Map June 2009

Hope Floats

As the recession blows a gale, the world’s most expensive cruise ship nears completion.
More
Click the image above to view this map
Graphics by Bryan Christie

In November, Royal Caribbean will take delivery of a true sea monster. Now in its final phase of construction, the Oasis of the Seas will be the biggest (longest, tallest, widest, heaviest) passenger ship ever built—and the most expensive. It will dwarf Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and cast shadows dockside atop 20-story buildings. A crew of 2,165 will tend the expectations of up to 6,296 passengers.

In profile, the Oasis appears as flat and businesslike as a floating Hyatt, a triumph of the straightedge over the curves, fluting, and flair of yesteryear’s ocean liners. The interior space, though, is a celebration of excess: a legion of designers has packed the ship with glitzy amenities and attractions of the sort usually associated with Las Vegas (albeit sanitized—the dark edge is staked out by a wash-off-tattoo parlor).

Cruise ships take years to build; the Oasis was ordered—for $1.4 billion—in 2006, near the height of the boom. Royal Caribbean will be forced to take delivery of another, similarly sized ship next year. The company’s net debt may reach $9.3 billion by the end of 2010—that’s according to Goldman Sachs, which has a sell recommendation on Royal Caribbean, and little enthusiasm for the cruise industry as a whole. Perhaps the Oasis will be a ringing success, proving market mavens wrong yet again. But it may leave the dock already a dinosaur—a floating emblem of a bankrupt era.

Rory Nugent is the author, most recently, of Down at the Docks.
Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In