MIAMI - Freedom of the Seas will be the name for Royal Caribbean International's newest and biggest vessel, which had been known until now as the Ultra Voyager.

Passengers on the Freedom's sailings, which begin in April 2006, will be able to call home and brag, as the ship will have connectivity for cell phones. Plus, there will be a wireless network and flat-screen TVs in all cabins and public areas.

Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Cruises' CEO, said the Freedom will be "head-turning."

The 158,000-gross-ton Freedom will be a larger version of the company's flagship vessels, the Voyager series.

Royal Caribbean said the ship will have enhanced security, navigational and environmental systems. Details of other features will be released as the ship's construction continues at the Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Finland.

The company said two of the most prominent amenities on the Voyager-class ships, the rock-climbing wall and the ice skating rink, will be addedto the Freedom of the Seas.

James Deitz, vice president of in Margate, Fla., said his company had been pushing Royal Caribbean for details on the Ultra Voyager but hadn't unearthed many facts. There are many rumors, he said, about what eventually will go on the ship's top deck.

"Some people are scared away by size," Deitz said of the Freedom. But he doesn't feel the Voyager-class ships are too large.

"There's no such thing as too big a ship," he said.

The ship will sail from Miami on Caribbean cruises.

The five Voyager-class ships, at 139,000 tons, helped Royal Caribbean temporarily claim the distinction as the company with the world's biggest cruise ship. Carnival Corp. won that distinction in 2004 with the Queen Mary 2.

The Freedom will recapture that title for Royal Caribbean. But it may not hold the honor for long.

Rival Carnival is at work with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri on the "Pinnacle Project," a ship that could be as   large as 180,000 tons.

To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to[email protected].


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