In the so-called good old days if you wanted to go on a cruise you had little choice – there was only a handful of cruise vessels in operation.
Now with the massive boom in sea and river voyages around the world, the would-be traveller can pick and choose. Many love the intimate boutique vessels such as those from the SeaDream Yacht Club with a maximum of 112 passengers. Others, often with large families, choose the mega-liners, with multiple swimming pools and glitzy floor shows to entertain them.
On April 21, Symphony of the Seas – the largest cruise ship ever built – will make its maiden voyage. The finishing touches are being added in France, before it sets sail from Barcelona. It will make regular stops around the Mediterranean in such famous places as Palma de Mallorca, Provence, Florence, Pisa, Rome and Naples.
It will weigh more than 230,000 tonnes and carry up to 6870 passengers. All the fun-lovers will need to be fed three times daily, as well as snacks around the clock, in some 20 dining venues ranging from one that seats just 16 for very special occasions - to others seating diners by the score. In addition there will be nearly 2200 crew who will need to be fed and watered around the clock.
The Symphony of the Seas’ weekly shopping list is almost as massive as the ship itself. It includes 8900kg of chicken, 8300kg of beef, 3200kg of fish, 5400 portions of lobster tails, some 10,000 hot-dog frankfurts, 6700kg of potatoes, 4000kg of tomatoes, 48,000 eggs, 20,000-plus kilos of fruit and vegetables, enough ice cream to fill 21,000 cones, and 860kg of coffee.
For those with a thirst there will be 33,000 bottles and cans of beer, 17,000 of soft drinks, more than 2000 bottles of spirits, and 6100 bottles of wine. And all the food and drink must be loaded onto the vessel in a couple of hours as the passengers from one cruise disembark and those booked on the next sailing line-up to come aboard.
The new mega-vessel features a 10-storey high waterslide, dubbed The Ultimate Abyss, which has a 30m drop, making it the tallest at sea; and a Bionic Bar, where drinks are served by robot arms.
After sailing around the Mediterranean until October, the Symphony of the Seas will relocate to Miami where a new 1600 sq/m terminal has been built especially for the ship’s northern hemisphere winter season.
At other ports in the Caribbean, passengers will be ferried ashore in several of the Symphony of the Seas’ lifeboats. Imagine how long that might take with 6870 passengers.
Oh, and in case you were wondering - the ship will be replenished each week with no less than 10,300 rolls of toilet paper.