(11 a.m. EDT) -- In a 10-minute ceremony this morning in Turku, Finland, Royal Caribbean's Richard Fain signed his autograph on a raft of papers -- and handed over quite a wad of cash -- as the cruise line took ownership of Oasis of the Seas.
The vessel, now complete, officially becomes the world's biggest-ever cruise ship, surpassing its closest competitor -- Royal Caribbean's Freedom class, including Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas -- by a whopping 40 percent.
What's even more intriguing about Oasis of the Seas is the fact that it's also the world's most innovative cruise ship. Dynamic new approaches to safety and security -- and completely new-to-cruising features (neighborhoods like The Boardwalk and Central Park, along with the vast Royal Promenade) -- make this ship one of the most anticipated vessels in cruise history.
Factoids about the ship that were provided today by STX Europe, which built Oasis of the Seas, include: It is 361 meters long and 66 meters wide at its widest point and, at its highest, it rises 72 meters above the sea level. The gross tonnage is 225,282.
Interestingly, Oasis of the Seas' new owners were surprised this week to learn of the existence of four more cabins onboard than had been planned! So now the ship has an updated capacity of 6,360 passengers (5,408 double capacity). There is room for 2,100 crew.
Teijo Niemela, Cruise Critic contributor and publisher of Cruise Business Review, is onboard now -- and is supplying us with lots of new photos of the ship. He'll be sending more images and insights -- from today's gala event in the Royal Promenade, as well as from Oasis' entertainment venues -- so stay tuned for more!
Oasis of the Seas, which cost some $1.9 billion, will depart from Turku on Friday. It will head directly to its new homeport in Fort Lauderdale.
Part 2 of the Oasis Photos Series
Part 3 of the Oasis Photos Series
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
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Oasis of the Seas Photos, Part 1: The Ship Now Belongs to Royal Caribbean
October 28, 2009