Elcoline provides long-term career prospects in the maritime industry with no shortage of glamour: “It’s amazing to witness the construction of a giant cruise ship from start to finish”

Icon of the Seas, the largest luxury cruise ship in the world, is rapidly nearing completion at the Turku shipyard. Over the past year, Elcoline has been involved in making history in the construction of the luxury cruise ship by electrifying demanding technical rooms and participating in the test cruises around Midsummer, for example. Photo: Elcoline

Over the past year, Elcoline has been involved in making history in the construction of the largest luxury cruise ship in the world by electrifying demanding technical rooms, for example. The cruise ship, which will be delivered in October, has already attracted wide-spread international attention. In May, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat released a story on 80 foreign reporters visiting the ship: HS Turku: “Crazy” – Foreign media is astonished by the giant cruise ship being built in Turku (in Finnish)

Icon of the Seas, the massive cruise ship which will be completed soon at the Turku shipyard, is a whopping 365 meters (1,198 feet) long and 50 meters (164 feet) wide. The ship can hold almost 10,000 people, including crew. The glamorous vessel is brimming with exciting activities, including seven pools, nine outdoor hot tubs, a water park with six water slides, a skating arena and a surfing simulator. Can you even imagine a more spectacular and diverse worksite?

Electrifying a ship in an international environment and with an experienced team

“Initially, this is a bit like installation work at an industrial facility but, towards the end, we are working on a luxury cruise ship. It’s amazing to witness the construction of a giant cruise ship from start to finish. The multicultural environment that we get to operate in is also very appealing,” Elcoline’s Marine Business Unit Director Markku Salonen says, praising the work environment.

He has plenty to smile about because the contract secured by Elcoline’s Marine Business Unit is the largest in the company’s history and will pad out the orderbooks until 2026. The magnificent cruise ship is the first in the Icon class, and it is slated to be handed over to the client Royal Caribbean, which is the second largest cruise line in the world, at the end of October. The ship will set off on its maiden voyage on schedule in January.

Among other things, Elcoline’s contract includes demanding electrification and commissioning work in technical areas on all three Icon cruise ships. The intention is to hand over the second Icon ship in the spring of 2025 and the third one in the spring of 2026.

Elcoline’s Project Manager Max Nylund (left) is in charge of the electrification work on the giant ship’s technical rooms, and the Installation Manager is Esa-Pekka Alhonmäki. Photo: Elcoline

The short lead-time would not be possible without a massive network

“On average, we have a fixed staff of 50 people attached to the Icon project. It provides even younger people aiming to get into the field with the opportunity to grow alongside a proficient team. Building a single cruise ship takes from 12 to 18 months. It takes a while to develop into an experienced ship electrician. We will be recruiting new people in the context of the next Icon project, so they will have time to learn the ropes. We can offer long-term career prospects and an interesting environment,” Salonen says.

The huge international network of the project and resource management arrangements related to ship building increase the appeal and challenge of the work. In the past, all kinds of people worked at the shipyard, starting from joiners. Today, most of the ships are built by specialized expert throughout the world. For example, Elcoline’s Marine Business Unit specializes in electrical automation and electrifies and commissions the technical rooms of ships.

“The network built over decades and its management are the competitive advantages of Finland and the Turku shipyard. As a result, we can build a giant cruise ship of this kind in no more than 18 months. This would not be possible for just any shipyard. Building a cruise ship is largely a networked process, in which the shipyard handles about 20% of the work. Elcoline has also been an active participant in the network cooperation. We are involved in organizing joint project management training, for example,” Salonen describes

Elcoline designates a large team for the test cruises

“We are gradually transitioning to the commissioning phase in our work, so we will get to test that everything works. A twenty-person team from Elcoline will participate in the test cruises to check the commissioning systems with the rest of the testing team. The aim is to complete the first test cruise on the Midsummer week and the second one in early September,” Salonen says.

Elcoline’s work on the second Icon-class ship will begin in the summer of 2024. In between, the company will carry out electrification and commissioning work on the smaller Mein Shift 7 ship for the TUI Cruises cruise line at the Turku shipyard. At about 60% of the size of the Icon-class ship, which is the largest in the world, the Mein Shift 7 is no slouch either. The work schedule for last fall included the Carnival Celebration cruise ship, which was handed over from the Turku shipyard late in the year and engaged an average of 35 Elcoline employees.

“The cruise ship market has recovered well from the coronavirus pandemic and has returned to an upward trend. Shipyards have new ship orders all the way to 2028. In the coming years, Elcoline also intends to increase its presence at the Rauma shipyard. Future ships must be made carbon neutral, which means a big shift in ship technology. I only see our position strengthening going forward with the increase in the use of electrical systems,” Salonen estimates.

Päivi Tervonen

Photos: Elcoline