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Royal Caribbean is building the new world's largest cruise ship see what the upcoming Icon of the Seas is like under construction

Royal Caribbean is building the new world's largest cruise ship — see what the upcoming Icon of the Seas is like under construction
LifeThelife1 min read
Royal Caribbean's upcoming Icon of the Seas mega cruise ship is over 70% complete.Brittany Chang/Insider
  • Royal Caribbean International invited a group of reporters to tour its upcoming Icon of the Seas.
  • The ship is still under construction ahead of its January 2024 inaugural sailing.

It's hard to imagine this incomplete shell of a floating resort will soon be the world's largest cruise ship to hit the market. But in less than one year, this hunk of metal will sail as one of Royal Caribbean's most popular cruise ships.

In mid-May, Royal Caribbean International invited a group of reporters to visit the upcoming Icon of the Seas while under construction in Turku, Finland's Meyer Turku shipyard. As of now, the vessel has yet to resemble the amenity-filled vacation hotspot it's destined to become. But come January 2024, this mega cruise ship will begin accommodating 7,600 guests on year-round seven-night cruises from Miami to the Caribbean and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Let's take a closer look at its progress about eight months out from its inaugural sailing.

The Icon of the Seas has been in the works for six years, Harri Kulovaara, Royal Caribbean Group's executive vice president of maritime and newbuilding, told reporters.

The Icon of the Seas has been in the works for six years, Harri Kulovaara, Royal Caribbean Group
Brittany Chang/Insider

But the new Icon-class ship itself is being built in a "relatively short time frame" — construction first began in June 2021.

But the new Icon-class ship itself is being built in a "relatively short time frame" — construction first began in June 2021.
Brittany Chang/Insider

At 1,198 feet long, the upcoming floating resort will be slightly larger than Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class 1,188-foot-long Wonder of the Seas, which previously held the title of world's largest cruise vessel.

At 1,198 feet long, the upcoming floating resort will be slightly larger than Royal Caribbean
Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider

But it wasn't obvious from the rows of scaffolding and tarp-covered structures, Royal Caribbean and the 286-year-old shipbuilding company still have plenty of work left before it dethrones the Wonder.

But it wasn
Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider

Think of shipbuilding as a modular process similar to building with Legos, Tim Meyer, the CEO of Meyer Turku, used as an analogy.

Think of shipbuilding as a modular process similar to building with Legos, Tim Meyer, the CEO of Meyer Turku, used as an analogy.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Icon was built out of 201 "blocks" that were combined to create the floating resort.

Icon was built out of 201 "blocks" that were combined to create the floating resort.
Brittany Chang/Insider

It's currently 70% complete with another 2 million working hours left on the project, Kulovaara said.

It
Brittany Chang/Insider

And every week, the roughly 2,600 workers complete another 1% of the ship, roughly.

And every week, the roughly 2,600 workers complete another 1% of the ship, roughly.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The shipyard and cruise line's to-do list still includes tasks like finalizing and constructing all of the staterooms (which are prefabricated in a separate factory) and preparing for its 2024 entry to service.

The shipyard and cruise line
Brittany Chang/Insider

You may be wondering how a ship in this state is over halfway complete.

You may be wondering how a ship in this state is over halfway complete.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The installation of the wall and ceiling panels and any final touches are added in the final 10% of the building process.

The installation of the wall and ceiling panels and any final touches are added in the final 10% of the building process.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Only then will it look less like an incomplete hunk of metal and more like a floating resort ready for nearly 10,000 occupants.

Only then will it look less like an incomplete hunk of metal and more like a floating resort ready for nearly 10,000 occupants.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider

You may need some imagination to envision how a 20-deck ship in this condition will soon become a floating city with a water park and over 40 restaurants and bars.

You may need some imagination to envision how a 20-deck ship in this condition will soon become a floating city with a water park and over 40 restaurants and bars.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Workers are still spending their afternoons filing in and out of their floating workspace.

Workers are still spending their afternoons filing in and out of their floating workspace.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Inside, their presence was denoted by the echo of music bouncing down the hollow halls, the sound of welding …

Inside, their presence was denoted by the echo of music bouncing down the hollow halls, the sound of welding …
Brittany Chang/Insider

… small doodles on the wall (some more appropriate than others), and general construction noise while they slowly chipped away at the gargantuan project.

… small doodles on the wall (some more appropriate than others), and general construction noise while they slowly chipped away at the gargantuan project.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The cold air reeked of burning metal and paint.

