The world’s largest cruise ship will be making its U.S. debut Thursday at Port Canaveral before sailing to its home port of Miami.

The ship — Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas — has a capacity of 6,680 passengers and 2,200 crew members. It cost more than $1 billion to build.

It had its maiden voyage in April, and has been sailing short Mediterranean cruises this summer out of Barcelona, Spain. It will now be based at Royal Caribbean’s new cruise terminal at the Port of Miami.

While the ship will be based in Miami, Royal Caribbean opted to make its first U.S. stop at Port Canaveral to clear customs and for a required U.S. Coast Guard inspection.

“Port Canaveral is proud of its partnership with Royal Caribbean,” Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray said. “While Symphony of the Seas is home-ported in Miami, our cruise partner trusts the capabilities of this port. We are ready to support the arrival of the world’s largest and most sophisticated cruise ship in the industry.”

Murray said passengers who made the trans-Atlantic cruise will be required to get off the ship at Port Canaveral, then reboard later in the day.

The ship is scheduled to arrive at Port Canaveral Cruise Terminal 1 at about 4 a.m. and leave about 5 p.m. That’s the terminal on the port’s south side, just east of the Cove restaurant district, so spectators will be able to see the ship from the Cove and Exploration Tower areas.

“It should be an interesting ship to see,” Murray said.

There are no ceremonies planned at Port Canaveral, as Royal Caribbean will be doing that when the ship arrives in Miami.

According to Port Canaveral, there are 5,439 passengers on the ship for the trans-Atlantic cruise. Of those, about 150 will end their cruise at Port Canaveral, while the rest will continue on to Miami.

About 1,000 passengers will take local excursions while the ship is docked at Port Canaveral. The other nearly 4,300 passengers will stay in the Port Canaveral area until getting clearance to reboard the ship.

“The cool thing is it’s coming to Port Canaveral, and we’re going to be the first (U.S.) port for the largest ship in the world,” Murray said at last week’s Canaveral Port Authority meeting. “Port Canaveral will be her first port of call in the United States. So I think that’s exciting.”

Designed for vacationers who love big, bustling mega-resorts, the 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. It also has more cabins than Harmony and carries more passengers at double occupancy.

Symphony and the 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 percent larger than the next largest cruise vessels.

Starting next May, Royal Caribbean will base the Harmony of the Seas at Port Canaveral, offering seven-night cruises to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

The Harmony of the Seas — which has a double-occupancy capacity of 5,479 and a maximum capacity of 6,687 — will replace the similarly sized Oasis of the Seas at Port Canaveral. But the Harmony is a newer ship, entering service in 2016, compared with the Oasis, which entered service in 2009.

With the addition of Symphony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has 25 ships.

Source: Florida Today

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