Icon of the Seas

The largest cruise ship so far

article picture: Icon of the Seas


The first in the series of Royal Caribbean International’s new cruise ships – ‘Icon of the Seas’ – is under final stages of construction at Meyer Turku shipyard in southeastern Finland. Delivery is scheduled for October 26, 2023. When ready, the new ship will be the largest cruise ship in the world by gross tonnage.

In the city of Turku, Meyer’s shipyard has lots of experience for building ultra large luxury cruise ships. Many of them rank among the largest ones ever built anywhere.

Royal Caribbean International’s Icon of the Seas reached its next major construction milestone at the Meyer Turku shipyard, when it was floated out of the dry dock and into its outfitting dock in December 2022. Tim Meyer, CEO, Meyer Turku and Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president, Newbuilding, Royal Caribbean Group, marked the occasion in Turku with the team of innovators working on the revolutionary, new ship.

In the case of Icon of the Seas currently undergoing the last bouts of installation work, Meyer Turku shipyard’s Project Manager Olli Jantunen notes that the ship’s interior assemblies, as well as the installations of electrical and automation systems, are now proceeding rapidly.

”Finishing touches will be underway presently. In recent times, we have been preparing the ship for the first open-sea tests that have been scheduled for mid- June.”


The ship will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) or alternatively diesel oil, having six Wärtsilä’s Dual Fuel engines installed. Additionally, fuel cell technology will be utilised to produce electricity and fresh water.



The prominent Aquadome structure on top of the ship’s top deck has been designed for arranging water acrobatics shows while the area also includes a bar with a 220 degree ocean view, shops and dining venues. The dome was manufactured as a prefabricated modules at Meyer Turku shipyard and lifted in one piece onboard the vessel where it landed on 4th November 2022.

”Installation work of the Aquadome interior and systems is progressing on schedule. The Aquadome is the most demanding area of the vessel from a shipbuilder’s point of view. It is a very technical space with lots of moving parts, incorporating 44 different systems to be commissioned – sort of a project within the project,” Mr. Jantunen points out.

”The Aquadome’s glass sphere is 55 metres in diameter, but it has no intermediate support pillars. The base of the dome is welded onto the ship, but the upper levels are connected with flexible joints. The world class steel-designing team of our shipyard has strongly contributed to the finalisation of the dome’s structures.”


In addition to the Aquadome sphere, the ship’s hull in way of the LNG fuel tanks – including the LNG tanks themselves – was prefabricated in Germany as a floating ship piece.

”Furthermore, the engine casings including all equipment ventilation and sprinkler tubes, catalyzers, noise mufflers etc., are also prefabricated modular structures. The ship has an exceptional number of prefabricated technical modules: 1 710 in total, of which 1 650 have already been installed. Ready-made units help to make the shipbuilding work more efficient,” Jantunen explains.

Even the 15 of the 19 on-board service elevators are of plug-in type. The first three of them were ready for production use onboard in April 2023. In May, a total of ten service elevators are already operational, helping out in the transport logistics of construction work.


The main dimensions of the ship had already been determined when the ship was ordered, i.e. before the shipbuilding commenced. However, the Covid-19 pandemic brought about a delay of 18 months for the project. This gave the ship designers an opportunity to fine-tune certain design features and architectural concepts.

Also, the ship became somewhat larger than originally planned. Now she will have a gross tonnage of 250 000, which makes the Icon of the Seas the largest cruise ship in the world.

The ship will have more than 20 decks, a length of 365 metres and a speed of over 22 knots. The 2 813 cabins on board will have the capacity to house a maximum of 7 600 passengers.

Once completed and delivered from the shipyard in the later part of October, the ship will be offering cruises in the Caribbean Sea from Miami, Florida, from early 2024 onwards.


According to Mr. Jantunen, shipbuilding work for the largest cruise ship in the world has been a technically demanding project.

”The ship will incorporate huge amounts of state-of-the-art technology. Furthermore, what we have here is also the world’s most energy-efficient cruise ship,” he recounts.

”Environmental emissions of the ship have been minimised. A lot of work has been done to optimise the hull shape of the vessel, in order to make the sailingresistance factors as minuscule as possible. Additionally, the ship has an air lubrication system to lower friction as the ship sails.

The energy consumption of the vessels systems is dynamically optimised. For this purpose, Meyer Turku’s own dynamic simulation model was used.

”The dynamic simulation model contains all the ship’s equipment and consumers, and it enables us to phase-optimize, already in the design, the energy-efficiency performance on the actual routes where the ship will be operating – in this case, particularly in Caribbean conditions.”

To further improve the energy-efficiency of the ship, the surplus energy of the LNG-fuelled engines will be utilised to produce steam for use in the steam turbine that produces six percent of the electrical power needed aboard the ship.

”Also, the ship is equipped with absorption coolers, to produce air-conditioning systems with cooling energy,” Jantunen mentions.

Efficiency and automation of the airconditioning has also been improved to save energy.


Royal Caribbean International’s series of Icon-class cruise ships will be completed by two further vessels to be built by Meyer Turku shipyard and to be ready for use in 2025 and 2026, respectively. Shipbuilding work for the second ship was already started a few months ago, both at Turku shipyard and – to produce the floating LNG fuel tank part for the ship – at the Neptune shipyard in Germany.

”The following two ships in the series will be built largely in the same way as the first platform, but some new developmental features may be added along the way,” Jantunen expects.

For Icon of the Seas, a workforce of several thousand people took part in the shipbuilding project, some of them representing any of the almost 1 000 subcontractor companies involved.

The next step for finalising the Icon of the Seas will be to prepare for the imminent open-sea tests to be carried out in early summer of 2023. Commissioning tests are already being conducted upon various technical equipment and devices. As an example, the propulsion systems have already gone through a preliminary start.

”The main engines will undergo loading tests. Further tests will focus on automation systems, safety systems, and propeller functionality,” says Jantunen.

The first open-sea tests will be relatively short in duration, lasting perhaps a few days.

”It is always challenging and exciting to run open-sea tests on a vessel that is the first one in a new series. In a way, she is still kind of a prototype. Things appear to be going smoothly, but it is always prudent to prepare for unexpected events, just in case.”

by: Ari Mononen

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