>>>The world’s biggest cruise ship
Photo: © Royal Caribbean

The world’s biggest cruise ship

Longer than three football pitches, the Harmony of the Seas prepares to be the Mediterranean's top cruise ship.
T
he Ultimate Abyss slide has drops down for almost 30 metres, meaning anyone brave enough to ride it will fall the equivalent of ten storeys. But what makes this slide extra special isn’t so much its impressive height but the fact it isn’t on dry land. It’s the longest slide on the high seas and is one of the many attractions on the Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship.
The vessel’s vital statistics are simply overwhelming: 227,000 gross registered tons, 362 metres long and 66 metres wide, with a maximum capacity of 5,749 passengers, and a total cost of 1,000 million euros to build. It is the third in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class of ships and continues the trend for very large ocean vessels. It has the same length as its two predecessors of the same class, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, but, crucially, is one whole metre wider, putting it in first place among the world’s giant cruisers. This floating city will spend its first months of service in the Mediterranean, joining a long list of vessels serving Europe’s nautical playground.
The cruise ship has 16 decks.
Photo: © Royal Caribbean

Everybody wants to dock at Barcelona

Barcelona is Europe’s busiest cruise port in terms of passenger numbers. Over 700 cruise ships dock there every year, carrying between them 2.5 million passengers to put the Catalan capital in first place ahead of Rome’s Civitavecchia.

It was the in Mediterranean where the Lady Mary Wood sailed. This paddle wheel steamer had the honour of being the first vessel to take passengers on cruise trips. That was back in 1844. It carried 60 passengers first class and 50 second class, a large number at the time but just a fraction of what the Harmony of the Seas can accommodate. And life on board the two vessels could not be more different.
Harmony of the Seas is divided into seven concept-defined neighbourhoods: Central Park, Boardwalk, Royal Promenade, swimming pools and sports, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Centre, Entertainment Place, and Youth Zone. Passengers will use electronic wrist tags to access their cabins and to manage all their purchases and reservations with just one touch. To ensure that everything functions smoothly, Harmony of the Seas will have a crew of over 2,000 personnel. Additionally, there are the robots of the Bionic Bar, highly specialised electronic cocktail waiters. While they mix, not shake, they dance to the rhythm of the music, while nightly performances of Grease add a touch of on-board festivity. Back in the cabins, there is no need to imagine a view over the waves. Interior accommodation comes with virtual balconies that replicate the panoramic views enjoyed by passengers travelling in outside cabins.
The final Mediterranean cruise of the Harmony of the Seas will leave Barcelona on 23rd October.
Setting out from the French shipyard of Saint-Nasaire where it was built, Harmony of the Seas has already carried out a first voyage in the north of Europe. But the official inaugural cruise will start from Barcelona on 7th June. Throughout the summer it will be in the Mediterranean, offering two cruises: a five-day cruise with stops at Rome and Naples, and a seven-day cruise visiting Palma de Mallorca, Marseille, Florence, Pisa, Rome and Naples. From October on, it will be across the Atlantic for cruises of the Caribbean.
23 million passengers took cruises in 2015
Photo: © Royal Caribbean
In the meantime, the fourth Oasis class ship is already under construction in the Saint-Nasaire shipyard. It is due to enter service in 2018. Will it break Harmony’s impressive record? We don’t doubt it.

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