Icon of the Seas will finally welcome guests onboard later this month. The brand-new vessel still has to undergo a few more preparations before that can happen, though.
Currently, Icon of the Seas is docked in Ponce, Puerto Rico for some final touches and inspections. This is one of the final steps before the 250,800 gross registered ton vessel launches in late January.
Here's a timeline of Icon of the Sea's long-awaited debut.
Icon of the Seas sailed from Cádiz, Spain to Ponce, Puerto Rico, arriving on January 2, 2024
Icon of the Seas' transatlantic crossing took over one week, with the largest cruise ship in the world departing Spain on December 22, 2023.
This meant that crew members, contractors, shoreside teams, yard workers, and more celebrated the New Year somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic while en route to Puerto Rico.
A video posted to Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michel Bayley's Facebook reveals Icon's first countdown as a completed ship. The Royal Promenade was packed, and the cheering continued as the clock struck midnight and balloons were released.
Icon of the Seas moved to Cádiz for some finishing touches
Despite being delivered in late November, Icon was not fully completed. The delivery ceremony was held at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, where the majority of the ship's construction took place.
"Seven years ago, we had an ambitious idea to create the first vacation truly made for every type of family and adventurer," said Mr. Bayley, "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."
Following the ceremony, Icon of the Seas was relocated to a shipyard in Cádiz, where she received some final outfitting touches before beginning her transatlantic voyage to North America.
She had to sail underneath the Great Belt Bridge, an 11-mile bridge located in Denmark, in order to reach Cádiz. The 20-deck high had to have her funnels retracted to barely squeeze underneath. It required expertise from the entire crew, including meteorologists to ship operators.
Work continues in Ponce
Over the next few days while in Puerto Rico, Icon of the Seas will have to pass some regulatory inspections. Additionally, there will be loading and off-loading of equipment, and yard workers will disembark the ship to return home, with more crew arriving to begin their contracts.
Ponce is located in the southern region of the island, whereas the popular port of San Juan can be found on the northern shore.
When Icon departs Ponce to sail to Miami, it will be over one year until she returns to the island, as San Juan isn't a scheduled port of call on Eastern Caribbean itineraries until May 2025. The May 3, 2025 cruise also visits St. Maarten and Labadee, Haiti, foregoing a stop at the cruise line's private island in The Bahamas.
Following the move to her homeport of Miami, there will be a series of shakedown and media cruises
On January 9, Royal Caribbean will host the ICON arrival party at 7am at the Port of Miami. While more details can be expected in the coming days, it is exciting to think that we're only one week from welcoming Icon to her homeport.
Following this milestone, Icon will host a few shakedown cruises, which can be thought of as a dress rehearsal. While the ship is just about ready, they serve as a time for the crew members to experience what their job will actually be like with guests onboard before welcoming paying customers.
Typically, shakedown cruises are comprised of cruise line employees and their families. It is not uncommon for them to sometimes double as preview sailings for the media and travel agents.
Prior to embarking on her maiden voyage, Icon will have two shakedown and media cruises, both of which will be only three nights: January 20-23 and January 23-26.
Read more: How long does it take to build a cruise ship
Naming ceremony on January 23 in Miami, Florida with Lionel Messi
Back in mid-December, Royal Caribbean announced that, rather than having a traditional godmother or godfather, Lionel Messi would be the "official icon of Icon of the Seas." Messi is a famous soccer player who was born in Argentina and spent the majority of his career playing for FC Barcelona.
On January 23, Messi will take part in Icon's naming celebration. His role will be comprised of bestowing safekeeping onto the new ship, its crew, and the millions of people who will board in hopes of creating ICONic memories in the years to come.
"I’m thrilled and honored to join the Royal Caribbean family to celebrate the arrival of the game-changing Icon of the Seas," said Messi, "Icon is beyond anything else that’s out there for family vacations, with incredible never-before-seen features, all designed for making memories together."
Finally, guests will be welcomed onboard Icon for her maiden voyage to the Eastern Caribbean
On January 27, Icon of the Seas will embark on her inaugural cruise. This 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise will depart from Miami and sail to Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Kitts & Nevis. She will return on February 3, 2024.
Icon of the Seas' maiden voyage will signify the ship's completion, as the ship will be ready for regular service.
While this will mean that her construction and arrival journey will finally come to an end, Icon Class and Royal Caribbean fans alike can stay tuned to everything exciting that Star of the Seas will have to offer when she launches in 2025.
Similarly, Utopia of the Seas, the sixth Oasis Class ship, is scheduled to set sail in July 2024 on 3- and 4-night cruises to The Bahamas.