Ever see a ship as wide as three basketball courts and as long as five Boeing 747 planes sail backwards downriver?
This YouTube-worthy sight is called “conveyance.” It’s a cause for celebration for the residents of the sleepy German towns lining the riverbank who come out in the thousands to witness the event.
Since 1795, the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, has built ships of all shapes and sizes. But with the construction of Quantum of the Seas last year and the recent completion of her sister ship, Anthem of the Seas, the shipyard has now built its two largest vessels ever. That accomplishment brings a new challenge: successfully navigating a 1,141-foot long and 136-foot wide ship down a river that only provides a few centimeters clearance on either side.
Why the tight squeeze? The shipyard was built inland 200 years ago to avoid the impact of storms on the North Sea, so ships undergoing the conveyance process today must maneuver in reverse down the river in order to optimize control. Quantum of the Seas made the same journey last September; it took her 10 hours to complete the 26-mile expedition. To compare, Anthem’s conveyance took 17 hours!
Watch the timelapse here or check out this infographic to see how it all comes together (fun fact: 8% of the spectators are sheep, cows and horses!) Anthem’s almost ready — starting next month, she’ll make her way to Southampton to welcome her first guests and will then cross the pond for her first U.S. sailing out of New York in November.