Inside £1.5bn race to build mega cruiser Icon of the Seas with £60K suite plus world’s biggest water park & swim-up bar | The Sun

IT'S the biggest cruise ship the world has ever seen, and next year it'll make history when it sets sail from Florida to the Caribbean.

Having cost an estimated £1.5billion to build, the magnificent Icon of the Seas is 20 decks high and weighs a staggering 250,800 gross tons – five times the size of the Titanic. 

The Royal Caribbean's magnificent vessel boasts the world's largest water park at sea as well as the biggest swim-up bar, where guests can sip on luxurious Champagne or hand-crafted cocktails.

It also features the world’s first suspended infinity pool at sea, with floating sun loungers and jaw-dropping ocean views from eight storeys up.

For families there are seven other pools, a child-friendly aqua park, nine whirlpools, a mini-golf course, ice rink, arcade and 40 bars and restaurants including a karaoke bar.

Adventurous types can enjoy the surf simulator, a zip-line 154ft above the ocean, a rock-climbing wall and an obstacle course.


Inside world’s blingiest hotel with gold toothbrushes & ‘dolphin meditation’

Celebs’ most extravagant private islands – infinity pools to beach hotels

Icon, which measures 1,198 feet and has 2,805 cabins, features a total of eight neighbourhoods – one of which will set you back £60,000 a week.

Spanning four decks, the exclusive Suite Neighbourhood comes with the best staterooms, its own swimming pool, a garden and a double-level Coastal Kitchen restaurant.

Its first seven-night route will begin from Miami on January 7 and explore Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis, sailing on to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas, before returning to the U.S.

The announcement of its construction was made in 2016, and the first steel cutting took place in 2021.

Most read in The Sun


Emmerdale’s Amy Walsh marries EastEnders star fiance in front of co-stars


I matched with Commons ‘spy’ on dating app, I re-read our texts and was shocked


Inside Calvin Harris & Vick Hope’s Glasto-themed wedding with showbiz pals


Home Sec vows to outlaw killer XL Bully dogs after horror attack on girl, 11

Icon of the Seas is the world's biggest cruise ship and will be open to the public next yearCredit: The Mega Agency
The Suite Neigh'hood can set guests back up to £60,000 for a week's stayCredit: © 2023 Royal Caribbean International
Daniel Ashville was among the lucky few who got a chance to see the construction of the mega shipCredit: Disney
The idea of the ship, built in Finland, was announced in 2016, but building only commenced in 2021Credit: Disney

Over 3,000 engineers and workers spent thousands of painstaking hours to get Icon of the Seas ready, using 12,000km of onboard cables and enough wiring to wrap around the world twice.

TV host Daniel Ashville, 41, went behind the scenes of its construction in Finland with his National Geographic show Building Impossible.

He told The Sun: "When I heard about it I was like, how are they going to do that? I was trying to break it down myself. If they're making this big structure, are they going to build it in situ?

"Where are they going to build it and if they aren't going to, how will they lift it without damage? My mind went into overdrive. So when I landed there, I had loads of questions.

"Every one of them was answered and every answer started another question."


Installing the AcquaDome, one of its most eye-catching features, was one of the most challenging elements of the build.

Described as a "tranquil oasis by day" and a "vibrant hotspot" by night, guests can take in wrap-around ocean views and marvel at its 55ft-high waterfall that plunges onto a stage.

It houses restaurants, bars and the Aqua Theatre which stages the cruise line's shows.

The AquaDome was constructed out of steel and 600 panels of glass, and measures 82ft high by 164ft wide, and its installation process required hours of careful planning.

It had to be lifted on a massive 1,200-tonne gantry crane onto the ship and moved cautiously but quickly, with engineers cautious that a strong gust of wind could cause the glass structure to shatter.

Daniel, who witnessed the nail-biting moment, said: "Every second felt like an hour. I was looking at it and I could see it rising and it took ages to get up.

"But when it was on the gantry crane and started moving, it really got going.

"I'm 6ft 5in and I've got long legs and I couldn't keep up with it when it actually started moving. And it slowed down significantly when we began to drop it into place.

"It was like you are on the edge with every second, but at the same time, you're excited and also trying to stay calm. You don't want to be that person jumping up and down when everyone is trying to concentrate. You need to stay focused and do your job.

"The main wildcard was the wind – none of us were in control of the wind. When we were lifting if the wind had gotten stronger over a certain point, it would have no longer been safe.

"There were people constantly monitoring the wind and all the lift points had censors on them. We would be lifting and I could feel a gust of wind on my face and you see the markers and it's like, we're alright. The word was tolerance. We're within tolerance."

The structure breaking would have spelt disaster for the project as it was one of its most expensive features.

Daniel said: "I don't know exactly what it cost but I know that it was a lot of zeros. I don't think my calculator's got enough buttons to get to the amount of money that could have cost."

Titanic comparisons

Daniel revealed that the dry dock where the ship was built had to be extended to accommodate it, as the design was too big to fit.

He said: "I thought they could have just made [the ship] smaller, but they did not want it smaller. It had to be the biggest shipyard in Finland with the biggest ship, with the biggest steel glass and steel structure, and the biggest crane."

It was a race against time to get the structure built in time for its first expedition – postponement was never an option.

Daniel said: "The project was being pushed forward but it was very controlled and the teams on the ground were very professional… everything was planned impeccably.

"When there were challenges the people there were skilled enough to work with the boots on the ground to find solutions nearly immediately."

The ship is powered by liquified natural gas which runs six engines, generating 67,500 kW (90,520 hp) of power.

When news of its construction came out many social media users were quick to compare it to the ill-fated Titanic which sank on its maiden voyage on April 14, 1912.

Both ships were groundbreaking for their time, and one of the most frequently asked questions on the internet has been whether the Icon of the Seas could ever suffer a similar fate – but Daniel doesn't believe it's a fair comparison.

"From my understanding of the size of the Titanic, it is a lot bigger and built in a completely different way," he says.

"Modern-day engineers learn from the mistakes of the past. And they applied this when they were designing.

"They do everything they can to avoid anything like that happening. I saw the thickness of steel and saw 500 welders going flat-out day and night.

"I walked through the ship's different compartments. If the worst was to happen, everybody would have ways of exiting safely. They have life rafts, they have lifeboats, and everything they need.

Read More on The Sun

Mum spends benefits on designer school shoes for kid only for them to be banned

Kate Garraway reveals heartbreaking reason she kept hospital dash secret

"So maybe let's not compare Icon of the Seas to something that is sat at the bottom of the sea."

Building Impossible with Daniel Ashville airs on Thursdays at 8pm from September 14 on National Geographic.

Source: Read Full Article