The cold air reeked of burning metal and paint.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Cords and wires hung down across the ceiling like vines in a jungle …

Cords and wires hung down across the ceiling like vines in a jungle …
Brittany Chang/Insider

… while the dips in the ground felt like booby traps for passersby's ankles.

… while the dips in the ground felt like booby traps for passersby
Brittany Chang/Insider

It looks nothing like eight family-friendly neighborhoods Royal Caribbean has touted leading up to the ship's reveal.

It looks nothing like eight family-friendly neighborhoods Royal Caribbean has touted leading up to the ship
Brittany Chang/Insider

But in October 2023, the vessel will be delivered to Royal Caribbean as the cruise giant begins preparing for the ship's inaugural January 2024 voyage, the cruise line told Insider in an email.

But in October 2023, the vessel will be delivered to Royal Caribbean as the cruise giant begins preparing for the ship
Brittany Chang/Insider

And some "neighborhoods" — which Royal Caribbean uses to denote different sections of the ship — are already emerging from the metal dust and tarp.

And some "neighborhoods" — which Royal Caribbean uses to denote different sections of the ship — are already emerging from the metal dust and tarp.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The Aquadome, a leisurely neighborhood with restaurants and indoor water entertainment venue AquaTheater, has already started to take shape.

The Aquadome, a leisurely neighborhood with restaurants and indoor water entertainment venue AquaTheater, has already started to take shape.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The semi-circle seating that surrounds the multi-platform theater is well underway.

The semi-circle seating that surrounds the multi-platform theater is well underway.
Brittany Chang/Insider

And the large dome that gives the neighborhood its name has already been installed, filling the incomplete space with views of the water.

And the large dome that gives the neighborhood its name has already been installed, filling the incomplete space with views of the water.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The glass dome was pre-assembled in the shipyard over two years and lifted into place in one piece, a stressful six-hour process.

The glass dome was pre-assembled in the shipyard over two years and lifted into place in one piece, a stressful six-hour process.
Brittany Chang/Insider

While Thrill Island isn't complete yet, the colorful water slides are already emerging as a likely hit with traveling families.

While Thrill Island isn
Brittany Chang/Insider

In the future, this neighborhood will be home to a surf simulator, rock climbing wall, mini-golf course …

In the future, this neighborhood will be home to a surf simulator, rock climbing wall, mini-golf course …
Brittany Chang/Insider

… hair-raising rope and obstacle course, and what Royal Caribbean says will be the largest water park at sea.

… hair-raising rope and obstacle course, and what Royal Caribbean says will be the largest water park at sea.
Brittany Chang/Insider

But for now, the rock wall has no climbing holds and the water slides are still dry and disconnected.

But for now, the rock wall has no climbing holds and the water slides are still dry and disconnected.
Brittany Chang/Insider

And yet, it's easy to see how this skeleton of a space will soon begin welcoming scores of children looking to spend their days at sea romping around the water park.

And yet, it
Brittany Chang/Insider

While the 2,805 staterooms and suites are still being manufactured off-site like cars in a factory, some are already beginning to take shape …

While the 2,805 staterooms and suites are still being manufactured off-site like cars in a factory, some are already beginning to take shape …
Brittany Chang/Insider

… like one of the family infinite ocean view balcony staterooms shown below.

… like one of the family infinite ocean view balcony staterooms shown below.
Brittany Chang/Insider

When complete, these staterooms will have a separate alcove with a bunk bed for children who want their own space away from their parents.

When complete, these staterooms will have a separate alcove with a bunk bed for children who want their own space away from their parents.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Royal Caribbean and Meyer Turku are targeting sea trials before mid-summer.

Royal Caribbean and Meyer Turku are targeting sea trials before mid-summer.
Brittany Chang/Insider

But ahead of its official debut, travelers have already been clawing at the chance to sail on this ship.

But ahead of its official debut, travelers have already been clawing at the chance to sail on this ship.
Brittany Chang/Insider

When reservations first opened for the 20-deck behemoth, Royal Caribbean saw its largest booking day in the company's history.

When reservations first opened for the 20-deck behemoth, Royal Caribbean saw its largest booking day in the company
Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider

Its first sailing, a seven-night roundtrip from Miami to the Caribbean, was nearly sold out in just a few hours.

Its first sailing, a seven-night roundtrip from Miami to the Caribbean, was nearly sold out in just a few hours.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider

So if you were a fan of the Wonder of the Seas, just wait for the Icon — it could blow any Oasis-class ship out of the water.

So if you were a fan of the Wonder of the Seas, just wait for the Icon — it could blow any Oasis-class ship out of the water.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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