Royal Caribbean International has released a new video with construction details on the yet-to-be-revealed 175-metric-ton sphere that will be featured onboard Icon of the Seas.
The new class LNG-powered cruise ship is currently under construction and many details of the new ship are still unknown – including this mystery sphere.
Icon of the Seas Construction Update
The highly anticipated new ship, slated to debut in fall 2023, is currently under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in southern Finland, and one of its most mysterious elements – the sphere – has made progress and been moved onto the ship’s deck.
Little is known about the sphere, but some key details of its structure have been released. It now measures 46 feet (14 meters) tall and 50 feet (15.3 meters) in diameter, and weighs 175 metric tons (385,809 pounds).
Its outer shell is comprised of 578 aluminum panels, while the interior is lined with nine miles of power and lighting cables and 1,323 feet (400 meters) of air conditioning ductwork.
The interior also has steel mounting frames, but nothing is yet confirmed about the purpose of that framework, or what this structure might eventually become.
To move the sphere from its construction warehouse to be mounted on the ship, the entire structure was covered with fire retardant cloth and thermal wool, indicating some delicacy to its components.
After being loaded onto a barge for transport, two tugboats directed the barge to the ship’s hull, where the sphere was lifted into position by a tremendous crane.
It appears to be an interior structure on the still-incomplete vessel, positioned at approximately mid-ship slightly off-center with respect to the deck’s overall width.
A total of 45,000 hours of labor have gone into the sphere so far – and we don’t even know what it is yet.
What We Do Know About Icon of the Seas
While no announcement has yet been made about the sphere, there are some intriguing details that have been confirmed about Icon of the Seas. The new class of ship will surpass the Oasis-class vessels in size, though the projected stats are not available.
To date, the largest Oasis-class vessel is Wonder of the Seas at 236,857 gross tons, which makes it the largest cruise ship in the world.
The physical construction of Icon of the Seas began in June 2021 with her ceremonial steel cutting as different blocks began to be built, and the ship’s keel was laid just last month, another major milestone that puts the new vessel on track for its fall 2023 debut.
What Is the Sphere?
Royal Caribbean International has not released even the smallest hint about what the sphere may actually be, but since it was first spotted in December 2021, speculation is high on social media and cruise fan sites about the eventual purpose of this innovative and unique structure.
A top choice is that the sphere will become a new immersive entertainment venue, perhaps with extensive LED screens or other technological details to create an amazing experience.
Careful scrutiny of the early seconds of the new video also reveals what may be tiered seating inside the sphere, but those details are unclear.
Other creative ideas about the purpose of the sphere include:
- A new type of bar, perhaps with intense cooling like an ice bar
- A planetarium for a variety of astronomically awesome shows
- A motion simulator or high-tech virtual reality experience
- An updated and technologically hyped SkyPad, similar to on other vessels
- A new concept restaurant with 360-degree screens
Initial speculation believed the sphere to be a tank for storing the liquefied natural gas that will power the ship, but later reveals have highlighted the LNG tanks, which in fact are oblong-shaped.
Furthermore, the cruise line would not be likely to offer creative teasers about a fuel tank, but much more likely to hint at amazing and unexpected guest features.
Two large, round, ground level openings on either side of the sphere also debunk the idea that it may be a fuel tank or other sort of container.
For the moment, cruise fans will have to continue waiting and wondering, but as the cruise line reveals further Icon of the Seas details, Cruise Hive will bring you all the information!