Royal Caribbean is testing a way to track your kids on the world's largest cruise ship

In:
13 Jul 2024

Parents might have an easier way to keep tabs on their kids while on a cruise ship.

Kidfinder tracker for children

A passenger on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas shared on social media a new test underway that allows parents to track the location of their kids.

Shannon Sinclair posted photos of a new "Kidfinder" that is available in a limited test at the Adventure Ocean kids club.

Kidfinder device
Photo by Shannon Sinclair

The device is a waterproof bracelet that allows parents to track the bracelet's location via the Royal Caribbean app.

Read more: Royal Caribbean app guide and walkthrough

"We just got on the Icon of the Seas today and they are piloting Kidfinder," she wrote on Facebook.

According to Ms. Sinclair, the Kidfinder is for kids under 12 years old and under and parents can sign up for the option at Adventure Ocean.

Kidfinder in Royal Caribbean app
Photo by Shannon Sinclair

When you sign up for the Kidfinder, parents can choose which cruise ship passengers can track the kids.  This means potentially parents, older siblings, or friends and family can opt into it as well.

You put the bracelet on the kids, and it works anywhere around the ship.

Ms. Sinclair likes the idea for the peace of mind it provides, "My son is 11 and with his older sibling exploring. It’s nice I can track them now. Also if your child is with the other parent or family member you could track them."

Kids together on Wonder of the Seas

This test isn't meant to replace parenting, but rather, give parents another tool to know where their kids are located. It's not uncommon to hear an occasional announcement over the public address system requesting a certain guest go to Guest Services, and the Kidfinder could reduce the need for such announcements.

She added there is no cost to use it, it's free to register at Adventure Ocean.

This is the first we've heard of such an option, and it sounds like it's only being tested at the moment on Icon of the Seas.  There's no indication yet if the Kidfinder will be available on other ships, or even subsequent Icon of the Seas sailings.

Princess Medallion

One commenter on the Facebook post added this is similar to what Princess Cruises offers already with their Medallion program.

"Everyone gets one of these, on Princess cruise line. We love them! You walk up to your cabin, and your door unlocks automatically. You can also order food and drinks from anywhere on the ship, and have it brought right to you, no matter where you are. They're very convenient," wrote Summer Schoolfield.

AirTags

Unlike Apple Airtags, the Kidfinder seems to have the ability to better geolocate itself across decks of the ship and within certain venues. Moreover, Kidfinder intergrates into the Royal Caribbean app.

Read more: I tried AirTags to track my luggage on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Liz Whitfield wrote she tried Airtags previously, but with poor results, "We tried to use AirTags for our whole group (adults included) and it was a disaster. They never updated properly. So, this is great."

More new tech on Icon of the Seas

Aft of Icon of the Seas

While it remains to be seen if Kidfinder will become a regular option for guests, Royal Caribbean has packed Icon of the Seas with plenty of other innovations.

Being the first in the Icon Class, Royal Caribbean developed a number of improvements and innovations because of Icon of the Seas.

Read more: Icon of the Seas is the best cruise ship ever

Destination elevators on Icon of the Seas

Some of these innovations are quite notable by passengers, such as the destination elevators.

Traditional elevators on a cruise ship tend to get overwhelmed quickly, resulting in long waits. Royal Caribbean recognized this known issue, and set about to solve it with Icon.

With destination elevators, a passenger indicates which floor they want to go to and are assigned an elevator by the computer. The result are more efficiently routed elevators and less waits.

Icon Balcony

Other innovations are not as noticeable, but still have an impact. Crew members that service each cabin have a new stateroom attendant app to track their progress between cabins. 

Read more: Icon of the Seas cabins and suites

Stateroom attendants can use the application to not only track which cabins have been cleaned, but get real-time alerts if a guest has requested an item.

Cruise ship galley

Artificial intelligence is being employed in the cruise ship's kitchens to reduce food waste, and better account for supply needs. AI takes into account unused food scrap weight and predicts how much food the ship will need for the next sailing.

Read more: How over 6,000 people are served meals every day on the world's largest cruise ship

Icon of the Seas is Royal Caribbean's best cruise ship ever, and it's not even close

In:
08 Jul 2024

You have to give credit where credit is due, and Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas is worthy of every accolade attributed to it so far.

Matt thinks Icon of the Seas is the best ship

Icon of the Seas is the world's biggest cruise ship, but size alone doesn't make it necessarily the best. It's the assortment of features, tweaks, and enhancements that really make the new ship stand out from every other Royal Caribbean ship in the fleet.

I sailed on Icon of the Seas last week for the first time since the ship's inaugural voyage in January. I was curious to see now that it's been about six months since her launch, would the novelty have worn off and the ship live up to hype she received earlier this year.

Read more: I took the inaugural cruise on Royal Caribbean's newest ship

After spending 7-nights onboard, I'm convinced Icon is not only still worthy of all the praise, but Royal Caribbean raised the bar yet again for what all other cruise ships are judged against.

Crowd management second to none

Matt on Icon of the Seas

It's amazing how a cruise ship that can handle over 7,000 passengers doesn't feel crowded.

When you walk around Icon of the Seas, you'll quickly start to wonder where everyone else is.  Our summer sailing had plenty of kids onboard, and that meant the ship was pretty much maxed out to capacity.

Pool deck on Icon of the Seas

Whether you were on the Royal Promenade, around the pool deck, or going to a show, crowds were few and far between.  I don't want to make it seem like you have the ship to yourself, but compared to other Royal Caribbean cruise ships, crowds were largely absent.

On other ships, the Promenade is a zoo of people (especially on embarkation day).  The pool deck is packed on sea days too.

On Icon, there was much more space to spread people around and it showed.

Destination elevator panel

Royal Caribbean also solved crowding with its destination elevators, which more efficiently assign elevators to passengers.  Waiting for an elevator on a cruise ship is a traditional pain point for guests, and Royal Caribbean referred internally to those wait times as, "microwave minutes" because it feels like the longest wait ever.

