First of Its Kind Feature Installed on Royal Caribbean Mega-Ship

The record-breaking AquaDome has been installed on Royal Caribbean International's Icon of the Seas - what will it hold?

Royal Caribbean International’s hotly anticipated new ship, Icon of the Seas, is taking distinctive shape at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, where the vessel is currently under construction.

In a record-breaking maneuver, the shipyard has installed the amazing AquaDome onboard the ship, the single largest glass and steel structure ever to be lifted onto a cruise ship, and the new vessel is one step iconic closer to completion.

AquaDome Installed

It took more than 80 hours of precise coordination to lift the 363-ton dome into place over the ship’s forward section, where it will encase one of the ship’s new signature neighborhoods.

The AquaDome stands at 82 feet (25 meters) tall and 164 feet (60 m) wide, with 673 glass panels offering unparalleled vistas through 220-degree, wraparound ocean views.

The dome’s structure also includes 712 aluminum panels, and was assembled separately, also at Meyer Turku, prior to the massive lift operation with a specially designed 155-ton rig.

It took 1,640 feet (500 m) of steel cables to lift the dome in a delicate operation that required perfect weather, including low wind speeds, to ensure safe and secure installation. The dome has now been welded into place on the ship.

Now begins the next phase of the AquaDome’s construction, which includes the interior outfitting and installation of seating, lighting, bars, restaurants, lounges, and other amenities, including a 55-foot-tall (17 m) waterfall that will play dramatic parts in aquatic shows.

AquaDome Features and Entertainment

Structural engineers and naval architects took months to plan and design the AquaDome, which will become a transformational hub of activity when Icon of the Seas launches in January 2024.

Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas Dome
Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

The space is intended as a multifunctional neighborhood, serving as a tranquil, peaceful space during the day but an entertainment center in the evening as the location of multiple bars, lounges, restaurants, and the ship’s high intensity AquaTheater.

“AquaDome is the combination of evolution and revolution,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “We’ve always had an aqua theater experience. Traditionally it’s been a boardwalk on our Oasis-class ships. With Icon, it’s completely transformed.”

The AquaDome is a full geodesic dome with tremendous volume, enclosing an enormous space while providing a sense of openness, light, and spaciousness. Inside will be a bit of everything, from retail and dining to bars and lounging. “It’s a whole series of experiences,” Bayley said.

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas Cruise Ship
Render Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

Of special importance is the fact that the AquaDome is fully enclosed, ensuring that poor weather is no longer a deterrent for the marvelous AquaTheater shows, which include high diving, slackline balancing, aerialists, special effects, and much more that can be even further enhanced with the more controlled space.

“Icon of the Seas is going to take our already best in the industry entertainment to a whole new level,” said Nick Weir, Senior Vice President, Entertainment, for Royal Caribbean International. “This is going to be the best entertainment ever seen.”

The waterfall is sure to be a showpiece of the space and will operate throughout the day, morphing through different actions and culminating with the AquaTheater shows, which are always sell-out events aboard Royal Caribbean ships.

What further marvels will become part of Icon of the Seas? Stay tuned to Cruise Hive for further details as they are confirmed while the ship continues to come together.


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