When Royal Caribbean launches Icon of the Seas in late 2023, it intends to deliver, "the most transformational ship the world has ever seen."
After years of speculation, Royal Caribbean revealed details about what its next-gen cruise ship will offer onboard, including our first look at the ship itself.
Icon of the Seas is the first ship in the new Icon Class, which means the design is a fresh start compared to ships the preceded it.
Let's meet Icon of the Seas!
Where will Icon of the Seas be sailing?
Icon of the Seas will sail from Miami beginning January 27, 2024 and offer alternative Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings, with every single itinerary visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay.
The ship itself will be delivered at the end of October or early November 2023 and since it is the first ship of a new class, extra testing and adjusting will be required before she can enter service. Combined with the holidays at the end of the year, the first revenue sailing won't take place until late January.
When asked about previous plans for Icon to sail initially from Southampton, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said that was the plan, but things have changed.
How big will Icon of the Seas be?
Icon of the Seas is big!
She has 20 decks and has a capacity at double occupancy of 5,610 passengers, and up to 7,600 passengers if every cabin is maxed out.
She's 1197 feet long.
- 20 total decks (18 guest decks)
- 5,610 guests @ double capacity and 7,600 max guests
- 2,350 crew (bringing ULTIMATE total to 9,950 guests)
- 7 pools, 9 whirlpools
- 6 record-breaking waterslides
- 250,800 GT
- 1,198 feet long
That makes her bigger than the Oasis Class ships, in the sense that Wonder of the Seas measures 1,188 feet in length and has 18 decks.
Similar to how the Oasis Class ships introduced the concept of neighborhoods to break up the layout of the cruise ship, Icon of the Seas will have neighborhoods too.
There are eight neighborhoods in total:
Located at the top and front of the ship, the AquaDome is an area that is more than just a theater.
The AquaDome has unbeatable ocean views and is fully enclosed, which means the weather plays less of a factor in impeding shows. In the past, the AquaTheater was in the open. Not anymore. Now they can control the weather, lighting, production values, and smoke effects.
The show has the tallest waterfall at sea (55 feet tall), along with flying artists and divers.
In the daytime, guests can take in wraparound ocean views and enjoy views of the waterfall as they enjoy a bite or drink.
Icon of the Seas will see its own version of Central Park.
Royal Caribbean designed this Central Park to be more lush and livelier.
The open-air neighborhood with thousands of real plants will have dining and live music.
Borrowing the name from Perfect Day at CocoCay, Chill Island is meant to be a next-level pool deck. There are seven pools on board, which also features whirlpools, in-water loungers and breathtaking views.
Among the seven pools on board, the four in this three-deck slice of paradise include the vibrant Swim & Tonic, the line’s first swim-up bar at sea; and Royal Bay Pool, the largest pool at sea.
Royal Bay Pool in the new Chill Island neighborhood on Icon of the Seas is the largest pool at sea.
Swim & Tonic is Royal Caribbean’s first swim-up bar at sea.
You'll also find Chill Island’s serene, infinity-edge Cove Pool on Icon of the Seas that has in-water loungers.
Cloud 17 is an adults-only retreat and home to the dedicated bar, the signature Lime & Coconut.
Once again, Royal Caribbean has revamped the Royal Promenade concept.
As you walk onto the ship, you'll be greeted by The Pearl, which is a new space that Royal Caribbean will reveal more details about later.
In the meantime, we've been told the inside of the Pearl has special panels that can produce all sorts of effects.
One thing Royal Caribbean wanted to change with the Royal Promenade was provide more ocean views. Guests will find more windows than ever before in this neighborhood.
On Icon of the Seas, you'll find the ice area on the Royal Promenade, which will be the largest ice area they've built. It will feature "Absolute Zero, where cutting-edge technology and Olympic-level ice skaters merge to bring showstopping entertainment to life."
Surfside is the ultimate neighborhood for young families, with places to eat, drink, and play all day!
With the new Water’s Edge Pool and Splashaway Bay aquapark, Adventure Ocean, and the teen space Social 020, Surfside will be an all-day family hangout.
Grownups can hang back at Water’s Edge pool as the kiddos play at Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay, complete with slides, fountains, water cannons, a drench bucket and more.
Water's Edge is not adults-only, but meant to be an oasis for adults while kids enjoy the other pool areas.
Surfide is the first-ever neighborhood dedicated to young families, with places to eat, drink, and play all day.
Kids can enjoy Adventure Ocean while teens hit up Social 020.
Surfside will also have Baby Bay, Playscape and a carousel.
If you want to live the suite life, Icon of the Seas will offer the largest Suite Neighborhood to date with three decks of space, including a two-level suite sun deck.
The Grove is a new dining venue for suite guests, and that's in addition to an expanded two-story Coastal Kitchen. This upgraded pool deck is exclusively for Star & Sky Class Suite guests.
You'll also find suites-only private pool, whirlpool and a new casual Mediterranean dining venue.
