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Royal Caribbean's Best Moments of 2023

27 Dec 2023
Angie Vognild

From major announcements like the new Hideaway Beach at Perfect Day at CocoCay and the second Icon Class ship, Star of the Seas, to the delivery and completion of the world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, 2023 was a big year for Royal Caribbean.

Best of 2023 Royal Caribbean Moments

As we close out the year, it’s fun to look back and remember all the monumental things that happened in the Royal Caribbean cruising world.

Let’s recap the other big moments from 2023.

1. Symphony of the Seas record

Symphony of the Seas

One of Royal Caribbean’s largest ships, Symphony of the Seas, set a record in March 2023.

During a twelve-night transatlantic cruise from Miami, Florida to Barcelona, Spain, the largest number of paying cruisers and crew to sail across the Atlantic Ocean on a single ship was recorded. A total of 7,604 passengers were onboard the Symphony of the Seas sailing, including 5,350 guests and 2,224 crew members.

This particular sailing was not at full capacity, however. Symphony of the Seas can hold 6,680 guests.

It’s important to note that this is not an all-time record. Queen Mary carried 16,683 people across the Atlantic in July 1943 during World War II.

2. Icon of the Seas sea trials


In June and the end of October/early November 2023, Icon of the Seas completed her first and second rounds of sea trials at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland.

Before delivering a new cruise ship, there must be a series of sea trials where the ship sails hundreds of miles before making the transatlantic trip to America. Essentially, sea trials are tests of the ship’s navigational and technical systems. Icon of the Seas passed all tests with flying colors!

This is the final stage of a cruise ship’s construction before delivery to the cruise line.

3. President's Cruise on Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean regularly offers a President’s Cruise, hosted by Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, for loyal fans of the cruise line to sail together. On these particular cruises, there are exclusive events and special guests as well.

2023’s President's Cruise took place in July on Allure of the Seas, sailing in and out of Galveston. This was the first President's Cruise that left from Texas. 


Grammy-winner Chaka Khan performed during the seven-night sailing!

In June 2024, the President’s Cruise will be on Oasis of the Seas, sailing to the Mediterranean for seven nights.

Read more: Royal Caribbean: Building a new smaller cruise ship is "deeply in our consideration"

4. Hideaway Beach announcement

Hideout cabanas

Royal Caribbean released details of the new adults-only area at Perfect Day at CocoCay, called Hideaway Beach, on September 14, 2023.

Hideaway Beach will be located behind Thrill Waterpark. Only those 18 and older will be allowed to enter. The cost of admission will vary, similar to Coco Beach Club.

While Coco Beach Club is more serene and relaxing, Hideaway Beach will offer a “Vegas-style pool party vibe.” There will be poolside cabanas for rent, an infinity pool, and beach access, as well as numerous bars and restaurants.

Hideaway Beach Club render

Hideaway Beach will open in conjunction with Icon of the Seas’ inaugural sailing at the end of January 2024. 

5. Utopia of the Seas float out

Utopia of the Seas floated out

Icon of the Seas has a lot of hype surrounding her, but don’t forget about the new Oasis Class ship, Utopia of the Seas!

In September 2023, Utopia of the Seas touched water for the first time at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France.

Utopia of the Seas floated out

This is an important step in the cruise ship construction process. This is one of the first steps in the building journey; after the new ship is assembled in a dry dock, it is transferred to a “wet dock” to complete more work.

Utopia of the Seas will be launched in July 2024 and offer three and four-night Caribbean sailings out of Port Canaveral.

Read more: Utopia of the Seas: Itinerary, features, and more

6. Star of the Seas announcement

Star of the Seas concept art

On October 5, 2023, Royal Caribbean announced the name of the next Icon Class cruise ship: Star of the Seas.

Star of the Seas will homeport in Port Canaveral and look very similar to Icon of the Seas. She will offer seven-night sailings to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

Icon of the Seas is the first Icon Class ship, and when Star of the Seas launches in August 2025, she will be the second. There are also orders for a third unnamed Icon Class ship to be delivered in 2026.

Read more: Star of the Seas: Itinerary, features and more

7. Icon of the Seas completed and delivered

Icon of the Seas delivery

November 27, 2023, was a big day for Icon of the Seas! On this day, she was officially delivered, meaning ownership was transferred to Royal Caribbean.

There was a large ceremony onboard where executives from Royal Caribbean celebrated the milestone. Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, and Meyer Turku CEO Tim Meyer were all in attendance.

Delivery photo for Icon of the Seas

After 900 days of construction, Icon of the Seas was ready to make her transatlantic voyage to her home in Miami.

8. Icon of the Seas passes under the Great Belt Bridge


After Icon of the Seas was delivered, she had to go to Cadiz, Spain to receive some final touches.

Before arriving in Cadiz, Icon of the Seas passed under Denmark’s Great Belt Bridge, one of the largest bridges in the world, with just a few feet to spare. Icon’s funnels had to be retracted so she could fit under the bridge. For context, Icon of the Seas is 20 decks high.


This technology is not new, as other Oasis and Quantum Class ships have retractable funnels too.

Currently, Icon of the Seas is still en route to Miami. 

9. Start of the Ultimate World Cruise

Serenade of the Seas in Venice

Back in 2021, it was announced that Royal Caribbean would offer its first world cruise in 2023, visiting 150 destinations in 65 countries.

On December 10, 2023, it finally happened! Serenade of the Seas arrived in Miami to kick-start the 274-night Ultimate World Cruise that will take travelers to all seven continents. The cruise ends on September 10, 2024.

World cruise map

Bookings opened in early 2022. Passengers could book either the entire voyage or one of four 2-3 month segments. Because the Ultimate World Cruise did not sell out, Royal Caribbean released 17 segments in April 2023, ranging from nine to 29 nights.

Read more: Why the internet is obsessed with 9-month world cruise on Royal Caribbean cruise ship

10. Lionel Messi named an "Icon"

Lionel Messi is the godmother of icon

On December 13, 2023, Lionel Messi, a well-known soccer player, was named “The Icon of Icon.”

Similar to what a cruise ship Godmother would do, Messi will participate in the naming ceremony for Icon of the Seas on January 23, 2024. As “The Icon of Icon,” Messi will give Icon of the Seas a blessing for the safety of the crew members and passengers who will sail onboard.

This partnership comes as no surprise since Royal Caribbean announced a partnership with Inter Miami CF, which is the club Messi plays for, back in August 2023.

What was your favorite Royal Caribbean moment of 2023?

Ships docked at CocoCay

We want to hear from you!

In collaboration with Loyal to Royal, let us know your favorite moment by voting using this Google Form. Voting closes the night of December 30, 2023, so be sure to cast your vote before then.

Stay tuned for results on our Instagram page!

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