Royal Caribbean Cruises has signed a letter of intent with Meyer Werft to build a new class of larger ships for Celebrity Cruises - at 117,000 tons and 2,850 passengers (double occupancy). 

To be built at a cost of approximately $641 million, the first ship is slated for delivery in fall 2008, with an option for a second ship.

The new ship will be 1,033 feet long and have a beam of 121 feet, making her post-Panamax. More than 90 percent of the ship's 1,425 staterooms will be outside and 90 percent of those will have balconies. The average standard stateroom will be 215 square feet.

There will be 1,250 crewmembers onboard. According to Royal Caribbean, with the new ship and current orders, the company predicts the fleet capacity for its two brands, Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity, to increase by 2.8 percent in 2006, 7.4 percent in 2007, and 7.2 percent in 2008.

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