The 169,000-gross-ton ship is the fifth member of Royal Caribbean's Quantum Class vessels that first debuted in 2014 with the arrival of Quantum of the Seas. Odyssey of the Seas is technically a "Quantum Ultra" class ship, being slightly larger than its predecessors. It is the 25th ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet.
Odyssey of the Seas was set to debut in November 2020 but was delayed due to the ongoing global health crisis. The ship will now debut in Israel offering voyages from Haifa for vaccinated Israelis.
Royal Caribbean took delivery of the ship from the Meyer-Werft yard in Papenburg, Germany with a virtual online ceremony that celebrated the handover process from shipyard to owner.
A first in the 50-year history of Royal Caribbean, the handover ceremony was broadcast live to the world over the company's Facebook page and was attended by Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain; Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, and Meyer Werft Yard's Managing Partner Bernard Meyer and Managing Director Jan Meyer.
Hosting the live event was Nick Weir, Royal Caribbean's energetic senior vice president of entertainment.
"This is really an exceptionally elegant ship," Jan Meyer said during the Facebook Live. "We really like it, and, of course, we really feel a little sad when we have to say goodbye to it."
Although this is a ceremony that would normally be conducted in person, with media, travel agents and invited guests in attendance, several commented on the uniqueness of being able to "dial in" to the landmark event for Odyssey of the Seas from their own homes and offices.
"Here, we have a very comfortable way," of viewing things, Bernard Meyer said. "I'm sure that the passengers who go onboard the ship in Israel will be very pleasantly surprised about the charm of this wonderful vessel."
"Receiving Odyssey of the Seas into the Royal Caribbean family is a welcomed breath of fresh air," Michael Bayley said in a statement. "We are looking forward to delivering the memorable vacations we're known for today on a ship that will mark several firsts for us, from making Israel a first-time homeport to introducing Quantum Ultra Class to North America.
"Every new ship is a blank slate to go bolder and be different, and Odyssey is bringing the very best of the new and guest-favorites across two continents for the years to come."
Captain Per Kristoffersen, Master of Odyssey of the Seas, joined the event from the new ship's navigation bridge along with his senior officers.
Royal Caribbean's longtime naval architect, Harri Kulovaara, was also present.
"It takes the better part of three to four years to put together this kind of ship," Kulovaara said of the sheer manpower needed to construct a vessel of this size. "If you convert this into people-years, it's about 2,500 people years at the yard to put this ship together, and 6,000 people years across the entire network."
During the event, the German flag and Meyer Werft's house flag were both lowered to the patriotic tune of the country's national anthem, prior to the raising of the Bahamian flag, where Odyssey of the Seas is registered.
"It's my privilege to ask that the Bahamian flag be raised," said Fain, kicking off the ceremony -- though this segment was prerecorded to occur in daylight hours in Germany.
The United States flag, along with Royal Caribbean's company flag, were also raised to a live rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner performed from Singapore onboard Quantum of the Seas.
"I'd like to thank the 10,000 workers at Meyer Werft and those onboard Odyssey of the Seas for their efforts to bring this ship to life," Bayley said. "I'm very proud of what we've all accomplished together, and Royal Caribbean, the crew and employees, are incredibly proud to take delivery of this beautiful ship today."
Like anything virtual, today's event was not without its complications. The video signal cut out about 40 seconds into the performance from Quantum of the Seas in Singapore, replaced with a countdown slate for another five minutes. Still, it's quite a remarkable feat given that even in-person handover events and other ceremonies don't always go as planned.
In keeping with tradition, Odyssey of the Seas was also blessed by Father Sanford Sears from Seafarer's House in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before a performance from the Two70 Theatre aboard Quantum of the Seas debuted.
"That was so exciting," Fain said of the ceremony. "I can't wait to be there in person to see it on the ship. Congratulations to everybody."
Fain also had some parting words for Odyssey of the Seas' first Master, Kristoffersen.
"Take good care of the ship!" Fain said
Odyssey of the Seas debuts in Israel in June before sailing for North America this November, embarking on six- and eight-night voyages to the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale, including stops at Royal Caribbean's own Perfect Day at CocoCay.