Icon of the Seas — the latest ship from Royal Caribbean — is no doubt the biggest story in cruising in years. It’s the new largest cruise ship in the world… offers a full waterpark at sea… seven swimming pools… and it simply looks like nothing else on the ocean.
It’s likely that you’ve seen images of the ship already as it’s gotten lots of conversation on social media and Royal Caribbean has heavily marketed Icon.
But what you might not get from a Facebook post or a 30-second TV commercial are many of the details behind the ship. As Icon of the Seas makes its debut, here are a dozen things you should know about this wild new cruise ship…
Icon of the Seas Is the Biggest Cruise Ship in the World
First and foremost, one of the main reasons you’ve no doubt heard of Icon of the Seas is that it sets the mark as the new biggest cruise ship on the planet.
For years, Royal Caribbean ships have already held this crown with the line’s Oasis-class ships coming in as the largest in the world. Icon of the Seas — the first of the new Icon class — are about 6% larger than the Oasis-class ships.
Icon comes in at 250,800 gross tons. For comparison, Wonder of the Seas, the now second-largest cruise ship in the world, measures 235,600 gross tons. That size means more of everything from things to do, to places to eat, to the fun you can have onboard.
The Ship Can Hold Nearly 10,000 People
As you might imagine, the world’s largest cruise ship can also carry a lot of people. It’s literally a small city at sea. At double occupancy (meaning two passengers to every cabin), it has a capacity of 5,610 passengers. But at maximum capacity (meaning those cabins able to hold more passengers are completely full) that figure rises to a reported 7,600 passengers.
In addition, the ship is staffed with 2,350 crew members. All told, that means up to 9,950 people can be onboard at any moment.
No doubt that’s a lot, but given the size of the ship, there should still be plenty of elbow room. The gross tonnage divided by double occupancy gives a space ratio (a measure of amount of space per passenger) of 44.7. That’s actually the largest ratio in the entire fleet. For comparison, Wonder of the Seas has a ratio of 41.1.
Icon Is Sailing From Miami
It only makes sense that the biggest and newest cruise ship would sail from the cruise capital of the world. That’s exactly what Icon of the Seas is doing.
The ship homeports in Miami, sailing 7-day cruises all around the Caribbean from Mexico to The Bahamas. This schedule goes until at least the end of 2025, the latest that Royal Caribbean has bookable on their website.
Can’t make it to Miami? Another Icon-class ship will sail from Port Canaveral soon (more on this below).
The Cruise Fare Is Considerably Higher Than Other Ships
With any new cruise ship you normally find prices that are at a premium to older ships. This makes sense. With the latest and greatest ships, there’s more for passengers to see and do, leading to more demand.
But what’s surprising is just how much of a premium Icon of the Seas is able to charge. Cruzely analyzed prices back in April and found an average starting fare of $1,884 per person for an interior cabin in 2024 aboard Icon of the Seas.
Wonder of the Seas — the next newest ship in the fleet — had an average interior cabin price of $1,034 per person. That means Icon ran about $850 more per person, or about 82%.
In other words, if you want to sail the biggest, be ready to open up the wallet.
Icon of the Seas Is the Only Ship With the Category 6 Waterpark
One reason that the ship can command higher prices? There’s a lot more to do. The best example of this is the brand-new Category 6 waterpark, found only on Icon of the Seas.
While other ships might have waterslides, no one has an experience like this. All told there are six different waterslides, ranging from drop slides to family raft slides for passengers to enjoy. There’s no charge for the slides, so expect it to be a popular place for kids (and adults!) to play.
The waterpark is actually just one part of Icon’s “Thrill Island” neighborhood that’s complete with everything from the classic Flowrider surf simulator to mini-golf, sport court, and more.
The Ship Offers 7 Pools… Including the Largest Pool at Sea
Hanging poolside is a classic staple of any Caribbean cruise. As you might guess, the largest cruise ship in the world takes that idea and puts it on steroids.
All told there are seven swimming pools aboard Icon. This includes the cruise line’s first pool with a swim-up bar (Swim & Tonic) and the largest pool on a cruise ship (Royal Bay) at 40,000 gallons.
There is also a suspended pool across the back of the ship that provides a spot high up on the ship with sweeping views of the horizon.
So no matter the pool vibe that you’re looking for, you’ll find something that fits the bill.
The Introduction of the AquaDome
If you see a photo of Icon of the Seas, one of the things that jumps out is a large dome structure that sits atop the front of the ship like a hat. This space is one that’s completely new to the Icon class, and it’s called the AquaDome.
On Oasis-class ships, there is an AquaTheater at the back of the ship where performers put on a water show complete with high dives. Now that’s been moved indoors to the AquaDome, complete with diving area and an indoor waterfall. But during the day, this is a lounge area with sweeping ocean views while still being indoors and comfortable.
If there’s one thing some people will miss, the Solarium, which normally occupied this area on Oasis ships, is no longer there.
Larger Balcony Rooms Mean More Space
We mentioned the space ratio of Icon of the Seas being extremely generous despite the large number of passengers the ship can carry. One area that you might notice the extra space the most is in the cabin.
If sailing in a balcony cabin aboard Wonder of the Seas (the last ship before Icon), the standard balcony was 182 square feet with a 50 square foot balcony. Icon of the Seas has a standard balcony of 204 square feet with the same 50 square foot balcony. In other words, the room is about 12% larger.
You should note that the interior cabins seem slightly smaller. Our search saw standard interior cabins of 172 square feet on Wonder of the Seas but only 156 square feet on Icon.
Three Different Places to Watch a Show
One thing that will never happen on Icon of the Seas is passengers being bored. Of course there are all the traditional venues and things to do on a cruise ship. Gamble in the casino, have drink in the bar, go swimming, or lounge poolside. Have a meal, listen to live music, play trivia, or just sit on the balcony with a glass of wine.
But if you want to be actively entertained, Icon has you covered. In all, there are three different venues where the performance crew will put on a show. Icon has a traditional theater as seen on every cruise ship. And as mentioned there is the AquaDome where water-based shows will take place. The ship also has Absolute Zero, an ice-skating rink with ice shows during the cruise.
So no matter the day and whether you want water, ice, or a stage show, there will be something to see.
The Most Famous ‘Godfather’ Ever?
Instead of a “godfather” or “godmother” of the ship, Royal Caribbean has gone a slightly different route. Instead, the cruise line named an “Icon” of Icon of the Seas. In this case, it also happens to be one of the most famous figures on the planet.
World-famous soccer star Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest soccer player in history, has been tapped to be the “Icon” for the ship. Given that the star has recently moved to the United States to play for Inter Miami CF in the MLS — of which Royal Caribbean is a major partner — the naming of Messi as the “Icon” of Icon of the Seas seems like a perfect match.
A Sister Ship Already in Works
You might think that with the introduction of this new ship, Royal Caribbean might take a moment to rest before continuing the growth of its fleet. That’s not the case at all. Already another Oasis-class ship, Utopia of the Seas, is set to debut in 2024.
But Icon of the Seas will have a sister ship in summer 2025 that’s already been announced as well. Star of the Seas is currently under construction. While we don’t know tons of details, we do know that it will homeport in Port Canaveral, putting two Icon-class ships in Florida.
More on Icon of the Seas:
- The $3.4 Million PER DAY Cruise Ship? Estimating How Much Icon of the Seas Earns
- Is Icon of the Seas Worth It? How Much More You’ll Pay to Sail Royal Caribbean’s Amazing New Ship