Increasingly advanced designs and record profits have allowed modern cruise ships to become maritime behemoths. When Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas departs from Port Miami on its maiden voyage later this month, the new vessel will be the largest cruise ship ever put into revenue service. Icon of the Seas is 20 decks tall, nearly 1,200 feet long and cost $2 billion to construct. Shipbuilders follow relatively simple design principles using complex methods to ensure that cruise ships stay afloat in even the roughest conditions.
Fin stabilizers are the most prominent active feature used to keep these massive ships sailing level across the water. The system’s sensors onboard detect the ship’s roll angle and respond by articulating fins mounted to the ship’s hull using hydraulic power. It’s a similar philosophy to the control surfaces on an airplane. However, the stabilizers are only effective because of the ship’s forward movement, just like a plane soaring through the skies.
Royal Caribbean reported a $1 billion profit for the third quarter of 2023, so people are still flocking to spend their vacations on cruises. The cruise line has the revenue and passenger demand to keep building massive ships. The company also isn’t waiting to dethrone its own vessel on the top of the world’s largest cruise ship list. Royal Caribbean has already ordered the another ship the same size as the Icon called the Star of the Seas, which is expected to enter service in 2025.
Correction: This story originally reported that the Star of the Sea would be larger than the Icon of the Sea. They are actually the same size. We regret the error.
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