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Icon of the Seas vs other Royal Caribbean cruise ships

06 Feb 2024
Elizabeth Wright

While you'll find some similarities and brand favorites onboard, Icon of the Seas is full of industry firsts and unlike any other vessel at sea. Besides the size, are you wondering what sets the world's largest cruise ship apart? 

Icon of the Seas

The 250,800 gross registered ton vessel officially set sail on January 27, 2024 on a 7-night voyage to the Eastern Caribbean. In total, Icon can hold up to 7,600 passengers and is roughly 10 feet longer than Wonder of the Seas, measuring 1,198 feet in length. 

From the first-ever swim-up bar at sea to the record-breaking Category 6 water park, new neighborhoods, one-of-a-kind dining experiences, and more, there's so much to see and do onboard that one week likely won't be enough time to experience everything! 

Whether you're counting down the days until you step foot onboard or are simply curious as to what the major differences are, here's a guide to help break down all of the features on Icon of the Seas that you won't find on any other ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet. 

Split-level promenade 

Royal Promenade on Icon of the Seas

While the Royal Promenade itself isn't a new feature (it has been around since Voyager of the Seas launched in 1999), they completely redesigned it for Icon. For the first time, the Royal Promenade is a multi-level space, with bars, restaurants, etc., on Decks 5 and 6. 

As soon as you step foot onboard, you'll notice one of the most significant additions: floor-to-ceiling windows. Royal Caribbean sought to make the Promenade more connected to the ocean, so they added windows to let light flood in during the day. 

There are over 15 new and redesigned bars, lounges, and restaurants in the Royal Promenade, including 1400 Lobby Bar, Pearl Café, and Dueling Pianos, the cruise line's first-ever double-pianist bar. Each night, two performers will take requests and involve guests in the musical fun. 

The Pearl


We cannot talk about the Royal Promenade without mentioning The Pearl, an interactive, multi-sensory experience that also serves as structural support. 

In other words, to allow for the giant windows, Royal Caribbean had to figure out a way to support the staterooms above it, as well as Central Park, since a giant chunk of steel would be missing. 

The giant masterpiece changes throughout the day, too. The experience that it offers during the morning will differ from what's offered at night or even when the ship is docked at CocoCay!

Pearl Cafe

Adjacent to The Pearl is the Pearl Café, the revamped version of Cafe Promenade that serves complimentary grab-and-go snacks 24 hours a day, as well as some options for an extra fee. 

Read more: 8 things I love about Icon of the Seas (and 3 I didn't)

Destination elevators


Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas has destination elevators onboard to combat crowded cruise ship elevators. 

Rather than simply pressing "up" or "down" in the elevator bank, you'll be required to make a deck selection. Then, you'll be assigned a specific elevator that will take you where you want to go. 

Chief Dog Officer Rover


Perhaps the cutest addition to Icon of the Seas is the ship's Chief Dog Officer, Rover, whose primary job is to bring joy to guests and crew. 

Rover is an adorable six-month-old golden retriever who lives onboard the ship with her handler Alison Hubble, AKA "Rover's Chief of Staff." She loves to play with her ball and even blow bubbles in the clear Bahamian waters while visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay

You never know when you'll spot Rover while onboard, but when you do, do not be afraid to give her some pets! 

Read more: World's largest cruise ship will have a family dog that lives on the ship

AquaDome Neighborhood


Perched atop Decks 14 and 15 is the brand-new AquaDome Neighborhood. In addition to being home to the ship's enclosed AquaTheater, this is also where you'll find other Royal Caribbean firsts, including the Rye & Bean Bar and Overlook Bar & Pods.

This area is outfitted with two stories of floor-to-ceiling windows, making it the place to be when pulling into port or when you want to catch a picture-perfect sunset. 

The pods are ideal for those who want a more relaxed vibe during the day. At night, however, the energy changes as the bars become a hotspot for pre-show drinks. 

Night in Overlook

You'll find three dining experiences within the AquaDome, two of which are brand-new: Celebration Table and AquaDome Market. 

AquaDome Market


In the past, Royal Caribbean has gotten its fair share of criticism regarding the lack of complimentary fast-casual dining options on its ships. They took the feedback to heart and incorporated more options into the design plans of Icon. 

