By Jaclyn Giovis, Sofia Santana and Cindy Kent, Sun Sentinel
November 13, 2009
The world's largest cruise ship slid next to a dock at its new home at Port Everglades on Friday morning after hundreds of spectators lined beaches, rode boats and perched on rocks to watch the mamouth vessel come in from sea.
The $1.5 billion Oasis of the Seas, serenaded by five tugboats shooting streams of water, arrived without incident shortly after 8 a.m.
About 300 people at the south end of Fort Lauderdale beach endured temperatures in the 50s to watch the ship and its towering 16 decks slowly make its way into port. An occasional breeze gave the air an even crisper feel.
As the Oasis of the Seas entered the inlet, onlookers gasped in awe.
"This reminds me of the trucks that move whole houses," said Cindy Martinez, 24, of Fort Lauderdale. "This is like a moving building."
Written near the southern tip of the beach in red and blue paint was a 50-foot-long greeting: "Fort Lauderdale welcomes Oasis of the Seas."
"It's just absolutely amazing, but a bit unfortunate that it's such a gray day," said Pittsburgh visitor Gary Smith, 61, who filmed the ship with his camcorder.
"It's a floating city," said Linda Glassholm, 42, of Dania Beach, who caught a glimpse of the boat while out on her morning walk.
In the Tower of the Americas condo building nearby, at least nine large banners displayed the name of the ship or its owner.
Owned by Royal Caribbean International, the 1,184-foot ship will spend three weeks at the port before it makes its first regular voyage on Dec. 5.
During that time, the cruise ship will host charity and VIP cruises, be loaded with provisions and outfitted with plants, serve as backdrop for a network morning news show, and undergo safety and health inspections.
The best vantage points to view the 226,000-ton ship's arrival were from John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, the 17th Street Causeway or the southern tip of Fort Lauderdale beach.
Near the 17th Street bridge, about 30 people gathered to watch the Oasis. Some were bundled in jackets, while others wore shorts. A few brought binoculars.
The ship's arrival took on a festive air. Several helicopters hovered around the Oasis, while boaters and kayakers took to the water for a better view.
The Coast Guard made sure nobody got too close.
Planes flew overhead with banners welcoming the ship.
Mobs of gawkers lined beaches and perched on rocks.
People started lining up outside John U. Lloyd State Park around 6:30 a.m.
Hundreds of people gathered at the north end of the beach as sponsors handed out free coffee and T-shirts that read "Welcome Oasis of the Seas."
Tammy Micensky, 41, of Coral Springs, will be one of the first to set sail on the ship. Micensky will travel on the ship's maiden voyage to Haiti on Dec. 1, and says she can't wait to see the zip line amusement ride on board.
"I did it once on an island in Jamaica, but on a ship, it seems impossible," she said.
Another person who watched the Oasis' grand arrival was Sandra DiVello, 30, of Coral Springs. In February, she and her fiancée will tie the knot on the ship, she said.
The couple heard about the Oasis while on another Royal Caribbean cruise in September 2008. A few months later, she called up and reserved her wedding date, she said.
"I was the psycho bride who called Royal Caribbean and said I want to book a courtesy hold for my wedding date," DiVello said.Here's what's happening aboard Oasis of the Seas while in port.
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