Symphony of the Seas makes US debut at Port Canaveral

Symphony of the Seas alongside at Cruise Terminal 1 Symphony of the Seas alongside at Cruise Terminal 1 PHOTO: Canaveral Port Authority

Port Canaveral welcomed the world’s largest cruise ship before dawn Thursday as Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas made its historic first stateside call. The massive cruise vessel arrived at Cruise Terminal 1 from Málaga, Spain, with nearly 5,500 passengers and 2,200 international crew members.

'We’re proud of the confidence our partners at Royal Caribbean have in us. Although this ship will be homeported in Miami, our cruise partner trusted the capabilities of this port for its first US port of call,' Port Canaveral CEO Capt. John Murray said. With a new ship coming from a foreign port, it’s important that the customs clearance and Coast Guard inspection operations run smoothly and efficiently to avoid delays and preserve a positive guest experience, he added.

Port state control inspection

Symphony of the Seas underwent the required US Coast Guard port state control inspection. About 5,500 passengers and all crew members were required to disembark the ship and clear customs. Re-boarding of passengers was phased, with crew returning to the vessel first, while passengers remained ashore during the inspection process. Many took excursions to Kennedy Space Center or shopped at Cocoa Village.

Canaveral Harbor pilot Doug Brown, who helped navigate Symphony into the port Thursday morning, said the vessel’s huge size changed his approach to the job. With a bigger ship, it usually takes a little longer to respond to different rudder and engine orders, so he planned accordingly. 'We were lucky this morning that the weather was very nice, so we didn’t have to deal with the winds and the currents too much and we just had to concentrate on the sheer size of the ship,' he said.

Bound for PortMiami

Symphony departed Port Canaveral on schedule Thursday afternoon, and is set to arrive Friday at PortMiami. Two tugboats from Petchem Tugs and Seabulk Towing escorted Symphony from Port Canaveral with a traditional water salute.

Posted 08 November 2018

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review