The era of the mega liners

When is a ship a resort at sea? Royal Caribbean International’s announcement of its third Oasis-class ship, Harmony of the Seas, prompts the question.
This new breed of cruise ship offers the latest technological advancements, the most adrenalin-pumping rides, widest array of restaurants and bars and largest suites and cabins.
The Harmony of the Seas is a 16-deck cruise ship that will hold 5,479 guests –  making her the biggest ship on the high seas.
She will be launched in April 2016 and the line will be announcing its itineraries in March.
The Harmony of the Seas will have three-storey water slides, robot bartanders, a revamped Dynamic Dining program as well as super-fast Wi-Fi.
Like her sisters, Oasis and Allure of the Seas, Harmony will have seven “neighbourhoods”: Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.
The multi-storey slide will be positioned over the Central Park neighbourhood. Guests can also try another new slide that features a champagne bowl which swirls swimmers around like a washing machine.
Like the Quantum of the Seas, she will also have robotic bartenders and WOWbands, using RFID technology .  They mean passengers can access their staterooms without keys and make on-board purchases and reservations.
Royal Caribbean has confirmed that Harmony will have larger cabins than Oasis and Allure in some categories, and the windowless “inside” cabins will be outfitted with the line’s exclusive Virtual Balconies.
Suite passengers also will have exclusive new areas like a suite lounge, a private suites-only restaurant called Coastal Kitchen and a full-service Suite Sun Zone sun deck.
There will be new specialty restaurants like the Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, a new teppanyaki menu and the Sabor Modern Mexican.
Harmony is not alone in showing size matters.
P&O’s Britannia will be launched next month, and she will be the biggest ship homeported in the United Kingdom.
She can carry 3,600 guests and will set sail on her maiden voyage to the Mediterranean on Saturday 14 March.
Star Cruises announced earlier this month that the line has started construction of two new mega liners that will be homeported in Asia.
The ships will cater for over 4,000 guests and will have over 30 food and beverage outlets and 1,000 square metres of luxury shopping space.
Royal Caribbean will also be announcing details in March of the latest 2016 Quantum-class ship, Ovation of the Seas.
But are they ships or resorts?

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