GALLERY: Chantiers de l’Atlantique floats out world’s largest cruise ship

The new Oasis-class cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, being built by French shipbuilder Chantiers de l’Atlantique for Royal Caribbean, was floated out on Saturday, September 5.

Image courtesy: Royal Caribbean

The ship was transferred to its outfitting dock at Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, where it will undergo finishing touches before debuting in 2022.

Image courtesy: Royal Caribbean

The major milestone is being achieved on the back of delays in the construction of the vessel caused by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the shipbuilder’s operations.

Royal Caribbean International celebrated the start of the construction of the ship at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France back in April 2019.

The colossal ship was scheduled to debut in 2021 in Shanghai, China, as the world’s largest cruise ship, as disclosed by Royal Caribbean in October 2019. It was also the first ship of the Oasis Class scheduled to sail the Asia Pacific.

Wonder of the Seas is the third ship from the class to be built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique following the delivery of the Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas in 2016 and 2018 respectively. It is the fifth Oasis-class ship in total.

At 362 meters long and 66 meters wide, the Oasis-class ships are ranked as the world’s largest passenger ships. The ships can accommodate 2,732 crew members and up to 6,780 passengers respectively.

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A sixth ship to the class has also been ordered, which is set to join the fleet in 2023.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Royal Caribbean Group has extended the suspension of sailings to include those departing on or before October 31, 2020, excluding sailings from China.

The cruise major aims to resume operations on November 1st, 2020.

The suspension of sailings has had a massive impact on the company’s business results, pushing Royal Caribbean to a US GAAP Net Loss of $ 1.6 billion compared to US GAAP net income of $472.8 million in the prior year.  The 2020 results include a non-cash asset impairment loss of $156.5 million.  

Meanwhile, the cruise ship owner has been very aggressive in its efforts to bolster liquidity via note issuance and arranging new debt facilities, including the most recent one secured in August worth $700 million.

The expected capital expenditures for the remainder of 2020 and 2021 are $0.6 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively. These expenditures are mostly related to newbuild projects.

The company expects that three of the five ships originally scheduled for delivery between July of 2020 and December of 2021 will be delivered within the remaining time frame. Two of these ships are Silver Moon and Silver Dawn, with capacity lower than 600 berths.

In order to resume sailing and regain confidence from customers, cruise liners have had to bolster their health and safety protocols on board in collaboration with relevant industry bodies and medical experts.

Among other measures, these will have to meet social distancing requirements and increased levels of disinfection onboard ships to prevent potential spreading of the virus.

Royal Caribbean said it was finalizing the boarding screening processes and health protocols, which are expected to be disclosed soon.