MIAMI — Royal Caribbean International on Monday ordered the world's largest and most expensive cruise ship, a $1.24-billion vessel that would hold as many as 6,400 passengers.
It's the latest step in the industry trend of super-sized ships, which delight many passengers but are too crowded for other guests.
The ship, dubbed Project Genesis, will be 220,000 gross registered tons when it is delivered to the world's second-largest cruise operator in fall 2009 by Oslo-based shipbuilder Aker Yards.
Ray Weiller, an owner of discount online travel agency Cruisequick.com, said many of his clients were drawn to the ever-growing size and number of amenities of ships, but others were tired of waiting in long lines to get on and off the vessels. Many complain about the large ships overwhelming some ports of call with too many visitors.
The announcement steals some of the spotlight from rival Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise operator. Carnival has studied building a ship about the same size, but its Pinnacle project is "on the back burner" because of its prohibitively high price, spokesman Tim Gallagher said.
Carnival's Cunard Line has the world's largest cruise ship -- the Queen Mary 2 -- at 151,400 gross registered tons. But Royal Caribbean is scheduled to get an even bigger ship in June, the 160,000-ton Freedom of the Seas. It will carry 3,600 passengers double occupancy and 4,370 maximum.
Both will be eclipsed by Project Genesis, which will be 1,180 feet long, 154 feet wide at water level and 240 feet high.