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Oasis of the Seas Can't Lift London Fog for Weary Brits

The colossal Oasis of the Seas has been bathed in glowing publicity. The reviews from VIPs and journalists who toured its decks during its November debut were almost universally positive. And yesterday was an occasion for a feel-good story, as the ship invited celebrities like Michael Jordan aboard to fulfill Make-A-Wish Foundation dreams for otherwise unfortunate children. In these tough times, the ship is a triumph of American good will and capitalist luxury. Right?

So why didn't the Brits get the script? A reporter for one of Great Britain's major periodicals, the Guardian (U.K.), had the privilege of boarding the ship this past week. While enjoying the familiar comforts of one of the ship's English pubs, the reporter had a snob epiphany:

I decide the Oasis, which sails out of southern Florida, is partly a tribute to XXXL, the American god of girth (although the cruise ship is 17 decks high it is - appropriately enough in the Land of the Free to Wear Outsize Shorts - the extraordinary broadness of its beam that makes it nearly half as large again as any passenger vessel ever built).

Our English correspondent continues:

And the ship certainly pays cultish homage to Me-Time, the goddess of pampering and personal wish-fulfilment. But mostly, I decide (perhaps swayed by the singer, who is now coming to terms with Fleetwood Mac), it is a hymn of praise that will echo down the ages to the deity of retro and recycling, to the virtually divine Pastiche.
Or, to cut through the British verbosity: The ship is shrine to America's fat, vulgar, materialist pigs.

But don't be offended, fellow Yanks. When the British drink, they tend to show their affection by slurring insults at friends and strangers alike. Just wait it out. Eventually our guest will tire himself out and we'll have entered the next distinctive -- but more tolerable -- phase of British inebriation: the one full of introspection and self-loathing. Actually, this might be it...
The Oasis is full of mirrors and reflective surfaces, in the great glass elevators, along the mock boardwalk with its candy stores and seafood shacks, and sometimes where you least expect them. More than once as I navigated from bar to "Art Walk" to "quarterback challenge" or "Name that Michael Jackson song" and back to bar, wondering if the next experience might be more authentic than the last, I was confronted by a pasty-looking malcontent who seemed to be dogging my steps, wandering towards me, bags under his eyes, conspicuous in his rumpled clothes among a coiffed throng of pastel shirts and capped-tooth grins, only to realise that it was my reflection.

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Thomas Francis

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