Florida is a step closer to welcoming Odyssey of the Seas as the first Royal Caribbean Quantum-class ship to homeport in the state. Over the weekend, the 169,000 GT, 5,000+ passenger Odyssey was floated out at the Meyer Weft shipyard in Germany.
The construction milestone means the ship can now receive finishing touches over the next few months. These range from major projects like the installation of the North Star observation pod to thousands of minor detail completions.
Once she’s ready, Odyssey will begin her conveyance down the Ems River so that sea trials can begin. The ship is scheduled to debut in April with a short season in the Mediterranean from Rome, after which she will make herself at home in Fort Lauderdale, where Caribbean sailings are on tap beginning in November.
Odyssey of the Seas is the fifth Quantum/Quantum Ultra Class ship to be constructed at Meyer Werft, following Quantum, Anthem, Ovation, and Spectrum of the Seas. Along with Spectrum, Odyssey is defined as a Quantum Ultra Class ship, with all the features of Quantum class along with some added extras.
Originally scheduled to arrive this fall, the 27th ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet was delayed by the global health crisis, which saw Royal Caribbean Group shut down all cruise operations on March 14 and caused temporary closures and supply chain complications at shipyards around the world.
The Odyssey float-out comes as Royal Caribbean and the rest of the cruise industry prepare for a phased restart of operations. The line’s first revenue sailing since March is scheduled to take place tomorrow, December 1st, as Quantum of the Seas begins a series of ‘cruises to nowhere’ out of Singapore.
Ships are also slowly starting to make their way back to the U.S. Carnival Horizon has returned to Miami and Disney Wonder has arrived home to Port Canaveral. A second Disney ship, the Dream, will soon be en route from France.
But before ships can begin sailing again from U.S. ports, they will have to meet a strict series of requirements imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including improving onboard medical facilities and performing simulated cruises designed to test health mitigation measures.
Despite a challenging path to restarting operations, Royal Caribbean and its competitors can take heart that there is clearly strong public demand to get back to cruising. When Royal recently put out the word that it was seeking volunteers to take part in simulated cruises, over 100,000 people applied in just a few days.
It’s likely that when cruise ships do get the go-ahead to cruise again from the U.S., itineraries will be shorter and port calls fewer — at least until most of the public is vaccinated.
That puts Odyssey of the Seas in a strong position, as the ship will be packed full of adventure and entertainment options. The first Quantum Ultra Class ship to sail in North America is the latest iteration of the high-tech Quantum Class, which debuted cruise industry firsts like the Bionic Bar and the North Star, a glass observation capsule that takes guests more than 300 feet above the ocean for 360-degree views.
Odyssey ups the ante with the largest indoor activity center at sea, including a full-sized basketball court, bumper cars, and Xbox One games. Guests can catch a wave on the FlowRider surf simulator, get a taste of skydiving with Ripcord by iFly, and scale a 40-foot tall rock wall. There’s also the SkyPad, which offers a bungee trampoline experience augmented by a virtual reality headset that lets guests be transported to another time, place, or planet.
The ship also promises diverse entertainment and a cornucopia of dining options featuring flavors from around the world.