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Royal Caribbean takes delivery of the new world’s largest cruise ship

27 Nov 2023
Matt Hochberg

It's been seven years in the making, but the world’s biggest cruise ship is making its debut.

Icon of the Seas delivery

Measuring a staggering 1,198 feet, Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas was delivered today at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland and is on schedule for her maiden voyage from Miami, Florida to the Caribbean on January 27, 2024.

Delivery of the ship signifies transfer of ownership of a new cruise ship.

The 20-deck cruise ship has a maximum capacity for 7,600 guests and 2,350 crew members.

Icon of the Seas is delivered

Delivery photo for Icon of the Seas


Executives from Royal Caribbean took delivery of the ship at a ceremony at the shipyard.

Construction took over 900 days, and the momentous occasion was met with celebration by both the shipyard and the cruise line.

Delivery photo for Icon of the Seas

In attendance at the celebration were more than 1,200 crew members and workers, Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, and Meyer Turku CEO Tim Meyer.

Mr. Liberty shared his thoughts on the significance of the delivery, "Today, we are celebrating more than a new ship; it’s also the celebration of the culmination of more than 50 years of innovation and dreaming at Royal Caribbean to create the ultimate vacation experience."

"Delivering Icon of the Seas represents all that can be accomplished with strong partnerships and a commitment to delivering memorable vacations responsibly, and we thank Meyer Turku and an incredible village of skilled partners for joining us on this journey. The memories millions of families and vacationers will make on Icon will be our greatest accomplishment yet."

Executives at Icon of the Seas delivery

Mr. Bayley also shared why Icon of the Seas will be a big deal for the cruise line for many years to come, "Welcoming Icon of the Seas to the Royal Caribbean family is a remarkable accomplishment years in the making for thousands of innovators, engineers, architects and designers

"Seven years ago, we had an ambitious idea to create the first vacation truly made for every type of family and adventurer; now, it’s in our hands, and in this final stretch, we’ll bring it all to life for the biggest debut in our history in January 2024."

Icon of the Seas is now on her way to Cadiz, Spain, where it will receive its finishing touches before heading to its year-round home in Miami.

A long journey

Royal Caribbean placed the order for Icon of the Seas in October 2016, but conceptual work for it likely went even further back.

The cruise line has referred to Icon as a "white paper" ship, meaning they started with a blank slate in terms of ideas for this ship.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider described the design process for a new ship as, "never ending."

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from October 2022

"You go through a great design process. We've got in our new build organization excellent architects and designers, with partners in the yard who really are focused on the kind of nautical marine side of some of the innovation that we're trying to do."

The ship was originally scheduled for delivery in early 2022, but that was pushed back due to delays brought about by the global health crisis.

Royal Caribbean wasn't alone in facing disruptions in those years, as the entire cruise industry was shutdown for almost two years. Nonetheless, work on Icon of the Seas continued and while the original delivery date may have been pushed back, the revised date held firm and there were no other issues.

While the global health crisis may have been a hindrance, it didn't stop the process according to Mr. Schneider, "The pandemic didn't stop the work. It slowed it a bit and created certain challenges."

Innovations aplenty

A look down the Surfside neighborhood

Icon of the Seas is two months away from beginning her first cruise, and the ship is primed with lots for families to enjoy.

The ship will begin operating 7-night cruises from Miami, Florida to the Caribbean in late January.

Icon of the Seas comprises eight neighborhoods, one of which is specifically designed for families with young children.  Royal Caribbean is doubling down on the family vacation market, not only trying to attract families that cruise other lines, but land vacationers who never considered a cruise vacation.

Cruise line executives have spoken on how they believe Icon of the Seas will go after the land vacation market that typically goes to a theme park or resort in Orlando, Florida.

Hidewaway aerial

The ship will have new types of cabins, a water park, new neighborhoods, and plenty of activities inbetween. It will also offer a bigger array of dining venues, bars and deck-top attractions than any cruise vessel ever built.

You'll find more than 40 restaurants and bars, industry-leading entertainment across the cruise line’s four signature stages and more.

Ultimate Family Townhouse

There's 28 different kinds of cabins, including the new three-level Ultimate Family Townhouse. The townhouse comes at a hefty price, with families paying $80,000 for a week to stay in it.

A floating city

Icon of the Seas in shipyard

Not only is she big, but Royal Caribbean is loading her up with all sorts of new offerings.

There are 8 neighborhoods (one more than the Oasis Class ships), with three of the neighborhoods being an all new concept.

Thrill Island water park render on Icon of the Seas
  • AquaDome is at the front of the ship, offering 220-degree views and a 55-foot waterfall
  • Suite Neighborhood has a Mediterranean restaurant and two-floor sundeck
  • Central Park is a five deck open-air park that has living plant walls
  • Chill Island has four pools and a swim-up bar
  • Thrill Island is where you'll find the Category 6 waterpark, FlowRider surf simulator, rock climbing wall, mini-golf course and more.
  • Surfside neighborhood designed for young families
  • Royal Promenade shopping and entertainment district
  • The Hideaway at he back of the ship offering 180-degree views and an infinity pool

Icon is also the cruise line’s first ship that can be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), a transitional fuel. The dual-fuel engines will work alongside a lineup of energy efficiency initiatives and industry-leading environmental programs on board, like the first waste-to-energy plant at sea. Twenty-four percent more energy efficient than the standards required for ships being designed today, the cruise line’s most sustainable ship yet will mark the next step in parent company Royal Caribbean Group's journey to introduce a net-zero cruise ship by 2035.

When will Icon of the Seas sail?


Now that Icon of the Seas is part of the Royal Caribbean fleet, preparations are underway to make sure she is ready to welcome the first guests.

The inaugural sailing will take place on January 27, 2024 from Miami, Florida when Icon of the Seas will sail to the Eastern Caribbean and Royal Caribbean’s private islands of Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas.

She'll be based in South Florida though at least April 2026. By then, however, they'll be another Icon Class ship, Star of the Seas, in service, although it's currently unknown where she will sail from. 

The ship isn't quite ready to welcome passengers onboard.  While construction is complete, the ship needs to be supplied, staffed up, and filled with various amenities to finish the ship.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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