Royal Caribbean's Newest Record-Setting Cruise Ship Sets Sail

Icon of the Seas at PortMiami (Royal Caribbean)
Icon of the Seas at PortMiami (Royal Caribbean)

Published Jan 28, 2024 7:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

Icon of the Seas, the new holder of the title of world's largest cruise ship, has set sail on her maiden commercial voyage. The gargantuan ship is now under way on a sold-out weeklong cruise to the Caribbean islands. 

Icon of the Seas is powered by six LNG low pressure dual fuel four-stroke engines in diesel-electric configuration, turning three massive azipods. (Historically, LPDF four-stroke engines have had the highest methane slip rate among LNG powerplants, and this common design has come in for criticism from climate advocates. The engine manufacturer says that the technology has greatly improved in recent years.) But her 7,600 passengers will be paying attention to the imaginative amenities above the waterline, like the Aquadome, a helmet-shaped observation lounge located above the bridge. This glass and steel structure was hoisted intact onto the ship at the Meyer Turku yard in Finland, and it was the largest ever single lift of its kind.

Inside, the ship has eight "neighborhoods" and 40 eateries across 20 deck levels. Royal Caribbean bills Icon of the Seas as "the world's best family vacation," and internal volume is allotted accordingly. Seven pools and six waterslides await, along with theme-park entertainment and a family-centric "stay-all-day" dedicated neighborhood.

The ship cost $1.8 billion to construct, approximately the cost of two Constellation-class frigates. Tickets run $1,700-$2,600 per person, according to the BBC, putting total revenue in the low eight figures per voyage. 

Footballer Lionel Messi participated in the official naming ceremony Friday, and he used a soccer ball to trigger the launch of the traditional champagne bottle. 

In addition to her LNG-fueled power plant, Icon incorporates an air lubrication system for the hull to reduce fuel consumption and a waste heat recovery system that will provide up to three megawatts of extra energy. The cruise ship is also shore-power ready, will be one of the first with a fuel cell on board, and will use machine-learning technologies to optimize her route.