In 2024, Royal Caribbean guests will set sail on the largest cruise ship to ever hit the waters: Icon of the Seas. The twenty-deck and over 250,000-ton ship will be able to hold 7,600 guests and 2,350 crew members, figures that CNN travel likens to the population of a small town.
To welcome the ship to the Royal Caribbean International family, the company hosted a ceremony at Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland in November, where thousands came together to celebrate the milestone, including Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group.
“Today, we are celebrating more than a new ship; it’s also the celebration of the culmination of more than fifty years of innovation and dreaming at Royal Caribbean to create the ultimate vacation experience,” Liberty said at the ceremony. “Delivering Icon of the Seas represents all that can be accomplished with strong partnerships and a commitment to delivering memorable vacations responsibly, and we thank Meyer Turku and an incredible village of skilled partners for joining us on this journey. The memories millions of families and vacationers will make on Icon will be our greatest accomplishment yet.”
The ship will feature more than forty ways to dine and drink; cutting entertainment options across air, ice, water and theater stages in addition to twenty-eight ways to stay, including a new three-level family townhouse. Additionally, guests will have a chance to float between the ship’s eight innovative neighborhoods, all designed to offer a variety of experiences to meet every possible need. One to look out for is the AquaDome, a new neighborhood that’ll allow guests to take in wraparound ocean views and a waterfall as they enjoy spaces complete with restaurants, bars, and an aqua theater.
The innovative ship was designed with the use of virtual reality tools, ones that Alix Loiseau, director of virtual design and construction, and his team have spent time mastering. Royal Caribbean has built a state-of-the-art virtual reality system called CAVE, allowing individuals to experience ships that are still being built and to provide feedback on how it can be continuously improved, Loiseau told Blueprint Magazine. Loiseau came on board to take the technology to the next level by pairing it with ship information model concepts, gaming engines, and CGI.
“It’s so much easier to make it a better guest experience when you can explore it virtually. You don’t want that design element over there, well [sic] just move it without having to do any heavy lifting.”
To push the boundaries of what’s possible, experimenting with virtual reality is a must, Loiseau said. Other architecture experts agree. According to Adorama, virtual reality allows for safer construction sites, reduces project risk, and reduces project costs in early project stages. In addition to offering an immersive environment for designers and clients to experience firsthand, it allows for collaborators across the globe to work on the same 3D assets.
Thinking about giving virtual reality in architecture a shot? Here are a few things to consider, according to Autodesk.
VR Is Rapidly Changing Architecture Technology
Advances in mobile technology and head-mounted displays like Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens have placed VR at the forefront of architecture world’s collective conscious. According to a survey in CGarchitect, leading users of VR for architectural visualization are in Europe (40 percent) and the US (21 percent). Nearly 70 percent of respondents were using VR/AR/MR in production or were planning to do so.
VR in Architecture Can Be Used at Various Stages of the Design Process
VR can be rendered at different levels of detail, allowing architects to have a detailed and immersive experience in a non-photorealistic room. To gain greater spatial understanding, architects can also integrate VR hardware with building information software.
“This spatial understanding should make clients more confident in the design and reduce time spent in meetings and the use of lateral design revisions,” Kim Baumann Larsen, CEO of Dimension Design told Autodesk’s Design & Make platform.
“The architect can render stereo 360 panoramic images directly from the BIM software such as [Autodesk] Revit or using a visualization tool like [Autodesk] 3ds Max with V-Ray and publish the images to the web using third-party services like VRto.me or IrisVR Scope,” Larsen added.
VR Has Some Catching Up to Do with the Architecture Industry
Despite its benefits, the VR space also poses challenges for architects. It requires specific expertise and it can be challenging for the professionals to find the time to experiment with the technology. That shouldn’t stop them from diving in, said Larsen.
“Get a PC-based VR system like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift for exploring design from BIM tools and play with mobile VR using cardboard and Gear VR and Google’s View to distribute your designs in VR to clients and collaborators alike,” she said. “The most important thing is to start experimenting.”
Icon and Sustainability
In addition to offering transformative experiences to guests, Icon of the Seas stands out for its commitment to sustainability. It’s Royal Caribbean’s first ship to be powered by liquified natural gas and it features dual-fuel engines. To supplement those components, energy efficient initiatives and environmental programs will help the company reach its ultimate goal: to introduce a net-zero cruise ship by 2035.
In the Thrill Island neighbourhood of Icon of the Seas, you’ll find Category 6 waterpark, the largest waterpark at sea with record-breaking slides. They include:
- Frightening Bolt: tallest waterslide at sea
- Pressure Drop: first free-fall slide at sea
- Storm Chasers: first mat-racing duo at sea
- Storm Surge & Hurricane Hunter: first family raft slides at sea
The collaboration between Pixela Labs and Royal Caribbean Club resulted in a paradigm shift in design approaches, iterations, and outcomes. Vitalii Boiko knows how to push the boundaries of technology to develop cost-efficient solutions to meet the design cycle pace. As the partnership continues to flourish, passengers can anticipate even grander voyages, seamlessly blending the tangible and the virtual, the physical and the digital, into a symphony of wonder.