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16 Mar, 2016

World’s Biggest Cruise Ship starts sea trial

12 March 2016, (China Daily) – The Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, set off on Thursday on its first sea trial from Saint-Nazaire in western France, with just two months to go before delivery.

The city’s STX France shipyards began building the 1 billion euro ($1.1 billion) mammoth for US cruise ship line Royal Caribbean International in September 2013.

Thousands of people gathered at the dock to watch as the 120,000-ton ship was helped out to sea by six tugs.

Harmony of the Seas leaves shipyard in France on Thursday. STEPHANE MAHE/REUTERS

Harmony of the Seas leaves shipyard in France on Thursday. STEPHANE MAHE/REUTERS

About 500 people, mostly crew members as well as representatives of the owners, engineers and suppliers, were on board for the first trial, set to continue until Sunday.

The ship, with a height of 70 meters, has been an imposing presence in Saint-Nazaire, visible from kilometers away.

For months, tourists have been allowed on board to gape at the innards of the ship, which has 16 decks and stretches 362 meters — about 50 meters longer than the height of the Eiffel Tower.

Three pilots, who have trained on a simulator in nearby Nantes for the past year, helped the captain in the tricky maneuvers needed to guide the hulking ship out of the Saint-Nazaire estuary. The tugs first helped the ship as it backed out of its berth before turning it around and then guiding it out to the open sea.

About 2,000 crew members will tend to the needs of more than 6,000 passengers on Harmony, which is a meter wider than the current twin ocean-going monsters of the pleasure cruise world, the RCI-owned Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas, which are also 362 meters long.

The next trials will take place before the end of April, with delivery set for May 12.