Icon of the Seas won't begin sailing until January 2024, but she's already a home run for the cruise line.
Icon of the Seas is better booked than any other ship launch, and Royal Caribbean is "getting exceptional demand with bookings well surpassing previous records," is what Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty said during the company's earnings call with Wall Street analysts earlier today.
"Despite being on sale for only five months, Icon is significantly more booked for her inaugural season at materially higher rates than any other Royal Caribbean ship launch."
The new cruise ship is still almost 8 months away from its first sailing (the first cruise is in January 2024), but it's booking up at a pace never before seen and at even higher prices.
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley talked about this fact, "Icon is literally the best performing new product launch we've ever had in the history of our business, and we're delighted with volume and rate and that really is a full 24 product."
"I know it's a brand new product and it's stunning, but it's really driving a huge amount of demand and great rate."
Royal Caribbean's first quarter results were so good, that the company had to re-adjust its full year expectations because business is booming right now.
Truist analysts Patrick Scholes and Gregory Miller said, "This was the best quarterly cruise result vs. expectations we have seen in many years."
New class of ship leading big demand
The results are clear: a lot of people are excited to sail on Icon of the Seas.
At 250,600 tons, she will take the title of the biggest cruise ship ever built and that size is good news for Royal Caribbean's bottom line.
Once finished, she will have two more passenger decks than the current biggest ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas.
Icon will also be about 10 feet longer than Wonder, coming in at 1,198 feet long.
"Our normalized load factor will we will begin to rise," Mr. Liberty explained. "And that's really leading with with icon coming on, which will have a higher load factor profile."
What Mr. Liberty means is Icon can handle more passengers too.
The maximum capacity for Icon will be 7,600, about 7% higher than Wonder of the Seas' maximum capacity of 7,084 passengers.
Icon of the Seas was announced as a new kind of cruise ship back in 2016. She is under construction in Finland, and will be the first new class of Royal Caribbean cruise ship in almost a decade.
Not only is she big, but Royal Caribbean is loading her up with all sorts of new offerings that has clearly resonated with consumers.
The ship will have new types of cabins, a water park, new neighborhoods, and plenty of activities inbetween.
One big focus of the ship is the family cruise market, which the cruise line is actively targeting.
Icon of the Seas will have a dedicated neighborhood for families, known as Surfside. Surfside is aimed at competing with the Orlando family vacation market.
In 2022, Mr. Bayley talked about how Icon will offer something more intriguing to families that might otherwise consider a Florida land vacation, "The Icon product, along with Perfect Day, with the kind of experiences that we're offering, with the kind of new accommodations that we have on Icon and the experiences that we have for young families, older families and of course couples and singles and what have you, is really squarely standing shoulder to shoulder with Orlando and those kind of destinations."
"We're really focusing on this target market, which is family and of course has many new neighborhoods, including a neighborhood called Surfside, which is absolutely focused on young families and those young families with children six and under travel all year round, because obviously parents can pull their kids out of pre-K."
Mr. Liberty echoed that goal in his comments today, "With Icon, we set out to create the ultimate vacation for thrill seekers, the chill enthusiasts, and everyone in between without compromise."
The first sailing of Icon of the Seas, a seven-night voyage out of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean, is scheduled for January 27, 2024.
The ship will sail year-round out of Miami in 2024, alternating between Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean itineraries, with four different routings available for departures between January 2024 and April 2025.