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One big boat: The world’s largest cruise ships sets sail on first sea trial

Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, embarked on its first sea trial off the coast of Saint-Nazaire, France, yesterday, two months ahead of its scheduled delivery.

he behemoth, built for Royal Caribbean International at a cost of around £770m, measures 1,188 feet from bow to stern, a foot more than the current record holders – Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas – and tips the scales at a record-breaking 227,000 GT.

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There will be water slides and zip lines to keep passengers occupied

It will have 2,747 cabins on its 16 decks, with room for 5,479 guests at double occupancy, also a record.

Shipbuilders STX France began construction in September 2013 and for months tourists have been allowed on board to see inside.

Three pilots, who have trained on a simulator in nearby Nantes for the past year, helped the captain with the tricky manoeuvres needed to guide the hulking ship out of the Saint-Nazaire estuary while thousands of people gathered at the dock to watch.

Some 500 people, mostly crew as well as officials from the owners and engineers and suppliers, were on board for the first trial, which will continue until Sunday. The next trials will take place before the end of April, with delivery set for May 12.

According to Royal Caribbean, the ship will feature three multi-storey waterslides, robot bartenders (as can be found on its latest ship, Quantum of the Seas), and a “handcrafted” carousel.

Culinary venues will include two new “concepts” – Izumi Hibachi & Sushi and the Sabor Modern Mexican – and a branch of Starbucks. It will also have the fastest internet connection at sea, the cruise line claims.

Like the two other ships in its class, Harmony will be divided into seven “neighbourhoods”: Central Park, the Royal Promenade, Boardwalk, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality (spa and fitness), Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. It is expected to share other features common to its sister ships, such as a surfing simulator and a zip line.

Harmony will complete two mini-cruises from Southampton in May before relocating to Barcelona for a summer in the Mediterranean, during which time the musical Grease will be playing in its theatre.

Royal Caribbean has several other ships in the pipeline, including Ovation of the Seas, which will also debut in May 2016. The new vessels will increase the size of the company’s fleet to nearly 30. The majority of its ships are based in Florida.

Future ships could be called Apex of the Seas, Emblem of the Seas or Joy of the Seas. The website cruisemapper.com reported that Royal Caribbean recently renewed the trademark for each of these names.

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