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Royal Caribbean shares an inside look at Utopia of the Seas construction

13 Jul 2023
Matt Hochberg

We're just about a year away from the launch of Royal Caribbean next, and perhaps final, Oasis Class cruise ship, Utopia of the Seas. With that much time left, there's still plenty of construction left.

Utopia of the Seas block installed

Utopia of the Seas is under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, and Royal Caribbean shared with travel advisors a look at what construction of this ship entails and what makes this ship different.

Utopia will be the first new Royal Caribbean cruise ship to start off with short 3- and 4-night cruises. She will sail from Port Canaveral, Florida and will have a number of differences from her Oasis Class sister ships.

Utopia will have a new tiki bar experience, new dining experiences, immersive dining, and an open deck filled with plenty of activities.

During the webinar, two members of Royal Caribbean's product development team shared a photo update of how the new cruise ship is progressing.

LNG Fan Room

LNG Fan Room

Utopia will be the first Oasis class that uses a more environmentally friendly fuel type, Liquified Natural Gas, or LNG.

The photo shows the ship's "fan room", which is a structure that helps vent and ensure the integrity of that fuel source.

It's located at the top of the vessel, and Royal Caribbean integrated the space into the look of the Lime and Coconut Bar.

LNG Tank prep
Delivery of LNG

 There were also photos of the LNG being delivered to the shipyard in France.

Royal Caribbean Director of Product Development, Darren Budden, shared that getting the LNG tanks was an issue because they were being manufactured in an area in China at a time when the country was on lockdown due to a Covid-19 spike.

"If you don't have the base of the vessel completed, it increases exponentially the complexity of building around it. So we all rejoiced on the day that we physically saw that those tanks were delivered," he shared during the webinar.

Royal Promenade

Royal Promenade under construction on Utopia of the Seas

The Royal Promenade is the focal point of any Oasis Class ship, and this area is taking shape.

One big change to the Royal Promenade is there will not be a Bionic Bar. Instead, a new tiki bar known as the Pesky Parrot, will take its place.

Royal Caribbean Senior Product Owner, Keri-Ann Chin-Sang, talked about this new venue, "It replaces the former Bionic Bar, but we're super excited for it to be a first impression as guests are walking on the ship right at embarkation, you're going to see all of the comfortable lounge furniture, a huge expansive bar that's going to be offering tropical cocktails, frozen drinks, entertainment, a few surprise and delight moments."

Central Park

Central park Utopia of the Seas construction

Compared to other Oasis Class ships, Utopia of the Seas will have a few changes to Central Park.

Izumi has been moved up to Central Park, which is a first for the Oasis Class.

Izumi in the park

"It's actually going to be a huge Izumi with both Teppanyaki and Sushi. The relocation really allowed us to expand the number of teppanyaki tables. So we now have six tables versus three on previous Oasis class ships," said Ms. Chin-Sang.

Izumi will also have a new pickup window which allows quick grab and go offerings for guests.

Central park Utopia of the Seas construction

Park Cafe will have a new evening terrace experience, which the cruise line hopes will invigorate evenings in this neighborhood, "We're really trying to activate Central Park in the evenings, give people that romantic twinkling vibe that they're looking for wine and jazz in the park and, you know, a space that really brings the outdoor to life right at the heart of the ship."

Izumu construction on Utopia

Izumi is in the former location of Giovanni's Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar combined.


Solarium on Utopia of the Seas under construction

The adults-only pool area is at the front of the ship in the Solarium.

Mr. Budden noted that Royal Caribbean made a change to the design of the Solarium with Wonder of the Seas that resonated with guests having the roof enclosed.

"It allows us to have complete climate control. Our guests have really, really loved the Solarium experience there, so we're leveraging that again with Utopia and building on the lessons learned."

"This is going to be an incredibly relaxing experience where people can go and just spend the day really in a climate controlled environment, which we've never been able to deliver to this extent before."

Ultimate Abyss

Abyss install on Utopia of the Seas

Utopia of the Seas will have the dry slide experience, known as the Ultimate Abyss, albeit with a few tweaks.

Mr. Budden alluded to the fact MSC's World Europa now claims to have the longest dry slide at sea, so the team at Royal Caribbean felt compelled to make changes to the Ultimate Abyss.

Ultimate Abyss on Utopia of the Seas

Suffice to say, Utopia will take back the claim of the longest dry slide at sea when the ship launches.

