The steel cutting for the first Icon-class cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, was historic for Royal Caribbean because it also marks the start of construction of the line’s first LNG cruise ship.
The steel cutting ceremony was attended by Richard Fain, Chairman & CEO, Royal Caribbean Group, and Michael Bayley, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean International (Royal Caribbean Group is the parent company of Royal Caribbean International).
Tim Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku hosted the event, which marks the first step in a years-long construction process that will see the massive vessel assembled in blocks like a giant LEGO kit.
As Royal Caribbean’s first LNG-powered cruise ship, Icon of the Seas marks the cruise line joining other lines like AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, P&O Cruises and more recently, MSC Cruises, which have all launched LNG-powered ships.
In addition to running on LNG, which is a much cleaner fuel than convention diesel or heavy fuel oil, Icon of the Seas will also feature additional environmentally friendly applications, such as shore power connection, and fuel cell technology that will boost energy efficiencies and reduce its carbon footprint.
More details about Icon’s advanced environmental technologies will be revealed at a future date, along with the ship’s features, such as dining, entertainment, cabins, and at-sea attractions.
“We made our commitment to making clean power at sea a reality – and soon the norm – when Icon Class was first announced in 2016, and we’re excited to see construction underway on what will truly be a ship unlike any other,” said Michael Bayley.
“Our decades of work in ocean conservation, energy efficiency and continuous improvement will be evident all throughout Icon,” he added. “We look forward to revealing more of the game-changing features our guests and crew have in store as she begins to take shape.”
Although the Icon-class ships will be Royal Caribbean’s first LNG-powered vessels, the cruise line has a long history of environmental protection.
It has introduced green technologies, such as air lubrication, which sends billions of microscopic bubbles along the hull of a ship to reduce friction.
It’s ships also feature advanced waste heat recovery systems that turn waste heat into extra energy, up to 3 megawatts, to help power the ship’s operations. The cruise line also uses water conservation systems to reduce water usage onboard.
Use of such technologies, including LNG, will result in further reduced emissions overall, virtually zero sulfur dioxides and particulates, and a significant reduction in the production of nitrogen oxides.
Icon of the Seas is due for delivery in 2023. She was initially meant to enter service in 2022, but that date was pushed back due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with a number of other newbuild projects across the cruise industry.
Icon of the Seas will carry 5,600 passengers at double occupancy and her size has been widely reported as 200,000-gross tons, although some reports have suggested the new cruise ship class might be larger than the Oasis-class (the current largest in the world).
There are now two cruise ships under construction for Royal Caribbean International (Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas), with an additional three on order (the two other Icon-class ships and a 6th unnamed Oasis-class ship).