KORSOER, Denmark — The world's largest cruise ship cleared a crucial obstacle Sunday, lowering its smokestacks to squeeze under a bridge in Denmark.
The Oasis of the Seas — which rises about 20 stories high — passed below the Great Belt Fixed Link with a slim margin as it left the Baltic Sea on its maiden voyage to Florida.
Bridge operators said that even after lowering its telescopic smokestacks the giant ship had less than a 2-foot gap.
Hundreds of people gathered on beaches at both ends of the bridge, waiting for hours to watch the brightly lit behemoth sail by shortly after midnight.
"It was fantastic to see it glide under the bridge. Boy, it was big," said Kurt Hal, 56.
Company officials are banking that its novelty will help guarantee its success. Five times larger than the Titanic, the $1.5 billion ship has seven "neighborhoods" — parks, squares and arenas with special themes — as well as an ice rink, a small golf course and a 750-seat amphitheater. It has 2,700 cabins and can accommodate 6,300 passengers and 2,100 crew members.
Accommodations include loft cabins, with floor-to-ceiling windows, and 1,600-square-foot luxury suites with balconies overlooking the sea or promenades.
Oasis of the Sea, nearly 40 percent larger than the industry's next-biggest ship, was conceived years before the economic downturn caused desperate cruise lines to slash prices to fill vacant berths.
It was built by STX Finland for Royal Caribbean International.
One of the ship's neighborhoods will be a tropical environment, including palm trees and vines among the 12,000 plants on board. They will be planted after the ship arrives in Fort Lauderdale.
In the stern, a 750-seat outdoor theater — modeled on an ancient Greek amphitheater — doubles as a swimming pool by day and an oceanfront theater by night. The pool has a diving tower with spring boards and two 33-foot high-dive platforms.
It is due to make its U.S. debut Nov. 20 at its home port, Port Everglades in Florida.