The name of Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship – the third in its Oasis class including Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas – has been known since well before it was floated out in mid-2015 from the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.
So today’s naming ceremony (a term now used much the same as “christening”) at her new permanent homeport of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was without suspense. But grandeur, bonhomie and celebration more than made up for it.
It followed a display that only Royal Caribbean could pull off – having Harmony’s two sister ships meet her at sea to sail along together for a while, the three biggest cruise ships in the world preening for admirers and the awestruck. Harmony, largest of all, led the way.
The new ship is first to combine the best elements of both its own Oasis–class and Royal Caribbean’s somewhat smaller “smartships” of the Quantum-class. While its decks are laid out in the same seven-neighborhoods pattern that facilitates traffic flow aboard the first two Oasis-class ships, Harmony also offers new tech – including VOOM, the faster internet at sea; robot bartenders; and WOWBands with RFID technology – introduced on the Quantum ships. Activities range from the retro charms of a carousel to the painstakingly engineered thrills of the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea.
Although Harmony’s name was revealed before today’s official naming ceremony, centuries-old tradition requires that it be done lest bad luck follow, and seafarers have always been a notoriously superstitious bunch.
The formalities have taken many shapes in the past, including a now long-outdated practice by the British Navy of wetting the deck with wine poured from a large purpose-made chalice. The valuable cup was thrown overboard as the ship was launched, and belonged to anyone who caught or found it.
Eventually deemed by British royalty to be too extravagant, the cup was replaced by a bottle of Champagne smashed over part of the new ship’s hull.
That’s how Harmony was wetly blessed by her Godmother, 23-year-old Brittany Affolter from the Miami-Dade region of Teach For America. Affolter rose to the top of nearly 1,000 nominees from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and voted on by the public to help choose a South Florida hometown hero in education.
“The Godmothers of our ships are remarkable individuals whose life lessons and achievements are rooted in courage, dedication and determination,” said Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International’s president and CEO. “Brittany exemplifies these qualities and so much more.”
“We were exceptionally impressed by the passion she has for empowering our youth to believe in a better world and brighter future. She is wise beyond her years, and we can only imagine the accomplishments that she will continue to achieve.”
With Harmony complete, duly named and embarking on its Caribbean itineraries, RCI now looks forward to deliver of its fourth Oasis-class ship in 2018.