond members believe it's all to do with money. Give away less booze, profits go up. Simple economics really.

Such was the opposition - check out Cruise Critic to see just how strongly people felt about this - that Royal has been forced to make concessions. First the changes won't happen until September 1. Second, there will now be a nightly party, from 5pm to 8pm, with free wine and champagne, and 25% off the price of other drinks. Diamond members will also have their own continental breakfast area.

Fain attributes the "brouhaha" to the "value" loyal Crown and Anchor members "put on a place where they could relax and enjoy themselves in the company of other similarly minded souls".

No Richard. They were just annoyed that you were taking away their free drinks.

But back to Turku. Because Oasis of the Seas is so big - 220,000 tons with room for 5,400 passengers - it will have a very big Diamond Club lounge so even mere Diamond members will be allowed in.

I can now attest that Oasis' Diamond Club is a major step forward. The actual location and space are terrific.

I suggest Diamond members cruise only on Oasis (and sister ship Allure of the Seas when that launches next year). That way their problem is solved. Until the goal posts move again.

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