World's largest cruise ship clears bridge obstacle

Image: Allure of the seas passes Danish waters
With only five feet of free space, the Finnish-built cruise ship MS Allure of the Seas passes under the Store Belt Bridge at low tides on Saturday. Jens N?rgaard Larsen / EPA
/ Source: The Associated Press

The brand new sister ship of the world's largest cruise liner narrowly passed under a Danish bridge Saturday, a feat that required smooth seas and adjustable smokestacks, officials said.

The Allure of the Seas — a twin to Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, which made the same narrow squeeze under the Great Belt Fixed Link a year ago — measures around four football fields and accommodates 8,300 people, including crew members.

Hans Nilsen, an official at the Korsoer Naval Station, said the passage went fine, with about a 20-inch gap and 1.5 inches to spare to the safety margin when it squeezed under at around 1420 GMT after lowering its telescopic smokestacks.

"It went great," Nilsen said.

He said traffic on the bridge did not have to be stopped during the passage because the voyage was made during daytime, reducing any risks.

The Allure of the Seas is worth about $1.5 billion. It left the shipyard in Turku, Finland, on Friday and is expected to reach its new home port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in a few weeks.

The cruise liner measures 1,200 feet from bow to stern, and its height from sea level is 236 feet.

Aside from a two-deck high dance hall, a 1,380-seat theater and an ice skating rink, a number of pools, spas, gyms, it also houses bars, restaurants and cafes as well as a shopping street with a park with trees.

The building of the ship began by shipyard owner STX Finland in February 2008.

STX Finland is part of the international STX Europe Group, with shipyards in Brazil, Norway, France, Romania and Vietnam.

The shipping line said that cruise travel, especially in the United States, had picked up since the global downturn and that their cruise bookings were nearly full.

"Markets have developed well. We are not in the same situation as we were before 2008," said Harri Kulovaara, a deputy director at Royal Caribbean. "Our bookings have been full for a year, down to almost the last berth."

Construction of the Allure of the Sea at STX Finland's Turku yard began in February 2008. The company employs 3,300 people in Finland, of whom 1,100 are currently laid off. More layoffs are expected with no new projects until next autumn when the Turku yard is expected to begin the construction of a passenger ferry.

STX Finland is part of the international STX Europe Group, with shipyards in Brazil, Norway, France, Romania and Vietnam.