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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Great Ships of 2023: Icon of the Seas

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

January 2, 2024

  • Icon of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean Group)
  • Icon of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean Group)
  • Icon of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean Group) Icon of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean Group)
  • Icon of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean Group) Icon of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean Group)

“Turku is building the real big ships,” said Meyer Turku CEO Tim Meyer.

Meyer is not exaggerating. The yard’s latest newbuild, Icon of the Seas—the first ship of Royal Caribbean’s Icon class—is 248,655 GT, making it the largest cruise ship ever constructed.

In general, the cruise ships rolling out of the nearly 300-year-old Finnish shipyard have been steadily increasing in size since the Meyer Group took full ownership in 2015. “We are proud to say Turku has been a first-mover in building these big new classes for Royal Caribbean, which are game-changers in the cruise industry,” Meyer said.

First announced in 2016, the record-breaking Icon of the Seas was floated out in December 2022 and delivered in November 2023. The construction cost is reportedly in the ballpark of $2 billion.

The 365-meter-long cruise ship has 20 decks (including 18 guest decks) and surpasses the previous record holder, Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class Allure of the Seas. With 2,805 staterooms, the ship is able to carry 5,610 passengers at double occupancy, or up to 7,600 passengers if every cabin is maxed out—another cruise industry record. It has capacity for a crew of 2,350.

“Icon of the Seas is the world's largest, but above all, the world's most advanced cruise ship. Together with Royal Caribbean, we set the bar exceptionally high in terms of design, technology, safety and reducing energy consumption,” Meyer said. “Icon of the Seas is a revolutionary ship and at the same time a significant step towards the green transition, which is the shipyard's most important competitive advantage.”

The state-of-the-art cruise ship is being touted as Royal Caribbean's most environmentally friendly, as the operator makes strides toward its goal to have a net zero carbon vessel in its fleet by 2035.

Icon’s six multi-fuel Wärtsilä engines can run on liquefied natural gas (LNG), and the ship also utilizes fuel cell technology for some of its onboard power needs. According to Royal Caribbean, this is expected to slash carbon emissions by approximately 30%. Other notable green features include a Foreship-designed air lubrication system to reduce hull friction as well as a robotic hull cleaner that removes debris and slime when the ship is docked in port to prevent increases in drag. Icon is also equipped with a shore power connection and a first-of-its-kind waste heat recovery system to turn waste heat into up to 3 megawatts of extra energy.

At the time of the ship’s delivery, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty said, “Today we are celebrating much more than just a ship being completed. We also celebrate that the innovations and dreams created by Royal Caribbean during over 50 years have reached a new peak. Icon of the Seas represents everything that can be achieved in responsible vacationing thanks to commitment and strong partnerships.”

The ship features the largest waterpark at sea, with six slides, as well as nine whirlpools and seven pools on board, including the first suspended infinity pool at sea. The vessel has 40 places to eat and eight distinct "neighborhoods" that offer a variety of experience options for passengers. One of the neighborhoods is the “AquaDome”, featuring the single largest glass and steel structure to be lifted onto a cruise ship. Another innovation is the ship's "Pearl", a 15-meter-diameter round thrill staircase that is part of the ship's load-bearing structure.

Following delivery, the Panamanian-flagged ship set sail to Cadiz, Spain, where the cruise line is completing finishing touches ahead of Icon’s first voyage from its home port of Miami at the end of January 2024.

After Icon of the Seas, Meyer Turku will also build Royal Caribbean's next two Icon-class cruise ships for delivery in 2025 and 2026, having already started production of the series' second vessel, Star of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean Group)

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