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You might expect to spot a sea horse in the Caribbean, but would it surprise you to find a wooden horse on board a cruise ship? That’s exactly what you’ll find on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, 11 carousel horses to be exact. I boarded this mega ship, holding 5,400 passengers on this particular sailing, in addition to 18 figures suspended from stainless steel poles that prance rhythmically up and down like waves rising and falling in the ocean.

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Wooden carousel horse © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

I learned how wood carvers breath life into carousel horses during a visit to the Albany Carousel and Museum in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It’s a labor of love to create a hand-crafted carousel from wood blocks, to brightly painted horses, complete with a peacock chariot. I learned that all carousels must have an ADA/wheelchair accessible chariot. As a child, I naively thought the stationary chariot was for people who got seasick from the rocking motion. After spending time with a walker and crutches after my hip replacements, I appreciate that merry-go-rounds are ADA compliant. Something magical happens to adults and children when they step onto a carousel, hear the music start and they mount a purposefully selected horse.

The horses on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas are hand-crafted by The Carousel Works, the world’s largest manufacturer of wooden carousel horses. The Mansfield, Ohio-based company created the first horse carousel at sea for the cruise ship company. If you have never sailed on a mega ship, you’ll be blown away by the sheer magnitude of these ships. As I specialize in equestrian travel, I knew that I’d have the chance to go horseback riding in the Caribbean sea, but I was not anticipating a horseback riding vacation on a luxury cruise ship!

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Brightly painted carousel horse. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

I love the thoughtful detail that was put into the carousel horse display, drawing guests into the old-fashioned boardwalk neighborhood on the ship. The brightly colored horses are on display in various stages of completion so that guests get a feel for the many steps involved to bring the carousel horses to life. One horse in particular has a painter’s palette attached to its back to visually draw the point home for young children.

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Royal Caribbean Merry-Go-Round at Sea. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

I make it a point to seek out the best carousels and merry go rounds on my travels. As is typical of horse-crazy girls, I select the carousel horse I ride based on its good looks. Growing up in Berkeley, California, I spent many afternoons riding in circles on the Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round. Like the famous Dentzel Carousel animals, you’ll find an elephant, giraffe, jaguar, lion and frog prince on board Oasis of the Seas. Like a game of Where’s Waldo, see if you can spot The Carousel Works “C and W” initials on the back of the stationary peacock and Royal Caribbean’s crown and anchor logo on the saddle pad of the lead armored horse.

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Carousel World initials on the peacock chariot. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Do you remember your first carousel ride? How do you pick your carousel horse, or do prefer to ride an animal that lurks quietly under the cover of night out of Africa? I like to think of myself as the blonde in the white dress on the back of the Palomino carousel horse, her hair wind-blown in the sea breeze, not a care in the world. That’s how I remember my time on horseback. There’s something magic in the air riding on a carousel horse at sea.

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Horse carousel at sea © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas carousel review by Equestrian Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. Nancy was not a guest of the cruise line. In fact, this was probably the most expensive carousel ride the author has taken. For more equestrian travel tips follow @Nancydbrown @RidingHorseback on Twitter or follow her pretty pictures on Instagram.