Royal Caribbean Offers Look at Key Icon of the Seas Feature

Icon of the Seas is debuting many innovations, including in the ship's architectural structure itself with the Pearl.

Royal Caribbean International has released a new behind-the-scenes video detailing the concept, importance, and artistry behind the Pearl, a first-of-its-kind feature on Icon of the Seas. The impressive orb is much more than just a structure, and from concept to implementation, the Pearl required intense innovation to come to life.

Behind the Scenes of the Pearl

A new “Icon Extra” episode, continuing the popular “Building an Icon” series, has gone behind the scenes of the Pearl, revealing this innovative structure and what it provides to the world’s largest cruise ship.

The Pearl is located midship on the port side of Icon of the Seas, stretching from Deck 5 to Deck 8, with a staircase through the interior for guests to move from the Royal Promenade on Deck 5 up to the Pearl Cafe on Deck 6. But what exactly is this massive structure, what does it do, and how was it developed?

“As we were designing the Royal Promenade and we were focused on how do we bring light and water into that space, which is not something that’s easy to do because there’s not superstructure to support it,” said Jason Liberty, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group. “That actually gave birth to the Pearl.”

Read Also: Creating Icon of the Seas’ Royal Promenade

The Pearl is 52.5 feet (16 meters) in diameter, and serves as the load-bearing superstructure to support the ship’s port side, while simultaneously bringing in a sense of space and light to provide an airy, open feel to the interior public spaces.

More Than Structure

The Pearl, however, is more than just functional superstructure in Icon of the Seas‘ overall design, and adds so much more than just light to experiences aboard the new, massive ship.

“The Pearl has a lot of different purposes,” said Jay Schneider, Chief Product Innovation Officer for Royal Caribbean International. “It’s a bit art, a bit sculpture, a bit experience, a bit wow – but all in an architectural marvel.”

The Pearl goes beyond the skylight structures familiar aboard other Royal Caribbean ships that bring light into the Royal Promenade. Just like many other features of Icon of the Seas, the giant orb is a completely new design that required innovation and ingenuity to bring to life.

The design evolved from having pillars through the Pearl to removing bulkheads and turning the entire surface of the globe into architectural support.

Icon of the Seas Sphere Installed
Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

“The Pearl is a fundamental piece of the ship’s structure,” said Jay Rosser, Manager of Product Development for Royal Caribbean International. “It is supporting all of the staterooms above it, Central Park which is on Deck 8 – that 16 meter sphere of steel is taller than the Hollywood Sign in California.”

The open structure of the sphere lets the sunlight in from the adjacent 4-deck-high panoramic glass wall, bringing amazing amounts of light into the ship’s interior.

Kinetic Art and Experience

The Pearl is the world’s largest kinetic art sculpture, which has taken great innovation just to construct. The structure was pre-outfitted before being installed onboard, which saved time and effort in the long run to ensure it was fully function and construction timelines were met.

The interior of the Pearl is composed of kinetic tiles with color-changing light and reflection effects that will evolve throughout the day and with different activities of the ship.

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s icon of the Seas (Photo Credit: Jouni Niskakoski)

“The Pearl was designed to create this ever-changing experience within itself, but also within the guests’ mindset,” said Jennifer Goswami, Director of Product Development for Royal Caribbean International. “It’s a vibe. There’ll be a daytime experience, nighttime, sea day, Perfect Day, a goodbye experience… The Pearl herself will feel very moody and will really bring Icon to life.”

Great detail was taken to ensure the artwork aspects of the structure worked well together, from the tile’s base color and gloss level to shimmer effects and the overall programming to ensure all the tiles flowed seamlessly together.

Undoubtedly, different effects will also be used at different times, coordinating the experience of the Pearl with ongoing activities along the Royal Promenade.

Since the giant sphere was first spotted, there has been great speculation about what the Pearl really is. Now, the truth is revealed – just one month before the very first guests will step aboard Icon of the Seas to experience the Pearl for themselves.

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