"We've also added some more thrill. So in our usual experience, you go through several circular completions, but we've added some acrylic dead ends that make you think like you're going to slide out and go all the way down into the Boardwalk, but you're actually going to pivot at the last minute," Mr. Budden shared.

"We've also put some rollers in to to bump up your speed as you go along and a section where you're going to be able to see the other rider. So if you know that person and you're racing against them, you'll be able to see in real time if they're ahead of you or not."

The team also talked about the fact they considered many other changes to the Ultimate Abyss, but skipped them because guests would not necessarily notice them.

"We had an inventory of options and then we really went through all of them and chose the ones that we felt were the biggest impact."

"There were a bunch of other ones, but they were really quite expensive and not a lot from an experiential improvements."

One example of a change they passed on was a way for guests to activate lights in the slide on their way down.

"There were a number that if you were sliding quickly, you would actually miss and there was another amenity where there was going to be this little lit button that if you touched it, it would bring a whole bunch of lights. But as we actually started to talk through it, it was like nine out of ten or more of our guests would never know that that was a part of it."

"So we really focused on putting the investment where we were going to see a noteworthy improvement to the experience."

Lime & Coconut

Lime and Coconut construction on Utopia of the Seas

Utopia will have a three-story Lime and Coconut Bar. 

The aforementioned pipe room is not present in this construction photo, but will help form a sort of overarching umbrella.

Utopia of the Seas Lime and Coconut

Royal Caribbean believes the Lime and Coconut's prime location on deck 15 will make it a focal point for fun on the pool deck.

Nearby you'll find the best soft serve ice cream in the fleet, with a revamped Sprinkles location. It will feature toppings as well as complimentary ice cream.

Giovanni's Italian Kitchen

Giovanni's on Utopia of the Seas construction

Giovanni's Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar has been relocated into the deck 11 and 12 former Wonderland location.

Ms. Chin-Sang described the experience "Deck 12, where you enter, will be the wine bar. You'll walk down the spiral staircase that goes around a huge olive tree into the deck 11 Italian kitchen."


Another change will be the terrace seating.  Ms. Chin-Sang said the team wanted to deliver that outdoor dining experience.

"We just weren't sure how we were going to achieve that in this interior ship venue. And so we started thinking about this balcony and we went to the shipyard and we knew we wanted a balcony. And initially there was a lot of pushback on the engineering that would go into creating this cantilevered terrace. We worked at it for months and months and months."

Giovanni's on Utopia of the Seas construction

"I think this is going to be one of the most incredible and amazing, stunning locations on the ship."

 The new exterior terrace will overlook the Boardwalk neighborhood.

Immersive dining experience

Immersive Train car dining experience

Something brand new to Utopia of the Seas is an immersive dining experience that combines visuals and dining to create something not seen before on Royal Caribbean.

As we first reported in April, the yet unnamed venue will feature a classic train motif that delivers a mixed reality experience.

Immersive dining

"We're hoping to bring guests to more locations than they could have ever possibly visited on a short vacation in this amazing dinner experience," is what Ms. Chin-Sang said when touching on what guests can expect.

"The culinary is going to be great. The crew interaction will be amazing, and just the overall architectural feel of the space guests are really going to feel like they've been they've stepped off of a ship and onto a train."

Immersive Train car dining experience construction photo
Immersive Train car dining experience construction photo
Immersive Train car dining experience construction photo

It's located where Izumi was on previous ships on deck 4.

Dining car prototype for Utopia of the Seas

One car will have 24 seats, and since there are two cars, the whole venue will have around 48 seats.

After prototyping the train car experience at Royal Caribbean's Miami headquarters, the team feels confident it will deliver an incredible new option for passengers.

How long does it take to build a new cruise ship?

Utopia of the Seas overhead render

One question Ms. Chin-Sang and Mr. Budden were asked was how long it takes to build a ship like Utopia.

From the inception of the strategy to actually the first revenue sailing, it takes about five years, but could be done is as few as four years.

The actual construction of the ship takes closer to about two years.

The advent of block construction is what Mr. Budden said helps make construction go a lot faster, "the technology has shifted to building ships in blocks. And so those blocks can be built simultaneously in different areas."

In terms of how many people, Mr. Bidden said it takes "tens of thousands" of people employed in different areas.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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