World’s Largest Cruise Ship Begins Sea Trials Ahead Of 2024 Launch

Redefining cruises on an epic scale.

World’s Largest Cruise Ship Begins Sea Trials Ahead Of 2024 Launch

Image: Royal Caribbean

The world of luxury cruising is about to witness a groundbreaking addition as the construction of the largest cruise ship ever built, Icon of the Seas, reaches completion at a shipyard in Finland. This mammoth vessel — spanning a staggering 365 meters (nearly 1,200 feet) — has recently embarked on its maiden voyage for sea trials, paving the way for its long-awaited delivery in October of this year.

Cruise ships are pretty impressive vessels: they can pull off three-point turns in Sydney Harbour, play home to a luxurious new Rolex boutique, and — for the more morbid among you — even provide ad-hoc body storage when more tailor made containers prove hard to find. Few vessels, however, are anywhere near as impressive as this new flagship vessel from Royal Caribbean, which has finally left its shipyard home and hit the high seas for a long-overdue trial.

After years of bubbling anticipation, Royal Caribbean has proudly revealed Icon Of The Seas to the wider world. A marvel of nautical engineering — weighing in at a projected 250,800 tonnes and dwarfing iconic buildings like the CN towers — the vessel is set to embark on its inaugural Caribbean voyage in January 2024. This veritable floating wonderland will accommodate around 5,610 passengers and a staggering 2,350 crew members to fulfil their every need.

Highlights aboard the new ship include a Category 6 waterpark — the largest of its kind at sea — complete with six record-breaking water slides. If you prefer your pools a little more relaxation oriented, there are a total of seven pools and nine bubbling whirlpools to choose from.

WATCH: Take a tour around the game-changing vessel.

Built at renowned European shipyard Meyer Turku in Finland, the vessel’s virtues were extolled by Royal Caribbean International president and chief executive, Michael Bayley, who expressed his excitement during an on-site press panel, confirming that the vessel is on track to join the Royal Caribbean fleet in October this year before its public debut in 2024:

“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.”

Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International President and Chief Executive

Royal Caribbean is positioning Icon of the Seas as the next step in a long evolutionary journey, incorporating the latest technology and drawing on fifty years of industry expertise, as well as explicitly eclipsing the world’s current largest cruise vessel, Royal Caribbean’s very own Wonder of the Seas, which hit the water last year and measures a comparatively meagre 1,188 feet in length with 18 decks.

The Icon recently completed its first round of sea trials which involved extensive testing of the vessel’s main engines, hull, brake systems, steering, noise, and vibration levels. Other than a slight delay in departure due to adverse wind conditions, the trials have been reported as a resounding success. With eight distinct “neighbourhoods” on board, the vessel aims to cater to every kind of holidaymaker, as embodied by the more than forty options for food and drink onboard.

The vessel also boasts adult-only venues, including a glamorous piano bar, in case you’ve found the jam-packed waterpark a little overwhelming during the day. In line with its promise to provide for all types of people while offering them the chance to keep each other at arm’s length, the ship offers twenty-eight different types of accommodation that cater to families, couples, solo, and group travellers alike.

Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International President and Chief Executive, is thrilled with the vessel. Image: The Business Journals

The Icon of the Seas has also been designed to embody Royal Caribbean’s reported commitment to eco-friendly travel. The company’s first ship powered by more-but-still-not-entirely sustainable liquid natural gas (LNG) and cutting-edge fuel cell technology, the ship’s assembly required over 2,600 dedicated engineers every single day, while the four-day trails demanded the attention of hundreds of specialists.

Royal Caribbean has already witnessed record-breaking advance sales, with Bayley describing it candidly as “literally the best-performing new product launch we’ve ever had” during the company’s quarterly financial results. Commencing its seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages from Miami, the Icon promises every trip to include a visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay — Royal Caribbean’s acclaimed private island destination — along with its new expansion, Hideaway Beach.

As Icon of the Seas prepares to set sail on its maiden voyage, it’s ready to make waves and redefine luxury cruising on an epic scale. Rest assured, this travel writer is always available for on-site reviews.