Saturday, 31 October 2009


HELSINKI: The world's largest cruise liner today began its maiden voyage to Florida, gliding out from a shipyard in Finland with an amphitheater, basketball courts and an ice rink on board. The 16-deck Oasis of the Seas spans 360 meters from bow to stern.
Its 2,700 cabins can accommodate 6,300 passengers and 2,100 crew. Commissioned by Royal Caribbean International, the ship cost euro1 billion ($1.5 billion) and took two and a half years to build at the STX Finland Oy shipyard in Turku, southwestern Finland. The liner has four swimming pools, volleyball and basketball courts, and a youth zone with theme parks and nurseries for children.

There is also an ice rink that seats 780 spectators and a small-scale golf course. The Oasis of the Seas is due to make its US debut on November 20, when it will be unveiled on ABC's "Good Morning America" show at its home port, Port Everglades in Florida.

The official naming ceremony will be 10 days later. The ship will embark on its first cruise, a four-day trip to the port of Labadee in Haiti, on December 1. The Oasis of the Seas left Finland's frosty shores today and is set to exit the Baltic Sea tomorrow, when it must squeeze under the Great Belt Bridge between two Danish islands.