We borrow this article from Theresa Norton Masek on the TravelPulse website as we enjoyed the read and wanted to share it.
PHOTO: Quantum of the Seas moves slowly through the German countryside on its way to the North Sea. (Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)
Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas has left the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany and is making its way to the North Sea. But the path to open water requires quite a stunning bit of navigation.
The 136-foot wide ship will maneuver for 20 miles — backwards, no less — on the River Ems, with just a few feet clearance on both sides. At 168,666 gross tons, it is the largest ship to ever make this unusual trip, which the shipyard calls “the conveyance.”
While most shipyards are located on seafronts, Meyer Werft is inland, in the tiny, picturesque town of Papenburg, Germany. The shipyard opened there back in 1795 as a way to avoid construction delays caused by nasty storms in the North Sea. Back in the late 1700s, ships were much smaller, and moving them to the open water on the River Ems not a challenge. In fact, at one time, Papenburg was home to about 20 shipyards, but only Meyer Werft has survived until today.
Originally scheduled to depart the shipyard on Sunday, the conveyance was delayed until midday Monday German time due to high winds that could endanger the delicate operation.
The river conveyance is expected to take about 10 hours, but that can vary due to wind speeds and tidal conditions, before the ship enters open water.
“For hours we are actually taking the ship along this very, very tight channel where there is only about two to three feet of distance on each side between the ship and the river bank,” said Patrik Dahlgren, vice president for marine operation at Royal Caribbean International. “With Quantum being the largest ship that has ever been built at Meyer Werft, there are some power lines that needed to be re-routed, and some bridges along the river actually have to be lifted out of the way with a crane to allow the ship to pass, including one that is used by one of the main railways into Holland.”
As the ship moves slowly down the river, locals gather at the riverbank to watch. Meyer Werft is an economic powerhouse in the region, and local residents cheer as the ship they’ve worked on for years nears completion and moves through the countryside.
Quantum of the Seas is expected to arrive in Eemshaven, the Netherlands, at about 4:30 a.m. Sept. 23. There, it will dock and begin sea trials to measure its seaworthiness, as well as test things like speed, maneuverability, equipment and safety features.
The ship is scheduled to arrive at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., on Nov. 10 with the christening by actress Kristin Chenoweth a few days later.