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Making an Icon: Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's Biggest and Boldest Designed Cruise Ship.

By Amanda Mesa | Published on October 12, 2022

Icon of the Seas℠ is not just another cruise ship, it is an extraordinary new class of adventure built with technological innovation in mind. With this video series, “Making an Icon,” Royal Caribbean takes you behind the scenes on delivering the world’s best vacation. The forthcoming Icon of the Seas℠ — is poised to be its greatest creation yet promising bolder-than-ever onboard experiences, cutting-edge design and milestone advances in the cruise line's push for cleaner energy. Discover all that is to come from the very first ship in an all-new class.

"The driving force behind everything we do at Royal Caribbean International is to deliver the best vacations on earth," says Claudia Diaz-Gonzalez, associate vice president of product development at Royal Caribbean International. Icon is no exception. As one of the brand's most anticipated new cruise ships, it will launch the all-new Icon Class in 2024, shattering records and redefining what a family vacation can be.

Behind the Design

What bold ideas go into creating the largest cruise ship in the world? The journey to turn the vision behind Icon into reality has spanned for more than five years with endless hours of ideation. In order to actualize this new concept, the team leveraged mountains of guest data as well as the creativity, ideas and expertise of leading innovators, artists, architects, industrial engineers and designers from around the world.

Anna Drescher, the cruise line's manager of architectural design, newbuilding and innovation calls Icon of the Seas℠ a "white-paper ship" because it began with a blank sheet of sketching paper. "It truly is starting fresh," she says.

During the first few months of ideation for the cruise ship, the team went wild with ideas and what-ifs, taking care not to limit any creativity. During this phase, there was no such thing as "impossible" — every idea was carefully considered and went into shaping the vision behind the world's first Icon Class cruise ship. Brainstorming and product development sessions focused on the guest experience first and foremost, leveraging a staggering wealth of data gathered through surveys, guest correspondence and conversations onboard.

"Everything — every ship, every experience — starts with the guest," says Tim Klauda, vice president of product development at Royal Caribbean International.

Jennifer Goswami, senior manager of product development at Royal Caribbean International, adds that walking the ship through the guest lens played a huge role in the innovation process and led to the ultimate design and vision for Icon of the Seas℠. One key goal was to combine the best elements of a broad range of vacation styles and experiences — including city getaways, amusement parks, beach retreats, all-inclusive resorts and more — into one unforgettable experience at sea.

Pillars of an Icon

The next step in the journey to “Making an Icon” was to translate all those pie-in-the-sky ideas and guest needs into a strategic framework with five key pillars. The first was unrivaled water experiences. It aimed to tie every element of the ship back into the surrounding sea, which is ever-present during a cruise getaway. The second pillar focused on adrenaline-amping thrills and leveling up the cruise line's well-known penchant for exhilarating onboard activities and attractions.

The third pillar emphasized maximizing family-friendly vacation experiences by creating even more opportunities for bonding than ever before. The fourth pillar was all about offering a more diverse and expansive lineup of sensational cruise entertainment — a feat that Royal Caribbean's award-winning entertainment team is well-equipped to deliver.

Finally, the fifth pillar celebrated food and beverage at sea, promising to build upon the cruise line's robust collection of foodie-approved dining concepts by introducing new, never-before-seen restaurants and offerings.

The Greatest Vacation

"It really is the most transformational ship the world has ever seen. This is a ship of unrivaled entertainment. It's adrenaline-pumping thrills. It is amazing food and beverage," says Jay Schneider, chief product innovation officer for Royal Caribbean International. "Simply put, Icon will be the best family vacation in the world."

This new design is set to be the icon of vacations. Once the Icon of the Seas℠ design and framework were established and approved, construction began at the Meyer Shipyard in Turku, Finland, after a keel-laying ceremony to mark the momentous occasion. A few updates have been shared along the way, including the creation and positioning of a massive sphere weighing 175 metric tons. The purpose of the sphere has yet to be revealed, but Royal Caribbean teased that it would be one of the cruise ship's many state-of-the-art elements.

Icon of the Seas℠ will also mark Royal Caribbean's next big step in building a clean-energy future. It will be the cruise line's first ship powered by LNG (liquified natural gas), which is considered the cleanest-burning fossil fuel available. The first of two LNG fuel tanks — the largest in the industry — has already been installed in the ship in Turku.

Though that's not all. The cruise ship will also feature shore power connectivity, a process that removes emissions while connected at the port, and advanced waste heat recovery systems will repurpose heat to be used as energy across the ship, reducing fuel consumption and emissions. All these steps were designed and implemented to further Royal Caribbean's commitment to continuous improvement in energy efficiency and ocean conservation.

"Icon really is, truly, the best of everything Royal Caribbean has built up over the past 50 years," says Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.

For now, not much else is known about the Icon of the Seas℠ construction or the specific features and experiences guests can expect onboard this revolutionary new cruise ship, but Royal Caribbean team members have described it as "jaw-dropping amazing," "ground-breaking," "unparalleled" and "mind-blowing awesomeness." The reveal of the first Icon of the Seas℠ itinerary will be sure to cement the new ship as the greatest vacation in the world.

The reveal of the first Icon of the Seas℠ itinerary will be sure to cement the new ship as the greatest vacation in the world. In the meantime, you can learn more about the world's first-ever Icon Class cruise ship and sign up for updates on Icon of the Seas℠ itineraries here.


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