Tourism & Cruises

New ‘largest ship afloat’ will sail from Port Everglades

Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas will sail from Fort Lauderdale after it launches next year.
Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas will sail from Fort Lauderdale after it launches next year.

Port Everglades will welcome the world's new largest cruise ship after Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas launches next year.

The Miami-based cruise line on Thursday revealed 2016-17 deployment plans, which included the news that the third Oasis-class megaship would sail the Caribbean from Port Everglades starting in the winter of 2016. Royal Caribbean announced last month that Harmony of the Seas will have capacity for 5,479 passengers, or 79 more than Oasis of the Seas, which was the largest passenger ship ever when it made its debut in 2009.

A spokesman for Royal Caribbean said the specific date for the ship’s arrival in Fort Lauderdale will be revealed next week; the vessel launches in April of 2016.

“Harmony of the Seas is music to my ears,” said Steve Cernak, chief executive and port director at Port Everglades, in an emailed statement. “It is always exciting to get a new cruise ship arriving to Port Everglades, especially the newest, largest cruise ship in the world.”

Broward’s port has been the year-round home to both Oasis and sister ship Allure of the Seas since they set sail in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Allure will stay in Fort Lauderdale, while Oasis will move north to Port Canaveral in winter of 2016.

Three other Royal Caribbean ships will sail from Port Everglades next winter as well: Independence of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas.

Though it won't have a brand new ship, PortMiami will welcome two Royal Caribbean vessels next year — the most since 2011. Enchantment of the Seas, a 2,252-passenger vessel that debuted in 1997, will arrive in Miami next summer and sail three- and four-night Bahamas itineraries. The 3,686-passenger Navigator of the Seas will alternate between five-night and nine-night itineraries starting in winter of 2016.

Those ships will replace Majesty of the Seas, which was built in 1992 and had capacity for 2,350 passengers. Majesty will leave the Royal Caribbean fleet in April of 2016 and join Spanish brand Pullmantur.

The company has not yet announced where Ovation of the Seas, the third vessel in the new Quantum class, will be based after it debuts in fall of 2016. The 4,180-passenger Quantum of the Seas moves from the New York area to China in May, while sister ship Anthem of the Seas kicks off in Southampton in April for a season in the Mediterranean before heading to replace Quantum in late October. Anthem will continue to be based in New Jersey’s Cape Liberty through winter of 2016-17.