If you've cruised on other ships and then try the elevators on Icon, I think you'll find the waits pleasantly better.

Read more: Is the world's largest cruise ship crowded? Not as much as you might fear

Shows you'll want to see again

Aqua Action show

Royal Caribbean has a well-deserved reputation for offering the best entertainment at sea, and once again, they lapped the competition with Icon.

While the shows were not totally ready for the maiden voyage, I got to experience all the shows this time around and it's best collection assembled on one ship.

Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz production show in the Royal Theater is by far the best show on a cruise ship that didn't first begin on Broadway.

An adaptation to the beloved 1939 film, Royal Caribbean crafted a show that combines incredible visuals, a talented cast, and songs the audience knows well.  

As someone that values seeing shows with a plot, it was so nice to see Wizard of Oz on Icon and enjoy Royal Caribbean's version.

Aqua Action

The other signature shows on Icon include Aqua Action! in the AquaTheater and Starbust in Absolute Zero.  While aqua shows and ice performances are not new to Royal Caribbean ships, the versions on Icon of the Seas incorporate the best tricks and lessons learned to date.

Kevin Philip in the pub

I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the live music on Icon, because it blew me away. Musicians onboard will change every few months, but we had an all-star lineup on our sailing  Jennifer Hart in the Schooner Bar and Kevin Philip in the Pub were outstanding talents that I went to see every night of the cruise.

The new Dueling Pianos bar is such a fun spot, especially if you can bring a group with you to enjoy.  The two pianists feed off guest participation, and there are as much laughs as songs you know the words to.

When you sail on Icon of the Seas and see your first show, it's going to hook you to want to see the rest.

The best included food in the fleet

Plate of food at Aquadome market

The eternal cruiser debate of if it's worth it to pay for specialty restaurants is quite different on Icon of the Seas because of the superior food options that are included in your cruise fare.

Other Royal Caribbean cruise ships tend to have a few restaurants included that certainly cover the basics, but there isn't a great deal of variety.

With Icon, many passengers remarked how they skipped paying for extra-cost restaurants because they found the included restaurants so much better than they expected.

Read more: Icon of the Seas restaurant and dining guide

aquadome-icon-7

There are a few new restaurant concepts, starting with Aquadome Market. This is Royal Caribbean's first foray into a food hall, and it's a revelation.  Five different food cuisines, and a few stay open well into the night offering something other than pizza.

Pearl Cafe has 24-hour grab-and-go snacks that also give you choices of snacks that include healthy and indulgent.

You have enhanced stalwarts of the included food game, such as El Loco Fresh on the pool deck and even a Windjammer buffet that serves steak and lobster.

Read more: What the Food Was Like on Icon of the Seas

I think the destination elevators still get the most attention from those that try Icon, but the included food quality has to be a close second.

Elevated dining worth the $200 price tag

Icon of the Seas Empire Supper Club

After telling you how good the included food is, I feel obliged to talk about how impressive the Empire Supper Club experience is.

When Royal Caribbean announced Icon of the Seas would have a specialty restaurant that cost $200 per person, it raised a few eyebrows.  But Royal Caribbean was adamant this was not going to be just another new restaurant.

Empire Supper Club is a three hour dining adventure that combines food, cocktails, and entertainment. Supper clubs are about enveloping everyone attending in a performance, and I was surprised how much I really liked it all.

Empire Supper Club seabass

The jazz music was beautiful, and every course is paired with a signature cocktail. It was fun to see what would be served next, and the service was personalized given the limited capacity of the venue. There's just one seating each night.

To put it in perspective how much I enjoyed it, I was invited by Royal Caribbean to try it without any cost the first time, and then I turned around and paid to do it again a week later. 

Icon of the Seas Empire Supper Club drink

Just like how you might do a fancy night out in a city at a well-known restaurant, I think Empire Supper Club is the sort of night out you could choose to do that you just won't find on another cruise ship.

Icon retains fan favorites

Promenade on Icon of the Seas

While there are a lot of new innovations, Icon of the Seas still has the "Royal Caribbean DNA" that fans of the line will find familiar.

Early in Icon's development, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said Icon of the Seas will feature a combination of "tradition, evolution and revolution", which means it would stay honest to the company's roots while also adding in new ideas.

Boleros on Icon of the Seas

Stalwart restaurants such as Sorrento's Pizza, Chops Grille, and the Windjammer buffet are all here and they are arguably the best versions of each.

You'll find Boleros, the Schooner Bar, and the Lime and Coconut, in addition to the new bars.

The Central Park neighborhood is familiar, yet more refined than the Oasis Class version.

There's always room for improvement

Aft of Icon of the Seas

I am certain if you asked Royal Caribbean, they would acknowledge there are things that could be better on Icon of the Seas. No cruise ship is perfect, and I certainly have my wish list of improvements.

If you're someone who usually stays in a suite, I think the Oasis Class suite offerings are still better because of they are larger and Icon's suite lounge feels very cramped.

Four baskets for clothes in the Spacious Infinite Central Park Balcony Cabin on Icon of the Seas

Speaking of cabins, there seems to be less storage space than on Oasis Class ships too. As an example, the choice of baskets instead of drawers seems like a solution to a problem that never existed.

Read more: What a cabin on Icon of the Seas is like

I also think staggered performance times on the Royal Promenade isn't practical. On many nights, the live music in the Schooner Bar, Pub, or Boleros ended far too early because of noise bleed concerns.  Royal Caribbean wanted a lively Royal Promenade with lots of energy, but I think it's a disservice to passengers.

Ice skating in Absolute Zero

The choice of Absolute Zero having one entrance and exit that flows through Playmakers Sports Bar is another head scratcher.

Whether these issues get sorted out on one of the new Icon Class ships or Icon of the Seas itself, they aren't enough to detract from Icon of the Seas being not only my favorite Royal Caribbean cruise ship, but a generational leap forward within the industry.