Speaking of suites, if you want the biggest cabin possible for a family, check out the Ultimate Family Townhouse.
Icon of the Seas will debut the first Ultimate Family Townhouse.
Spanning three levels, the perfect home away from home for families features an in-suite slide, a cinema space, karaoke, a spacious balcony, a private entrance to Surfside neighborhood, and more.
Royal Caribbean wants The Hideaway to have the same feel of a beach club or Las Vegas pool party, while incorporating beautiful ocean views.
This is also where you'll find the first suspended infinity pool at sea, and it’s surrounded by a multilevel terrace, whirlpools, a variety of seating and dedicated bar.
How do you outdo having water slides on a cruise ship? You add a water park!
Royal Caribbean wants Icon of the Seas to offer "hair-raising thrills" for guests of all ages onboard.
In Thrill Island, you can discover Category 6 waterpark – the largest waterpark at sea with 6 record-breaking slides – or Crown’s Edge, the ultimate aerial adventure and a new test of bravery.
Category 6 will be the largest waterpark at sea, with six record-breaking slides featuring the longest, tallest, and fastest slides.
- Frightening Bolt – Tallest waterslide at sea
- Pressure Drop – First free-fall slide at sea
- Storm Chasers – First mat-racing duo at sea
- Storm Surge & Hurricane Hunter – First family raft slides at sea
If you're brave enough to try the Crown's Edge. It’s part skywalk, part ropes course, part thrill ride, and an all-out test of courage. At any moment, the floor could collapse and leave you dangling high over the ocean.
Plus guest favorites like the FlowRider and minigolf return onboard Icon of the Seas.
Icon of the Seas cabins
Icon of the Seas will introduce a number of new cabin types, including a variety of cabins aimed at families.
Surfside Family Suite
Located in the Surfside neighborhood, the Surfside Family Suite can accommodate up to 4 guests.
There’s a cozy kids alcove, which transforms into a living space for all, along with a private balcony and Royal Suite Class perks.
Family Infinite Balcony
Another new type of cabin for families is the Family Infinite Balcony.
With space for up to 6 guests, these are made for larger families.
The spacious room features a separate bunk alcove for kids, a split bathroom design and an infinite balcony – a living space that transforms into an extended open-air escape at the push of a button.
Royal Caribbean has revamped the interior stateroom with the Inside Plus room.
It features a new intuitive layout and a deluxe closet.
Panoramic Ocean View
Panoramic Ocean View suites and rooms on Icon of the Seas have wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows.
There are also non-suite panoramic ocean view balcony rooms, similar to the infinite verandah concept first introduced on Celebrity Edge.
First LNG powered cruise ship
Icon of the Seas will have the distinction of being the first Royal Caribbean International cruise ship to be powered by a combination of liquified natural gas (LNG) and fuel cell technology.
LNG is the cleanest-burning marine fuel and a substantial improvement over traditional marine heavy fuel.
Icon will also rely on shore-power (where available), fuel cells, and a waste heat capture to repurpose excess engine heat.
Machine-learning technologies will optimize the ship's routes for maximum efficiency.
Like other new Royal Caribbean cruise ships, Icon of the Seas will use an air lubrication system that creates microscopic bubbles coating the ship’s hull and reducing friction as the ship sails.
When can you start to book Icon of the Seas?
If you can't wait to book this new ship, mark your calendars for next week.
Icon of the Seas will go on sale to the public on October 25th, and special access on Monday, October 24th for Crown and Anchor members.
It's not quite clear what time, but in past new ship releases, travel agents have had the ability to book cabins before the website. It's a great idea to work with a good travel agent to get everything ready.
Ultimate family vacation
If you noticed a lot for parents and their kids to do onboard, that's no coincidence because Royal Caribbean wants Icon of the Seas to be the ultimate family vacation.
Claudia Diaz-Gonzalez, Associate Vice President of Product Development, thinks putting the family vacation first is a major priority, "One of the things that stands out to me the most about the insights that we've received from our guests is that bonding with family, friends, or whoever you're traveling with always comes to the top."
Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider went one step further when he recently said, "Simply put, Icon will be the best family vacation in the world."
"Icon of the Seas is the culmination of more than 50 years of delivering memorable experiences and our next bold commitment to those who love to vacation," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.
"Now more than ever, families and friends are prioritizing experiences where they can bond and enjoy their own adventures. 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, without compromise. It’s this first-of-its-kind combination that makes Icon the future of family vacations, and that future is here."
Delayed by a year
For those keeping score at home, Icon of the Seas was initially set to launch in late 2022 but was delayed due to the global health crisis of 2020.
In early 2021, Royal Caribbean pushed back the delivery dates of a number of cruise ships by effectively delaying them for a year.
Originally the three Icon Class ships were to be delivered in 2022, 2024 and 2025.
Delivery of Icon of the Seas shifted to 3rd Quarter 2023, with the other two Icon Class ships to be delivered in 2nd Quarter 2025 and 2026.