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Sneak peek at the latest ship of dreams

WHAT do you do when you've recently launched the world's biggest and most modern cruise ship?

Simple: you build a twin sister with a few extra innovations.

The Herald was the only Irish representative on-board as the world's media gathered in the small Finnish city of Turku to showcase the new ship, Allure of the Seas, in its final stages of production at the sprawling STX shipyard.

And size, it seems, does matter to the planners at leading cruise line Royal Caribbean International. The creators of Allure proudly boast that it's a full 5mm longer than its sister, Oasis of the Seas, which has been plying its trade out of Florida and around the Caribbean for almost a year.



Luxury

Allure, now the world's biggest cruise ship, is just over 360 metres long. Standing upright it would dwarf New York's Chrysler Building. It will be just under a quarter of a million gross tonnes in weight, hosting 5,400 passengers in five-star luxury around such islands as the Bahamas and St Maarten.

Unveiling the near-ready ship, Adam Goldstein of Royal Caribbean, president and CEO, felt: "It's one of the most exciting cruise ship projects in history and one of the most exciting things happening now in this interesting world of ours."

Even stepping on to what is still a building site, it's impossible not to be blown away by the scale and style of the ship. It's got enough electrical cables alone to stretch from Dublin to New York and its horsepower is equivalent to the output of 270,000 BMW X5s.

Passengers will embark straight on to the Royal Promenade, one of the eight 'neighbourhoods' onboard. The Royal Promenade alone has eight places to drink, including a karaoke bar where you record in a studio and drown your sorrows later; a tavern-style pub called the Bow & Anchor; and the Rising Tide bar, which floats up and down between floors like a giant flying saucer. It's also got retail areas from everyday to high-end, a pizzeria, and, in a world first, a facial recognition photo centre.

If your photos are taken for souvenirs, the machines will automatically register what you look like and compile an online binder of all your images.

Another neighbourhood is the showpiece Central Park area. Overlooked by apartment-style guest rooms, it will be filled with over 12,000 plants and trees, have its own al fresco coffee shop, family-focused Italian restaurant, art gallery and Tex-Mex restaurant.

And the Boardwalk neighbourhood is sure to be a hit with kids as it's got its own carousel, self-service donut stand, and leads down to the giant outdoor screen.



Storm

Oasis paved the way for Broadway to hit the high seas and its production of Hairspray went down a storm with passengers. Now Allure is aiming to go one better, having persuaded the New York producers of Chicago to let it run onboard.

"Each ship has its own personality. She truly will be the ship of entertainment," said the company's Lisa Bauer, vice president of hotel operations.

If mum and dad enjoy Chicago, the kids are sure to love when the theatre is converted to a 3D screen for big movie screenings.

And in another industry-first, both Oasis and Allure have a creche onboard ($8 an hour) if mum and dad need an hour or two of me time at the spa or pool.

The adults-only solarium area has its own pool, sun loungers, a gym and spa area and a health food restaurant for breakfast and lunch.

Right now the finishing touches are being put to this $1bn mega ship.

And like any little sister, it's aiming to outdo its older sibling.

mevans@herald.ie


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