Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Royal Caribbean orders biggest, priciest cruise ship ever

Royal Caribbean International has ordered a cruise ship that is 45 per cent bigger than any passenger liner now afloat and costs more than any commercial vessel in history. The ship will be 360 metres long, carry up to 6,400 passengers and cost $1 billion US to build, plus another $240 million US to equip and furnish, "from forks and knives and sheets, to artwork and everything else," a company executive said.

The new vessel, pictured above, will be 45% bigger than the Queen Mary 2, currently the world's largest cruise ship. The ship, dubbed Project Genesis, will measure 220,000 gross registered tons – the standard measure for a vessel's size.

Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 (shown below), at 151,400 gross registered tons, is the world's largest cruise ship. Royal Caribbean is scheduled to get the 160,000-ton Freedom of the Seas in June.

Project Genesis will be built by Norway's Aker Yards ASA of Oslo, Europe's largest shipbuilder. Aker Yards said the contract price of $1 billion US (900 million euros) makes it "the most valuable ship ever ordered in the history of commercial shipbuilding." Aker Yards said the contract is contingent on final approval of financing, with delivery scheduled for the fall of 2009.

"It is exhilarating to take such a giant step into the future," Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain said. "Its bold design, daring innovations and technological advancements will delight our existing cruisers and help us draw in new ones."

The company said plans for onboard amenities aren't yet finalized, but its previous innovations have included ice rinks, rock climbing walls and surfing pools.

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