Skift Take

While her size is making headlines, it is her sustainability efforts that should be applauded.

Royal Caribbean International’s latest addition, Icon of the Seas, made her inaugural splash last week during preliminary open-water sea trials off the coast of Finland. With an anticipated delivery date in October, the ship is gearing up for her first voyage from Miami in January 2024. From there, Icon of the Seas will conduct seven-night sails of the Caribbean until April.

The vessel will boast a capacity of approximately 5,610 passengers and 2,350 crew members. Stretching 1,200 feet in length, Icon of the Seas is expected to tip the scales at 250,800 tonnes, solidifying her position as the largest cruise ship ever built (by gross tonnage). 

While her claim to fame as the world’s biggest cruise ship is well-known, we bring you seven lesser-known facts about this maritime marvel.

1. A greener approach with LNG and fuel cell technology

Setting a new standard for sustainability, Icon of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean’s first ship powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and fuel cell technology. According to the cruise operator, this is expected to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 30% and sulfur emissions by nearly 100%. 

2. Royal Caribbean is building in Finland again

Although registered in the Bahamas, Icon of the Seas is finishing final touches at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland. This shipyard has a history with Royal Caribbean, having built nine of its previous vessels.

However, it has been 13 years since their last collaboration, which took place in 2010 during the construction of Allure of the Seas. More recently, Royal Caribbean’s ships have been constructed in either France or Germany.

3. Icon of the Seas will have eight neighborhoods

The 20-floor ship will boast eight different neighborhoods, including Thrill Island, Chill Island, Central Park, Royal Promenade, and The Hideaway. All are aimed at providing different experiences for guests. The ship will also house seven pools and six water slides, creating the largest waterpark at sea.

A mock-up of the Central Park open-air neighborhood on Icon of the Seas. Credit: Royal Caribbean

4. It cost $2 billion to build

According to Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas has an estimated construction cost of $2 billion. To put it into perspective, Royal Caribbean’s previous record holder, Allure of the Seas, had a construction cost of approximately $1.43 billion. This would make Icon one of the most expensive ships ever built.

5. Maximum capacity records

Breaking new ground, the vessel will have a maximum capacity of 7,600 passengers, surpassing the previous record held by Wonder of the Seas, which has a maximum capacity of 6,988 guests. 

6. Breaking booking records

According to Royal Caribbean, reservations for Icon of the Seas broke records, with the company experiencing its single largest booking day ever in October. While exact figures were not disclosed, the cruise operator reported the highest number of bookings in its 53-year history, a notable feat considering the debut was still 15 months away at that time.

7. More ships to come

Icon of the Seas represents the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s Icon class, with plans to introduce three ships by 2030. These vessels will be built in Finland, powered by LNG, and weigh over 200,000 tonnes.

Icon of the Seas will sail from Miami on seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries. Prices start at $1,800 per person.

Cruise and Tours Sector Stock Index Performance Year-to-Date

What am I looking at? The performance of cruise and tours sector stocks within the ST200. The index includes companies publicly traded across global markets including both cruise lines and tour operators.

The Skift Travel 200 (ST200) combines the financial performance of nearly 200 travel companies worth more than a trillion dollars into a single number. See more cruise and tours sector financial performance.

Read the full methodology behind the Skift Travel 200.


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Tags: cruising, finland, miami, royal caribbean, royal caribbean cruises

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