The most anticipated cruise ship in over a decade has arrived home.
Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas sailed into Miami in the early hours of Wednesday morning ahead of her inaugural sailing in just two weeks.
The new 1,198-foot cruise ship will begin offering cruises from Miami, Florida on January 27, 2024.
The marvel of engineering took 900 days to build and has a capacity for up to 5,610 guests and 2,350 crew members.
Here's a look at the celebration tied to Icon's arrival.
Icon of the Seas sailed into PortMiami right at 7am to a fanfare celebration.
Royal Caribbean welcomed the ship by shuttling over employees from its Miami headquarters to celebrate the Icon's entrance.
Entrance is the right word, as the new ship came into the turning basin to spin around for onlookers.
Clearly visible are so many of the ship's signature features, from the AquaDome to Surfside neighborhood to the Category 6 water park.
Onlookers waved ribbons and shouted with excitement for the new ship. Icon had her own deck party going, with music blasted from the ship to match the music heard from the party.
Royal Caribbean's event included a DJ, mini-golf course, snacks, and lots of photo opportunities.
So many employees on the beach shared their collective euphoria for the new ship's homecoming.
New cruise ship launches are always a big deal, but Icon represents more to the cruise industry. She's the first of a new class of ship, and she ushers in the post-Covid era of cruising with an industry experiencing unprecedented demand.
Icon of the Seas has not only more to do onboard than other ships, but its Royal Caribbean's play at positioning itself as the preeminent family vacation choice.
Being on the shore of the waterway, you could sense there was a level of excitement for this ship that was different than when Wonder of the Seas or Odyssey of the Seas launched just a couple years ago.
As Icon finished her turn, she headed to Terminal A. The new ship will conduct a series of shakedown cruises, which is a sort of "dress rehearsal" for the new ship.
Along the way, there will be opportunity for the media and travel agents to get onboard too. There will be a lot of pomp and circumstance leading up to her maiden voyage at the end of the month.
Highly anticipated launch
The arrival of Icon of the Seas represents a historical moment for Royal Caribbean, and it ushers in a new kind of cruise ship experience.
The 250,800-ton ship will have eight neighborhoods and never-before-seen advancements, such as a swim-up bar, a new adults-only retreat, and an expanded Royal Promenade. The Promenade has more than 15 restaurants, bars and lounges and floor-to-ceiling ocean views.
The Promenade will feature an interactive, multi-sensory experience made with kinetic tiles called The Pearl.
Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean Chief Product Innovation Officer called it “a bit art, a bit sculpture, a bit experience, a bit wow."
There are 28 different types of rooms, including Royal Caribbean’s first cabins that can turn the balcony space into an extended indoor living space. They're called infinite balconies, and it's a concept first implemented on sister-brand Celebrity Cruises.
You won't overlook the three-story Ultimate Family Townhouse, which measures 2,523 sq. ft.
Icon's arrival coincides with months of excitement leading up to this moment.
Royal Caribbean revealed plans for Icon of the Seas in October 2022, and the hype surrounding the ship has never stopped. Icon of the Seas’ bookings so far have performed better than any other cruise ship launch.
"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 International President and CEO Michael Bayley said.
Over 6 million people took a Royal Caribbean cruise in 2023. With the launch of Icon of the Seas and other innovations from the cruise line, these numbers will only grow.