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Last Updated: Monday, 17 April 2006, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Giant cruise ship thrills Hamburg
Freedom of the Seas arrives in Hamburg
The ship had very little space to manoeuvre in Hamburg
The world's biggest cruise ship, the "Freedom of the Seas", has drawn a crowd of thousands in Hamburg ahead of its maiden transatlantic voyage.

The Finnish-built vessel - flagship of Royal Caribbean International - will have a thorough check and final polish at Germany's Blohm and Voss shipyard.

It boasts the world's first on-board surfing pool, called "Flow Rider", a skating rink and a rock-climbing wall.

It will take up to 4,375 passengers at a time on Caribbean cruises.

The 160,000-ton ship is 339 metres (1,112 ft) long, 56m (184 ft) wide and has a cruising speed of 21.6 knots.

The crew had to carry out a tricky manoeuvre in Hamburg, as the ship's berth was only three metres wider and 12m longer than the ship.

The ocean liner Queen Mary II is six metres longer but 15m narrower than the Freedom of the Seas, which will be based in Miami, Florida.

The Freedom of the Seas will leave Hamburg on 25 April for a stopover in Oslo before crossing the Atlantic and starting Caribbean cruises in June.

Its features also include a water park with colourful sculptures and numerous restaurants, bars and salons.

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