Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship and first in the newest Icon class, is still under construction in Finland. Thanks to modern technology, I got to preview what the guest experience on board is going to look and feel like next year. I relinquished my cell phone, donned a pair of special slippers and a set of 3D goggles, and stepped into the CAVE, a place inside Royal Caribbean’s Innovation Lab where ideas on what makes up a dream vacation take shape.
I also took a separate virtual reality tour of one of the Surfside suites, a new class of staterooms that caters to young families. I was pretty impressed by all the tech bells and whistles that allowed me to get a feel for a ship that’s still in the process of being built, but even more impressed by the fun things in store for guests when they set sail on Icon of the Seas.
Icon of the Seas is being built with families in mind, with the affirmation that family means different things to different groups of people. Whether you’re a large, multigenerational travel group trying to check that “something for everyone” box, or a friend group taking a trip together, Icon of the Seas has seemingly endless choices for activities you can enjoy with the people you’ve chosen to go on vacation with.
I’m answering your questions about Royal Caribbean’s newest, biggest, and most fabulous cruise ship.
I was a guest of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for this media preview.
Where Will Icon Of The Seas Be Sailing?
Beginning in January 2024 (booking opens October 25), Icon of the Seas will be sailing to the Eastern and Western Caribbean from Miami. The ship will visit ports such as Cozumel, St. Maarten, and Honduras. Both the Eastern and Western Caribbean routes include a stop at Coco Cay, which is Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas. The Perfect Day at Coco Cay is Royal Caribbean’s premier spot for fun in the sun. The island opened in early 2020 and has been a popular spot for cruisers now that travel is in full swing again.
What Is Icon Of The Seas’ Maiden Voyage?
Booking information will be on Royal Caribbean’s website on Tuesday, October 25. If you’re part of the line’s Crown & Anchor loyalty program, look for special access a day early.
“My inbox has been overflowing since Royal Caribbean revealed the details of Icon of the Seas earlier this week. It’s fair to say I’ve been SLAMMED!” says Jenn Greene, a travel agent with MEI/MouseFan Travel. “I’ve been a travel agent for almost 11 years and I’ve never had so many requests for an inaugural cruise.”
How Big Will Icon Of The Seas Be?
Icon of the Seas is equipped to carry 7,600 passengers at maximum occupancy, making it the world’s largest cruise ship, a designation previously held by Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas. When completed, the new ship will be 20 decks high and measure 1,198 feet long. With the crew on board, Icon of the Seas will carry nearly 10,000 people.
What Will Icon Of The Seas Feature?
Nearly everything under the sun. The focus with Icon is family being together and offering an array of activities that families can do together. The ship is designed based on ways families can enjoy being on vacation and doing things they have fun doing, whether that’s tackling new adventures, relaxing on the deck with a fruity drink, or a little bit of both.
“Now more than ever, families and friends are prioritizing experiences where they can bond and enjoy their own adventures,” said Michael Bayley, president, and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “We set out to create a vacation that makes all that possible in one place for the thrill-seekers, the chill enthusiasts, and everyone in between.”
What is Icon Class on Royal Caribbean?
Icon class is Royal Caribbean’s newest, largest class of cruise ships. Two other Icon class ships are rolling out over the next two to three years, bringing the total number of cruise ships in this class to three.
We’ll have a better idea of how Icon class compares to Oasis class once construction is a little further along, but we do know that Icon class ships are going to be big. Based on the media preview I attended at Royal Caribbean’s innovation lab in Miami, the overarching theme of Icon Class ships is “more.”
If you prioritize greener travel, you may be happy to learn Icon of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean’s most sustainable ship to date. The ship will be powered by liquified natural gas (LNG) and utilize new fuel cell technology. It will also utilize shore power connection and waste heat recovery systems.
The names of the second two Icon class ships have not yet been revealed.
What Will Icon Of The Seas Feature That Wonder Of The Seas Does Not?
There are still some details about the fun awaiting passengers on Icon of the Seas that have yet to be revealed. CEO Michael Bayley teased at a press conference in Miami on October 18 that the best experiences are still under wraps and will be revealed soon.
That said, based on what we know right now, here are some standout features of Icon of the Seas that aren’t present in Wonder of the Seas.
More Space For More People
The Wonder of the Seas is equipped to carry 6,988 passengers at maximum occupancy. Icon of the Seas tops that at 7,600 passengers. However, more passengers doesn’t mean more staterooms. Icon has 62 fewer staterooms than Wonder.
A Full Water Park At Sea
Category 6 is Icon of the Seas’ water park featuring six record-breaking slides, including an open free-fall slide, the tallest drop slide at sea, the first family raft slides at sea, and the cruise industry’s first mat-racing duo slides.
If you’ve been missing the resort vibe on cruise ships, Icon of the Seas has designed a swim-up bar with you in mind. Swim & Tonic is Royal Caribbean’s first swim-up bar.
Surfside: New Stateroom Class And Neighborhood
You might be picking up on the fact that Icon of the Seas has been designed with epic family vacations in mind, which makes it perfect for multigenerational travel groups. The brand-new Surfside neighborhood includes 42 Surfside suites, a new stateroom category catering to young families. Surfside will house children’s play areas, including a signature carousel, family pools, and splash pads for toddlers and babies. The spacious, mid-tier Surfside suites will have direct access to the Surfside neighborhood.
There Are Four More Brand New Neighborhoods
Royal Caribbean terms their themed fun zones as “neighborhoods” and you’ll find five new spaces to play in that don’t yet exist on any other cruise ship. I’ve described Surfside above. Here’s what else you can look forward to.
Thrill Island contains the Category 6 water park described above as well as Crown’s Edge, the ultimate activity for adrenaline junkies. Part skywalk, part ropes course, and part thrill ride, it culminates in a surprising and shocking moment that will see travelers swing 154 feet above the ocean.
If you don’t want the thrills, you can chill. Chill Island is a three-deck slice of paradise featuring the largest pool at sea, an adults-only area, and a bar dedicated to frozen cocktails.
This tucked-away space 135 feet above the ocean combines beach club vibes with uninterrupted ocean views. The first suspended infinity pool at sea is located here. I will also be located here when Icon of the Seas sets sail!
The AquaDome is a transformational space that will feature tranquil waterfalls and ocean views by day and serve as an entertainment space by night. The AquaTheater, which features Royal Caribbean’s marquee aqua shows featuring a transforming pool, four robotic arms, and state-of-the-art projection, will be located here.