Royal Caribbean orders world's largest passenger ship

Royal Caribbean International ordered Monday the world's largest and most expensive cruise ship, a massive $1.24 billion (Ђ1.03 billion) vessel that can carry up to 6,400 passengers, the latest in an industry trend of super-sizing ships.

The ship, dubbed Project Genesis, will be 220,000 gross registered tons when it is delivered in fall 2009 by Oslo, Norway-based shipbuilder Aker Yards. Gross registered tons is the standard way to measure a ship's size and it is a unit of volume equal to 100 cubic feet.

Aker said its contract price of Ђ900 million (Ђ1.1 million) would be "the most valuable ship ever ordered in the history of commercial shipbuilding." The $1.24 billion figure includes all expenses on the ship, "from forks and knives and sheets to artwork and everything else," said Harri Kulovaara, the Miami-based cruise line's executive vice president of maritime operations.

Aker said the contract is contingent on final approval of financing and the ship will be built at one of its Finnish yards. The cruise line has an option for a second ship.

"It is exhilarating to take such a giant step into the future," Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said in a statement. "Project Genesis truly is a remarkable ship. Its bold design, daring innovations and technological advancements will delight our existing cruisers and help us draw in new ones."

Kulovaara said in a phone interview the ship will be more fuel efficient than current vessels, but he declined to give a specific figure. He also said plans for the types of onboard amenities were being finalized. Royal Caribbean has been an innovator in featuring ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls and surfing pools.

The ship will carry 5,400 passengers based on two people per cabin, Kulovaara said. But as most cruise cabins can accommodate more than two people using cots or other beds, that number raises the maximum capacity to 6,400, reports AP.

O.Ch.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team