Soccer Icon Leo Messi with Captain Henrik Loy on the Icon of the Seas. Photo Royal Caribbean International
The world’s largest cruise line Royal Caribbean International, recently welcomed sports icon Lionel “Leo” Messi onboard their newest ship, Icon of the Seas, during the ship’s naming ceremony in Miami.
Hosted by television celebrity and four-time Emmy award-winner Mario Lopez, the invitation-only exciting event was held in the ship’s AquaDome. Its futuristic space was innovatively engineered as an experiential sphere-style theater for Royal Caribbean’s newest production, Aqua Action! This entertainment venue provides live theatrical experiences to guests combining water, high-diving and aerialists in an exhilerating performance.
Opening Salute. Photo Jill Weinlein
Dressed in pink, Messi led the way to the stage followed by Jason Liberty, President and CEO Royal Caribbean Group, Michael Bayley, President and CEO Royal Caribbean International and Captain Henrik Loy, Master, Icon of the Seas.
Sounds of a familiar soccer stadium chant projected love, support and adoration towards Messi and his supportive team.
All rose for the U.S. National Anthem – The Star-Spangled Banner sung by the talented Icon of the Seas cast.
Inner Miami Soccer Team. Photo Jill Weinlein
Standing in the first few rows were Messi’s Inter Miami soccer team. Their pink jerseys made the team’s visual identity stand out among hundreds of guests.
Inter Miami garnered international attention in 2023, when Lionel Messi signed on as a forward and captain for the club on a free transfer.
With legendary English footballer David Beckham as the President and co-owner of the team with Jorge Mas, they decided the club would have a pink theme and play soccer in pink.
Pink is a very popular and recurring color in Miami on architectural buildings, flamingos and now soccer jerseys.
Aqua Dome on the Icon of the Seas. Photo Jill Weinlein
The ship was blessed by Rabbi Jeremy Barras and Pastor Ricky Scott, before a lone bagpiper walked down the stairs to perform. It’s a Royal Caribbean tradition at each naming ceremony.
Red Hot Chili Pipers. Photo Jill Weinlein
To spice things up even more, the Red Hot Chili Pipers performed several songs, including rock legend Journey’s hit song ‘Lights’. The entire arena applauded to this lively, unique and awe-inspiring rendition.
3D Aerialist Grace Eldridge. Royal Caribbean International
Stunning 3D Aerialist Grace Eldridge, one of the stars of ‘Aqua Action!’, soared from the rafters of the iconic dome doing somersaults on her way down to the stage. In her hands was the ceremonial soccer ball to be delivered to those onstage.
Grace Eldridge and Captain Henrik Loy. Royal Caribbean International
Captain Henrik Loy approached Grace as she handed the ball over to begin the official naming ceremony. Messi and Liberty rose and waited at the podium for Captain Henrik to hand the ball to Messi.
Jason Liberty, Leo Messi and Captain Henrik Loy. Royal Caribbean International
Jason Liberty gave him final blessing saying, ‘Leo as of course our icon of Icon of the Seas, will you please do the event’s honor of naming our beloved new ship, blessing her and all that sail on her for many years to come.’
Messi pressed down on the ball as all turned their attention to the enormous screen behind them. Everyone watched the video of a champagne magnum attached to a tether soar in the air straight toward the bow of the ship. It ceremonially crashed, breaking into pieces on the words Icon of the Seas.
This true maritime tradition caused the crowd to cheer while music played and millions of pieces of confetti fell to the stage.
Icon of the Seas. Royal Caribbean International
The Icon of the Seas sails her first seven-night Caribbean cruise on January 27, 2024. Moving forward, the ship will sail seven-night itineraries to Eastern and Western Caribbean. Each cruise will visit Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day in CocoCay.
Other ports the ship will visit during the seven-night cruise include Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Honduras.
The cruise is almost sold out in February, and on March 30 – April 6, fares begin at $3,244 per person.