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World’s largest cruise ship leaves French shipyard for sea trials

Crowds turned out to watch the 362m boat named ‘Wonder of the Seas’ leaving Saint-Nazaire on its journey towards Belle-Ile-en-Mer, two years after construction began

Saint-Nazaire shipyard, showing an old boat and a new cruise ship under construction. Pic: Alphapicto / Shutterstock

Friday saw the world’s largest cruise ship leave the workshop in France and set out to sea for four days of testing.

Named ‘Wonder of the Seas’, it was built in Saint-Nazaire and will be tested between the city port on France's Atlantic coast and the island of Belle-Ile-en-Mer off the coast of Brittany.

Crowds of locals and tourists gathered on Vieux Môle pier to see the boat, which emerged just after 16.00, heading for Belle-Ile-en-Mer.

At 362 metres long and 64 metres wide, the Wonder of the Seas is about the height of a 20-storey building and longer than the Eiffel Tower, which stands at 324m to the tip.

Weighing in at 230,000 tonnes, the boat will be able to travel at a maximum speed of 25.1 knots and accommodate 6,988 passengers and 2,300 members of staff.

Complete with four swimming pools, 18 bridges and 2,867 cabins, it has taken two years to build.

Not only will the boat itself be tested at sea, but the engineers and staff will be as well. Service equipment and final finishing touches will be added over the coming months.

The Wonder of the Seas is due to return to dock on Tuesday August 24, well ahead of its delivery, which is scheduled for early 2022 – six months later than originally planned.

The boat has been ordered by the cruise line brand Royal Caribbean International and will be anchored in Shanghai.

Its ‘little sister’ Harmony of the Seas (2016) was also built in Saint-Nazaire, as was the current holder of the title ‘largest cruise ship in the world’, ‘Symphony of the Seas’ (2018).

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