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World’s Largest Cruise Ship Delivered to Royal Caribbean

Icon of the Seas cruise ship
Icon of the Seas is the world's larges cruise ship (Royal Caribbean International)

Published Nov 27, 2023 5:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The world’s largest cruise ship, the Icon of the Seas, was handed over to her owners, Royal Caribbean Group, during a ceremony today at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland. The cruise line highlights that the massive ship, the first of three on order, is the product of seven years of design and nearly two and a half years of work to become a reality. She now begins the final two months of fitting out and previews before her first commercial trip in late January 2024 from Miami to the Caribbean.

After the delivery ceremony, the ship is expected to depart midweek first sailing to Cadiz, Spain. There she will undergo her final fitting out and finishing touches. The cruise line has not released the schedule but she is expected to arrive in Florida in mid-January.

Classed by DNV, they are reflecting her gross tonnage at 248,663 on the first certificates dated today making her slightly smaller than the 250,800 gross tons Royal Caribbean has been promoting but still approximately five percent larger than the cruise line’s current largest ship, Wonder of the Seas, and the world’s largest cruise ship. The first of the new class, the Icon of the Seas has 2,805 passenger cabins which the cruise line says gives her a normal occupancy of 5,610 passengers and maximum passenger capacity of 7,600. With an additional 2,350 crew, she will carry nearly 10,000 people when full.

“Welcoming Icon of the Seas to the Royal Caribbean family is a remarkable accomplishment years in the making for thousands of innovators, engineers, architects, and designers,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, of Royal Caribbean International. “Seven years ago, we had an ambitious idea to create the first vacation truly made for every type of family and adventurer; now, it’s in our hands, and in this final stretch, we’ll bring it all to life for the biggest debut in our history in January 2024.”

 

The massive ship features a host of outdoor amusements for passengers (Royal Caribbean International)

 

Royal Caribbean placed the order originally for two ships with Meyer Turku in May 2017 with assembly beginning of the first ship in January 2022. Nearly a year ago, Icon of the Seas was floated from the dry dock and undertook two sets of sea trials, first in June and then at the end of October. She was at sea for eight days returning to the yard on November 6 after hundreds of tests including speed, noise, and vibration. They also tested and adjusted the main engines and automation systems.

She is the first LNG-fueled cruise ship for Royal Caribbean International and the second for the group, which follows Carnival’s Aida, Carnival Cruise Line, Costa, and P&O, as well as MSC Cruises and Disney in adopting LNG for large ships. The ship also has a waste-to-energy plant, heat capture system, fuel cell, and air lubrication for the hull. It is also shore power-ready for those ports that will have the power available. Royal Caribbean highlights that she exceeds the IMO standard being 24 percent more energy efficient and the group’s most efficient cruise ship.

Like all modern cruise ships, she comes with a host of superlatives for her amenities including 40 locations for food and drinks, four entertainment stages, seven pools, and six waterslides. She expands on the earlier designs of the Oasis class which Royal Caribbean first introduced in 2008 and now has what the cruise line calls eight neighborhoods ranging from amenities for children and families to entertainment, an outdoor park, and an exclusive suite area. 

The construction included several unique accomplishments. Above the bridge, the passenger areas feature the largest glass and steel structure, known as the AquaDome, to ever be lifted onto a cruise ship. It is an entertainment venue with a restaurant and bar as well as a theatre for a water show and boats a 55-foot tall waterfall.

Assembly has already begun on the next ship of the class, Star of the Seas, due to launch in the summer of 2025.  The third sister is due for delivery in 2026.