Inside Royal Caribbean's luxury Icon Loft Suite, which start at over $5k a night

In:
05 Jul 2024

The world's biggest cruise ship has extravagant suites that come with the best benefits you'll find at sea.

Icon-Loft-Suite-1

Icon of the Seas has 8 neighborhoods onboard, including one just for cruise ship suites. 

The Icon Loft Suite is one of the most expensive suites on the ship, and it comes with more living space than a traditional cabin. The price tag gets you Star Class benefits, which includes complimentary specialty dining, a drink package, gratuities, and the services of the Royal Genie.  

It has the best benefits offered by Royal Caribbean, and we got a chance to tour the cabin. Let's take a look inside.

The Icon Loft Suite is located on deck 17

Icon-Suite-Neighborhood-30-Coastal-Kitchen

Located within the suite neighborhood, the Icon Loft Suite is in a part of the ship exclusive to those that booked a suite. 

Being within the suite neighborhood means convenient access to the suite pool deck, Coastal Kitchen restaurant, and suite lounge. Having access to these amenities is a highly sought-after perk because of the extra value they represent.

Guests walk into a two level suite

Loft suite

As you walk into the Icon Loft Suite, you'll quickly notice the this is unlike other cruise ship cabins.

Loft suites encompass two levels, and it has a giant floor-to-ceiling window leading to the balcony.

Stairs in the suite

The look of the room is also quite opulent, with tile floors and marble furnishings.

This suite features a large living room and dining area

Living room in loft suite

With an occupancy of up to 4 passengers, being able to spread out is what makes this suite stand out.

There's a dining room table that can seat four people, and it's meant to be a place to enjoy meals delivered to your suite. Room service is included with this suite, and that includes being able to order food from specialty restaurants or the Main Dining Room. Guests staying in this cabin are able to have their meal served in the dining room.

Suite sitting area

Behind the table is a bar area with coffee maker, glasses, and stocked beverages. The Royal Genie ask prior to the cruise which beverages you'd like to have waiting in your cabin, and that includes alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Moving further into the suite is the living room, with large couch. The couch opens up into a sofa bed and that's where up to two people can sleep.

There are two floors, with the master bedroom exclusively on the upper level

Bedroom

Having two floors, the master bedroom is on the upper level, including the master bathroom.

Icon-Loft-Suite-4

Stairs lead to the upper level, where you'll find a king size bed. The bed overlooks the rest of the suite and has views to the windows, providing ocean views.

If you need privacy, a curtain can be extended by manually dragging the curtain. It provides very good darkness for sleeping in.

TV in loft suite

There are a large set of closets near the stairs.

You'll also find a vanity near the bed, with a television to the side of the bed.

There are outlets and a nightstand on both sides of the bed.

The master bathroom has a giant shower

Loft suite

You'll really notice the extra space in this suite in the master bathroom.

The shower has two showerheads on opposite sides of the shower, with a walk-in door.

Bathroom sinks

The dual sinks ensures there is ample counter space for a couple sharing this cabin.

The balcony is smaller I expected

Loft suite balcony

There are many suites across Royal Caribbean's fleet, and I would characterize the balcony on the smaller side relative to the room category booked.

There's certainly enough space for people staying in this suite, but it feels smaller than I expected.  

However, the ocean views provided are perfect for lounging in one of the provided loungers.

The second full bathroom is the best thing about this suite

On the lower level is a second full bathroom, making it perfect for entertaining friends or sharing the cabin with others.

Having a second shower, sink, and toilet ensures the master bedroom level remains exclusive.

The Royal Genie is my favorite reason to book this suite

When you book a Star Class cabin, you'll get the services of a Royal Genie.

The genie services three cabins on Icon of the Seas, and assists with just about every need their guests might have. Dinner reservations, seats for a show, escorting on and off the ship, and even getting elevators for their guests are just some of the benefits they provide.

Think of a genie as an "easy button" for the cruise, where you don't need to pre-book things and simply inform the genie what you want to do, and they will make it happen.

The Icon Loft Suite combines size and service

Icon loft suite windows

If you want a suite with everything, the Icon Loft Suite is an excellent, albeit expensive choice.

You'll never got a great value out of a suite, because they're meant to be splurges that you can indulge and enjoy. Between the extra living space and the perks included with the suite, it's what someone seeking luxury accommodations would love.

The daunting price tag is going to limit who can afford to reserve it, but it's a lovely way to cruise.

Royal Caribbean has quietly been offering free lobster and steak in the buffet of the world's largest cruise ship

In:
01 Jul 2024

The biggest cruise ship in the world has made a name for itself in many ways, but it also stands out in a gastronomical way.

Steak and lobster choices

Ever since Icon of the Seas first started sailing with paying passengers, the Windjammer buffet on embarkation day served up an upgraded offering.

In addition to the usual buffet fare, there's also been filet mignon, lobster tail, and shrimp.  These delicacies are usually not offered in the buffet due to their higher cost.

On Icon of the Seas' inaugural sailing, the buffet had these items and this was in line with Royal Caribbean's traditional approach to celebrating the maiden voyage of any new cruise ship.  But with other ships, the embarkation day lunch menu would drop those upgraded items after the initial sailing.

Windjammer on Icon of the Seas

I boarded Icon of the Seas for a 7-night Caribbean cruise on June 29, and was pleasantly surprised to see the steak and seafood were still available.

Filet mignon and lobster in the Windjammer

As you walk into the Windjammer on embarkation day, there is a selection of freshly grilled filet mignon steaks on the first buffet line. along with lobster and shrimp.

Further into the buffet, there was more seafood to be found.  Flanked by ice carvings, there's a wider selection of lobster, muscles, shrimp and more.

Ice carving
Lobster
Shrimp

It's impressive to see this high quality seafood available to guests as part of the included cruise fare.  Moreover, it's unusual in my experience to see that food offered in a buffet setting.

