By James Tozer
Last updated at 1:36 AM on 03rd November 2009
Towering above the seas and dwarfing the ferry passing by, this is the world's largest cruise ship on its stately progress through the Solent.
The South Coast was given a sneak preview of the just-completed Oasis of the Seas yesterday as it prepared to cross the Atlantic, stopping briefly to drop off 300 workers who have been putting the finishing touches to its on-board luxuries.
Once in Florida it will embark on its maiden voyage to Haiti.
A big deal: The world's newest and largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas dwarfs the Isle of Wight ferry (left) as she enters the Solent en route to Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Enthusiasts flocked to the cliffs of Hampshire in the hope of catching a glimpse of the ship - not that they could miss it. It is three times the size of the QE2 - and five times as big as the Titanic.
It is en route from its shipyard in Finland before crossing the Atlantic for its official unveiling in Florida.
The £855million vessel can accommodate a staggering 6,360 passengers and 2,160 crew in recession-defying luxury, with cabins including 'multi-level urban-style loft suites' boasting floor-to-ceiling windows.
On-board entertainment will be enough to satisfy even the most jaded millionaire, including the aquatic amphitheatre, handcrafted carousel, zip-wire racing diagonally down nine decks and even what is billed as the world's first floating park.
A Royal Navy Sea King helicopter makes a low fly-past of the Oasis of the Seas as she enters the Solent
Oasis of the Seas passes the USS Ramage at anchor as she sails through the Solent before continuing her journey to the U.S.
It also features not one but four swimming pools plus various whirlpools, volleyball and basketball courts, rock climbing wall and a 'youth zone' with theme parks and children's science labs.
The ship is so vast it is divided up into 'neighbourhoods' with special themes, including a tropical zone with palm trees and vines among the total 12,000 plants on board.
Last night, at shortly after midnight, hundreds of people gathered on beaches at both ends of the Great Belt Bridge, which connects the Danish islands of Zealand and Funen, to see the ship make its way out of the Baltic Sea.
It was a very tight squeeze indeed considering there was only a 2ft gap between the ship and the bridge as it passed beneath. It only cleared it by lowering its telescopic smokestacks.
'It was fantastic to see it glide under the bridge. Boy, it was big,' said Kurt Hal, 56.
Details of today's arrival in the Solent were kept a closely guarded secret, and the ship didn't come into port, instead meeting a tender for the transfer of around 300 shipyard workers.
But enthusiasts kept a close eye on websites charting its course.
Once the drop-off has been made, the Oasis will make its way across the Atlantic where operators Royal Caribbean - who have already ordered a sister ship, Allure of the Seas - will officially name it before its first cruise, to Haiti next month.
Company officials are banking that its novelty will help guarantee its success.
Sensitive to charges of conspicuous consumption, its builders say it is also the world's most environmentally-friendly cruise ship, reusing all its water and discharging no sewage into the sea.
Limbo dance: The Oasis Of The Seas lowers its smokestacks to squeeze under the Great Belt Bridge as it leaves the Baltic Sea with barely 2ft to spare
The cruise liner is so vast it is divided up into 'neighbourhoods' with special themes. It boasts 21 swimming pools, a carousel, a rock climbing wall and even a science lab
What shall we do today? Take your choice from surf machines, volleyball and basketball courts, a miniature golf course and even an 82ft zipline. There are even two 43ft-high climbing walls
OASIS OF THE SEAS - Will it fit in my marina?
Length - 1,180ft; weight - 225,282 tons; decks - 16; passengers - 6,360; crew - 2,160
Cost to build - £800million; price for a two-week cruise - from £1,300
630,000 gallons of paint needed to decorate it
2,300 tons of water in its swimming pools
12,000 plants on board including hundreds of palm trees
3,300 miles of electrical cables to keep the lights in its 2,700 cabins blazing