(9:15 p.m. EDT) -- It's no surprise that the largest cruise ship in the world faces unique logistical challenges. Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas has just passed its first major one -- narrowly passing under the Great Belt Fixed Link bridge in Denmark en route to its homeport in Fort Lauderdale from the shipyard in Finland.
The Associated Press reports that the ship cleared the crucial obstacle shortly after midnight, local time, on Sunday by lowering its telescopic smokestacks. The ship was designed with the retractable funnels specifically for situations like this -- but bridge operators told the AP that, even with the shortened stacks, the gap between the ship and the Great Belt was less than two feet.
Bridge traffic was halted for about 15 minutes as a precaution during the passage. STX Finland Project Manager Toivo Ilvonen told the AP that "nothing fell off" (phew!) and that everything went as planned. Hundreds of people reportedly gathered on the beaches at both ends of the bridge to watch the lit-up mega-ship squeak beneath the Great Belt.
Oasis of the Seas is expected to make a technical stop near Southampton sometime on Monday. After that, its next major milestone will be its early morning U.S. arrival in Fort Lauderdale on November 11.
Curious about the ship? Don't miss our trio of new slideshows!
--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor
Image appears courtesy of Simon Brooke-Webb.
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Oasis of the Seas Passes First Challenge as a Cruise Ship
October 31, 2009