I had heard from other cruisers that Icon was still serving this food, so I was curious if it would still be offered by the time our sailing began.

Seafood

When the food was first offered on Icon's inaugural, most cruisers assumed it was a one-time offering for the inaugural. I shared photos of it on the Royal Caribbean Dining Facebook group and while impressed, a lot of commenters felt they would not be able to enjoy it too.

The sort of comments I saw were:

"Zero percent chance this presentation makes it to a single revenue sailing."

"That won’t ever be on a normal sailing"

"You'll never see this. Special cruise for sure."

Steaks

Given the past history, you can't blame folks for being a little pessimistic.

Can you expect steak and lobster tail on your Icon of the Seas cruise? Possibly.

Seafood buffet

Royal Caribbean has never announced or confirmed the fact Icon of the Seas serves these items is part of a menu change or upgrade for the ship.  It's certainly not offered on the embarkation day buffet lunch on any other ship in the fleet.

I would consider this a bonus for anyone with an Icon of the Seas cruise coming up. Don't bet on it being there, but you might want to reconsider where you go for embarkation day lunch if you do sail on Icon soon to check if it's still being offered.

More food you should look for on Icon of the Seas

While the Windjammer menu isn't among the top marketed new foods on Royal Caribbean's newest ship, there are lots of other good choices to look for while onboard.

The Aquadome Market has been a revelation as a new food hall concept for Royal Caribbean, and it should be a must-eat spot at least once a day.

Pita at greek station

My favorite of the five booths is Feta, which has Mediterranean cuisine.  The gyros are the favorite of Paul Fortin, Senior Director of Culinary Operations for Royal Caribbean.

The gyros are made on the spot when you order it, and it's the sort of food you don't typically find on a cruise ship.

Pier 7

If there's one specialty restaurant on Icon that flies under the radar, it's Pier 7, and that's largely because it's located in the family area of the ship.  Don't let the nearby carousel and splash zone dissuade you from trying it, because I really liked the food here a lot.

Royal Caribbean Vice President Food & Beverage, Linken D'Souza, talked a lot about how much he likes the Korean fried chicken at Pier 7. I gave it a try when I sailed on the inaugural and already Pier 7 just to be able to eat that again on this current sailing I'm on.

icon-chops-1

Lastly, I was impressed by the upgraded steak choices at Chops Grille.

There's waygu beef, Porterhouse, and a Tomahawk steak (among other choices).  The extra cost these steaks have serve up the sort of steaks you'd find at a high-end land restaurant.

While having an upcharge for an extra-cost restaurant is not ideal for cruisers, I do think the choices are a great upgrade to the menu.

Incident on world's largest cruise ship with small fire and temporary power loss

In:
25 Jun 2024

A small fire on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas caused a temporary power loss.

Sea trials for Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas docked in Costa Maya, Mexico on Tuesday afternoon when guests reported the ship lost power while docked.

UPDATE: A Royal Caribbean Group spokesperson confirmed there was a fire and a brief loss of power, but all necessary safety procedures took place, and teams were able to extinguish the fire quickly. Backup power was the first the activate, followed by main power.

The ship is proceeding as scheduled, according to the spokesperson.

Icon of the Seas in Miami

Reports flew in online quickly of the event.

Reddit user reddituid posted, "I'm on the ship. The power went out for 20 minutes. Calls on the intercom were Bravo Bravo Bravo, then later instruction 23. Crew are at emergency stations."

The code of "bravo" indicates fire.  It's a way to easily share with crew members what incident is occurring, so that they can respond quickly.

Icon of the Seas in CocoCay

An hour or so later, the same person wrote, "Everything back to normal. Power was out about 20 minutes, people not able to board or leave for an hour, and crew at muster stations for 60-90 minutes. No official announcement what the incident was."

Icon of the Seas in Costa Maya
Photo by banditofernando/reddit

X/Twitter user @mkntze shared a real-time thread of updates, "Some type of mishap on #IconoftheSeas while docked in Costa Maya.  Crew responding to emergency instructions, and we’ve had intermittent power outages.  First emergency calls were for forward engine rooms.  Gangway activity suspended."

"Crew announcement on #iconoftheseas indicates an “incident” in the lower technical areas.  Several unconfirmed reports of possible fire in an engine area.  Multiple emergency crew announcements over PA, but using code words so as not to panic guests."

Fire tweets

The ship's gangway was temporarily closed during the incident, but @mkntze shared that gangway activities resumed shortly thereafter.

Another update added that clearly something had happened, but it did not seem serious, "passed 2 crew in fire suppression gear.  They appeared to be done with whatever work they had been doing, not moving with a sense of urgency.  Crew members have been calm and it feels like things are getting back to normal."

Firefighters
Photo by naato44/reddit

On Reddit, AlterEgo_Persuasion recapped their experience onboard:

We were going through security at the gangway to get back on the ship when all of the crew at the metal detectors walkie talkies started blaring “BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO” and crew seemed a bit unbothered until the leader of the group yell “GO! GO!” I guess the crew had been doing drills throughout the morning and were confused to the legitimacy of the call coming over their radios.

We were able to eventually get onto the ship once one crew member was given the okay to perform manual searches. We did hear over the radio that two hose crews were enroute.

We felt better being on the ship knowing that the crew is highly trained! Happy all is back to normal and I can get a drink!

Fire on a cruise ship is a serious matter

Icon of the Seas aerial

Fire is the biggest threat to cruise ships because of how quickly it can spread. 

Fires on cruise ships are rare, but it's one of the most dangerous problems that could occur, so mitigating the threat is why the line prohibits so many household items from being brought onboard. It's why you can only smoke in designated areas, and will never see lit candles onboard.

icon-passing-bridge-1

Furthermore, it's why crew members train for fire drills repeatedly to ensure they know what to do in case it actually happens. They are evaluated on their response by both their supervisors as well as in quarterly evaluations by the United States Coast Guard.