Within the AquaDome, guests will find the AquaDome Market, the cruise line's first-ever food hall. Its location in the front of the ship isn't a coincidence, as it's meant to help disperse crowds from the Windjammer and El Loco Fresh in the aft (back). 


Inside AquaDome Market, you'll find five different stalls, each highlighting a different cuisine or specific food:

  • Mac's (Mac and cheese)
  • Crème de la Crèpe (Crèpes) 
  • Toast & Garden (Sandwiches and salads)
  • GNGR (Asian) 
  • Feta (Mediterranean)

Read more: Icon of the Seas restaurant and dining guide

Empire Supper Club

Icon of the Seas Empire Supper Club empty

AquaDome Market isn't the only new dining venue onboard Icon. For those looking for a more upscale option, head to Central Park, where you'll find the Empire Supper Club. Dining here will set you back $200 per person; however, you're guaranteed a one-of-a-kind culinary experience that consists of eight unique courses, each of which is paired with a cocktail and live music! 

The menu was inspired by the 1930s era of New York City and features upscale American cuisine— think of items like caviar, wagyu steak, and more. Empire Supper Club is both chic and intimate, with a maximum capacity of 38 guests during each dinner service. 

Note that if you purchase the Unlimited Dining Package, you'll have to pay an additional $130 to eat here.


In Central Park, you'll find Lou's Jazz n' Blues and the walk-up champagne bar called Bubbles. Both venues are perfect for a pre- or post-dinner cocktail! 

There's also the first-ever Izumi to-go window, which allows you to enjoy fresh sushi from anywhere on the ship. 

Surfside Neighborhood


Instead of the Boardwalk found onboard Oasis Class ships, Royal Caribbean created a new neighborhood for families: Surfside. With both complimentary and specialty dining venues, an arcade, carousel, aft pool, kids' splash zone, and more, this is where families are encouraged to stay and play all day.

Rather than having to remove children from the fun, parents can grab a snack at the complimentary Surfside Bites. Even better, there's the Surfside Eatery, a buffet in the heart of the action so you don't have to worry about hauling anyone to the Windjammer upstairs.

Surfside is also home to a new specialty restaurant, Pier 7. For just $14.99, adults can select two plates. Options include shrimp toastads, grilled cheese, caramel waffles, and more. Children 12 and under eat free. 


The Lemon Post Bar is also brand-new and features a curated menu of mocktails for children. It's located close to Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay.

Ultimate Family Townhouse

Ultimate Family Townhouse

There are numerous different stateroom categories for guests who want to be close to Surfside, such as the Surfside Family View Interior and Surfside Family View Balcony cabins, as well as the Surfside Family Suite. However, families wanting the ultimate cabin experience onboard should consider booking the Ultimate Family Townhouse

This three-story mega-suite is equipped with everything from an in-suite slide to a movie room, interactive dining table, and "backyard" that leads directly to Surfside. 

As expected, this room isn't cheap. In fact, it is the most expensive cabin on any Royal Caribbean ship, with prices in 2024 averaging around $80,000 for a week. 

Infinite balcony cabins

Infinite veranda area in the Spacious Infinite Central Park Balcony Cabin on Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas is the first ship in the fleet to feature infinite balconies, a concept that first debuted on Celebrity Cruises' Edge Class. 

Infinite balconies differ from standard cruise ship balcony rooms. Whereas the latter has a door that opens up to a personal outdoor veranda, infinite balconies were designed to bring passengers closer to the ocean by essentially turning the entire stateroom into a balcony.

There's no exterior portion of the stateroom. Instead, there's a large floor-to-ceiling window that opens with the push of a button. 

Read more: I stayed in a 200-square-foot room on the world's largest cruise ship, where there's a new kind of balcony. Here's what it's like inside.

Shower stalls

Bathroom in the Spacious Infinite Central Park Balcony Cabin on Icon of the Seas

Capsule showers with sliding doors are common on Royal Caribbean ships. On Icon, however, you'll find a larger shower with an integrated seat that isn't tucked into the corner of the bathroom. 

Moreover, the towel rack isn't located above the toilet. Instead, you'll find it above the seat in the shower, meaning that you're able to dry off before stepping out. 

