In less than a year, Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas, the cruise ship holding the title “world’s largest,” will have to share her designation with her new younger sister. With her hull now complete, Liberty of the Seas, under construction at Aker Yards in Turku, Finland, reached an important maritime milestone Friday when she was “floated out”—moved from dry dock to wet dock—for the final months of finishing work leading up to her May 2007 debut.
At official ceremonies held at the shipyard, Royal Caribbean executives, Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president, Maritime; Lisa Bauer, senior vice president, Sales; and Alice Norsworthy, senior vice president, Marketing, and Yrjo Julin, president for Aker Yards Cruise and Ferries, assisted by an exclusive group of Royal Caribbean’s travel partners, turned the valve releasing 87 million gallons of water into the wet dock area.
Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas will hold the dual title of largest cruise ships at sea, weighing in at 160,000 GRT and holding 3,634 guests double-occupancy. Among new programs and onboard embellishments yet to be announced, amenities on Liberty will include the popular innovations already found on Freedom including the FlowRider(R) surf simulator; the wet and wild H20 Zone aqua park; cantilevered whirlpools, suspended 112 feet above the ocean; an ice-skating rink; a boxing ring; and the 1,215-square-foot Presidential Family Suite, which sleeps up to 14.
“We are pleased to announce that Captain Hernan Zini will command the newest addition to Royal Caribbean’s fleet, Liberty of the Seas,” stated Kulovaara. “Most recently serving as captain of Grandeur of the Seas, Captain Zini brings with him a passion for nautical adventures and appreciation for modern ship engineering and innovation.”
Kulovaara added, “We created Freedom based on guests’ wishes and demands and there are so many things to do, see and experience, that it allows cruisers to escape and have the freedom of choice. It’s a terrific time for our brand and we look forward to introducing Liberty of the Seas to returning guests and first-time cruisers.”
The two ships in Royal Caribbean’s new Freedom class, to be joined by a third in 2008, will alternate between 7-night Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries, Liberty departing on Saturdays and Freedom on Sundays from Miami. Both itineraries will bring guests to the Royal Caribbean’s private destination, Labadee, Haiti, before returning to Miami.
In addition, Liberty’s Western Caribbean itinerary calls in Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Montego Bay, Jamaica; while the Eastern Caribbean itinerary calls in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten, allowing for a third day at sea to take advantage of all the ship has to offer.
Royal Caribbean has also been nominated this year for a
World Travel Award as World’s Leading Cruise Line