Just like on land, incidents do occur and the vast majority of times there is a fire onboard, it's for something minor such as a fire in the oven, overheating wires, or even just the smell of smoke.

Cruiser complains about "obstructed" balcony and sparks Internet backlash

In:
03 Jun 2024

A cruiser that complained on TikTok that her balcony railing "obstructs" her view received a lot of backlash for her hot take.

Abbie, who goes by the username @abbiesnormal, first posted a video in February about her cruise on Icon of the Seas.

The viral video, taken at night, shows the balcony view of a dark ocean from the world's largest cruise ship.

"Should this rail be considered an obstruction on my balcony?" The caption questions.

Users commented that it wasn't, disagreeing strongly.

"Have you lost your mind?" one TikToker asked.

Read more: I spent $2800 for 7 nights in a 157-square-foot room on the world's largest cruise ship. Take a look inside my tiny cabin

According to Abbie, a railing beneath the balcony blocks the ocean view

To better show the view, Abbie posted another video, filmed during the day. 

This TikTok has gone viral, with over 1.5 million views, and is captioned with a similar question: "Should this be considered an obstructed view balcony?

In her viral TikTok, Abbie explains that there is a rail beneath the balcony.

"You should be able to see all the way down to the ocean, but you can't [because] it's obstructed about a foot or so."

She pans down below the balcony view to reveal a railing that runs along the bottom of the deck.

"[The] 12th floor has this [rail] all the way around," she wrote in another TikTok.

Since Icon of the Seas is such a new ship, the TikToker explained that she didn't know what to expect from the cabin's balcony view.

Read more: Icon of the Seas cabins to avoid

According to a later video Abbie posted, she was booked in cabin 12608, on deck 12, which is classified as an Ocean View Balcony Stateroom.

Abbie disagrees with this classification, wondering if the cabin should be categorized as an obstructed balcony view instead. 

The railing appears to be support for the machine that cleans the balconies.

Railing on cruise ship

Although the ocean can still be seen clearly, Abbie explained that the railing at the bottom "messes up the way the ocean looks at night."

Since she had to stand up to get a 100% clear view of the ocean, she took to the Internet to ask if this would be considered an obstructed balcony view.

Over 7,000 comments later, the Internet seemed to come to a consensus.

Commenters opposed Abbie's opinion, attempting to convince her that the view was unobstructed

Most TikTokers disagreed with Abbie, using the comment section to tell her it was not an obstructed balcony view.

"No, it's unobstructed looking out, not down," commented user eileen000009.

"The expectation is that you're enjoying the view and the water in front of you but not below you."

Because the railing is below the balcony view, not directly in front of it, many commenters felt that the view was not obstructed.

JS balcony

"This is like asking if a flower box is obstructing the view of a window," The_J3NN wrote.

"No," Ash said, "You can still see the entire ocean. You're acceptable."

Other comments criticized Abbie for complaining about the balcony view at all.

"[You're] lucky enough to be on a cruise and still complain about a 3-inch wide rail," 1999_Ford_Ranger commented.

Another user remarked that they couldn't believe anyone could complain about the view, calling Abbie a "Karen."

Other comments asked if the viral video was a joke or satire.

Abbie responded to many of the comments, defending herself and explaining that the rail blocked her view of the ocean at night.

Abbie posted multiple TikToks displaying the view of the stateroom, even comparing it to a different balcony cabin

She also followed up with a third TikTok about the stateroom, comparing it to a previous balcony cabin she stayed in on Ovation of the Seas.

This last TikTok was a response to a comment disagreeing with her assessment of the Icon of the Seas balcony view.

"You are high," the commenter criticized.

In response, Abbie posted a still photo from inside her Ovation of the Seas stateroom, taken on an Alaska sailing.

Ovation of the Seas docked in Alaska

The video shows a balcony view with no white rail at the bottom.

"Notice how there's no foot wide white block holding a rail outside the bottom of my balcony," her caption reads.

The proof didn't seem to help her case, as many of the comments still disagreed with her.

"I see what you're talking about but it's really not that serious..." xklaudx said.

Others even joked that other small objects were blocking her view on the Ovation balcony.

"Those chairs are obstructing the view... you should toss [them] overboard," one commenter wrote.

Per Royal Caribbean's standards, the cabin has an unobstructed view

Balcony

So, is the cabin considered to have an obstructed ocean view?

On cruise ships, certain cabins are categorized as obstructed due to the location of the stateroom on the ship.

Usually, the obstruction is a lifeboat or part of the ship's structure, i.e., an object that blocks the cabin's view but cannot be moved.

Obstructed cabins are considered a separate cabin category, listed at a slightly lower cruise fare.

Obstructed view balcony

Passengers who stay in them still receive a similar oceanview, and the same amenities as in standard staterooms.

Royal Caribbean's website states that an obstruction is "something that blocks a proportion of the direct outward view from a stateroom."

"This is typically due to the position of lifeboats or the outer structure of the ship."

Obstructed view

You can view the deck plans on the Royal Caribbean website to determine if a stateroom has an obstructed view.

Based on this definition, and the Royal Caribbean deck plans, Abbie's ocean view balcony is not considered obstructed.

Because the outward view of the ship is not blocked, and the rail is only visible when looking downward, she has an unobstructed view.

I'm a teen and went on the world's largest cruise ship. I was worried it would be juvenile, but it exceeded all my expectations

In:
24 May 2024

Icon of the Seas isn't just for younger kids.

Icon of the Seas for teens

We spoke to a teenager who recently cruised on Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, and he said the experience turned out to be an "extraordinary adventure."

Initially, Lucho worried that the ship might be too kid-centric.

However, the cruise exceeded his expectations and proved that every age group can have fun on Icon of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean has marketed Icon as the perfect vacation for young families. But with such a strong focus on families with young children, does Icon of the Seas have activities for older age groups?

