Royal Caribbean Offers Behind The Scenes Look at AquaDome Lift

Construction of Icon of the Seas is taking the shipbuilding industry to levels of engineering rarely seen before, including the AquaDome lift.

Royal Caribbean International is setting a new standard in cruise ship design with the introduction of the AquaDome on Icon of the Seas. This innovative concept, a blend of the AquaTheater and Solarium, is a revolutionary addition to Royal Caribbean’s fleet. 

The AquaDome, located at the front of the ship, offers a transformative experience, evolving from a tranquil oasis by day, to a vibrant entertainment hub at night​. However, putting the massive structure onboard proved to be an engineering feat rarely seen before. 

Another Royal Caribbean First

The engineering behind building and lifting the massive new Aquadome onboard Royal Caribbean Internationa’s newest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, is something that defies belief. 

The numbers alone are staggering! 33,000 square meters, extending from Deck 14 to 20, weighing in at 367 tons, and built up from multiple modules made out of steel, glass, and aluminum panels, all in all, the entire structure took eight months to finish. However, after all that, it still needed to be put onboard.

Royal Caribbean International released a new video on November 13 showing viewers just how massive and complicated the lift has been:

“The Aquadome is probably the most complex space we have ever built. This is one of the biggest milestones. It’s the largest lift ever in the shipbuilding industry. It’s a testimony to the innovation and creativity of the teams. It is everything that we’ve ever wanted to create. And the incredible feeling that wow, we did it together,” Royal Caribbean said.

By day, the AquaDome serves as a serene space akin to the Solarium on the Quantum-class cruise ships. Guests are treated to 220-degree ocean views in a fully enclosed area, complete with comfortable seating. 

As night falls, the AquaDome shifts its ambiance dramatically. It becomes the stage for aquatic performances, surpassing the aquashows of the Oasis-class ships. This transformation is made possible by high-tech features like aerialists flying through the space using winches and ropes, dual 60-foot-high diving platforms, and a new water feature that creates stunning effects when illuminated.

​The back of the theater also includes covers that can open or close to provide natural light during the day or serve as a backdrop for projections during performances​. Guests will have a range of food and beverage options while in the Aquadome, from the AquaDome Market to Hooked Seafood, and Rye & Bean.

​The Progress of Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas has recently returned from its second set of sea trials, a critical phase in the ship’s development. These trials, which took place in the Baltic Sea south of Finland, tested various operational systems, including navigational controls, safety responses, and the ship’s speed and maneuverability. 

​​​​Icon of the Seas now approaches the final stages of construction, with more than 90% of the ship complete, with construction crews now putting the final touches on the vessel’s interior outfitting and design details.

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas

The ship will debut on January 27, 2024, with a 7-night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day at CocoCay itinerary, offering guests new experiences like the adults-only Hideaway Beach expansion on CocoCay. 

Icon of the Seas, which will be homeported in Miami through at least April 2026, boasts a capacity of up to 7,600 passengers and over 2,300 crew members. At 250,800 gross tons she is the largest and most innovative cruise ship in the world.

The release of the short video on the Aquadome is part of a wider web series, called “Making an Icon.” This series offers an inside look at the journey of creating the groundbreaking cruise ship, featuring insights from industrial engineers, interior designers, architects, artists, and more. 

Each episode showcases the collaborative efforts of teams that envisioned and built the upcoming biggest cruise ship in the world.

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