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Lionel Messi names world's largest cruise ship Icon of the Seas in Miami extravaganza

An AquaDome aerialist delivers the fútbol to Icon of the Seas Capt. Henrik Loy, who would hand it to the godfather, Lionel Messi (in pink jacket) to use in naming the ship
Lionel Messi, the most decorated fútbol player in history, officially named Icon of the Seas during a dazzling ceremony inside the world's largest cruise ship's AquaDome.

Only Royal Caribbean International has such a venue, housing its one-of-a-kind AquaTheater inside and forward on top of the ship, an engineering marvel.

Aerialists emerging from the pool and soaring around the dome and high-divers plunging from two dizzying platforms thrilled the crowd, and Scotland's lively Red Hot Chili Pipers with their bagpipes, drums and electric guitars got everyone clapping and moving to the beat.


A dazzling show in the AquaDome's AquaTheater with high-divers and aerialists

Designed to be the world's best family vacation

Seven years in the dreaming and making, Icon of the Seas was designed to be the world's best family vacation, Royal Caribbean International President/CEO Michael Bayley said. He called it 'the company's biggest dream come to life' and 'truly an engineering marvel.'

Bayley introduced several multigenerational families working as crew on Royal Caribbean ships along with the Carter family, 'guests who've sailed with us for generations,' starting on Sun Viking in 1987.

'Family: That's what Royal Caribbean is all about,' Bayley said. He added: 'Teamwork makes the dream work.'

Pushing the boundaries of human ingenuity

For his part, Royal Caribbean Group President/CEO Jason Liberty called Icon a 'revolutionary product that pushes the boundaries of human ingenuity,' which culminated from more than 50 years of innovating.

Royal Caribbean founder, the late Ed Stephan, was saluted, and his wife Helen and daughter Samantha were in the audience. Members of the Wilhelmsen, Pritzker and Ofer families were there and thanked, too.

'Fain's fingerprints all over the ship'

As for Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain, 'You can see his fingerprints all over this ship, from bow to stern,' Liberty said, recounting how it was Fain who famously sketched his vision for the AquaDome on a napkin.

The Meyer family, seventh generation shipbuilders, were thanked for 'answering the call to be industry pioneers with us.' Bernard Meyer and Tim Meyer were seated near Fain.

Thanks all around

Both Bayley and Liberty singled out many team members whose hard work went into Icon of the Seas, including Harri Kulovaara, Kelly Gonzalez, Laura Hodges Bethge, Jay Schneider, Naftali Holtz, Greg Purdy, Raimund Gschaider, Vicki Freed, Sean Treacy, Dana Ritzcovan and Kara Wallace, among others, with 'the biggest thank you in the world to the Icon crew.'


Lionel Messi, the most decorated fútbol player in history, on stage in Icon of the Seas' AquaDome

It's a smash

Then Icon's 'icon,' sports superstar Messi, was handed a fütbol by Capt. Henrik Loy, who'd received it from an aerialist.

Speaking Spanish, Messi blessed the ship and used the ball to push a button releasing a big bottle of Champagne to smash on the bow.


From left, Michael Bayley, Jason Liberty, Lionel Messi and Icon of the Seas Capt. Henrik Loy applaud as the Champagne smashes