At 160,000 tons and carrying more than 3,630 passengers, Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas arrived in Greater Fort Lauderdale today to become the largest cruise ship ever to homeport at Port Everglades.

In one year alone, Independence of the Seas will bring nearly 160,000 passengers to Broward County, FL, who will help support over 420 local jobs and generate an economic impact of approximately $67.5 million.

“A cruise ship this size and with so many amenities is an impressive sight,” says Port Everglades Director Phillip C. Allen.  “We hope that once their guests have had enough of surfing, boxing and ice skating, they will take the time to relax in Greater Fort Lauderdale.”

One of Royal Caribbean’s three Freedom-class vessels, Independence of the Seas features amenities that have revolutionized the industry, such as the FlowRider surf simulator, the H20 Zone water park, a boxing ring, cantilevered whirlpools, and the four-bedroom/four-bath Presidential Family Suite. Guests have dining and entertainment options that include eight restaurants and more than 15 bars and lounges.

But Independence of the Seas can retain the title of Port Everglades’ largest cruise ship for only one year, as it will be replaced by the world’s largest cruise ship Oasis of the Seas in November 2009.  Oasis of the Seas will be the first of Royal Caribbean International’s two 220,000-ton, 5,400 passenger Oasis-class ships that will be homeported year-round at Port Everglades.  Oasis’s sister ship, Allure of the Seas, will begin sailing from Port Everglades in 2010.