A Whale of a Boat

As a 1,112-ft. cruising behemoth sets sail with nearly 4,000 passengers, even fans ask, How big is too big?

The biggest cruise ship ever built sailed out of Miami for the Caribbean last week, flaunting an over-the-top attitude that makes the Queen Mary 2 look restrained. Freedom of the Seas, as the Royal Caribbean cruise line has christened it, cost more than $800 million to build and can accommodate 4,375 passengers. How tough was the 160,000-ton ship to build? Imagine trying to combine all the services of a four-star hotel with the navigational mechanics of a commercial airplane and the security concerns of a small city. And make it all float.

Royal Caribbean is hoping to stand out in a...

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