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Royal Caribbean bringing Central Park replica to ocean

AP Business Writer

Central Park is moving to the ocean _ sort of.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said Tuesday that an arearesembling New York's Central Park will be featured in the centerof its Project Genesis ship when it is delivered in late 2009 asthe world's largest cruise vessel.

Spanning the length of a football field, Central Park willinclude lush foliage, quiet walkways, restaurants, boutiques, anart gallery and a moving bar, the world's No. 2 cruise operatorsaid Tuesday.

The area also will feature concerts and street performances,providing the feeling of an outdoor space on a 225,000-gross toncruise ship that will carry 5,400 passengers and sail from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. A gross ton is a standardmeasurement of carrying capacity that is equivalent to about 100cubic feet.

The Central Park design is one of seven "neighborhoods" to befeatured on Project Genesis, and it is the first majorarchitectural detail to be divulged after several years of planningand secrecy. More details will be disclosed as the ship gets closerto launch, said Adam Goldstein, president of Royal CaribbeanInternational.

"I have spent the last two years keeping this a secret evenfrom my immediate family," Goldstein told The Associated Press ina phone interview ahead of a news conference in New York. "Ourlevel of excitement is equaled only by our fidelity to keep it asecret until now."

Project Genesis is an ambitious undertaking by Miami-based RoyalCaribbean, the world's second-largest cruise company behindMiami-based Carnival Corp. With a view of the sky, Central Parkwill be lined with 254 balcony staterooms and feature five eateriesand two bars. One of the bars, called the Rising Tide, will ascendand descend three levels.

Project Genesis will exceed the size of Freedom of the Seas andLiberty of the Seas, which currently hold the title of the world'slargest cruise ship at 160,000 gross tons each. A third FreedomClass ship, the Independence of the Seas, is set to launch in May.

Project Genesis and a sister ship are set to be launched by theend of 2010. Each Project Genesis ship will cost more than $1billion to build. Details on when bookings will start and how mucha trip will cost have not been released.

Despite the ship's size, Royal Caribbean worked on ways to keepfuel costs manageable once the vessel is launched, Goldstein said.The industry has adopted several practices to control fuel costs,such as applying different hull paint to reduce drag in the waterand using lighting that helps reduce onboard energy costs.

About 12.6 million passengers took cruises in 2007 with 10.3million of those coming from North America. The industry expects anincrease in worldwide cruise passengers this year to 12.8 millionpeople _ as lines plan to add eight new ships in 2008 and more than35 new vessels in the next four years.

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