Saturday, November 13, 2010
A newly built luxury cruise liner, the Disney Dream, was floated down a narrow German river to the open sea early Saturday with just inches to spare under its keel. Meyer Werft, a German shipbuilder, insists on building its ships in a yard 32 kilometres up the Ems river. The Disney Dream, which is 340 metres long and 34 metres in the beam, is the biggest ship ever run down the river. Engineers had to wait for a spring tide with a water depth of 8.5 metres to move the vessel downstream. That meant its keel was just 40 to 50 centimetres above the stony bottom of the river. A dam at the mouth of the river kept the water high during the passage.Thousands of people watched tugs pull the ship past, starting late Friday. It arrived at the Dutch port of Eemshaven on Saturday morning. Environmentalists demonstrated against the operation, charging that dredging and damming the river was harmful. The Disney Dream has cabins for 4,000 cruise passengers and a mini amusement park containing a 200-metre-long water slide. It will undergo four weeks of sea trials in the North Sea. Disney Cruise Line, the United States-based buyer, has scheduled the maiden cruise from Port Canaveral in Florida on January 26.