Another new design aspect you'll find in the cabins is the do not disturb buttons. 

Thrill Island

Thrill Island

It wouldn't be a true Royal Caribbean ship if there weren't a ton of "WOW" factors onboard. 

Adrenaline junkies should look no further than Thrill Island, which is home to the largest water park at sea, as well as the Crown's Edge challenge that's part skywalk, part ropes course, and part zip line. The latter is subject to an additional fee, meaning it isn't included in the cost of your cruise fare

In between all the action, guests can grab a bite to eat at Basecamp or cool down with a specialty milkshake from Desserted, both of which are new to the cruise line. 

Chill Island

Swim and Tonic

The pool deck on Icon was completely reimagined and dubbed "Chill Island." The idea behind the new concept was that guests would have multiple different options on how they wanted to relax by the water. The result? A pool deck that has 62% more water surface area than on Oasis Class ships. 

In addition to the largest pool at sea that's surrounded by hot tubs, there's also the first-ever swim-up bar called "Swim & Tonic." 

Guests can also enjoy The Cove Pool, which has an infinity edge, so families can enjoy time in the water while soaking up incredible ocean views. 

The Hideaway

The Hideaway in the morning

Speaking of infinity pools, passengers 18+ can enjoy the first suspended infinity pool at sea in The Hideaway. 

There isn't a Solarium onboard Icon; however, that doesn't mean that the cruise line took away the adults-only sun deck! In addition to the infinity pool, there's also a private bar and DJ to help curate beach club vibes. 

Read more: I tried the $350 in-pool daybed rental on Icon of the Seas. It was pricey, but you get a prime spot

New cocktails


Icon of the Seas has 13 new bars and lounges that feature over 100 new cocktails, 35 of which are zero-proof. These beverages are exclusive to the ship, so you won't find them on any menus while sailing onboard Symphony of the Seas, for example. 

From the "Oh Mai Gawd" cocktail located at The Hideaway Bar to the Jazzy Sass cocktail from Lou's Jazz 'n Blues, you're likely going to venture away from your tried-and-true favorites while on Icon. 

The cocktail glasses are new, too. They aren't the same shape as you will find on other ships in the fleet. 

Read more: I designed 13 new bar menus for the world's largest cruise ship. There's way more than just pina coladas

Icon of the Seas is the first ship in the fleet to be LNG-powered


Traditionally, cruise ships have been powered by diesel. In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, many new builds have begun to run on alternative sources of energy, including Icon of the Seas. 

This ship is powered by liquified natural gas (LNG). This type of fuel is one of the cleanest-burning marine fuels and helps to reduce a cruise ship’s carbon emissions by roughly 30%. 

One Hit Wonders Party (featuring the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man)


The One Hit Wonders Party is a new street dance party that takes place in the Royal Promenade. 

While guests are encouraged to participate, there's also entertainment staff performing choreographed dances to songs like "We Like To Party!" by the Vengabus, "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley, "Closing Time" by Semisonic, and "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats. 

Two-story Coastal Kitchen


Coastal Kitchen is the suite-only dining room that's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Onboard Icon, it's two stories and overlooks the AquaTheater. On all other ships in the fleet, the venue is just a single story. 

Suite guests also have access to The Grove Suite Sun Deck where they can enjoy a bite to eat at the new fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant.  

If you want to enjoy these amenities, you must book a Sky or Star tier suite within the Royal Suite Class

Crew uniforms

icon crew uniform
icon crew uniform

Above is a picture of the new Officer uniforms that were implemented onboard Icon of the Seas. 

Speaking of crew members, did you know that Royal Caribbean built a crew neighborhood on Icon that spans four decks and features redesigned accommodations to maximize privacy and storage? Plus, the crew Windjammer has actual windows to bring in some natural light! 

Read more: Royal Caribbean is adding the best crew member cabins and areas on its next new cruise ship

Elizabeth graduated from New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute with her M.A. in Journalism in May 2023. Growing up, she had the privilege of traveling frequently with her family and fell in love with cruising after sailing on the Oasis of the Seas her freshman year of high school. She wanted to pursue a career that highlighted her passion for travel and strengths as a writer. 

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