RCI-Royal Caribbean's Icon OTS nears completion in Finland's Turku shipyard

   August 11, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

In the wake of the COVID crisis, which led to the temporary suspension of cruise shipping operations, there has been a resurgence in cruise bookings.

The Meyer Turku shipyard (in Turku Finland) is in the final stages of completing the world's largest cruise vessel ever. Scheduled to embark on the maiden voyage in January 2024, RCI-Royal Caribbean's newest vessel - Icon of the Seas, is nearing completion.

While some critics have labeled the immense structure as a "monstrosity" due to its substantial environmental impact, others are captivated by the advanced engineering integrated into this floating holiday haven, resulting in a surge in ticket purchases.

Resembling more of a bustling village than a mere ship, this colossal maritime creation boasts vibrant water parks, 20 decks, 2805 staterooms and the impressive capacity to accommodate ~10,000 people (7600 pax + 2350 crew).

According to CLIA/Cruise Lines International Association, passenger numbers are projected to exceed pre-COVID levels, reaching 31.5M this year.

With a remarkable gross tonnage/volume of 250,800 tons (- 5 times larger than the RMS Titanic), Icon OTS is poised to claim the distinction of being the world's ever-biggest cruise vessel, dethroning Royal Caribbean's current flagship Wonder of the Seas.

Meyer Turku has plans for two additional vessels of comparable size in its order books under the Icon-class designation.

Alexis Papathanassis, a cruise management professor at Bremerhaven's University of Applied Sciences, noted that over the past decade, they had witnessed the trend of passenger ships growing in size. He highlighted the evident economic advantages of mega-sized ships, which can lead to cost reductions for individual passengers.

With an array of 7 swimming pools, an aquapark, several waterslides, shopping promenades, an ice-skating rink, and "more venues than any other ship," larger vessels also offer an expanded array of onboard spending opportunities. Papathanassis further explained that this expanded capacity enabled cruise companies to achieve higher profitability.