(10 a.m. EDT) — The world’s largest cruise ship was officially delivered to Royal Caribbean International today (Thursday May 12).
At a ceremony held today in Saint-Nazaire’s STX shipyard, 5,479-passenger Harmony of the Seas was blessed by the Mission to Seafarers’ Father Brian Millson and adorned with Royal Caribbean and American flags.
Royal Caribbean and STX France heads, the ship’s crew and a small group of international journalists gathered in Harmony’s AquaTheater for the festivities, which included a surprise acrobatic performance, renditions of both the French and U.S. National Anthems and speeches by Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley and Chairman and CEO Richard Fain.
"This is an emotional moment for me," said Fain. "We have prepared and thought about this ship for years. To finally see it all come together and see how special the vessel is, how special the crew is, is really something that few people get to experience in their lives, and I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity."
Fain closed his speech by signaling a crowd wave as one final token of appreciation for the crew.
Harmony of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s third Oasis-class ship, and launches seven years after sister Oasis of the Seas and six years after Allure of the Seas redefined modern mega-ships.
Its basic design — a hollowed out center with different neighborhoods — remains the same as its sisters, but it has a number of different features. The ship is larger, by 41 cabins and nearly 100 passengers at double occupancy, as well as 33 centimeters (about a foot) longer.
It also includes a number of features pioneered on Royal’s three Quantum-class ships, such as the Bionic Bar, Wonderland restaurant, Royal Suite Class and Jamie’s Italian, which replaces Giovanni’s Table at Central Park.
Additionally, Harmony of the Seas introduces a number of "new to the line" features, such as Royal Caribbean’s first water slides and the Ultimate Abyss, dubbed the tallest slide at sea.
Today’s handover, which took place two weeks earlier than its original contract date, marks a little more than a month since Royal Caribbean took delivery of its third Quantum-class ship, Ovation of the Seas.
Harmony of the Seas will kickoff its inaugural cruise May 22, from Southampton, England. The ship will then sail a series of Mediterranean cruises before repositioning to Fort Lauderdale November 2016.
Cruise Critic will be onboard Harmony of the Seas beginning May 20. Stay tuned for the full scoop, our expert ship review, fun photos and more. In the meantime, get up to speed with our comparison of Harmony of the Seas vs. Anthem of the Seas.