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8 things Royal Caribbean didn't copy from other cruise ships on Icon of the Seas

22 Feb 2024
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean incorporated many tried-and-true venues, features, and concepts from previous cruise ships, but it also dropped a few that didn't make the final cut for Icon of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas in Miami

Icon of the Seas is a blend of innovation and tradition, which means it brought some features from existing ships to this new ship. 

With Icon being a brand new class of ship, it's interesting to note what Royal Caribbean decided to copy from existing ships and which did not. Some have been things you'd find on ships for years, and others were just newer features.

After sailing on Icon of the Seas, I noticed a number of amenities that had been standard on Royal Caribbean's other newer ships were not on Icon. I find it interesting to see trends in the cruise line, and see what direction they're going. Plus, it's a sign of what we can expect with future ships or even upcoming refurbishments.

Digital key

Opening door with app

Royal Caribbean's app has gotten more features over the years, but you won't be able to open your cabin door with the app.

While the app does allow you to control the air conditioning settings and even operate the television, the option to unlock your stateroom door isn't there on Icon.

Open door with app

Spectrum of the Seas was the first Royal Caribbean ship to offer a digital key and control the stateroom television from the app. Most recently, this is a feature available on Wonder of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas.

Admittedly, I always forgot to ever use the digital key to open my door, but it was a nice option to have as a backup if you ever accidentally locked yourself out of your cabin. 

Bionic Bar

Bionic Bar on Ovation of the Seas

You won't find robot bartenders on Icon of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean had made a name for itself with the Bionic Bar ever since they were added to Quantum of the Seas in 2014.  Since then, every new ship had a Bionic Bar onboard. They were even adding it to older Oasis Class ships when they went in for refurbishment.

The Bionic Bar allowed guests to use a tablet to order drinks. They could customize the drink order to their liking, and then submit it for a pair of robot arms to create.

The robots were able to grab a cup, dispense the precise amount of liquor and mix, and then serve it on a conveyer belt back to the guest.

Alas, the Bionic Bar was left behind for Icon. Not only is there no Bionic Bar on Icon, but it's not coming to Utopia of the Seas either.

Like all technology, it ages and new fads come and go. The Bionic Bar was always intriguing to watch and try once, but its repeat value seemed to diminish quickly.

Digital Wayfinders

Another piece of tech that has seemingly reached the end of its life are digital wayfinders.

On every new and refurbished Royal Caribbean cruise ship over the last decade or more, there are large screens at every elevator lobby where guests can view activities, get directions to a particular venue, and other features. 

These interactive kiosks made it so you could walk up to one while on your way to the elevator and get where you needed to go.


Wayfinders were first installed on Royal Caribbean's Oasis and Allure of the Seas ships, and were upgraded over the years as they made their way to other ships. 

You won't find wayfinders on Icon of the Seas, probably because that functionality is included in the more robust Royal Caribbean app we can all use today.  Moreover, app and smartphone use are far more ubiquitous than in past years.

Self-service convenience machines

Vending machine

When I forgot to pack shaving cream I realized Icon of the Seas did not have the vending machines that Royal Caribbean's newer ships have.

On some ships, there are self-service vending machines where you can buy toiletries, beauty products, accessories and more.  There's no fuss with them and rarely a line.

I never relied on the machines, but it was nice to have in a pinch.

Stream to your TV

TV on Icon of the Seas

Of all the things on this list, I probably missed the ability to stream from my phone to my stateroom television the most.

While the televisions in your cabin do have a number of useful features, you cannot stream via Chromecast to your television.

On an evening where you wanted to take it easy and watch a movie or binge a TV show from your room, it was nice to be able to play it on the television instead of my device.

Virtual balcony

Virtual balcony room

Another Quantum Class era innovation didn't come to Icon of the Seas with the virtual balcony cabin.

A virtual balcony cabin was meant to be an upgrade from a regular inside room (as opposed to a real balcony cabin).  Virtual balconies are 80-inch LED televisions that are in inside staterooms on select Royal Caribbean ships that provide live HD views from outside the cruise ship, right into your stateroom.

Read more: Everything you wanted to know about a virtual balcony

It's a neat idea (and something Royal Caribbean admitted they copied from Disney Cruise Line), but like the digital wayfinders, was an aging technology and guest trends had changed.

Moreover, Royal Caribbean introduced a different kind of balcony on Icon of the Seas: the infinite balcony.

Based on the infinite verandas from sister brand Celebrity Cruises, infinite balconies are a twist on the tradition balcony by having the balcony space become more useful living space when an opening to the outside isn't in use.

New restaurant concepts

Mason Jar restaurant

Any new Royal Caribbean cruise ship will have a different specialty restaurants, but I was surprised certain newer concepts didn't end up on Icon too.

Royal Caribbean works hard to innovate and push boundaries with its dining choices. If there's been one constant over the years, it's the Food & Beverage team has looked for ways to introduce new cuisines, cooking styles, and concepts to its assortment of dining choices.

Icon of the Seas Empire Supper Club

Some of these new restaurants seem to be heralded by the cruise line as a big deal, and it's not uncommon for a new restaurant to be quickly copied over to many other ships. Playmakers Sports Bar is a great example of this, and Empire Supper Club is already slated to be copied to the rest of the new Icon Class ships coming down the pike.

Portside BBQ

While Playmakers and Hooked were added to Icon, Mason Jar and Portside BBQ did not. Both of these were new restaurants that were met with much fanfare, but are not on Icon of the Seas.

Of course, Royal Caribbean managed to add a variety of new restaurants on Icon, such as Pier 7, Empire Supper Club, Surfside Bites, and more.

Read more: Icon of the Seas restaurant and dining guide

Traditional bow design

Icon of the Seas sea trials

Icon of the Seas is the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to implement a parabolic bow instead of a traditional one.

A parabolic bow is a functional design element that creates a curved indentation in the bottom of the vessel’s hull. 

This new bow design helps increase overall stability of the vessel by shifting the center of gravity forward. In addition, parabolic bows allow the ship to be less likely to capsize or heel. This is due to the bow creating an area of low pressure beneath the ship’s hull. 

Star of the Seas and Icon of the Seas

I expect the traditional bow will be a thing of the past for any new ships going forward, given the improvements in efficiencies that a parabolic bow provides.

Did I miss any features that Royal Caribbean left off Icon? Let me know 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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