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5 big changes coming to Royal Caribbean in 2024

27 Dec 2023
Matt Hochberg

As we approach the start of a new year, I can't but help look forward to all the new changes coming to Royal Caribbean.

Preview of Royal Caribbean's 2024

There's always something new happening every year in the cruise industry, but it seems like 2024 is going to be the biggest yet for Royal Caribbean with everything opening and launching.

There's two new cruise ships, a new beach, and changes to the experience onboard.

I picked out five of the most intriguing changes or additions that someone going on a cruise in 2024 will want to be aware of before booking a new cruise.

1. Icon of the Seas launch

Icon of the Seas in Turku

2024 will be the year of Icon of the Seas.

There will be plenty of other new cruise ships this year (including another Royal Caribbean one), but none of them will compare to Icon in scope, features, or buzz.

Icon of the Seas will be the first in the Icon Class, and Royal Caribbean's first new cruise ship in a decade.

AquaTheater on Icon of the Seas

Being the first in a class means it's an all new kind of cruise ship, with plenty to do and Royal Caribbean has gone all out with its design.  There's more to do than any other cruise ship has offered, and more importantly, it's a big play for the family cruise market.

Royal Caribbean cruise ships have always been family friendly, but Icon will do more to offer families onboard. There are more cabins designed with families in mind, and an entire neighborhood for young children and their parents.

Icon of the Seas water park

Plus, there's an entire waterpark onboard, along with the award-winning entertainment that Royal Caribbean is well-know for.

More than the ship itself, expect an unparalleled amount of attention for it. Icon starts off the year with his first revenue sailing on January 27, but the red carpet will be rolled out in the weeks leading up the launch.  Even after her first sailing, Royal Caribbean will likely pour on the pomp and circumstance right into the summer when its other new cruise ship enters service.

2. Utopia of the Seas launch

Utopia of the Seas overhead render

Two new Royal Caribbean cruise ships launching in the same year is not something I can recall happening, but it will happen in 2024!

Utopia of the Seas is likely the last Oasis Class cruise ship, and she will begin cruises in June 2024.

While this will be the sixth Oasis Class ship, Utopia has a few notable changes from her sisters. When it comes to any new ship, Royal Caribbean almost always tends to mix up the entertainment and dining choices to keep it all fresh.

Ultimate Abyss slide

The Ultimate Abyss slide will be the longer than ever so that Utopia can say it has the longest dry slide at sea.  It will be 259 feet tall, which is 43 feet longer than other Royal Caribbean ships.

Immersive dining

Royal Caribbean's first immersive dining restaurant will debut on Utopia, which will rely on mixed reality and have a classic train dining car motif. Located on deck 4, the restaurant will look like a train station where you board a train car for a trip.

Read more: Royal Caribbean shares a glimpse of its first mixed reality restaurant concept

Giovanni's Italian Kitchen moves to a new location that overlooks the Boardwalk neighborhood and even has an outdoor terrace.

Izumi in the park

Izumi will move to Central Park and offer a walk-up window option for sushi on the go.

Pesky Parrot

There will also be a new bar, called the Pesky Parrot bar. This will be located in the Royal Promenade on Deck 5, effectively replacing Bionic Bar. The Pesky Parrot is a new bar with a Caribbean flair. You'll find fruit-based beverages made with rum, tequila and gin.

The other really big change with Utopia of the Seas is it will enter service with short cruises instead of 7-night sailings.

Balcony room

Traditionally, new cruise ships start their life with offering week-long cruises, but Royal Caribbean wants to offer short cruises on her in order to appeal to the new to cruise crowd.  People that have never cruised tend to book short cruises first, so the hope is having a brand new ship doing 3- and 4-night cruises will stand out ahead of any other short cruise offering.

Read more: Royal Caribbean has a plan to dominate short cruises with a new ship and private destinations

The inaugural sailing of Utopia of the Seas will be July 22, 2024 and will be a 4-night cruise to Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

3. New adults-only beach opens

Hideaway Beach Club render

In addition to Icon of the Seas starting service, something else will be new in January.

The next expansion of Perfect Day at CocoCay will open when Hideaway Beach becomes operational.

Hideaway Beach is for guests 18-years-old or older, and it's meant to be a haven for adults that want somewhere just for them. 

Hideaway Beach Club render

Poolside cabanas, a new pizza restaurant, swim-up bar and infinity pool are what Royal Caribbean will add to keep adults in a party mood all day long. 

The Hideaway pool will be the massive freshwater pool where you'll find the DJ located near a swim-up bar. Think Las Vegas pool party.

It will be an extra-cost add-on to consider for adults who want to enjoy a lively atmosphere and no kids.

4. Dining Package change

Chops Grille on Utopia render

It's not quite clear when in 2024 this will happen, but it's about to become much easier to book a dining reservation pre-cruise if you have a Royal Caribbean dining package.

In conjunction with the launch of Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean will finally allow guests that book a specialty dining package the option to pre-book online.

Up until now, guests that had booked a dining package had to wait until they got onboard the ship to make a reservation, and that created a pain point for them and added stress to the first day of the cruise as they would scramble once onboard to make reservations.

Before you get super excited for it, it's not certain when it will happen. Royal Caribbean executives told us it's "likely" in the first half of 2024.

5. New ships and itineraries in 2024

Oasis of the Seas in New York with Statue of Liberty

Every year there are new itineraries and ship homeports, and we found a few notable changes in 2024.

Symphony of the Seas will call the New York City area home for the first time when she begins sailing from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey.

Royal Caribbean made a splash when Oasis of the Seas was the first Oasis Class ship to sail from the Big Apple, and now it will be Symphony's turn.

Read more: Guide to cruises from New York

Speaking of Oasis Class ships, Oasis of the Seas will sail the Mediterranean in summer 2024. This isn't Oasis' first time in Europe, but it is the first time for Oasis since being amplified. 

Oasis of the Seas will offer7-night Western Mediterranean cruises to France and Italy from Barcelona and Rome.

Rounding out 2024 will be more weekend sailings from Australian shores than ever before. Sailing between November 2024 and April 2025, Royal Caribbean's Australia cruise season will feature a choice of eight 2- to 3-night weekend getaways from both Sydney and Brisbane. 

Which Royal Caribbean change are you most excited about for 2024? Tell us in the comments!

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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