American cruise line Royal Caribbean International has held a keel-laying ceremony to mark the ‘first major step’ in the construction of Utopia of the Seas – the first LNG-fueled ship of its Oasis class.

The keel-laying ceremony took place on 1 July at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. The event celebrated the official start of Utopia’s physical construction ahead of the ship’s introduction in spring 2024.

“The keel laying for Utopia of the Seas represents the first milestone of an incredible ship and the next step toward a bolder, thrilling future for Royal Caribbean and vacations”, said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “Utopia’s debut in 2024, on the heels of Icon of the Seas setting sail in fall 2023, will build on a new, exciting chapter that is set to redefine family vacations and getaways for all ages in ways we’ll soon reveal.”

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    Construction begins on Royal Caribbean’s 1st LNG-fueled ship

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Utopia of the Seas is the second Royal Caribbean ship that will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). At the same time, it is expected to also advance Royal Caribbean’s commitment to the environment.

The ship’s LNG technology will join a lineup of the cruise line’s environmentally friendly initiatives on its ships. From shore power connection to waste heat recovery systems, the applications have been developed and continually enhanced as part of Royal Caribbean’s dedication to innovation and making strides toward a clean-energy future, the company said.

The ship will be equipped with a new dual-fuel engine delivered by the Finnish technology group Wärtsilä. Specifically, it will feature six Wärtsilä 46TS-DF engines with Gas Valve Units, NOx Reducer SCR systems, LNGPac and Transverse thrusters. 

Royal Caribbean has a global fleet of 63 ships travelling to more than 1,000 destinations around the world. In 2021, the cruise company unveiled a comprehensive decarbonisation strategy titled Destination Net Zero, aimed at achieving zero-carbon emission cruising by 2050.

In line with this commitment, Royal Caribbean Group and Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping formalised their collaboration by signing a partnership agreement on 23 May 2022.

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