(6:30 a.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean has confirmed this morning that Oasis of the Seas, the world's newest, biggest and most expensive cruise ship, will make a "technical call" at Southampton on Monday, November 2, before crossing the Atlantic to its new home, Fort Lauderdale.
The vessel was handed over by the Finnish shipyard STX Europe yesterday morning and welcomed its first guests for a celebratory event last night.
An official statement from the cruise line said: "Royal Caribbean International's most recent ship will sail into Southampton Solent to make a brief technical stop to debark approximately 300 workers who do not need to be onboard for the full transatlantic crossing. This short stop is normal practice for a new ship and there will be no onboard access provided for the duration of her stay in The Solent."
There's been a lot of "will-she-or-won't-she-come-to-Southampton" speculation in the build-up to Oasis of the Seas and although we now know the ship will call, the visit is more of a tantalising glimpse from afar than the usual Royal Caribbean fanfare associated with a launch.
Oasis will not be coming alongside in Southampton and a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean was unable to reveal exactly what time the ship was due -- but it will be during the daytime and the ship is expected to stay for a couple of hours.
There should be a good view from anywhere along Southampton Water: Weston Shore, Mayflower Park, Hythe Marina or Calshot Castle are the usual places where ship-spotters gather.
Given the size of the $1.9 billion ship -- 361 metres long, 66 metres wide at its widest point, 72 meters above the sea level and 16 decks high -- it won't be hard to spot. From the shore, with a good pair of binoculars, you should be able to see the arena of the AquaTheater at the aft end, the open area running through the centre of the vessel where Central Park and The Boardwalk are located and the big adult-only Solarium at the forward end -- three whole decks of glass.
After its call in Southampton, Oasis sets out across the Atlantic and is due to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on November 11. The naming ceremony is on November 30; and many Cruise Critic members are counting down the days to the inaugural cruise on December 1.
Keep checking back here – we'll let you know if we get more accurate information about the ship's arrival time in the Solent.
Also, check out our latest photo slideshow from onboard Oasis of the Seas.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor
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Oasis of the Seas to Call at Southampton
October 29, 2009