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World’s newest, largest cruise ship leaves French port city

Jean-François Monier, AFP | Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, is 362m long and 66m wide.

The 120,000-tonne “Harmony of the Seas” on Sunday sailed out of the western French port city of Saint-Nazaire, where it was built following 32 months of construction at the STX France shipyard.

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A hush descended on the crowd of nearly 70,000 people gathered at the Saint-Nazaire port on Sunday as the “Harmony of the Seas” sounded its foghorn and then, aided by tug vessels, reversed out of its docking position.

Twenty minutes later, as white handkerchiefs fluttered above the heads of the spectators on land, the hulking vessel spun into position toward the English Channel and set off for the southern English port of Southampton.

The “Harmony of the Seas” boasts an impressive list of statistics: weighing 120,000 tonnes, the ship is 362m long and 66m wide, making it the biggest, widest cruise ship to take to the seas. The vessel is also 70m (or 230ft) high, cost over a billion euros to construct and sports 16 decks.

It also took more than two years and 2,500 workers to build, giving it almost legendary status in this Atlantic coastal city that has a long maritime and fishing tradition.

Giant slide, theatres and ‘Central Park’ on board

“Harmony of the Seas” can carry 6,360 passengers and 2,100 crew members and was built for the US-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, which is set to host an inaugural cruise from Southampton to the vessel’s soon-to-be home port of Barcelona later this month.

The vessel is home to “The Ultimate Abyss”, a 10-storey slide from the top deck to the main deck, billed as the world’s largest ship-mounted waterslide. Besides a 1,400-seat theatre for Broadway musicals and other shows, it also has a “Central Park” deck featuring 12,000 plant species.

For the eco-friendly, “Harmony of the Seas” also offers some good news, according to its owners and manufactures: the giant vessel produces 20 per cent less carbon emissions than the two largest ships in its class, due, in some part, to a system of pumping air into the hull to lighten its load.

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