1,181 Feet in Length
214 Feet in Width
220,000 Gross Registered Tons
Ft. Lauderdale and Miami battle for biggest cruise ship:
The Port of Miami may be the cruise capital of the world, but Fort Lauderdale is vying for bragging rights as home to the world's largest cruise ship.
Port Everglades and Royal Caribbean Cruises are in talks about a $37.4 million expansion of Terminal 18 to accommodate the line's Project Genesis ships that will be launched in 2009 and 2010.
The 220,000-ton ships -- the first of which will cost $1.2 billion and the second of which has a $1.4 billion price tag -- will each carry 5,400 passengers and 2,100 crew members.
That will make the mammoth vessels some 40 percent larger than today's biggest, Royal Caribbean's 160,000-ton Freedom class vessels. They carry 3,634 passengers and offer over-the-top amenities like an onboard surfing simulator, a boxing ring and a 14-person family suite.
On Wednesday, the Broward County Commission will consider whether to authorize Port Everglades' director to negotiate an agreement with Royal Caribbean aimed at bringing the giant vessels to the port.
At this point, Royal Caribbean is keeping its options open. The Port of Miami, currently home to the world's largest vessels -- Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas -- also has been in the running for a Project Genesis ship. In a statement, the Port of Miami said, 'We are working with [Royal Caribbean] and provided a proposal for the Genesis. We are aware of the responsibility that comes with being the recognized `Cruise Capital of the World.' ''
It isn't clear whether other ports are competing for the moniker ''home of the world's largest ship.'' Royal Caribbean has said only that ``we have held preliminary, fact-finding discussions with several ports regarding home-porting options.''
But Fort Lauderdale is pushing hard. ''We're serious about working to get the Genesis ships here at the port,'' said Glenn Wiltshire, deputy port director for Port Everglades, which plans to pay for the construction project through passenger ``head taxes.''
Each Genesis ship, if it were to do weekly sailings year-around, would mean about 560,000 passenger embarkations and disembarkations.
Port Everglades, currently the third busiest cruise port behind No. 1 Miami and No. 2 Port Canaveral, is expected to have about 3.2 million passenger movements in the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, said winning the Project Genesis ships would be a boon for the county, elevating its profile as a cruise Mecca.
''If the largest ship on the seas decides to sail from Fort Lauderdale, that's big news,'' said Grossman, who is active in a stepped-up tourism campaign to persuade more cruisers to add overnight visits to their itinerary before or after a cruise. ``It's a very nice flag to fly.''
Royal Caribbean said in a July 24 letter to Port Everglades Director Phillip Allen that it ''is interested in pursuing a transaction with Port Everglades'' regarding Genesis, asking him to get county commission approval to negotiate a deal. But the letter, clarifying that Royal Caribbean is free to play the field, said it ``is in no way intended to be a binding commitment or agreement.''
The cruise line has been talking to Port Everglades about home-porting one vessel, but the port is angling to get both ships there.
Port Everglades is considering turning a 33,000-square-foot warehouse next to Terminal 18 into baggage space, adding another 72,000 square feet to the terminal, adding new loading bridges and expanding the transportation area for the flow of buses, taxis and cars, port officials said.
The cruise line has kept silent about the details of Project Genesis, adding to the mystique. Royal Caribbean announced the ship order from Aker Yards in Finland in February 2006, and in April exercised an option for a second vessel. But it has given only scant details, such as the 1,181 foot length and 214 foot width of the ship.
But it's clear Royal Caribbean doesn't plan to keep mum indefinitely: In its prospectus to Port Everglades in February, Royal wrote the new ship ``will open the door to innovations never before seen at sea. Her inauguration will be a media event like no other. As with all their ships, Royal is committed to promoting the warranted fanfare for a project marked with such vision and forward thinking.''
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