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Sydney welcomes largest ever ship

AAP logoAAP 14/12/2016 Caroline Berdon

The biggest ship ever to enter Sydney Harbour has arrived at Circular Quay, with passengers braving morning rain on the upper decks to see their vessel arrive in its new home.

At 348 metres long - almost 40 metres taller than Sydney Tower if stood upright, Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas emerged like a floating giant through low clouds and mist on Thursday morning.

With 18 decks and a capacity for 5,000 guests and 1,500 crew (larger than the population of Yamba or Bega), she is the fourth largest cruise ship in the world and the largest ship ever to sail Australian waters.

The world's three largest ships are Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, all operated by Royal Caribbean.

"Ovation of the Seas is an absolute game changer for cruising down under," said Adam Armstrong, managing director, Australia and New Zealand.

"Super cruising is a holiday experience unlike anything else you can find in Australia."

"Over the last decade we have committed to bringing the biggest and best cruise ships to our doorstep - and today is the climax of that story. This occasion marks the first time that a cruise line has ever based a brand new ship in this market."

With a price tag of $US1 billion ($A1.3 billion), Ovation offers holidaymakers the chance to skydive at sea, surf a wave pool, rock climb, go to trapeze school, take in the view from an observatory higher than the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and be served cocktails by robots.

The 168,666-ton vessel is one of the greenest ships ever to visit Australia. She has air lubrication systems on the hull to reduce fuel consumption, while incandescent lighting has ben replaced with LED or fluorescent lights. Many of these turn on by motion sensors, only operating when needed.

Those wanting a glimpse of Sydney's new resident will have to be quick. Ovation will dock in Sydney overnight, before departing at 4am on Friday for New Zealand.

She will return to her harbour city home in early January, where she will be based until the end of February.

She will be back for a longer summer season in November 2017.

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