The wildly anticipated new vessel from Royal Caribbean International, Icon of the Seas, is nearing a very critical milestone in its construction, one that will determine the overall functionality of the ship and its seaworthiness – the sea trials.
With these essential tests just over a month away, the excitement over the new ship is nearing a fever pitch.
Icon of the Seas to Begin Sea Trials in June
Icon of the Seas, which floated out into the water for the first time in January, is slated to begin sea trials in mid-June, according to a statement by Meyer Turku, the shipyard where the massive vessel is under construction.
“Icon is scheduled to start her sea trials in mid-June,” the statement said. “Sea trials are one of the most important milestones on a ship’s road to completion. The construction of the ship is progressing at a good pace and preparations for her sea trials have already started.”
As the most technologically advanced ship ever built, Icon of the Seas‘ sea trials will be especially critical. These tests put every engineering system on the ship to work, demonstrating whether the vessel performs as predicted.
Engine efficiency, braking, turning, navigation, noise, vibration, safety systems, and more are checked out to ensure optimum performance.
“As the world’s largest prototype ship, Icon’s early sea trials are important to ensure that all the ship’s main equipment such as propulsion equipment, main engines and power plant, thrusters and fin stabilizers are working as they should,” said Meyer Turku.
No exact date has been revealed for the sea trials to begin, and there is also no firm timeline for how long the tests will take. The complexity of Icon of the Seas, as well as the innovations the ship presents, make it likely that the tests will be longer than typical for a proven cruise ship design.
It is also possible that Icon of the Seas will undergo multiple rounds of sea trials, particularly if adjustments are made to enhance the ship’s operation after initial tests.
After the sea trials are successfully completed, additional detail work will be completed, such as finishing painting, interior décor, and other finishing items to complete the vessel.
When all is completed, Icon of the Seas will be officially delivered to Royal Caribbean International and become the property of the cruise line rather than the Meyer Turku shipyard.
Not Quite Ready to Sail
While no official date has yet been confirmed for the handover ceremony that will deliver Icon of the Seas to Royal Caribbean – it is always possible that some problem could be discovered during the sea trials that might require additional work – the ship will not yet be ready to welcome guests as soon as it joins the Royal Caribbean fleet.
After delivery, Royal Caribbean will begin provisioning the ship, including stocking retail spaces and loading supplies for both crew and guests.
At that time, crew members will also begin reporting to the ship to familiarize themselves with the new layout and operational idiosyncrasies of the new vessel.
It can take several weeks or months for a cruise ship to be ready to welcome passengers after the initial delivery, especially when the ship is as new and complex as Icon of the Seas.
Many of the ship’s brand new areas, for example, the very unique and distinctive AquaDome, will require specialized training and practice before crew members can confidently perform and deliver spectacular service for vacationing guests.
Crew members will also run frequent safety drills to ensure all operations run smoothly no matter what may happen aboard the massive new vessel, and it is important that all crew members are confident and comfortable in their duties before the first guests arrive in January 2024.
Excitement for Icon of the Seas is already unprecedented, with the new ship shattering previous one-day booking records when the first sailings opened for reservations.
The new ship’s maiden voyage is scheduled to be a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise departing from Miami, Florida on January 27, 2024. That initial cruise will visit St. Kitts, St. Thomas, and CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island destination in The Bahamas.
Icon of the Seas will remain homeported from Miami at least through April 2025, offering alternating Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean sailings. The Western Caribbean cruises will visit top ports such as Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel, as well as CocoCay.
Stay tuned to Cruise Hive for further Icon of the Seas updates as the new ship’s debut draws closer!