Allure of the Sea Misses Bridge by Inches

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Jens Norgaard Larsen, AFP / Getty Images

The team at Royal Caribbean is breathing easily now that the $1.5 billion Allure of the Seas managed to just squeeze under the Store Belt Bridge on its maiden voyage to Ft. Lauderdale, FLA. With just 20 inches to go between the top of the new cruise ship and the highly trafficked bridge, even a rogue ripple in the waves could have put the ship and the bridge in jeopardy.

The ship is the latest "superliner" from Royal Caribbean and the sister ship to the Oasis of the Seas, which rolled out at this time last year. The ships are the largest at sea, spanning 16 decks, weighing some 225,282 gross registered tons, and carrying 5,400 guests at maximum capacity in 2,700 staterooms.

All ships at sea are built to pass under three major gateway bridges: the Golden Gate in San Francisco, which has a clearance of 220 feet; the Verrazano in New York, with a clearance of 228 feet; and the Store Belt west of Copenhagen, which has a clearance of 213 feet. The height of the Allure is 236 feet tall.

Allure of the Seas

Per Rasmussen, POLFOTO / AP

"We were all holding a breath there for a moment," said Harrison Liu, spokesman for Royal Caribbean. "But there is plenty of room for variation, based on the speed of the ship, whether the smoke stacks are lowered, number of passengers on the ship and other variables."

Because the cruise line had been through this once before -- the blueprints of last year's Oasis are the same as the Allure -- the company felt a bit more confident this time around. The ship will not have to pass under the bridge again, said Liu.

The Allure of the Seas left the shipyard in Turku, Finland, on Friday and is expected to reach its new homeport in Fort Lauderdale, in couple of weeks when it will begin seven-night itineraries in the western and eastern Caribbean.

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