A Finnish shipyard is putting the finishing touches on what will be the largest cruise ship in the world, as cruise reservations are on the rise following the Covid pandemic, which forced luxury lines to go out of business.
The opulent cruise ship Icon of the Seas from Royal Caribbean is almost finished being built in the Turku shipyard on Finland’s southwest coast, with its inaugural trip planned for January 2024.
“This ship is as of today, as far as we are aware of, the biggest cruise ship in the world,” said Tim Meyer, CEO of shipbuilder Meyer Turku tasked with the construction.
Others are in awe of the advanced engineering incorporated into this floating vacation paradise and are lining up to get tickets, despite some calling the enormous structure a “monstrosity” and highlighting its significant climatic footprint.
The enormous ship, which has more than 20 decks and looks more like a hamlet than a ship, can accommodate up to 10,000 passengers and features vibrant waterparks.
The bigger the better?
Icon of the Seas will dethrone Royal Caribbean’s current flagship, Wonder of the Seas, as the largest cruise ship in the world with a gross tonnage of 250,800, five times the size of the Titanic.
Larger ships like the Icon of the Seas also provide more opportunities for shopping on board with its seven pools, a park, waterslides, shopping promenades, ice skating rink, and more venues than any other ship.
“We have seen over the last decade that cruise ships have become bigger,” said Alexis Papathanassis, professor of Cruise Management at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences. Papathanassis noted that “there are obvious economic benefits” to mega-sized ships, reducing the cost of individual passengers.
One for all:
Popular cruise locations like the small Arctic town of Longyearbyen in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, for instance, have expressed concern over the lack of infrastructure to handle such big crowds as passenger numbers have increased.
Additionally, as cruise lines work to enhance passenger capacity, they simultaneously work to decrease the ratio of crew to passengers, which can provide problems in the event of unforeseen circumstances. From a climate perspective, some argue that one large ship is more energy efficient than several small ones.
The Cruise Lines International Association has predicted that passenger volume will surpass pre-pandemic levels with 31.5 million passengers in 2023.