Watch: Odyssey of the Seas squeezes down the Ems River in reverse

Odyssey of the Seas; Image credit Royal Caribbean
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Odyssey of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International’s brand-new ship under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, has completed its 10-plus-hour river conveyance.

The 32-kilometer conveyance is a process unique to ships built at Meyer Werft, as the shipyard is situated inland along the Ems River, and the ship must make the journey backward and down the river to get to the North Sea.

A sight to behold, maneuvering a 169,000-gross-ton ship that measures 347 meters in length and 41 meters in width is no mean feat. 

Due to its size, Odyssey of the Seas will be one of the five largest cruise ships in the world. 

The giant cruise ship left Papenburg on Saturday, 27 February 2020, heading off for technical and nautical sea trials in the North Sea.

 After initial adjustments and tests in the North Sea, the ship moored in Eemshaven, the Netherlands on Sunday morning. From there, the ship sets course for Bremerhaven, after which it will undergo technical and nautical trials.

As explained, the maneuver had to be extended over three tides due to the weather and wind conditions. 

Meyer plans to hand over the ship in the next few weeks.

Due to the ongoing impact on the cruise sector from the COVID-19 pandemic, the shipyard doesn’t expect any new orders for large cruise ships from its major customers any time soon.

“We are working hard to adjust to this dramatic change in the situation. Even though some cruise ships will soon be able to sail again, this does not mean new orders by a long shot,” said Jan Meyer, Managing Director of Meyer Werft.

“By stretching the order book, we are securing work in the long term but at a lower level each year. For the last and also the next five years, we will have 40% less work each year.”

In a Royal Caribbean first, Odyssey is scheduled to debut in Haifa, Israel this May.

In conjunction with Israel’s health and tourism authorities, Royal Caribbean said it would be the first to offer fully vaccinated sailings, where both crew and guests above the age of 16 will be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Thanks to the millions of vaccines we have brought, I am proud that Israel will be the first country in the world to launch Royal Caribbean’s new flagship. Royal Caribbean’s decision to come to Israel is a significant expression of confidence in our policy. This is an important economic, touristic moment for the State of Israel,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The ship will offer a mix of 3- to 7-night escapes visiting the Greek Isles and Cyprus, roundtrip from Haifa. 

Odyssey will then cross the Atlantic to begin its inaugural North American season in November, offering itineraries from Fort Lauderdale and visiting far-flung destinations, including Curacao and Aruba.