It was a big morning for cruise fans in North America as the new world’s largest passenger ship, Symphony of the Seas, finally arrived from Europe.
Unveiled in March, the much-awaited, 228,081-ton Royal Caribbean vessel pulled into Port Canaveral, Florida before dawn after crossing the Atlantic from Barcelona. The ship is making a quick stop at Port Canaveral on its way to its long-term home of Miami, where it is due on Friday.
Despite the early hour of its arrival, around 4 a.m., Symphony on Thursday had a small audience of photographers and fans as it glided toward Port Canaveral’s Terminal 1. The vessel only will remain in Port Canaveral until 5:30 p.m., when it will depart for Miami under a water salute.
Symphony’s main coming out party in North America will take place next Thursday in Miami when it is christened by actors and mega-cruise fans Carlos and Alexa PenaVega, along with their 17-month-old son Ocean.
Designed for vacationers who love big, bustling mega-resorts, Symphony is built on the same platform as Royal Caribbean’s 2-year-old Harmony of the Seas, the previous size leader in cruising. But it eclipses its sibling by more than 1,000 tons and offers several new features.
Among the additions are a first-of-its-kind, two-deck-high family suite with a slide between floors, a revamped Boardwalk amusement area, a new laser tag attraction and a new-for-Royal Caribbean seafood restaurant. Symphony also has more cabins than Harmony.
Symphony can hold up to 6,680 passengers and sails with a crew of 2,200, meaning that on busy weeks it can be home to nearly 9,000 people.
Symphony was constructed at the giant Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France — the same shipyard that built Harmony. Built at a cost of more than $1 billion, it was delivered to Royal Caribbean in St. Nazaire on March 23 and has spent the past few months sailing out of Barcelona.
Symphony and Harmony are the latest, biggest vessels in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class series. Two other Oasis Class ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, debuted in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class vessels have made waves in the cruise industry since they began debuting in 2009. All of the Oasis Class ships are in excess of 225,000 tons — more than 30% larger than the next largest cruise vessels.
With the addition of Symphony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has 25 ships.
Contributing: Dave Berman and Jennifer Sangalang of Florida Today
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