Lucho most enjoyed the opportunity to build new friendships

Since Lucho was traveling with family members, he initially expected to spend the cruise with them or alone.

However, on the second night of the cruise, he attended the silent disco.

This event took place in the Music Hall, where guests were given high-quality headphones.

Each headphone had two music stations that guests could choose between, changing whenever they wanted.

"Once the party started, everyone got energetic."

At the silent disco, the atmosphere was so fun and exciting that Lucho ended up meeting many new people hailing from all over the world: Mexico, Cuba, Canada, the US, and Peru.

It was "easy to socialize and have a great time together," he said, adding that "any teenager will find this opportunity the best part of the cruise."

However, one downside for the teenagers on Icon of the Seas is the 1:00 A.M. curfew. 

After 1:00 A.M., passengers under the age of 18 must return to their staterooms.

Lucho said: "My group of new friends and I found this quite annoying, as we were often having fun and then suddenly had to leave."

Read more: Royal Caribbean will introduce new family fun ambassador on Icon of the Seas

Teens can hang out in Social 020, but it has some restrictive policies 

Onboard Icon of the Seas, Social 020 is the dedicated space for passengers 13-17.

The area has fun activities for teenagers to enjoy; board games, video game booths, and digital screens for playing a variety of games like memory, chess, hockey, and even drawing. 

Lucho spent most of his time socializing with fellow teenagers in Social 020.

However, he found that the area had a few disappointing aspects.

It wasn't always open during the day.

Odyssey of the Seas pool deck

"Sometimes, when we wanted to meet up there, we found it closed with a sign indicating it would reopen in a few hours."

"This inconsistency was disappointing when we wanted to hang out together," Lucho said.

The teens club also required an adult to supervise the teens at all times.

Not only that, Lucho felt that some of the rules enforced in the club were over-the-top.

For example, teens aren't allowed to take photos or videos inside, bring snacks, or move chairs around.

Although these restrictions felt like a buzzkill, they didn't stop Lucho and his friends from having a fun time onboard.

The best food venues in the fleet, with fun crew members

Aquadome Market

Lucho has sailed on four Royal Caribbean cruises over the past five years, and Icon of the Seas had the best food venues in the fleet.

He said that the impressive variety of complimentary food was what most stood out compared to other cruise ships in the fleet.

He loved the delicious crepes at the Aquadome Market, the pizza at Sorrento's, the sandwiches at Pearl Cafe, and the Mexican cuisine at El Loco Fresh.

Read more: I spent a week on the world's largest cruise ship, the free food was the best of any Royal Caribbean ship

The crew members at each venue also enhanced Lucho's experience.

They were incredibly friendly and cheerful.

Lucho especially remembers "Mr. Washy" fondly—the crew member who sang and greeted everyone at the Windjammer's entrance, reminding guests to wash their hands.

"His cheerful presence caught everyone's attention and lifted our mood."

Read more: I went on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas. Here are the 7 best things I ate on the ship.

Lucho's favorite thrills were at the waterpark, but spaces became overcrowded

Thrill Island

The amenities onboard Icon also had thrills suitable for teenagers, with Lucho's favorite being the waterpark inside Thrill Island.

This Category 6 waterpark is the largest at sea, and he visited it almost every day.

The most exciting ride was the Hurricane Hunter waterslide, which is most fun when you ride with a group of four.

However, the lines could get long, the wait sometimes stretching from 10 to 20 minutes.

Lucho also said that a downside of his cruising experience was the overcrowding onboard.

Venues like the Windjammer Buffet, pools, and hot tubs were often packed, making it hard to find a spot. 

While he enjoyed the hot tubs, it was challenging to find one that wasn’t too crowded. 

Nevertheless, the pool area and hot tubs provided a great way to relax—if he got lucky enough to find a not-so-crowded one.

Read more: 5 busted Icon of the Seas myths

The shows were impressive, despite some technical difficulties

AquaAction

Lucho made an effort to watch all the entertainment shows onboard, even watching some shows twice.

His favorite was AquaAction—he even called it "one of the best shows I've ever seen on a Royal Caribbean cruise."

AquaAction takes place in the AquaTheater, inside the Aquadome neighborhood.

It combines cutting-edge technology and fantastic music with skilled acrobats, divers, dancers, and performers for an unforgettable experience.

However, Lucho noticed a surprising amount of technical difficulties at Icon's shows.

Wizard of Oz on Icon of the Seas

When he saw The Wizard of Oz at the Royal Theater, the performance had to pause three times and was eventually postponed. 

The Effectors: The Origin Story show also had some issues with the screens, which were malfunctioning and turning off occasionally.

However, Lucho still thought the shows were "truly extraordinary and worth watching."

Icon of the Seas proves Royal Caribbean's skill in catering to all ages

Despite a few minor drawbacks, Lucho felt that this vacation was truly the best he'd ever had. 

"This experience really opened my eyes to how capable Royal Caribbean is at providing an amazing vacation for everyone," he said. 

He's been able to keep in touch with his new friends through social media and feels that the 7-night cruise was the perfect escape from a daily routine.

From the delicious food to the fantastic activities and entertainment, Lucho had an unforgettable experience.

I went on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas. Here are the 7 best things I ate on the ship.

In:
17 May 2024

On my recent Icon of the Seas cruise, I set out to find the best dishes onboard.

Foods to try on Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship has gained notoriety for its size and innovations.

Along with upgrades in design and amenities, Royal Caribbean made an effort to improve the food onboard as well.

Icon of the Seas has an almost overwhelming variety of food available.

Not only does the ship have over 20 dining venues on board, but each venue also has a large selection of dishes to choose from.

One week certainly wasn't enough time to try it all, but I decided to focus on the complimentary options and find some new favorites.

Here are the top seven free dishes I think everyone should try on Icon of the Seas.

Read more: Icon of the Seas restaurant and dining guide

Sugar cinnamon donuts 

Located at: Park Café

icon-park-cafe-4

Park Café, the only complimentary restaurant located in Central Park, is somewhat of a hidden gem on the Icon of the Seas.

