Icon of the Seas: What to Know About Royal Caribbean’s New Ship (Read Before Booking)

By now, it’s likely you’ve heard the buzz about Royal Caribbean’s newest ship — Icon of the Seas. Or maybe you’ve just watched NFL football and seen plenty of commercials that highlight the upcoming ship and want to know what is the big deal.

Aft view of Icon of the Seas
Icon of the Seas is getting a lot of press due to its size and groundbreaking features. Here’s what to know about the new ship before you book. Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Well, there’s plenty to know. While new cruise ships are actually pretty common (most cruise lines see a new vessel about once a year), Icon of the Seas is something that’s on a completely other level. It’s bigger, with more things to do, see, and experience, and a ton of new features that you’ll want to know before you book.

Here’s what we think is important that sets Icon of the Seas apart from other cruise ships.

Icon of the Seas Will Be the Largest Cruise Ship on Earth

Over the years, cruise ships have soared in size. In the 1990s, a cruise ship at 75,000 gross tons (a measure of ship size) would be considered large. Currently the largest ships come in at around 235,000 gross tons. These are the Oasis class of ships — also built by Royal Caribbean. Right now, Wonder of the Seas, built in 2022, holds the crown of the world’s largest cruise ship.

That’s going to change with Icon of the Seas. The new ship will measure nearly 251,000 gross tons. It will be nearly 1,200 feet long and have the ability to carry more than 7,500 passengers in its 2,800+ staterooms at completely full occupancy.

One thing to note is that the title of largest cruise ship in the world may be short lived as there is a sister ship already planned for Icon. Generally, the new ships even in the same class come in slightly larger than previous versions.

The Ship Will Be Like Nothing Else at Sea for Activities

Throughout the ship are things to do, but the top deck comes complete with a six-slide waterpark, Flowrider, mini-golf, climbing wall, seven pools, basketball court, and more. Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

One look at the renderings of Icon of the Seas, and it’s pretty clear that it’s very different from your average cruise ship. Royal Caribbean is taking what’s possible at sea and pushing the boundaries further.

For one, there are eight different neighborhoods around the ship, with many of them being new features like Surfside — a family-focused area — and the all-new Aquadome. The Aquadome features an indoor waterfall with high-dive shows and a lounge at the front of the ship with amazing views.

The ship will also have seven different swimming pools, including one with a swim-up bar and another that’s the largest pool at sea. But perhaps the most-eye catching feature is the new Thrill Island waterpark that sits on the back deck. It features six different waterslides that will set all sorts of “at sea” records when they debut. This is all in addition to the usual entertainment on Royal Caribbean, like the Flowrider, mini-golf, sport court, climbing wall, and more.

In fact, with the ship still roughly a year until it starts sailing, not even all the details of what’s onboard have been announced. You can read what we already know here.

It Will Be Pricey to Sail

The least expensive cruise we could find for Icon of the Seas came in at more than $1,000 per person for a one-week cruise in an interior cabin before taxes and fees.

Cruising is known for being a good value. For one price you get your room, entertainment, food, and transportation all included for much less than it would cost to stay at a land-based resort. However, current pricing for Icon of the Seas may surprise you.

A search of Royal Caribbean’s website shows the least expensive trip aboard Icon of the Seas starts at $1,007 per person for a basic interior cabin. Add in double occupancy, plus taxes and fees, and you’re looking at about $2,300 in total. On top of that, you’ll have onboard spending plus gratuity.

For comparison, the least expensive 7-day cruise from the United States across all ships in the fleet is a cruise from Galveston aboard Harmony of the Seas for $433 per person, or a total of about $1,150 — around half as much.

Icon of the Seas Debuts in Early 2024 

The ship is currently under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, but is set to join the Royal Caribbean fleet in late 2023. It won’t begin sailing with passengers until January 2024, but already cruises are filling up fast.

The first available cruise according to the Royal Caribbean website isn’t until the last departure of the month — January 27 — and even that trip is sold out except for suites starting near $8,000.

In other words, if you want to be among the first to sail, then you need to book quickly or hope that more cabins open up.

Icon Will Homeport in Miami

It only makes sense for the literal flagship of the fleet to sail from the cruise capital of the world. That’s why the new ship will sail from Miami, departing Royal Caribbean’s Terminal A. Currently the schedule posted on the Royal Caribbean site shows Icon sailing from the port at least through April 2025, meaning if you want to sail, then you’re going to have to make your way to Florida to do it.

During that span, several other ships are also set to sail from the port at one point or another, including Explorer, Freedom, Grandeur, Independence, and Oasis of the Seas.

There’s a Big Family Focus in the Design

The new Surfside neighborhood is a kid paradise, with pool, splash pad, arcade, kid-friendly restaurants, and more. Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean has always placed a big emphasis on things to do for families. As you would expect with everything else on this ship, Icon of the Seas is offering up something even bigger.

Specifically, the cruise line has created a new neighborhood — Surfside — that promises to be a a family favorite. For one, there is a dedicated pool that overlooks the ocean at the back of the ship, complete with a Splashaway Bay aqua park for kids. Then there are all sorts of kid-friendly features, including the arcade, The Lemon Post (a bar with menus for kids and adults), Pier 7 restaurant designed for families with kids, and even a dedicated buffet in the neighborhood (Surfside Eatery).

This is on top of all the things for older kids to do like the waterpark, Flowrider, and climbing walls. But if you’re sailing with smaller kids and want to have fun as a family, then this new neighborhood is ideal.

There’s a Blistering Number of Room Options

It used to be you had four options for a room — interior, oceanview, balcony, and suite. You still have those options, but within each there are subcategories that you’ll have to consider.

Interior cabins have the classic interior room, but also “Interior Plus” cabins and “Spacious Interior” rooms that are about 15% larger.

Balcony cabins include those that look over the ocean, but also ones that look over Central Park and Surfside neighborhoods. Icon of the Seas also sees the first “Infinite” balconies on the cruise line where instead of a separate outdoor space, the ocean-facing wall is essentially a large window that slides down, creating a half wall that turns the entire cabin into a balcony.

Then there are the suites. They range all the way from cabins that have some extra space to an entire “townhouse” that measures almost 1,800 square feet before you add in the balcony.

Rooms Cost up to $36,000 Per Person (Ultimate Family Townhouse)

We mentioned that Icon of the Seas is setting some high marks for starting prices, but it also sets eye-watering marks for other cabins as well.

Specifically, the Ultimate Family Townhouse is a one-of-a-kind cabin on the ship. It measures 1,772 square feet, has a two-level balcony, sleeps up to eight guests, comes with its own “Royal Genie” to tend to your needs, features multiple bathrooms, and is decked out in a kid-friendly design.

It also comes with access to the suite deck, complimentary specialty restaurants, drink package, gratuities, and wi-fi.

But the cost is high. We found pricing (for the few trips where the suite was still available) at $36,362… per person. We will say that when pricing out with more people, the cost didn’t seem to rise, but stayed around $75,000 in total for the cabin for a week-long cruise.

For more on Icon of the Seas, be sure to see the following articles:

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