Mega-cruiser docks in US amid choppy economic waters

The largest and most expensive cruise ship in the world arrived in Florida Friday, where it faces a challenge to fill its multitude of berths as Americans struggle to keep their heads above water.

The immense "Oasis of the Seas" docked in Fort Lauderdale, just north of Miami, filled with crew members who its owners - Royal Caribbean - hope will soon be joined by 6,360 passengers.

As helicopters hovered overhead, "Oasis" ended its journey from Finland to its new home port, where the finishing touches will be put on the 1.3-billion-dollar craft.

"It's huge, a floating city" said 42-year-old Linda Glassholm as the ship approached.

At 1,180 feet (360 meters) long and 215 feet (65 meters) wide, it is too big to fit through the Panama Canal's locks, putting it on par with the world's largest container vessels.

At 204,000 tonnes, it is four times heavier than the Titanic, and 40 percent larger than the next biggest cruise ship, the "Freedom of the Seas," also a Royal Caribbean vessel.

The firm was upbeat about the prospects for "Oasis" despite the economic crisis. "We are confident," said Royal Caribbean chief executive Richard Fain, "despite the economic situation, people will keep traveling."

They hope to secure 800-5,800 dollars per passenger with the lure of its many onboard details, including an amphitheater-style cinema, 12,170 plants and 56 trees.

Its first trip is scheduled for December 1 to reach the newly renovated Labadee Beach on Haiti's northern coast.

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