Icon of the Seas (World’s Biggest Cruise Ship) Makes Inaugural Cruise This Weekend

The biggest story in cruising is finally reaching its most important milestone. This weekend, Icon of the Seas — the new ship from Royal Caribbean and the largest cruise ship on the planet — sets sail on its first official cruise.

Icon of the Seas in Miami
Royal Caribbean’s newest ship — Icon of the Seas — makes its debut with paying passengers, marking a new era in cruising. Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

The inaugural sailing departs Saturday on a 7-day cruise to St. Kitts, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and CocoCay before returning to Miami.

Icon of the Seas has generated lots of buzz for more than a year as the ship took shape while being built in Turku, Finland. At more than 250,000 gross tons and carrying 7,600 passengers at full occupancy, the size is definitely the first thing that jumps out about the new ship.

However, it’s the features onboard that are found nowhere else that have most people talking.

Icon of the Seas debuts the new Category 6 waterpark, which first set social media abuzz when renderings were released. All told there are six different waterslides, ranging from drop slides to family raft slides for passengers to enjoy.

There are seven swimming pools aboard the ship. This includes the cruise line’s first pool with a swim-up bar (Swim & Tonic) and the largest pool on a cruise ship anywhere (Royal Bay) at 40,000 gallons.

There is also a suspended pool across the back of the ship that provides a spot high up with sweeping views of the horizon.

At the front of the ship, Icon features the all-new AquaDome that features and indoor theater, lounge space with wide views, and a massive indoor waterfall.

Indoors things have changed too, with a number of new restaurants, stateroom categories (including the first infinite balcony cabins on a Royal Caribbean ship) and larger rooms in most cases.

Icon: A Historic (and Pricey) First Sailing

While this is the first official sailing for Icon, it is not the first cruise for the ship with passengers.

The ship has actually been in the Miami area for more than two weeks, where it arrived after departing Finland followed by stops in Puerto Rico and a visit to CocoCay. Since then, it has offered short media and industry cruises on trips around the area, as well as a naming ceremony with the “Icon of Icon,” soccer star Lionel Messi.

Saturday’s trip, however, marks the first official passenger cruise of the new ship.

And while you may have some mixed feelings if you’re not aboard for that first cruise, know that those passengers aboard the trip — and any subsequent sailings — are paying a significant premium to sail.

Cruzely analysis back in April found that trips aboard Icon of the Seas had an average per person price for an interior cabin of $1,884 per person in 2024. That was 82% more than the average of $1,034 per person for an interior cabin aboard Wonder of the Seas, the cruise lines (now) second-newest ship.

In fact, we estimate that due to the significant premium on sailing aboard Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean could be earning upward of $3.4 million per day from the new vessel. That includes both cruise fare and potential onboard spending.

A Buzzworthy Ship… And Another on the Way!

In our years of covering the cruise industry, we’ve never seen a cruise ship like Icon of the Seas nor have we ever seen a new ship create as much buzz.

There’s no doubt that the first sailing of Icon is historic and the ship sets a new bar in what’s possible on a cruise ship.

Icon of the Seas will sail 7-day cruises from Miami for the foreseeable future. Current prices start at $1,775 per person. The ship will be joined by a second Icon-class vessel — Star of the Seas — in 2025. That ship will sail from Port Canaveral on 7-day routes to the Caribbean.

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