World's largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, docks at British port ahead of maiden cruise

Bystanders watch the world's largest cruise ship, the 362m long Harmony Of The Seas, arrive in port for its maiden voyage in Southampton on May 17, 2016.
Bystanders watch the world's largest cruise ship, the 362m long Harmony Of The Seas, arrive in port for its maiden voyage in Southampton on May 17, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

SOUTHAMPTON (Reuters/AFP) - The world's largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, arrived in the British port of Southampton on Tuesday (May 17) ahead of its maiden cruise on May 22.

The Royal Caribbean International's vessel measures 362m long, the size of nearly four soccer fields and 50m longer than the height of the Eiffel Tower, and weighs around 227,000 gross registered tonnes. At 66m, it is the widest cruise ship ever built.

The ship will sail from Southampton on short trips to northern Europe ahead of a maiden cruise that arrives in its new home port of Barcelona in early June.

Tens of thousands of people turned out Sunday in France to see off the ship as it set sail for the first time.

As the massive boat pulled away from a shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, where it was built on France's Atlantic shore, some 70,000 people watched from along the coast, the local authorities said.

The crowd waved, cheered and clapped as the boat - built for the US-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) - eased away from France.

"It's gone," said Christine, who did not give her full name. "We watched it develop and grow over three years. It's like a child leaving home."

The floating town, which cost close to 1 billion euros (S$1.5 billion, has 16 decks and will be able to carry 6,360 passengers and 2,100 crew members.