Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas—the world’s largest cruise ship—is perhaps the epitome of excess. It’s heavier than 17,000 African elephants, taller than Mount Rushmore, more than twice as long as the Washington Monument, has more horsepower than seven Ferraris, and hosts more works of art than the Louvre has paintings on display.
Launched in 2016, the 226-thousand-ton ship boasts seven neighborhoods, multistory waterslides, and robot bartenders—Alice’s Wonderland at sea. It can accommodate nearly 7,000 guests and more than 2,000 crew members, earning it the title, “the floating city.”
Harmony of the Seas isn't an anomaly. The cruise industry is one of the fastest growing travel markets worldwide, and ships are increasingly becoming bigger and flashier. Scientists warn that these ships—which operate in fragile marine ecosystems around the globe—can have detrimental environmental and public health effects due to their significant release of sulfur dioxide and water pollutants.
Photographer Alberto Bernasconi wanted to document this high style hospitality with a dash of of sarcasm. “More than ever, it doesn't matter where you are going, but how you are reaching your destination,” he says. The resulting images are an ode to the fantasy—and at times, irony—of luxury on the high seas.