September 18, 2021

Royal Caribbean’s new Icon Class comes cleaner

Royal Caribbean’s new Icon ships are expected to accommodate up to five thousand passengers.


Royal Caribbean’s next class of cruise ship will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and introduce the use of fuel cell technology to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The move marks a new era in shipbuilding, the company said in a statement today.

A memorandum of understanding has been signed with shipbuilder Meyer Turku for the new class of vessel under the project name “Icon”, with two ships expected to be delivered to the Royal Caribbean fleet in 2022 and 2024.

Before the new ships debut, testing of fuel cell technology will begin next year on an existing Oasis-class ship, while larger fuel cell projects will also be run on new Quantum class vessels under construction in the next few years.

Use of the new technologies will result in much cleaner emissions, the company said, as they produce no sulfur and significantly reduce the production of nitrogen oxides and particulates.

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

The switch to LNG provides further momentum for the technology, which has begun making significant inroads in the maritime industry.

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

The Icon ships, which are likely to accommodate approximately 5,000 passengers, are expected to run primarily on LNG but will also be able to run on distillate fuel, to accommodate itineraries that call on ports without LNG infrastructure.

Icon is the first new ship class announced by RCL since Celebrity Cruises’ new Edge class, which debuts in 2018. The company is also expanding its fleet with new Oasis- and Quantum-class ships for Royal Caribbean International. This order is contingent upon the completion of contractual conditions, including documentation and financing. Final contracts are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

– Cruise Critic –

About Anne Vipond

Anne Vipond is the author of several guidebooks to cruising destinations around the world. She draws on an extensive sailing background to impart her enthusiasm for cruise travel. From her home port of Vancouver, she travels by cruise ship to a wide range of destinations to keep her books current and useful for her cruise readers. Her cruising articles have been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and over seas.