Photos: See the New World’s Largest Cruise Ship (Icon of the Seas) Sail for the First Time

The excitement around the world’s new largest cruise ship continues to grow. Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas is still under construction in Finland, however, it just reached an important milestone.

The cruise line released photos of Icon sailing for the first time as the ship departed the Meyer Turku shipyard to begin multiple days of sea trials. The ship won’t sail with paying passengers until early 2024, but this marks its initial time to ever cruise to the open water.

Icon of the Seas trials
For the first time, Icon of the Seas headed to open water, providing a look at how the ship appears in real life instead of renderings. At the front of the ship, you can see the massive AquaDome sitting atop the bridge. Photos courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

During the trials, Royal Caribbean says there are “more than 450 specialists carrying out crucial, preliminary tests with Icon’s main engines, hull, lifeboats, thrusters.” This is ahead of a more strenuous test later in the year when the ship “will be pushed to its limits.”

In the images, you can see some of the onboard features that have the entire industry talking about the groundbreaking new ship. Most noticeable is the new AquaDome, sitting at the front of the ship. This structure houses a forward lounge area and also serves as the home to the cruise line’s famous aquatic shows.

The side view of Icon shows the vertical hull, the massive name painted along the side and a look at the infinite balconies across the middle of the decks.

Also noticeable is the ship’s vertical hull, enormous name along the side, and the introduction of “infinite balconies” along the mid-section of the ship. The unique balconies feature a large windowed wall that closes to give more space in the cabin or drop down halfway to create a balcony space for the entire room.

Toward the back of the ship you can see some of the slides that are part of the all-new Category 6 waterpark in the Thrill Island area of the ship.

The aft of the ship already sports some waterslides that are part of the new six-slide waterpark on Icon of the Seas.

But there is still plenty aboard the ship that we will have to wait a little longer to see. For instance, the pool deck is still obscured, as are several new neighborhoods like the family-friend Surfside that sits in the split of the ship at the back.

Even so, it gives the first real glimpse at how Icon of the Seas looks in real life after only seeing renderings for months and years. Still, there is plenty of work to do as the ship won’t begin passenger voyages for roughly another six months.

One other thing that does stand out? At more than 250,000 gross tons, Icon of the Seas’ size in these photos is staggering. The ship will carry more than 5,600 passengers at double occupancy, and more than 7,500 when completely full. That’s in addition to nearly 2,500 crew members.

Even so, according to our list of ships ranked by size per passenger, Icon of the Seas will still have a roomy space ratio of 44.7. That ranks it near the top of our list, proving that more people doesn’t always mean more cramped on today’s mega-ships.

If you want to sail aboard Icon of the Seas, bookings have seen record demand according to the cruise line. Just be prepared for some sticker shock. Given the excitement about its arrival and all the new amenities, sailings are considerably more expensive than on other ships in the fleet. We found them to be an average of $850 more per person for the lowest-priced interior cabin aboard Wonder of the Seas, the current newest ship in the fleet.

Still, those higher prices are appearing to do little to dampen demand for what promises to be the most revolutionary new cruise ship in years.

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