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World’s 2nd largest cruise ship Utopia of the Seas set in water

By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
Published: September 30, 2023, 5:33am

Royal Caribbean’s next Oasis-class ship Utopia of the Seas was put into the water for the first time last weekend as construction continues ahead of its debut in 2024 from Port Canaveral.

While new class of ship Icon of the Seas debuting in Miami in January will take the title of world’s largest cruise ship, Utopia will hold the No. 2 spot, projected to be incrementally larger than sister ship Wonder of the Seas at 236,860 gross tons. It will be the same length at 1,188 feet long, slightly less wide at 211 feet, still with 18 decks, but with 33 less staterooms so a smaller 5,668-passenger capacity based on double occupancy.

The float out, which is the ship’s first taste of water, occurred during a nearly 15-hour operation that featured the ship’s dry dock getting filled with 46 million gallons of water Sept. 22 into Sept. 23 at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.

Construction began in April 2022 and over the last 17 months, the vessel has come together with the assembly of 74 blocks of steel. More work has to be completed, though, as it’s not due to arrive to Central Florida until July.

That includes outfitting the exterior decks with the open-air structures including what will be the longest dry slide at sea as Utopia’s version of the Ultimate Abyss will be 295 feet long, 43 longer than its sister ships’ versions. The ship’s outdoor features will also include eight hot tubs, five pools, three Perfect Storm waterslides, Flowrider surf simulator, mini golf, climbing walls and the Splashaway Bay water play area.

The ship is taking on three- and four-night Bahamas sailings from Port Canaveral replacing Allure of the Seas that is slated to begin the short sailing duties this fall, which will be a first for Royal’s Oasis class. The sailings each will visit Nassau and Royal Caribbean’s private island Perfect Day at CocCay.

Royal plans to keep two Oasis-class ships at the port year-round as Wonder of the Seas will continue seven-night sailings. That will make Port Canaveral home to the two latest versions of the Oasis-class ships, the first five of which took the title of world’s largest cruise ship for a time until upended by their younger sister ships. Oasis of the Seas started it in 2008 followed by Allure of the Seas in 2009, Harmony of the Seas in 2016, Symphony of the Seas in 2018 and Wonder of the Seas in 2022. All but Symphony will have spent some time calling Port Canaveral home.

Utopia of the Seas will also be the first Oasis-class ship to run on liquefied natural gas, a cleaner burning fuel that is among the cruise industry’s efforts to reduce their ships’ carbon footprint. Icon of the Seas will also sail with LNG. Port Canaveral was the first North American port to home port an LNG cruise ship when Carnival’s Mardi Gras arrived in 2021 followed by Disney Wish in 2022.

While Utopia of the Seas will have most of the same features as its sisters ships, some unique offerings include a new tiki bar concept called the Pesky Parrot that will be situated indoors on the Promenade offering fruit-based cocktails and frozen drinks.

Also coming is an interactive dining experience themed as if participants are riding in a classic train car. The multicourse meal looks to allow for a simulated trip to different destinations, with changing storylines married to the cuisine.

In a move that’s also going to be on Icon, Central Park will be the new home for Izumi hibachi and teppanyaki, including the offshoot Izumi in the Park, a walkup outdoor venue that serves fresh sushi and Japanese-inspired sweets. Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar and Gio’s Terrazza meanwhile will become a two-story affair including a new outside terrace that overlooks the Boardwalk neighborhood and its aft-view of the ocean. This takes the space of specialty restaurant Wonderland, which won’t be on board.

Southern cuisine will be back with the venue The Mason Jar that debuted on Wonder. Also on board will be steakhouse Chops Grille, 150 Central Park, Coastal Kitchen, Hooked Seafood, Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, Johnny Rockets, the main dining room and Windjammer buffet among others.

More than 20 bar and entertainment options will be on board including five live music venues: Spotlight Karaoke, Latin music at Boleros, cover bands at Music Hall, English pub Bell & Barley and the piano found at Schooner Bar.

For its main show entertainment, new show titles have yet to be revealed, but it will have its three main performance venues with Broadway-style shows at the Royal Theater, a new diving and aerobatic show in the AquaTheater, new ice-skating performances in Studio B as well as comedy in The Attic.

More details at royalcaribbean.com/utopia.