A lot of people want to sail on Royal Caribbean's new cruise ship. So much so, it broke the cruise line's high water mark.
Royal Caribbean just set a record for how many cruises people booked in a single day when it put Icon of the Seas on sale.
The cruise line reported the single largest booking day in its entire history when reservations opened for the the first Icon Class ship.
As of the publishing of this article on Thursday, all of Icon's inside, balcony, and suite cabins were all listed as sold out for the inaugural sailing. The only category left was ocean view cabins, and I could only find one cabin to choose from.
The inaugural Icon of the Seas sailing is a seven-night cruise from Miami to the Eastern Caribbean on January 27, 2024.
Royal Caribbean has been riding a wave of excitement for its new ship ever since they revealed what Icon of the Seas will look like and what sort of features guests can enjoy onboard.
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley was astonished by the high demand, "The enthusiasm and excitement for Icon are undeniable in more ways than one."
"The incredible response we have received from our loyal guests, vacationers new to cruising, crew members and travel partners continues to come in, and this is just the beginning. We can’t wait to share more of what Icon has in store in the coming months."
Royal Caribbean wants to lure families away from land vacations
Icon of the Seas is more than just the new biggest cruise ship in the world: it's a shot across the bow to all the typical family vacation destinations on land.
Icon of the Seas will be the first in a new class of cruise ship that has placed a greater emphasis on family travelers.
The ship will break records along the way with its 250,600 gross ton size, making it larger than the current holder of that record, Wonder of the Seas.
Part of why Icon will be bigger is to allow more families to enjoy the ship. You'll find more cabins that have extra capacity to accommodate third or fourth passengers in the room so that parents with children can sail together.
Moreover, the ship has an entire neighborhood dedicated to young families with the Surfside neighborhood, which is an outdoor pool and splash area.
Royal Caribbean wants Surfside to be a destination for families that they can spend most of their day at, with splash areas for babies and kids, pools and lounge spaces for parents, family-friendly eateries and shops, and a bar with "mommy and me" matching mocktails for kids and cocktails for grownups.
While speaking to reporters last week, Mr. Bayley said the ship is all about moving deeper into the family market, "We’re really focused on family and as you move into Icon, our focus on family is probably at the highest level it’s ever been."
"We know that every single week, throughout the whole year, we have a significant percentage of young families that sail with Royal Caribbean. It skews on the big Caribbean cruises and it skews on products that are connected to a drive-in home market, but that market is quite powerful."
"Young families is a big market and we think it’s an under-served market."
To that point, Icon of the Seas is a move to attract people who like to take the kind of family vacation where everyone of all ages can have a good time while being together.
Mr. Bayley talked about this importance when designing the ship, "The beauty of Icon is that its size, scale and the totality of the combination of the neighborhoods and the experiences that we offer fit all of our demographics within what we call the multi-generational family space."
Big spaces and new features
While the Surfside family neighborhood has garnered a lot of attention, Royal Caribbean did not spare on innovation.
There are eight neighborhoods across the ship, which Royal Caribbean thinks will offer something for guests of all ages.
Chill Island has a variety of pools to consider, including the first swim-up pool and bar at sea.
Nearby Thrill Island features the largest water park ever built on a cruise ship, with a record six waterslides.
Adults can find solace in the new Cloud 17 area reserved just for guests 16 and older.
And then there's The Hideaway, which has a suspended infinity pool that aims to offer a resort pool vibe.
Launching in January 2024
Whether you were part of the record setting day or are considering booking now, you're still going to need to wait a while before Icon of the Seas enters service.
Icon of the Seas is currently under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland.
She is expected to be delivered to Royal Caribbean sometime in late 2023, and then engage in a series of trials before prepping the ship to welcome customers onboard.
Royal Caribbean will base the new ship in Miami until at least mid-2025.