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Construction of the biggest cruise ship ever delayed by pandemic

July 19, 2020
4 min read
Harmony of the Seas
Construction of the biggest cruise ship ever delayed by pandemic
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The debut of what is expected to be the largest cruise ship ever built has been delayed.

Citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Royal Caribbean this week said its newest Oasis Class ship, Wonder of the Seas, would no longer begin operations in China in 2021. The line didn't give a new timetable for the rollout of the vessel.

"The construction of (Wonder of the Seas) was delayed due to the impact (on) the shipyard operation," the line said in a statement posted in Chinese on its Chinese website, according to a translation. "However, we look forward to the arrival of (Wonder of the Seas) after the epidemic has been brought under control as soon as possible."

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Wonder of the Seas has been under construction at the giant Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, since April 2019. The shipyard has experience work delays in recent months due to coronavirus-related quarantines.

Royal Caribbean's announcement comes just two weeks after the line said the November debut of another, smaller new vessel it has on order, the 4,198-passenger Odyssey of the Seas, had been postponed by six months. Odyssey of the Seas is now scheduled to arrive in April 2021.

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Symphony of the Seas Cruising
Wonder of the Seas will a sister to world's biggest cruise ship Symphony of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

In that case, the line also cited shipyard delays as the reason.

Royal Caribbean is joining a growing list of cruise lines pushing back new ship arrivals in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises also have announced significant delays to the debut of new ships.

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The coronavirus pandemic also has prompted startup line Virgin Voyages to push back its inaugural season of voyages until at least October.

Wonder of the Seas will be the fifth vessel in Royal Caribbean’s groundbreaking Oasis Class series of ships, which are more than 20% bigger than any other cruise ships afloat.

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The four existing Oasis Class vessels include the 228,081-ton Symphony of the Seas -- the current size leader in the cruise world. Eighteen decks high and nearly 1,200 feet long, it can hold up to 6,680 passengers at maximum occupancy.

The vessel and its sisters resemble megaresorts on land with dozens of restaurants and bars, Broadway-style entertainment, casinos and lots of deck-top attractions. Symphony of the Seas has three pool areas, giant waterslides, rock climbing walls, surfing simulators, a miniature golf course and even an ice-skating rink.

While Royal Caribbean has been coy as to just how big Wonder of the Seas will be, a top executive at Royal Caribbean last year hinted to The Points Guy that the newcomer (and another Oasis Class ship on order for 2023) are likely to set new size records.

“It’s certainly a moniker that Royal Caribbean owns,” Royal Caribbean’s vice president for product development, Laura Hodges-Bethge, told TPG. “When you look at Symphony, it was, I don’t know, a couple metric tons [bigger than its predecessor]?” For these new ships, she said, “I can’t imagine that wouldn’t be the same thing.”

Every Oasis Class ship that has rolled out has been a little bigger than the last.

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Featured image by ROYAL CARIBBEAN