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Progress report on the use of a cruise liner as a vessel of opportunity for collecting scientific data

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4 Author(s)
J. Fahey ; RD Instrum., San Diego, CA, USA ; D. Symonds ; R. Findley ; E. Williams

The "Explorer of the Seas" is a cruise liner owned and operated by the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Ltd. (RCCL). This vessel is the largest cruise liner class in operation today at 142,000 tons. The Explorer carries about 3,000 passengers on weekly trips from Miami, Florida to both the Eastern and the Western Caribbean. This ship is notable in many categories, but it is particularly unique in that it is also being used as a vessel of opportunity. This continuing relationship is expected to collect long-term series data sets containing biweekly samples along the Caribbean cruise tracks. This new scientific asset is the result of a partnership among RCCL, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration - Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory (NOAA-AOML), the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. This long-term relationship between industry, academia and government is expected to allow for the collection of long-term time series data sets containing samples along the biweekly Bahamian and northern Caribbean cruise tracks. These data are hoped to reveal trends in shorter monthly time scales as well as on longer multi-year time scales. Aboard the Explorer, Eco-Learning Areas for passengers, in addition to atmospheric and oceanographic laboratories, make the Explorer a notable departure from previous programs. Additionally, the installed scientific equipment is advanced and includes many meteorological and oceanographic sensors. Two RDI Ocean Surveyor Phased Array ADCP units are included in the sensor suite and were mounted in the ships hull during construction. NOAA-AOML scientist are responsible for this data set while other scientists at the University of Miami work with the data from other sensors on a near real time basis. The University of Miami Marine Operations Group supports and maintains this equipment. The complete equipment list and current observations can be viewed at the EXPLORER data web site ( This article reviews the expectations of several of the principle parties involved in the creation of this venture, and their opinions on the program's success, to date, in meeting those diverse expectations.

Published in:

OCEANS '02 MTS/IEEE  (Volume:3 )

Date of Conference:

29-31 Oct. 2002