The largest cruise ship in the world – measuring more than four football pitches in length with a maximum capacity for 6,780 passengers – has docked in Southampton for final preparations before its maiden voyage.
A small crowd of well-wishers, including some dressed in their pyjamas, welcomed the £800million Harmony of the Seas as it arrived just after dawn today, but tens of thousands of people are expected to visit the coastal city this week to catch a glimpse of the gigantic vessel before it carries paying customers for the first time.
After sailing from a shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, and spending the day yesterday cruising the English Channel, Harmony of the Seas sailed up Southampton Water and arrived at Southampton shortly after 6:15am.
It will depart on a short cruise on Sunday – a four-day taster voyage to Rotterdam, in the Netherlands – and on 29 May will make its maiden voyage to Barcelona, where it will be based for 34 seven-night tours of the western Mediterranean this summer. It will sail between Florida and the Caribbean this winter.
Royal Caribbean International’s 18-deck ship has set new records for length (1,1188ft), gross tonnage (227,000), width (215.5ft), passenger capacity (5,479 at double occupancy or a maximum of 6,780) and staterooms (2,747).
With a crew of 2,100 from 77 countries, the floating city boasts seven 'neighbourhoods', a 10-storey slide that is the tallest at sea, 23 swimming pools, 20 dining venues, 52 trees, surf simulators, robot bartenders, a casino and climbing walls.