Simply Iconic

article picture: Simply Iconic

Christened by football legend Lionel Messi in January 2024, Icon of the Seas is the biggest cruise ship in the world. We looked under the hood.

After more than seven years of dreaming, planning and building, Royal Caribbean International’s highly anticipated Icon of the Seas has become a reality. Constructed over the course of 900 days in Turku, Finland, the ship is jampacked with innovative entertainment features.

Along the way, the Turku shipyard has witnessed some never-before-seen feats, such as the installation of the single largest glass and steel structure to be lifted onto a cruise ship.

“Installing AquaDome was certainly memorable,” says Olli Jantunen, the Project Manager for Icon of the Seas. At the time, Jantunen was still recovering from Covid and could have stayed home with good cause. Nevertheless, he stole away to the shipyard to see how the installation of the massive glass dome got started.

“But I didn’t stick around for the entire thing,” he laughs.

AquaDome is a solid business card for both Caribbean and Meyer Turku. “Our customers may have some wild ideas, but we work hard to make them come true,” confirms Jantunen who has made a career working with these big ships.

“Actually, the Icon was the 13th prototype that I’ve been involved with,” he says.


Icon’s impressive entertainment roster features both industry-firsts and old favorites spread across eight “neighborhoods”.

There are hair-raising, adrenaline-pumping thrills (record-breaking six water slides alone), more than 40 ways to dine – and always plenty of ways to chill (did we mention the seven pools?).

Icon is also the cruise line’s first ship that can be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). The dual-fuel engines work alongside a lineup of energy efficiency initiatives and industry-leading environmental programs on board, such as the first waste-to-energy plant at sea.

Also, Icon is 24 percent more energy efficient than the standards required for ships being designed today. Being hailed as the cruise line’s most sustainable ship to date, Icon is certainly an important step in parent company Royal Caribbean Group’s green journey to introduce a netzero cruise ship by 2035.

“Climate-wise, Icon represents the very best expertise we have,” says Jantunen.


Having started his career building ships already in 1986, Jantunen has had a front row seat into the evolution of the industry for a long time. He comments that the two “E’s” have only gained more momentum over the decades: entertainment and environment are big priorities in all the modern cruise ships.

“Over the years, we’ve been pushing the envelope on what kind of exciting features you can put on a ship, that’s for sure. Also, environmental issues have climbed higher and higher on the agenda over the last, say, 20 years – and are now more important than ever.”

Furthermore, Jantunen perceives a fundamental shift in the mindset of the business itself: “It used to be that we build ships that take vacationers to their holiday destination. Now, the ship is the destination.”


Planning and building the Icon came with plenty of challenges, from pandemic and war to energy crisis and inflation. “During Covid, we had to take an 18-month break from construction and concentrate on finalizing architectural design vie remote meetings,” he looks back.

“We had a tight schedule to keep, but we did it.”

Jantunen participated on the Icon’s pre-inaugural sail for VIPs on the Caribbean and had a chance to see the vessel in action – as well as the clearly smitten client. Returning to Turku, he kept hearing great things about the ship:

“The sales for Icon are better than with any other ship – and the feedback from the cruise patrons is the best Royal Caribbean has ever had.”


For Jantunen, delivering these giant vessels is very much a team sport. “What I find motivating in this work is that nobody does it alone. We have great team spirit at the shipyard,” he says.

Seeing a ship built from scratch is always a journey all on its own.

“Every day is different. And while there are some really rough and tough days, too, that’s balanced out by those days when things are going your way and work proceeds nicely.”



Royal Caribbean International has commissioned Meyer Turku with the construction of three new ocean liners. The first – the lead ship in the Icon Class – was constructed in Finland with yard number NB 1400. The Icon of the Seas was delivered to the client on November 27, 2023.

This new series of ships consists of three luxury liners, each with a tonnage of around 250,800 GT and enough room for up to 5,610 passengers. All three luxury liners will feature completely new propulsion technology, using an ecofriendly LNG drive system that will ensure a significant reduction in emissions.

The second cruise ship in this class – Star of the Seas – will be delivered in 2025, and the third will follow in 2026.

A tranquil oasis by day and vibrant hot spot at night, this new neighborhood is filled with wraparound ocean views, new and returning restaurants and bars, a 55-foot-tall water curtain, and the next-level AquaTheater, debuting the first cast of robots, skateboarders, divers and more.

There’s also Royal Caribbean’s first food hall, AquaDome Market; new Overlook bar and pods; as well as the cruise line’s marquee aqua shows.


Tonnage: 248,633 GT

Length: 365 m

Passengers: 5,610

Passenger cabins: 2,813

Class: Icon Class

Type: Cruise Liner

Shipyard: Meyer Turku

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

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