One of the world’s biggest cruise ships is heading to Texas — for real, this time

Mar 4, 2021

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It’s official: Texas will be home to one of the world’s biggest cruise ships by the end of 2022.

Royal Caribbean on Wednesday said its long-awaited deployment of the 5,484-passenger Allure of the Seas to Galveston, Texas, is back on for November of 2022 after a year-long delay related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The massive vessel originally was scheduled to debut in Texas later this year, but its arrival in the Lone Star State was delayed after the development of a $100 million ship terminal in Galveston was put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak. Construction of the terminal now is set to begin in the next few months and be done by the fall of 2022.

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The terminal will be the only one at the Port of Galveston capable of handling a ship as big as Allure of the Seas.

At 225,282 tons, Allure of the Seas is the fourth-largest cruise ship in the world. Unveiled in 2010, it’s one of Royal Caribbean’s four giant Oasis Class vessels, which are more than 20% bigger than any other cruise vessels afloat. The series includes the recently unveiled Symphony of the Seas, the current size leader in the cruise world.

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Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas is one of the world’s biggest cruise ships. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

The arrival of Allure of the Seas in Texas will be a major milestone in the history of cruising from the state. The 18-deck-high, 1,187-foot-long ship is more than 40% bigger than the largest cruise vessel that has previously sailed out of Galveston  (Royal Caribbean’s 3,798-passenger Liberty of the Seas).

Until now, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships mostly have sailed out of the major Florida cruise hubs such as PortMiami and Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, as well as select ports in Europe.

Related: The ultimate guide to Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley has said that the development of the new terminal at the Port of Galveston and the deployment of Allure of the Seas to the port would allow Royal Caribbean to increase its passenger count on ships sailing out of Galveston by 50%.

Before the coronavirus pandemic brought cruising to a halt early last year, cruising out of Galveston had been booming. More than 1 million cruise passengers passed through the Port of Galveston in 2019, up from 641,650 just five years earlier. Cruise calls over the same period jumped from 181 to nearly 300. The port is now the fourth-busiest for cruise ships in the U.S., after PortMiami, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral in Florida.

Royal Caribbean’s parent company, Royal Caribbean Group, will build the new terminal but won’t own it. Royal Caribbean will lease the site from the port for an initial term of 20 years that can be extended. The new terminal will be a two-story, 170,000-square-foot structure with state-of-the-art technology such as mobile check-in and facial recognition to expedite passenger arrivals.

Related: Everything to know about Royal Caribbean cabins and suites

Designed for vacationers who love big, bustling megaresorts, the Oasis Class ships are chock full of more deck-top attractions and interior lounges, bars, restaurants and showrooms than any other cruise vessel.

Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas FlowRider
Allure of the Seas offers lots of deck-top attractions, including FlowRider surfing simulators, a basketball court, three pool zones and a watery play area for kids. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Like its sisters, Allure of the Seas boasts three main pool areas; a separate, adults-only outdoor lounge area; an outdoor “aquatheater” with diving shows; an ice skating rink; two rock-climbing walls; a basketball court; a massive spa; and a mall-like indoor promenade with shops, bars and places to eat. There’s also an open-air, tree-lined area called Central Park with more restaurants, bars and upscale shops; plus one of the biggest showrooms at sea.

Related: The ultimate guide to Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program

Like most Royal Caribbean ships, Allure of the Seas currently isn’t sailing due to the coronavirus pandemic. But, assuming cruising resumes, it’s scheduled to spend the summer sailing to the Caribbean and Bahamas out of Port Canaveral. It will then move to Port Everglades in November for the winter season before sailing in Europe for the summer of 2022.

Once in Galveston, Allure of the Seas will operate seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries with stops in Roatan, Honduras, and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico.

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Featured image of courtesy of Royal Caribbean

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