Royal Caribbean’s Second Largest Cruise Ship is Floated in France
Royal Caribbean International’s giant new cruise ship, the sixth in the Oasis class and soon to be the world’s second-largest cruise ship, was floated from the building dock on September 16. Named Utopia of the Seas, the cruise ship, which will be 236,860 gross tons when completed, is being built in France and will enter service in July 2024.
Unlike the five prior ships of the class, Utopia of the Seas was redesigned to be able to operate on liquified natural gas, only the second ship for the cruise line to use LNG following the end-of-year introduction of the Icon of the Seas, which will also be larger and the largest cruise ship in the world. The Oasis class began in 2009 and after building two ships in Finland, Royal Caribbean decided to expand the class ultimately ordering four ships from Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, France.
Royal Caribbean highlights that it took 17 months to reach the float out with the first steel having been cut in April 2022. They marked the beginning of assembly in July 2022. The cruise ship is made up of 74 unique blocks which were pre-assembled by the yard and then joined in the dry dock as assembly progressed. The ship is now structurally complete and the interior outfitting will proceed. The massive ship will be propelled by three 20 MW Azipods and have six engines producing 96,000 kW of power.
The float-out process required nearly 15 hours. Progressing overnight, the dry dock required more than 46 million gallons of water to float the cruise ship which is 1,188 feet in length and 211 feet wide. Tugs were used to reposition the vessel to the outfitting berth where she will remain until sea trials next year.
Utopia of the Seas just before the dry dock was flooded (Chantiers de l’Atlantique / Bernard Biger photo)
Data released by the cruise line shows that she will be just slightly larger than the current largest cruise ship in service, the Wonder of the Seas, another vessel in the Oasis class built by the French shipyard and having entered service in 2022. The ships share the same dimensions for their hulls but changes in the arrangement of public rooms and accommodations increased the new ship from the Wonder of the Seas’s 235,600 gross tons. They however will both be eclipsed by the Icon of the Seas which entered commercial service in January 2024 and will be 250,800 gross tons.
Changes to the general arrangement plan of the Utopia of the Seas versus the earlier ships of the class, mean she will have a larger gross tonnage but smaller passenger capacity. The double occupancy for the new ship will be 5,668 passengers in 2,834 staterooms. The ship is planned to have a crew of 2,290. There are some changes to amenities onboard which include five swimming pools, 20 dining venues, and 20 bars and entertainment areas including two casinos. The ship has a suite enclave and introduces the longest dry slide at sea.
When she enters commercial service, she will become the first of the new and largest ships to be placed into the 3- and 4-day cruise market. She will be sailing from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas. Historically in the industry, older and smaller ships ran short cruises, but this began to change in the 1990s. Changes in traveler’s vacation patterns, the appeal of the family cruise market, and the tie-in with the central Florida theme parks have driven the growth of the short cruise market with the introduction of Utopia of the Seas into the market marking a new milestone.
These same factors helped Port Canaveral to become the largest cruise homeport in 2022 surpassing Miami with the highest number of cruise passengers handled. Port Canaveral had more than 4.2 million cruise passengers in 2022, and with the introduction of new, larger cruise ships it projects significant growth to 6.4 million cruise passengers by 2027 according to the Florida Port Council.
Royal Caribbean International’s current cruise ship orders include Utopia of the Seas, which is the last of the class currently ordered, as well as the Icon of the Seas and two sister ships which are being built in Finland.