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First Mega Cruise Ship Built for Short Cruises Delivered to Royal Caribbean

Utopia of the Seas cruise ship
Utopia of the Seas, currently the second largest cruise ship in the world, is seen backing out of the yard in May for trials (RCI)

Published Jun 14, 2024 7:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Royal Caribbean International took delivery on its second mega cruise ship in 2024 as the brand continues to push the industry with a broad array of amusements for passengers. However, the Utopia of the Seas is unique as she is the first of the largest class of cruise ships to be deployed on delivery into the short weekend cruise market.

Entering service in just five weeks from Port Canaveral, Florida, the new Utopia of the Seas at 236,860 gross tons is as much as 50 percent larger than the Freedom class ships Royal Caribbean mostly deploys for the short cruise market. With a passenger capacity of 5,668 people in lower berths and 2,834 cabins the new ship will carry at least 20 percent more passengers.

"Taking delivery of Utopia of the Seas is an incredibly important milestone, as it marks yet another evolution of our game-changing ships and our mission to create the best vacation experiences responsibly," said Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group.

The ship features a broader array of amenities ranging from five swimming pools to waterslides including one that is 43 feet longer than on other ships, making it at 259 feet the longest dry slide at sea. There is also a surf simulator and a zip line. Passengers will have more than 20 places to eat as well as a broad offering of bars, live music, entertainment, and a casino. Operating cruises lasting just three or four nights to the Bahamas, critics suggest the ship is too large for passengers to experience all it has to offer on these short cruises.

"With the delivery of Utopia of the Seas, we have the keys to the ultimate weekend," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. "This is the short vacation that packs every way to make amazing memories in a 3-night weekend or 4-night weekday getaway.”

The company reports strong demand for the ship which is the sixth in its Oasis class.  Based on that strong response from travelers, the company is deploying Allure of the Seas, one of the first ships of the class built more than a decade ago also on short cruises. 

The Utopia of the Seas took more than two years to build at France’s Chantiers de l’Atlantique. She completed sea trials at the beginning of May and is now set to depart for the United States. In the weeks leading up to her debut on July 19, Utopia of the Seas will make her way to the U.S. as the Royal Caribbean teams make the finishing touches to get the ship ready. She has a crew of 1,600 aboard and at full staff will have 2,290 crewmembers.

While she is the sixth ship of the design and the fourth built in France, the ship is the first of the class to be LNG-fueled. The success of the class led Royal Caribbean to recently place an order for a seventh Oasis Class vessel also to be built in France for delivery in 2028.

Utopia of the Seas follows the Icon of the Seas which entered service in January 2024 as the line’s first LNG-fueled cruise ship and the largest cruise ship in the world. Royal Caribbean will introduce the second ship of that class, Star of the Seas, in 2025, and has a third on order from Meyer Turku in Finland. Royal Caribbean will be operating 28 ships with the arrival of the Utopia of the Sea, including seven of the 10 largest cruise ships in service.