STX France delivers Symphony of the seas to Royal Caribbean

STX France shipyard delivered the “Symphony of the seas”, the largest cruise liner in the world, to the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL), the shipowner on Friday, just before leaving Saint-Nazaire.

Fourth ship of the Oasis class, this sea juggernaut – 362 meters long and 66 meters wide for 228,000 gross tons – has won by just for a few meters and a few extra cabins the title of the largest ocean liner in the world, previously owned by its twin, “Harmony of the seas”, which STX France submitted in May 2016 to RCCL.

“Faster” and “quieter” than its “sistership”, the Symphony can accommodate more than 8,000 people on board, including 2,200 crew members.

“We like to work with Royal Caribbean, it’s not always easy, but you push us to do better every day. (…) If you want more ships, we have ideas,” said Laurent Castaing, director General of STX France, when handing over the liner to its owners.

It is the thirteenth built by the shipyard of Saint-Nazaire for its historical client RCCL. The order of the Harmony of the seas, in December 2012, with the option of the Symphony, was a breath of fresh air for the former Chantiers de l’Atlantique, after two years without a new contract.

Since then, orders have kept coming: STX France, the last major French shipyard, has to deliver nine ships by 2022, at a rate of two per year, an unprecedented situation since the departure of Queen Mary 2 in 2003.

To cope with this load, the shipyard has completed more than 900 hires on permanent contracts in five years. It currently employs 8,000 people, including 3,000 employees, and seeks to recruit 200 engineers, technicians and workers.

Three ships are under construction in Saint-Nazaire. The next one to come from the builder will be the “Celebrity Edge”, the first of a series of four ships, more luxurious and smaller (300 meters long and 38 meters wide) than those of the Oasis class. It must be delivered in the fall to another subsidiary of RCCL.

Symphony of the seas, the best liner in the world

“Symphony of the seas” is “not only the largest ocean liner in the world, it’s also the best liner in the world,” said Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain.

This floating city includes – as the “Harmony of the seas” – more than 66,000 m2 of dining and entertainment spaces, including a “Central Park”, as in New York, planted with 12,000 plant species.

A rink turning into a “laser game” or a luxury family suite, with an indoor slide, a private Jacuzzi or a popcorn machine, are among the innovations.

A hundred people were still working on board Friday to clean the glass surfaces and polish the ground before departure. About 150 employees will embark to “provide after-sales service for eight to fifteen days”, explained during a press visit Pascal Favreau, responsible for the construction of the ship.

“For once, we deliver a completely successful ship,” he said. Royal Caribbean is “an extremely demanding customer, who does not give up on anything (…) We learned from the Harmony, we did not make the same mistakes,” said Mr. Favreau.

“We say thank you a billion times, and each is worth one euro,” said the CEO of RCCL during the delivery ceremony, to discuss the cost of the ship.

STX France is to build a fifth passenger ship of the same class, available in June 2021.

The “Symphony of the seas” will leave its cradle of Saint-Nazaire Saturday around 09:00, destined to Malaga, in Spain. He will make his inaugural season in the Mediterranean Sea, before joining in the fall its home port, Miami, in the United States.

Editor-in-Chief of The Talking Democrat, Shakes enjoys bike riding, kayaking and playing soccer. On a slow weekend, you'll find him with a book by the lake.