'It's the first time we've put the next-generation tablet embarkation on an Oasis-class ship,' said Adam Sharp, head of port operations & guest services, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Until now, the system has been used for vessels up to Quantum-class size. The goal remains 10 minutes from curb to gangway, and Sharp said that's being achieved.
At full occupancy, the 227,000gt ship can carry 6,410 passengers.
A quarter of a million pounds went into upgrading Southampton's City Cruise Terminal for Harmony of the Seas, including a bespoke gangway in conjunction with Associated British Ports, owner and operator of Southampton port. Additional passenger handling areas were created, too.
For Sharp's boss, Mike Jones, it was the first major new turnaround operation he's led since taking on additional responsibility for port operations in February. Previously the chief of supply chain management, Jones now oversees both areas and has a new title: strategic operations officer.
Already he has applied aspects of the logistics and supply chain disciplines into enhancing port operations, Sharp said.
Besides media and travel agents, Harmony of the Seas' preview cruise carried Royal Caribbean officials including chairman and ceo Richard Fain, president and chief operating officer Adam Goldstein, Royal Caribbean International president and ceo Michael Bayley and a number of RCL directors.
CLIA UK, which held its 10th anniversary conference in Southampton, had 500 people on board Friday, led by Andy Harmer, vp operations CLIA Europe, and Cindy D'Aoust, president and ceo of Cruise Lines International Association.
Come Tuesday, when Harmony calls at Rotterdam, some 75 distinguished guests led by the mayor and Mai Elmar, md of Cruise Port Rotterdam, will come aboard for a plaque exchange and lunch.
Meanwhile, media coverage of Harmony of the Seas in the UK has been 'phenomenal,' Sharp said.
Plus, thousands of onlookers have flocked to the waterfront to gaze at the ship, whose funnel rises above the cityscape. Sharp said local vendors are benefiting by supplying such items as fresh flowers and marquees. He's proud, too, that his own family from Southampton have been able to see Harmony.
'If someone said to me 10 years ago you'd be handling the world's largest cruise ship, bringing it into your own garden, your own backyard, I'd never have believed it,' Sharp marveled.