Nestled between the beautiful trees and bushes, this venue serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I highly recommend checking out their breakfast options.

If you love pastries of any kind, Park Café will have something for you.

Whether you're feeling donuts, muffins, croissants, danishes, or cinnamon rolls, there's a selection of every flavor imaginable.

My personal favorite here was the sugar cinnamon donut—a fluffy, sweet pastry perfect for a small breakfast.

And even though I'm someone who doesn't always love breakfast, I thought the pastries here were light, delicious, and not too sweet!

Avocado tofu salad

Located at: the Main Dining Room

wonder-tofu-salad

This appetizer is usually served on Caribbean night at the Main Dining Room.

It features chilled tofu marinated in honey and soy sauce tossed with plump grape tomatoes, ripe avocados, and white sesame seeds.

I love avocados and soy sauce, so this dish hit the spot. 

The tofu was also well-handled, not too starchy or too mushy.

It's a lovely, refreshing marinated dish that mixes sweet and savory flavors.  

The only complaint I could make about this dish is that it's a little small, but the waitstaff at the Main Dining Room always encourage guests to order more dishes if they desire.

Read more: I ate at every new restaurant on Icon of the Seas and here's how I would rank them

Strip steak

Located at: the Main Dining Room

One of the main reasons I happily eat the complimentary food on a cruise is that the food included in the cruise fare is just so high-quality!

Whenever I order a steak dish at the Main Dining Room, I can't differentiate between it and a meal from the popular, extra-cost Chops Grille.

This strip steak from Icon's Main Dining Room menu comes made to order, and I usually ask for them to cook it medium.

Served with a baked potato, carrots, broccoli, and a creamy side of flavored butter, this meal makes for a hearty, delicious dinner.

Whenever I order this dish, I usually struggle to finish everything!

Mediterranean bowls

Located at: AquaDome Market

aquadome-icon-3

A brand-new food hall on Icon of the Seas, the AquaDome Market has more tasty dishes than I have space to recommend here.

The venue is located at the front of the ship's AquaDome and features five unique stalls of different types of food. 

Crème de la Crèpe serves sweet crèpes, GNGR offers up Asian cuisine, Mac's has various flavors of mac and cheese, Toast and Garden serves sandwiches and salads, and you can find Mediterranean food at Feta.

At Feta, you can select a base (gyro, rice, or lettuce), protein (chicken, pork, or egg), and toppings, and then add sauces to your liking.

The dish is completely adjustable to whatever you prefer, but I quickly learned that I loved creating a chicken bowl with lettuce as my base.

I would top it with onions, tomatoes, and hummus, and end up with a quick, delicious, healthy, and filling meal!

Bacon mac and cheese

Located at: AquaDome Market

Another type of stall at the AquaDome Market, Mac's, exclusively offers different types of mac and cheese. 

You can try multiple different kinds: classic, bacon, chili, broccoli, and pepperoni pizza.

My personal favorite was the bacon flavor: it was a simple yet tasty salty, cheesy mix.

Paired with a glass of lemonade, eating a bowl of this mac and cheese makes you feel like a kid again, enjoying a snack after school.

Hummus snack

Located at: Pearl Café

Pearl Cafe on Icon of the Seas

Another new free venue onboard Icon of the Seas is the Pearl Café.

Located above the Royal Promenade, next to the Pearl art installation, this café is the perfect spot for a grab-and-go snack or drink.

The Café serves complimentary and specialty coffee, juice, soda, snacks, and desserts, all in portable containers.

The desserts were located behind a counter, but the snacks could be found in an open-air fridge, meaning you could just walk up to one and pick out what you liked.

My favorite healthy snack at the Pearl Café is a snack pack filled with hummus, ranch, carrots, celery, and cucumbers.

Read more: The 10 Essential Dishes to Eat on Icon of the Seas

It's the perfect quick bite to eat; whether you're sitting down to enjoy live music in the Promenade or taking it back to your cabin.

While the dessert menu at Pearl Café changed daily, the hummus snack was something I could always expect to be there on every day of the cruise. 

Chicken madras curry

Located at: the Windjammer

icon-windjammer

Royal Caribbean's complimentary buffet was even larger and better on Icon of the Seas.

As someone who loves Asian food, I was glad to see they had distinct sections for both Chinese and Indian cuisine.

I love tasting the Indian food at the Windjammer, and the chicken madras curry was a dish I hadn't seen before stepping onboard Icon.

It's a fragrant, red curry made with paprika and tamarind, which adds a little bit of tang.

As someone who loves spicy food, I did find this dish was pretty mild, and wished they served a hotter version.

However, this does make it more accessible for anyone who can't handle spice but might like to try this dish.

I highly recommend this curry, and I loved pairing it with a cooling yogurt sauce on the side.

I spent a week on the world's largest cruise ship, the free food was the best of any Royal Caribbean ship

In:
14 May 2024

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas is the world's largest cruise ship and has 27 places to eat.

Food on Icon of the Seas

More than half are included with your cruise fare, including a giant dining room, buffet, pizzeria, and taco bar.

On top of that, there are 12 spots which cost extra. These range from sushi bar, to steakhouse, to classic Italian.

I recently spent a week on Icon of the Seas, and tried to eat as many different dishes as I could in that time.

Because I'm always looking for a budget-friendly cruise, I also challenged myself to only eat at complimentary venues on this cruise.

Even with limiting myself to free dining, there were more options onboard than I had the chance to try on my 7-day cruise.

I thought the food onboard was the best of any Royal Caribbean ship I've tried before.

Of course, food is subjective, and different people have their own opinions when it comes to dining.  From my perspective, here's how I'd rate each venue I dined at.

Read more: Icon of the Seas restaurant and dining guide

Main Dining Room

Royal Caribbean's Main Dining Room is the complimentary, sit-down dining venue on all ships. It serves 6,000 guests in a three and a half hour time frame for dinner alone.

