|For the 220,000-ton, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas, the largest and most talked about cruise ship ever built, one captain just wouldn't do.|
Industry publication Cruise Business Review reported today that when the ship launches on December 12, 2009, two masters will be manning the controls.
During the inaugural season, Captain Bill Wright, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President of Marine Operations, will work in tandem with Captain Tor Olsen. Spokespeople from Royal Caribbean were not immediately available to comment on the news.
Besides being a seasoned commander -- Wright was the captain on Freedom of the Seas when that ship launched in 2006 -- he also works at the corporate office, dealing with such issues as onboard safety and security, and hurricane-related itinerary changes (Check out our Q&A: Storm Watching with Bill Wright).
Olsen joined Royal Caribbean as a quartermaster in 1987 and served most recently as captain of Mariner of the Seas. When he's not onboard, he calls Louisville, Kentucky home.
The two-captain approach isn't entirely new. It was pioneered by Royal Caribbean in May 2006 when the 154,407-ton, 3,634-passenger Freedom of the Seas -- at that time the largest passenger ship ever built -- debuted.
Oasis of the Seas will be some 40 percent larger than those ships in Freedom's class.
Royal Caribbean is one of the more innovative cruise lines when it comes to its masters. It's also the first major line to appoint a woman as captain; Swedish mariner Karin Stahre-Janson was handed the keys to Monarch of the Seas in 2007 (she's still leading the charge on that ship).
Just about a year away from its debut, the revolutionary Oasis of the Seas project is clearly gaining momentum this week. On Friday, the ship, now under construction in a dry dock at Turku, Finland-based STX Europe, will celebrate its float out. This milestone, one of the most important in shipbuilding, marks the point when a vessel is completed enough to go from an on-land construction project to an actual ship. The yard actually floods the dry dock (where the ship is balanced on blocks) and, after seawater has poured into it for some 16 hours, Oasis of the Seas will actually ... float.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor
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