Posts Tagged ‘royal caribbean cruise line’

RCI’s Project ‘Icon’ Mystery

May 3, 2018

Secret Ship

Royal Caribbean’s Project ‘Icon’ ships are still a bit of a mystery.

There was a time in the past, when a cruise line would announce the construction of a new ship and within a few months, we would have the renderings to look at and most of the details.

Today the cruise lines are so much more secretive. The details are kept under wraps for months, even years,  then slowly leaked to the media, drip by drip,  as the construction nears completion. We may not get the full specification of the new vessels until just before the ship enters service.  If fact booking may well open before all of the public rooms and on-board facilities are revealed. For a very impatient person like me, this is VERY annoying.

What makes it even more annoying is that Royal Caribbean have designed some of the most breathtaking ship afloat. I feel like a child who wants to have  his Christmas present is September, rather than wait until December.

I appreciate that big mass-market ships are not every cruisers ‘cup of tea’, but RCI have certainly pushed the boundaries in terms of on-board facilities and size.  The ‘Oasis’ class, for example, is a remarkable design.

Royal Caribbean first announced ‘Project Icon’ in October 2016. It is now May 2018 and we know nothing more than we did in 2016. For example: we still have no idea what the ship will look like or anything about the facilities on-board. Even people in the cruise industry,  have probably forgotten that that the  ship is even coming!


Icon: Low greenhouse gas emissions.

What We Do Know:

RCI  signed a memorandum of understanding with shipbuilder Meyer Turku in 2016 for the new class of vessel under the project name “Icon.” Two vessels will be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024.

Royal Caribbean later filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for “Icon of the Seas”.

‘Icon’ is the first new ship class announced by RCI since Celebrity Cruises’ new ‘Edge’ class, which debuts later in 2018. (Also shrouded in much secrecy, for months.)

Icon  will carry 5,000 passengers  and will be around 200,000 gross tonnes. This suggests that the 5,000 passenger figure look like a lower-berth statistic. 

Icon  will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and will introduce the use of fuel cell technology, as used in spacecraft.  These innovations will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

ABB fuel cell being piloted on a RCI ships. (Courtesy ABB)

RCI expect to also be able to operate using conventional maritime fuel as a well, for ports without the necessary LNG infrastructure.

RCI began testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship in 2017, and will also run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum-class vessels.

(Play within Youtube for larger images/text)

200,000 gt should give RCI plenty of room for innovative public rooms and facillities.

In contrast, the ‘Quantum’ class is  approximately 168,00 gt., carrying 4,905 passengers – all berths. The Oasis class is around 227,000 gt carrying 6, 780 – all berths. Icon will sit in-between the two, in terms of gross tonnage.

However, the arrival of these new ships may well see the departure of  RCI’s older tonnage.

Majesty has now been in the fleet for 26 years, Grandeur 22 years, Enchantment and Rhapsody 21 years and Vision 20 years. Although the life expectancy of a cruise ship can be 30+ years, in 4-6 years time, when the ‘Icons’ arrive, RCI’s older tonnage will look even smaller and even more dated.


So what is an LNG powered Ship? See Here

Update – The RCI unofficial blog says: The final concept for the first (Icon) vessel is currently being discussed, and the concept design phase is expected to start this spring. The initial building phase of the first ship will begin next year, with keel laying planned for October 2019.


RCI’s Passion & Pulse To be LNG Powered

March 24, 2017

(Courtesy RCI)

Royal Caribbean’s fourth ‘Quantum’ class ship (actually called ‘Quantum-Plus’ class) will be named ‘Passion of the Seas’ and will be delivered by Meyer Werft, Germany, in 2019.

Their fifth ‘Quantum-Plus’ class ship, to be named ‘Pulse of the Seas’, will be deliver in 2020.

It has been strongly rumored that both ships will be LNG powered, in keeping with many newbuilds form other major cruise lines, such as Carnival and MSC.

Royal Caribbean’s next class of ship, currently shrouded in secrecy, know as ‘Project Icon’ will also be LNG powered.

Quantum Class: Anthem of the Seas review HERE

What is LNG?

Using LNG to power ships is not a completely new idea. However to date, LNG use has been restricted to smaller vessels operating rather short runs. This is due to the large size of fuel tanks required and the few bunkering facilities available. However it is a new idea for cruise ships and certainly for a megaship design.

LNG is superior to pipeline gas in quality. This is because LNG is purer, has more methane as well as other energy content, and also because of its chemical structure since it has a stable composition. Its combustion generates no unburned residues, particulates or soot, and releases less greenhouse gas than traditional marine gas oil (MGO). Future maritime emissions regulations, especially in sensitive environments are likely to demand this. Perhaps the most appealing aspect about LNG is that under the right operating conditions it can reduce fuel costs.

In addition, using  LNG can double the maintenance intervals, because the gas is so clean,  ship owners may get  25,000 hours between maintenance intervals, maybe more, opposed to 12,500 hours with standard fuel.

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Here is an interesting example: VIKING GRACE is a European passenger ferry (2013, 57,000gt, STX, Finland) powered by LNG. Gas take up more space than fuel-oil. In fact six times more space. Therefore large tanks for the gas are located on deck, of the ferry, to save space in the hull (See image above).

However the renderings of  Carnival’s newbuilds do not appear to have LNG storage tanks on the deck.

(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

LNG cruise ship ‘concepts’ have been around a long time. The renderings below are a design by Wärtsilä, the marine engine company.

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

Interestingly the concept ship uses drive shaft technology, rather than pods. The LNG tans are located internally, below the funnel area.


( Wärtsilä)

The engines on-board the new Carnival ships will not exclusively be powered by LNG, but will be ‘dual fuel’ being capable of burring both LNG and liquid fuel, and combinations of both at the same time. burning exclusively LNG could be saved for environmentally sensitive areas. This would reduce the fuel storage space required.


Large and Larger

March 5, 2013
(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

‘Celebrity Solstice’ (122,000 gt, 2,850 passengers) dwarfed ‘Oasis of the Seas’ (225,000 gt, 5,400 passengers).  Solstice is hardly a small ship!