Update, 12:45 p.m. EST: A spokesperson from Royal Caribbean tells us that two lifeboats on Oasis of the Seas did indeed sustain some minimal damage due to the significantly high seas. They will be repaired once the ship arrives in Fort Lauderdale. These repairs will not affect any of the scheduled sailings.
(10:45 a.m. EST) -- Oasis of the Seas encountered a final, unexpected round of sea trials this week while crossing the Atlantic to its new homeport in Fort Lauderdale.
A north Atlantic storm -- producing near-hurricane strength winds and rough seas -- has given the ship a run for its money. The good news is the stable ship deftly maneuvered in the poor conditions. The bad news? Oasis' speed and course were impacted, delaying its long-awaited U.S. arrival.
Oasis is now expected to arrive at Port Everglades on the morning of November 13, two days later than originally scheduled, because of the inclement weather. According to a prepared statement from the line, the delay will not impact any inaugural events, promotional activities or revenue cruises.
A Royal Caribbean spokeswoman tells us that the ship has now cleared the bad weather and is continuing at regular speed.
Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain wrote on his blog Tuesday, "It seems that we have managed to time our crossing perfectly to coincide with the worst of a north Atlantic winter storm. That storm has resulted in relative wind speeds of 60-70 mph (a hurricane starts at 74 mph). It has also resulted in significant wave heights of up to 30 feet (significant wave heights essentially means consistently over a period of time). Some individual waves reach even higher.
"Capt. [Bill Wright] is considering now what is the best course and speed for the ship to minimize the impact of the storm. I'm told that the ship is so stable that the crew can barely feel the storm. But on deck it is a different story and the storm is preventing us from doing the work on the outdoor decks that we had hoped including rehearsing in the AquaTheatre."
The word among shipyard experts in Europe is that the choppy seas may have also caused a problem with some of Oasis' lifeboats. A Royal Caribbean spokesperson did not immediately respond to our request for confirmation and more information.
This two-day delay will impact the on-loading of Central Park's foliage, which was scheduled to begin on November 12. We'll keep you posted.
--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor
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Stormy Seas Delay Oasis of the Seas' U.S. Arrival
November 6, 2009