Miami-based Royal Caribbean International, the world’s second-largest cruise line, announced on February 6, 2006 that it had ordered the largest and most expensive cruise ship in the world, a $1.24 billion vessel which can hold up to 6,400 passengers. It is to be named Project Genesis.
This ship, which is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2009 by shipbuilder Aker Yards of Oslo, will be 220,000 gross register tons. A gross register ton, a standard measure of a ship’s size, is a unit of volume equal to about 100 cubic feet. It is to be built at a Finnish shipyard.
Aker is to be paid 900 million euros ($1 billion) to build the ship, making Project Genesis the most expensive ship ever ordered in the history of commercial shipbuilding. The $1.24 billion figure includes all expenses required for interior finishing of the ship. Royal Caribbean contract with Aker includes an option for a second ship.
Richard Fain, the chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean said of Project Genesis, “It is exhilarating to take such a giant step into the future. Project Genesis truly is a remarkable ship. Its bold design, daring innovation and technological advancements will delight our existing customers and help us draw in new ones.”
Aker Yards Finland currently builds Royal Caribbean’s “Freedom” class vessels. However, the Project Genesis ship will be 43 percent larger than the present recordholder, “Freedom of the Seas”, which is currently under construction and scheduled to be finished by April 2006.
The biggest ship currently in operation is the Queen Mary 2, at 151,400 gross register tons. It is owned by the Cunard Line, a unit of the Carnival Corporation, which is the world’s largest cruise ship company. The British-registered liner is 1,132 feet long, more than 236 feet high, and can hold 2,620 passengers. The QM2 is capable of crossing the North Atlantic at a speed of 30 knots. The 14-day 2004 maiden voyage from Southampton, in southern England, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on January 12, 2004, was completely sold out months before departure.
The QM2 has 17 decks which hold five swimming-pools, sweeping staircases, a grand ballroom, a 360-degree promenade deck and many luxury shops. Cunard Line built the ship in hope of reviving the glamour of ocean liners, whose mystique has largely been dispelled since jet travel made trips across the Atlantic routine.
A one-way passage from Southampton to New York ranges from $1,817 to $28,000 per person, depending on the type of cabin selected, as well as a daily service charge.
The original Queen Mary was launched in 1934 at Southampton by the queen’s grandmother — Queen Mary, wife of King George V. This ship was slightly more than half the size of the new model. In the second World War, both the Queen Mary and its sister ship, Queen Elizabeth, were painted grey and served as troopships, since they were fast enough to outrun German U-boats. Winston Churchill later stated that the military use of these two ships shortened the war by a year.
The ship was retired in 1967 and sold to private investors. It is now docked permanently as a seaside hotel in Long Beach, California.
The QM2 took the title of world’s largest cruise liner from Royal Caribbean’s 1,020 foot-long Liberia-registered “Voyager of the Seas,” launched in 1999.
As a sign of just how much passenger ships have increased in size during this century, the QM2 is three times the size of the Titanic, which at 46,300 tons and 800 feet was called the “largest movable object built by man” when launched in 1911. However, all the giant cruise ships are comparatively tiny compared to the largest of all ships – a 564,700-ton supertanker Seawise Giant built in 1979, and now called Jahre Viking.
A ship still in the planning stage would dwarf all current sea-going vessels : the Freedom Ship. It is essentially a plan for a floating city, a giant barge that would slowly circle the globe every 2-3 years. At 4,320 feet (1,317 meters) long, 725 feet (221 m) wide and 340 feet (103 m) tall, the ship is taller than the length of a football field and wider than two football fields put together.
It would hold 18,000 condominium units for full-time residents ranging from $180,000 to $2.5 million, including a small number of premium suites priced up to $44 million. 3,000 commercial units for vendors would also be offered in a similar price range. For part-time residents, there will be 2,400 time-share units and 10,000 hotel units. It will also hold a casino, a ferryboat transportation system, a medical facility offering both Western and Eastern medicine as well as preventive and anti-aging medicine. A landing strip for small jets will cover the top. An onboard school will give students a chance to take a field trip into a different country each week for academic purposes or to compete with local schools in sporting events. There will also be an International Trade Center to give on-board companies and shops the opportunity to show and sell their products in a different country every week. More than 100 acres of outdoor Park, Recreation, Exercise and Community space have also been planned.
Norman Nixon, who developed the idea for the massive ship, has estimated it will take approximately three years to complete once construction begins. So far, this ambitious project has not been able to attract sufficient investment funds to get off the drawing board.