A burly Finish man wearing a full body work suit and protective mask is separating the sweat from his brow as he welds the finishings onto a countertop. Come next January, this will be the countertop at Icon of the Seas sushi restaurant Izumi and this mans working grimace will be traded for the smiles of nourished guests.
Throughout the ship are countless designers, architects, labourers, and many more pieces of the puzzle for turning this construction site into what’s being touted as the best family vacation in the world. We’re told one million man-hours have been poured into the site and two million are still to go.
After flying across the world to see the behemoth of engineering, all onlookers are left in awe of its size, set to be the largest operating cruise ship in the world when she starts sailing out of Florida next January.
Icon of Seas is designed to be an Oceanic Metropolis, marked by different neighbourhoods spread across the ship, each set to have its own personality and appeal. We see the towering silver scaffolding that will soon become the open-air jazz and multigenerational entertainment of Surfside, the empty grey halls that will soon don the greenery of Central Park, the half-finished AquaDome will soon play host to The Wizard of Oz and many other extravagant productions.
The promised plaudits are endless. The fastest WiFi at sea, the first suspended infinity pool at sea, productions with the most advanced technology at sea, 20% more natural greenery than other Royal ships, the first floor-to-ceiling ocean views from the Royal Promenade, Royal’s first swim-up bar, innovations across the board in sustainability, the world’s largest pool at sea, forty food and beverage venues.
The details are meticulous, we see the ‘hidey hole’ where kids can escape within their own cabin and watch their private TV, we learn of the WiFi extending to balconies so you can work or browse while kissed by an ocean breeze, the new brunch restaurant at Pier 7 to cater for those that aren’t early risers. At its core, the ship is designed to cater to anyone who should step aboard, and then naturally facilitate their connection to other areas of the ship, the ocean, and the destinations visited.
As a cabin factory near the shipyard is assembling 27 cabins per day, taking just 18 minutes for each, we’re shown what will soon be a Family Infinite Ocean View Balcony Room. Families of up to six people will enjoy a smartly split bathroom, separating the shower and toilet, a flexible infinite balcony where you can enjoy the views from in or outdoors, and a separate nook of the room just for the kids to play or watch TV at their leisure.
Captain Henrik Loy beams as he speaks of the ship’s sustainability measures, from LNG fuel to shore-power capability to the first waste-to-energy plant at sea, the team has ensured the 7960-person ship will minimise its impact on the ocean and ports. Single-use plastics have been reduced 60%, the ship produces 93% of its freshwater, and the vessel boasts the cruise line’s first parabolic bow, very few details have been spared.
President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Michael Bayley acknowledges the boldness of his claim that Icon of the Seas will become the world’s best family vacation, but after seeing all the cogs in the machine grinding to perfect every detail on the 250,800 tonne ship, few in the room are left unconvinced.
Mr Bayley told press: “Everything about Icon is unbelievable. We are positioning it as the ultimate family vacation and when you step back and look at all the energy and time that has gone into creating this ship it is mind-blowing. As I walk around the ship I’m delighted.
“We use not only our experience, knowledge, and customer interaction but a huge amount of data collected over years.
“We ask a lot of questions about our data and try to understand what our guests love, like, and don’t like from our experiences, and we are constantly improving those elements.
“When we opened Icon for sale, we had the biggest booking days and weeks in our 50-year history for the launch of a new product.”
We’re even told the new detail that one of the elevators will actually have a piano player inside, tapping away and taking requests. The whimsicality seems to signal exactly why Icon will delight, a surprise waits around every corner.