Royal Caribbean and the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, officially kicked off the start of construction on what will eventually become the largest cruise ship in the world. The sixth Oasis-class ship will be somewhat different than her five sister ships.
Powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the shipbuilder has incorporated several changes. For example, the funnels will be placed further towards the midship of the vessel to accommodate the gas exhaust systems.
Utopia of the Seas Construction Officially Begins
Royal Caribbean has set out to break another record with the construction of Utopia of the Seas. There was an official steel-cutting ceremony at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. The ceremony is traditionally the official start of the construction of a cruise ship.
The ceremony was attended by representatives from Royal Caribbean and Chantiers de l’Atlantique, including Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group; and Laurent Castaing, General Manager, Chantiers de l’Atlantique. Michael Bayley, the president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said the following:
“We are excited to begin construction on Utopia of the Seas. On the sixth Oasis Class ship, vacationers can look forward to the signature combination of Royal Caribbean experiences and many brand-new adventures that has and will continue to make the Oasis class of ships the ultimate vacation for guests of all ages.”
It has been more than a decade since Oasis of the Seas changed the cruise industry forever. Since then, there have been several innovations that will ensure the next largest cruise ship in the world, Utopia of the Seas, is a far more efficient and environmentally conscious cruise ship.
Utopia of the Seas will use the cleanest fossil fuel available to cruise ships today, LNG. Additional environmentally friendly applications onboard Utopia, such as fuel cell technology and shore power capabilities, will boost energy efficiencies and reduce emissions.
Royal Caribbean is also in the process of building a new class of ships that will also use LNG, the Icon of the Seas, the first in class, is under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland.
Utopia of the Seas’ design changes
With the switch to LNG and fuel cell technologies, the shipyard has been forced to implement several changes that will be evident towards the final construction phase. To make room for the gas storage tanks, the designers have removed several crew, and guest cabins:
Laurent Castaing, General Manager of Chantiers de l’Atlantique: “The main problem is that LNG tanks take up more space than diesel or fuel oil tanks. We have lost space for other things, mainly crew cabins located above the technical rooms. We had to find more space in the whole ship. For example, passenger cabins became crew cabins.”
The funnel will be placed slightly more toward the midship area of the vessel, giving Utopia of the Seas a distinctly different silhouette. The construction phase will likely take around 30 months, with a projected completion date in the spring of 2024.
Besides the design changes from the switch to LNG, little else is known about Utopia of the Seas’ designs and onboard activities. Her final size will be more than the current largest cruise ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas, which measures 236,857 gross tons.
How much more is unclear, a French newspaper reported that it could be more than 250,000 gross tons this week. Royal Caribbean says it will be keeping guests up to date with any changes in the near future.