Tourist Industry Smiles As World’s Largest Cruise Ship Christened
MIAMI (AP) _ Former first lady Rosalynn Carter broke a 3-foot bottle of champagne against the bow of the world’s largest cruise ship Friday, christening the latest addition to Florida’s booming tourism industry.
Former President Jimmy Carter and the rest of the family stood in the warm sunshine and watched as Mrs. Carter swung the bottle suspended from a rope against the gleaming white hull of the Sovereign of the Seas.
The Carters plan a weeklong vacation on the Norwegian-registered luxury cruise ship, which can carry up to 2,690 passengers and will typically carry 2,285.
″This is a romantic place to be,″ Carter said. ″This is like a second honeymoon.″
The publicity surrounding the newest addition to Royal Caribbean’s cruise fleet was more good news for a business that was popularized by television’s ″The Love Boat″ and still generates multimillion-dollar profits.
″This has been great, combined with the weather this year,″ said Rich Steck, a Royal Caribbean spokesman, as temperatures reached the 70s. ″We love bad weather up north.″
Carmen Lunetta, director of the port, said the new ship was a boon to the city and to the cruise industry.
″This is receiving superlatives we’ve been dreaming about,″ he said. ″Ships like this add a minimum of 150,000 new passengers (a year).″
The Carters were making the trip to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands at the expense of Royal Caribbean, which also made a $25,000 donation to Carter’s foundation, said Peter Whelpton, executive vice president of the cruise line.
The interior looks like that of a new luxury hotel. The ship has a television system allowing passengers to preview and select shore excursions and a five-deck high atrium connecting many of the ship’s public meeting areas, restaurants and shops. Also offered are gambling, two pools and health club.
The ship was built at Chantiers de L’Atlantique in St. Nazaire, France and will be based year-round in Miami.