Royal Caribbean announces plans for new ‘Icon Class’

Royal Caribbean has enjoyed a year of success in 2016, following brand new additions to their Quantum and Oasis-class fleets. In April, guests were wowed by features such as bumper cars, surfing simulators, RipCord by iFly skydiving simulators, and the North Star onboard Ovation of the Seas – the third addition to the Quantum-Class. Just over a month later, cruisers were wowed once again – this time, by the largest cruise ship in the world. Harmony of the Seas was the third addition to the Oasis-Class fleet and offered features such as water slides and the ‘Ultimate Abyss’ dry slide – both of which are a first for Royal Caribbean.

2017 is set to be a slightly quieter year in terms of ship launches for Royal Caribbean, with new vessels establishing themselves on respective itineraries. Four new vessels are currently being built, with two new vessels for both Oasis and Quantum-Class fleets. The first of these – the unnamed Oasis IV - is scheduled for delivery in 2018 and will be followed by Quantum IV in 2019.

It may seem like a strange thought at this moment in time, but what does the ground-breaking cruise line have in mind for the future beyond this? To answer that question, Royal Caribbean gave us a glimpse into their plans for two brand new liquefied natural gas-powered vessels to launch within the next eight years.

A new class for Royal Caribbean known as the ‘Icon Class’ will lead the way in dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the cruising industry. Set to launch in 2022 and 2024, two new ships – both of which will carry approximately 5,000 passengers each – will run on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and utilise fuel cell technology. At present, the use of liquefied natural gas is not widespread, which would cast doubt over whether these new ships would be able to dock in certain ports. However, the line has confirmed that the ships will be able to run on distillate fuel, thus ensuring they can dock in other ports.

Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Richard Fain, said: “With Icon class, we move further in the journey to take the smoke out of our smokestacks. We are dedicated to innovation, continuous improvement, and environmental responsibility and Icon gives us the opportunity to deliver against all three of these pillars.”

“Increasing the commitment to LNG makes it easier for suppliers to make their own infrastructure commitments. As more ships are built for LNG, the number of ports that support it will grow.”

Beyond these details, there is currently very little news available. It has been confirmed that, although the ships will be able to accommodate 5,000 passengers, they will not be quite as large as the record-breaking Harmony of the Seas. It has also been confirmed that the two ships will be constructed at the Meyer shipyard in Turku, Finland, with contracts set to be finalised before the end of the year.

Last month, it was confirmed that Royal Caribbean had filed a trademark application for ‘Icon of the Seas’ and, in line with previous fleets, it is likely that this could be the name of the first brand new vessel.

Royal Caribbean have wowed and amazed cruisers with features on board recent ships from the Oasis and Quantum-Class fleets. More efforts have been made across the industry in recent years to ensure cruise ships reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on the environment. This could potentially lead to cruising becoming one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel.

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