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Royal Caribbean shows what went into creating Icon of the Seas' AquaDome

AquaDome is found forward and high atop Icon of the Seas, shown here at Meyer Turku
From Richard Fain's sketch on a napkin to the installation of a 363-ton dome high atop Icon of the Seas, the AquaDome is a marvel of ingenuity and engineering.

A tranquil oasis by day for lounging, dining and fountain shows, by night it transforms into an entertainment hot spot with Royal Caribbean International's high-dive aqua shows, slackliners and aerialists.

One of eight neighborhoods

A new episode of the 'Making an Icon' video series traces the inspiration, planning and challenges that went into AquaDome, one of the eight neighborhoods on the world's future largest cruise ship.

'It came all the way down from our chairman, who sketched the dome on a napkin and handed it to the shipyard and said "Build me this,"' said RCI's Jay Rosser, senior product owner, product development, explaining the AquaDome's origin.


Richard Fain's sketch on a napkin

'Taking something that works down below onboard the ship and in the aft part and moving [it] forward and high up and is not the most natural thing for an architect,' said Harri Kulovaara, EVP maritime, Royal Caribbean Group, in a characteristically Finnish understatement about relocating the iconic AquaTheater into the dome.

Impacts stability

'The higher you lift the weight, the more impact it brings on the ship's stability and the center of gravity within the ship ... [that] was quite a lot of challenge to the engineers,' elaborated Kelly Gonzalez, SVP architectural design/newbuilding, Royal Caribbean Group, noting that additional collaboration and testing was needed.

The largest structure of glass and steel that's ever been lifted onto a cruise ship, according to 'Making an Icon: Creating AquaDome,' the 363-ton structure was assembled at Meyer Turku and then attached to a 154-ton rig to hold it in place for the move. It took eight months to assemble the 12 modules comprising the dome.

What'll happen inside

Aside from the marvel of engineering, assembly and installation is another marvel: what will take place inside.

Oasis-class AquaTheaters are in the open but, for Icon class, the AquaTheater is inside, 'which means we can control the weather, we can control the production values, the lighting, the smoke effects. It's all now at the touch of a button,' explained RCI's Nick Weir, SVP entertainment.

Stage lifts, robot arms and aerial pas de deux

There are 60-foot dive platforms, stage lifts that give more flexibility and six axis robot arms to work wonders, while computers and winches will allow flying artists to perform in any position, with the first-ever double system, according to Weir, enabling an aerial pas de deux.

Here is 'Making an Icon: Creating Aquadome':