The Laying of the Keel for RCCL’s Utopia of the Seas
The evolution of a cruise ship coming into existence is full of milestones. As passionate cruisers we celebrate them all. From the moment the ship is even expressed as an idea, many of us follow along as the time passes so slowly (yet so fast) until we finally realize ourselves on the pool deck with a drink in our hand for sail away. Such is no different for Royal Caribbean’s mighty Utopia of the Seas.
On July 1st the first major milestone for this ship was reached as the keel was laid at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France. Royal Caribbean International’s CEO Michael Baily was on hand for the festivities and marked the celebration with a statement. “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. 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.”
Fitting with tradition, the keel laying was commemorated as newly minted coins were placed in the ships steel block. Leaving the coins is an age-old maritime tradition which is meant to bring good fortune to the awe-inspiring ship through the remainder of its construction, as well as its life as a seaworthy vessel.
The event recognized as the keel laying is the first joining of modular components, or the lowering of the first module into place in the building dock. It is now often called “keel authentication”, and is the ceremonial beginning of the ship’s life, although some modules may have been started months before that stage of construction.