Florida and New Jersey are no longer the only states in the union that are home to one of Royal Caribbean‘s Oasis-class vessels — the world’s biggest cruise ships.
As of this week, Texas now has one, too.
Royal Caribbean’s giant Allure of the Seas, one of five vessels in the record-breaking series, will begin weekly Caribbean sailings out of Galveston, Texas, on Sunday — the first-ever voyages of an Oasis-class ship from a Texas port.
The massive vessel, which can hold up to 6,780 passengers, will sail to ports such as Roatan in Honduras, and Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico.
Allure of the Seas was originally scheduled to begin sailing out of Galveston in 2021. However, its arrival in the Lone Star State was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ship is debuting in conjunction with the opening of a new, $100-million cruise ship terminal in Galveston that also was put on hold during the pandemic.
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The terminal, which was unveiled on Wednesday, is the only one at the Port of Galveston capable of handling a ship as big as Allure of the Seas.
At 225,282 tons, Allure of the Seas is the fifth-largest cruise ship in the world. Unveiled in 2010, it’s only bested in size by Royal Caribbean’s four other Oasis-class vessels, which range from 226,838 tons to 235,600 tons.
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Each of the five vessels, in turn, is at least 4% bigger than any other cruise ship afloat. The series includes the recently unveiled Wonder of the Seas, the current size leader in the cruise world.
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The arrival of Allure of the Seas in Texas is a major milestone in the history of cruising from the state. The 18-deck-high, 1,187-foot-long ship is more than 40% bigger than the largest cruise vessel that has previously sailed out of a Texas port (Royal Caribbean’s 3,798-passenger Liberty of the Seas).
Until now, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships have mostly sailed out of the major Florida cruise hubs such as PortMiami and Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, as well as select ports in Europe.
One of the vessels, Oasis of the Seas, is based, for part of the year, in Bayonne, New Jersey — one of the cruise ports for the New York area.
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Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley has said the development of the new terminal at the Port of Galveston and the deployment of Allure of the Seas to the port would allow Royal Caribbean to increase its passenger count on ships sailing out of Galveston by 50%.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic brought cruising to a halt in 2020, cruising out of Galveston had been booming. More than 1 million cruise passengers passed through the port in 2019, up from 641,650 just five years earlier. Cruise calls over the same period jumped from 181 to nearly 300.
The Port of Galveston is now the fourth-busiest port for cruise ships in North America, after PortMiami, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral in Florida.
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Designed for vacationers who love big, bustling megaresorts, the Oasis-class ships are chock-full of more deck-top attractions and interior lounges, bars, restaurants and showrooms than any other cruise vessel.
Like its sisters, Allure of the Seas boasts three main pool areas; a separate, adults-only outdoor lounge area; an outdoor “aquatheater” with diving shows; an ice skating rink; two rock-climbing walls; a basketball court; a massive spa; and a mall-like indoor promenade with shops, bars and places to eat.
There’s also an open-air, tree-lined area called Central Park with additional restaurants, bars and upscale shops; plus, it has one of the biggest showrooms at sea.
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Allure of the Seas is scheduled to mostly operate seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries through October 2023. After that, it’ll switch to three- and four-night sailings.
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