In what we sincerely hope is the only time the ship will encounter a sea that's more a block of ice than a body of water, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas departed last week from Aker Finnyards' Turku shipyard, where it hadbeen under construction for almost two years.
Its departure wasn't in any way the norm. Because of early spring snows and temperatures well below freezing in Finland, the Baltic Sea is almost a solid sheet of ice. As such, the 158,000-ton, 3,600-passenger Freedom of the Seas -- the world's largest-ever cruise ship -- needed a little help. The ship is so big it required the assistance of two Finnish icebreakers (Sisu and Apu) and three tugboats and, unusually, was not able to use its own propulsion power. That's because the ice could easily damage its propeller blades. In fact, as a precautionary move, the blades were turned inward so that if they did hit the ice they would cut it like a knife rather than be damaged.
As previously reported on Cruise Critic, Freedom's visit to Hamburg, prior to official handover, is necessitated by problems with its propulsion system. The specifics, which we initially reported in February, quoted a Royal Caribbean statement that said, "Engineers from Royal Caribbean International and Aker Finnyards inspected Freedom of the Seas after a sea trial and detected some dirt and foreign particles in a bearing in the ship's propulsion system. After a joint review, it is believed that the dirt and particles were accidentally introduced during the bearing's construction. As a precaution, the shipyard and Royal Caribbean agreed that the bearing should be replaced."
The dry-dock time will not impact Freedom of the Seas' scheduled arrival in New York; the vessel will arrive on Friday, May 12 for its christening ceremony.
Stay tuned; we'll keep you posted on news about -- and from -- Freedom of the Seas.
Image appears courtesy of Christer Gorschelnik.
Freedom of the Seas Departs Finnish Shipyard
April 13, 2006