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All in the Same Boat

Building the world’s largest cruise ship

Author JACQUELINE DETWILER

ILLUSTRATION BY STEVE STANKIEWICZ

NASSAU, BAHAMAS

After breakfast and coffee at Starbucks, you check the news ticker and head out for a stroll. You’re feeling a little tired from yesterday’s five-course wine dinner and a late night taking in a performance of Chicago, so you walk straight past the Romero Britto gallery and into Central Park for some fresh air. Is this New York City? Not exactly.

It’s the world’s largest cruise ship: Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. Measuring 1,187 feet long and 208 feet wide, the leviathan was constructed at a shipyard in Turku, Finland, by no fewer than 37 design firms, 20 architectural firms and almost 1,000 subcontractors. It holds 6,318 guests and 2,384 crew members and has seven “neighborhoods,” including a park and the biggest at-sea swimming pool in existence. Here’s how they built it.

1 Typical cruise ships limit open-air areas to the edges of the decks. To provide space for more rooms with balconies and deliver sunlight to the park’s flora, the Allure’s architects split part of the ship’s design into two six-story towers, leaving the center open to the sky.

2 Propelling a 225,282-ton ship is no small feat. To move such a weight, the Allure has multiple diesel engines, one of which uses four 20-foot-wide propellers to pull the boat, rather than push it, as is the case with conventional cruise ships. This saves energy — as does the boat’s high-tech barnacle-resistant coating, which decreases drag.

3 Because of the unique environmental conditions on a cruise ship, a team of horticulturists was convened to choose plants for the Allure’s park. The ideal species were suited to the ship’s tropical route, not too sensitive to salty air and easy to water using a custom irrigation system. The 93 varieties of plants that the horticulturists selected are also kept cool via air-conditioning units located around the park.

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