Royal Caribbean International’s upcoming Icon of the Seas is gaining a lot of interest for its size, amenities, and most of all, for the incredible water features onboard, but the largest ever waterpark at sea, multiple pools, and other water features come with unique engineering challenges.
The cruise line shares insights and behind-the-scenes looks at overcoming these challenges in “The Top Deck Challenge” – an exclusive “Icon Extra” video with remarkable footage and previews of what will make a splash on this amazing ship.
The Top Deck Challenge
The new “Icon Extra” video discusses the unprecedented water and weight aboard Icon of the Seas and what it means for engineering a ship in ways that have never been done before.
A “typical” cruise ship may have 150-200 tons of water in its various onboard features, such as pools, hot tubs, and the occasional waterslide. Icon of the Seas, however, will have up to 1,000 tons of water, split amongst various features on different decks.
What makes this even more of an engineering challenge is that this water is largely concentrated on the ship’s upper decks, specifically where Thrill Island is located on Decks 15 and 16, with more water features on Deck 18, The Grove Suite Sun Deck, as well as the Cloud 17 pool on Deck 17.
Designing a Ship for More Water
Water has been central to Icon of the Seas‘ design from the beginning, building on guest feedback about the best memories of their most relaxing vacations.
“We knew we wanted water, water everywhere, so we started there,” said Jennifer Goswami, Director of Product Development for Royal Caribbean International. “Then we built the rest of the ship around that.”
Overall, Icon of the Seas has approximately 62% more water surface area than any previous cruise ship, which adds challenges for engineering and overall design, placement of elements, and operation of the ship to ensure everything functions safely.
From waterslides to splash pads to surf simulators to infinity pools, the new ship will have a variety of water features to offer aquatastic fun to all ages.
“With Icon of the Seas we really wanted to think about delivering unrivaled water experiences in a bolder, bigger way,” said Yael Steinhart, Senior Director of Product Innovation for Royal Caribbean. “We’ve done some things new and different than we have before.”
The development of the Category 6 waterpark, for example, grew in scope from an initial desire to have just five waterslides, to the grand total of six different and unique slides.
“The waterslides on Icon will be so complex and so large, we are trying to now build it separately from the ship and have it barged onto the ship,” said Goswami. The slides are supported from a pair of towers, an arrangement that has never been done before.
“With this, we were able to design longer slides, faster slides,” said Kelly Gonzalez, Senior Vice President of Architectural Design and Newbuilding for Royal Caribbean Group.
It has been a risky venture for the cruise line to work with brand new design ideas, as the possibility of failure was high and if complete designs needed to be reworked, construction delays could be significant. Naval architects and engineers worked together to incorporate new elements into the existing structure of the ship to ensure success.
“We had to bring a lot of experts in to work with us to make sure that we could design this in a way that it was going to be technically sound to execute and ensure that it didn’t compromise our ability to maintain our delivery dates,” said Gonzalez.
Making a Splash in 2024
Icon of the Seas is scheduled to debut in January 2024, and her inaugural sailings have already set booking records for Royal Caribbean International. Even though the ship was floated out in December 2022 and has only just tested her engines for the first time, there is much work yet to be done to complete the vessel.
When she arrives, the 250,800-gross-ton ship will be homeported from Miami, offering Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries to as many as 5,610 guests at double occupancy, or up to 7,600 passengers with all berths filled.
Buzz about what is sure to become an iconic vacation destination remains high – stay tuned to Cruise Hive for all the updates, behind-the-scenes details, and Icon of the Seas news in the months to come!