The new Genesis-class cruise ships being built by Royal Caribbean are so big – and so much bigger than anything before – that special facilities have to be built for them wherever they go.
A vast new terminal is under construction at Fort Lauderdale, where Oasis of the Seas will turn round every Saturday when it enters service later this year, and which sister ship Allure of the Seas will be using every Sunday from 2010. Each time the ships arrive at their Florida base, 5,400 passengers will start their vacation, just as soon as the previous 5,400 have disembarked.
At Nassau, in the Bahamas, millions of dollars are being spent on dredging deeper channels and constructing new quays and promenades. Similar projects are under way at Falmouth, in Jamaica, and Phillipsburg, St Maarten.
But it’s not all plain sailing. At St Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands, Oasis’s first planned port of call on her maiden voyage, protesters are threatening legal action to halt dredging in the harbour at Charlotte Amalie. They fear that dumping the waste in nearby Lindbergh Bay will harm fish and other marine life.
The irony is that the dump site only exists because a hole in the seabed was dug in order to provide material for the construction of the island’s airport in 1935
Supporters of the plan say they will be restoring the bay’s ecology; opponents say the hole has “healed itself,” and is now home to coral colonies, lobsters, and 50 varieties of fish.
Agreement will have to be reached soon, or the island, the bargain-shopping centre of the Caribbean, may not be ready in time for the December arrival of Oasis and her free-spending passengers.