Icon In The Making: A Visit To Finland’s Meyer Turku Shipyard

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I freely admit to being mechanically challenged. I look at complex bridges and buildings with awe and wonder, but I’m completely baffled by the process of construction.

That’s one reason I jumped at Royal Caribbean’s invitation to visit the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, where Icon of the Seas, arguably the most ambitious cruise ship to ever be built, is currently in the latter stages of construction. A group of 60 media members joined the 3,000 workers who toil each day to complete the construction of this massive floating resort.

Instead of getting on the ship for an inaugural sailing and thinking ‘How on earth did they build this?,’ I’d have on-the-ground, during-the-process insights. All secrets would be revealed.

Having now toured the 80%-complete vessel, ducking under pipes and cables, stumbling over unfinished floors and twice thanking my hard hat for absorbing blows, I can confidently say I have a much keener appreciation for the shipbuilder’s art and the how the bold dreams of Royal Caribbean leadership are turned into reality.

But alas, I know that when I do get onboard the finished product, I’ll still be thinking ‘How on earth did they build this thing?’

The first of a transformative new ship class for a cruise line that revels in superlatives, Icon of the Seas will deliver many of its own. “This is probably the most amazing ship the world has ever seen,” said Jay Schneider, Chief Product Innovation Officer for Royal Caribbean.

Here are a few quick facts to acquaint you with the next world’s largest cruise ship, set to begin sailing from Miami in January, 2024.

Newest Titleholder: Icon of the Seas will weigh in at 250,800 gross tons, making her the largest cruise ship in the world by gross tonnage.

A Floating City: Icon will have a double occupancy capacity of 5,610 passengers, nearly 7,600 at maximum capacity. Add a crew complement of 2,350, and you’re looking at nearly 10,000 souls.

Water, Water Everywhere: The 20-deck Icon will feature nine whirlpools and seven swimming pools, including the Royal Bay Pool, the largest at sea. In total, it will feature 62% more water surface than any previous Royal Caribbean ship. The 17,010 sq. ft. Category 6 Waterpark will offer the tallest drop slide at sea, the first open freefall slide at sea, first family raft slides at sea and the first mat-racing duo at sea.

New Self-Contained Neighbourhoods: Royal Caribbean’s ground-breaking Oasis Class ships introduced the concept of neighbourhoods, themed areas offering food, drink and widely varied entertainment and amenities. Icon of the Seas features eight different neighbourhoods, including five new ones: Thrill Island, Chill Island, Surfside – the first neighbourhood designed for young families — The Hideaway and AquaDome. Each neighbourhood will offer easy access to food and drink, so guests won’t have to travel far for sustenance.