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This beautiful cruise ship can carry nearly 10,000 people. Here’s more of what sets Icon of the Seas apart - 271 Views

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This beautiful cruise ship can carry nearly 10,000 people. Here’s more of what sets Icon of the Seas apart

This beautiful cruise ship can carry nearly 10,000 people.

There is nothing subtle about the world’s largest cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean’s new cruise ship, nearly 1,200-foot-long and 250,800-gross-ton Icon of the Seas towers like a multilayered birthday cake with frosting on the top in the form of seven swimming pools, a whimsical striped carousel, groves of tropical greenery and twisting waterslides in green, pink, blue and orange.

When the $2 billion ship sailed into the Port of Miami with music blasting on January 10, after crossing the Atlantic from the shipyard in Turku, Finland,

where it was built,

it was greeted with a cacophony of fireboat salutes and a banner flag flyover.


The commotion brought traffic to a halt along the causeway to Miami Beach that parallels the cruise ship channel.

Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi was even in on the ship’s early fanfare as the Icon of the Seas’ “godfather,” christening the 20-deck ship on January 23.

The ship is officially the biggest cruise ship in the world, with Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, new in early 2022, trailing close behind at 1,188 feet long and 235,600 gross tons.

And when Icon of the Seas sets sail on her maiden voyage from Miami on January 27 on a sold-out, seven-night cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, passengers can expect some next-level experiences at sea.

Icon of the Seas’ list of superlatives and firsts is long

Finding time to fit in everything onboard Icon of the Seas promises to keep passengers busy. And speaking of passengers, the ship can carry a whopping 7,600 guests at full capacity, along with 2,350 crew – about the whole population of Sedona, Arizona.

Among the behemoth’s attractions, there’s Category 6 – the ship’s 17,000-square-foot water park, currently the largest at sea and sprawled across Decks 16 and 17, with six slides that include Frightening Bolt

(the tallest drop slide at sea at 46 feet or 14 meters) and the first family raft slides at sea (Hurricane Hunter and Storm Surge).

The ship has the first cantilevered infinity pool at sea, as well as the largest swimming pool at sea (the 40,000-gallon Royal Bay) and the largest ice arena at sea (Absolute Zero, where guests can skate or watch a performance).

Some 50 musicians and comedians keep passengers entertained with ensembles that include the largest orchestra at sea (16 pieces) and the first at-sea performance of “The Wizard of Oz,” complete with flying monkeys.

There’s even a resident golden retriever, Rover, dubbed the Chief Dog Officer, who is still a puppy and appears on her schedule alongside a dedicated handler.

The buzz is real – and so is the blowback

Long before it arrived in Miami, social media images of Icon of the Seas generated online buzz from eager vacationers as well as heavily polarized opinions about the over-the-top ship, in particular about the potential environmental impact of such a large ship.

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson said Icon of the Seas is 24% more energy efficient than required for ships designed today. The company plans to introduce a net-zero ship by 2035.

The ship is Royal Caribbean’s first to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Not everyone is impressed with that choice.

“Royal Caribbean’s decision to use LNG is their biggest climate blunder,”

said Bryan Comer, marine program director at The International Council on Clean Transportation.

“LNG is mostly methane, a greenhouse gas that traps more than 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is emitted. The Icon of the Seas uses engines that release methane to the atmosphere in the form of ‘methane slip.’”

The organization says LNG can only

“significantly contribute to achieving climate goals” when methane-slip and other factors are greatly reduced or eliminated,

which the council says is still a major challenge.

The ship’s parabolic bow

— a first for Royal Caribbean

is designed to help a ship move easily through the water

and does help reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Comer said, adding that it also helps the cruise line’s bottom line.

The ship produces more than 93% of its freshwater through reverse osmosis.

An Icon of the Seas also has the brand’s first microwave-assisted pyrolysis waste-to-energy system (MAP) to convert onboard waste to gas that the ship can use as energy.

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