One Big Ship, One Big Celebration

FORT LAUDERDALE — Probably only somebody who’s into cruising would appreciate what we witnessed here on Thursday. There was a parade. A parade of one. It was a ship, a special ship, Allure of the Seas. People came and they watched, like it was an historic event, and in a sense it was.

The Allure was escorted into the Fort Lauderdale harbor by four helicopters carrying news cameras, and a flotilla of boats, and a plane above it with one of those advertising messages tied to its tail, only this message simply said: “Fort Lauderdale (loves) Allure of the Seas.” There was  a tourist boat among those in the harbor carrying people who paid to witness the arrival.

Small boats showered her with sprays of water, like she was a bride and the water was confetti. People snapped pictures and shot video. This was 9 a.m., and some passengers on moored cruise ships had been up since 6:30 waiting for her to appear on the horizon. As she entered the harbor, captains of the ships blasted their horns to herald the event.

All that was missing were marching bands.

On the top deck of the Navigator of the Seas, a little sister of the Allure, one woman watching turned to her husband and said: “We couldn’t have PAID for this.” Another woman’s mouth dropped and she said: “There’s people on it!”

All of this over a cruise ship’s arrival from Europe. Why?

The Allure is the biggest cruise ship in the world, allegedly inches longer than the sibling she succeeds, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. They’re allegedly identical, or close to it, but it’s not that hard to tell them apart…really. On either side of the bow, one says Oasis and the other says Allure.

This was the end of the Allure’s voyage across the Atlantic and the people on board were laying carpets, painting, installing whatever needed installing and generally doing a dry run for its first departure with passengers.

Yes, lady, there were people on the Allure. As great as this ship is, it can’t sail on its own.

As the crew nosed her into the docking bay the Oasis had vacated last Saturday, one of the tugboats did a 180-degree wheelie off the Allure’s stern. If you like boats, you haven’t really lived until you’ve seen a tug do a wheelie!

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