Dinner is the most popular meal to attend in the Main Dining Room, and I elected to dine there with the traditional dining option. This means we had a the same table assignment, dinner time, and waiters every night of the cruise.

The Main Dining Room has a set menu for its four-course dinners that varies for every day of the cruise.

Because of that, I was familiar with most of the meals and could compare them to the ones I've tasted on other Royal Caribbean ships.

We started with a selection of tasty bread buns and ordered an appetizer from the menu.

The appetizers were tasty, and the portion sizes were pretty large.

The main course was about equal to the ones I've tried on other ships, but it did come a lot faster and warmer than I'm used to. The speed of service and temperature of the food was a big improvement.

I also saw a lot more vegan options available in the Main Dining Room. 

I usually order vegan ice cream for dessert, but on previous ships, they've only had a few flavors available (mostly chocolate and vanilla). 

On Icon, however, they had unique vegan flavors of ice cream, like chocolate praline crunch.

Pros:

  • The meals were fast and hot
  • There's no work involved; waiters do it all

Cons: 

  • Dinner lasts at least an hour
  • It's a more formal setting

Windjammer

Windjammer on Icon of the Seas

The Windjammer on Icon felt vastly improved compared to other ships I've been on. It seemed to have an endless choice of dishes available, and was huge.

The complimentary buffet was open for three meals a day, every day.

Whether you enjoy waffles, hamburgers, salads, curry, roast beef, fruit, or grilled vegetables, there's something for everyone to try a taste of.

I also thought that the meals were of much higher quality than on other ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet.

Windjammer curry

One thing I always look for is Asian food, and I loved this Windjammer's selection of Asian food—from Indian curries to Chinese sweet and sour chicken.

My only complaint was that, while some of it was flavorful, none of the food was very spicy. However, I understand that they have to appeal to a wider audience.

On the last day of the cruise, they also laid out a delicious charcuterie spread of fruits, olives, meats, and cheeses.

Pros:

  • A variety of high-quality food
  • Freedom to self-serve and go back for more

Cons:

  • There's the potential to spread germs
  • The food isn't very spicy 

Read more: 12 reasons to eat at the buffet instead of the dining room on your cruise

AquaDome Market

aquadome-icon-7

The AquaDome Market is an entirely new venue on Icon of the Seas, and I think they did an amazing job with it.

Located at the entrance to the ship's AquaDome, this dining location is a complimentary food hall—the first of its kind on a Royal Caribbean ship.

It features unique dishes at five distinct stalls: crépes, Asian food, mac and cheese, Mediterranean food, and sandwiches and salads.

I thought all of the food here was awesome, from the sweet crépes to Mediterranean bowls with chickpeas, to bacon mac and cheese.

The AquaDome Market was also conveniently open in the late afternoons when the Windjammer is usually closed and guests might be searching for a late lunch or snack.

Read more: I ate at every new restaurant on Icon of the Seas and here's how I would rank them

Food from Aquadome

Pros:

  • Strong variety of dishes
  • Easy to split into a small snack or create a full meal

Cons:

  • Not all of the food stalls will be open at the same time

Pearl Cafe

Pearl Cafe

The Pearl Cafe is complimentary and located near the Pearl over the Royal Promenade, quickly became my favorite venue on board.

Because it's open all through the day and even late at night, the Pearl Cafe is a great, quick stop for coffee, snacks, drinks, or desserts.

Icon of the Seas upgraded the cafe with a wider variety of snacks and juices. I loved walking up to the open fridges and just picking out a snack.

I especially kept coming back for the portable containers of hummus, ranch, and vegetables; the perfect quick bite for me to sit down and eat or take back to my room.

Pros:

  • Quick, easy place to grab a snack
  • Open at all hours and has a fun view of the Promenade

Cons:

  • A lot of plastic is used, so not very environmentally friendly
  • You usually won't find non-dairy milk here

Park Cafe

icon-park-cafe-2

The Park Cafe is somewhat of a hidden gem onboard Icon, and I heard about it from a crew member at the Pearl Cafe.

He recommended eating at the complimentary venue for breakfast, and I am so glad I took his advice.

Located in the beautiful, sunny Central Park, the Park Cafe is a free venue that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner—including the popular Kummelweck sandwiches!

I tried both breakfast and lunch at this location and thought the food was pretty regular.

However, there were a lot of choices available (especially if you like pastries for breakfast or sandwiches for lunch) and Central Park is the perfect location for a meal.

Pros:

  • Beautiful atmosphere and location, sometimes with live music!
  • Lots of complimentary food and snacks

Cons:  

  • Most of the food here wasn't stellar
  • There weren't many gluten-free options

Read more: The 10 Essential Dishes to Eat on Icon of the Seas

El Loco Fresh

El Loco Fresh quesadillas

El Loco Fresh is Royal Caribbean's venue for Mexican cuisine, and it's also included in your cruise fare.

They serve grab-and-go food like burritos, tacos, nachos, quesadillas, and salsa.

I loved the bright, fun decorations of this venue, and the easy access to the pool decks onboard.

However, my travel buddy and I thought the food was nothing special.

While I love Mexican food at home, the selections I tried at this venue were tasteless and chewy.

Perhaps I made a mistake in grabbing the pre-made packs of food and should have built my own meal instead, where I would have the ability to add all the sauces and seasoning I desired.

Pros:

  • Easy access from the pool decks
  • Hot grab-and-go food

Cons:

  • The pre-made food wasn't very flavorful 
  • Only a small selection of dishes available

Sorrento's

Sorrento's on Icon

Sorrento's pizza is a Royal Caribbean staple.

This free pizza place is the perfect late-night stop when you need a bite to eat or are craving something warm and cheesy.

Although this venue is fun and convenient, I'm of the opinion that there's nothing special about the pizza itself.

The crust is thin, and the top develops a layer of oil.

I was riding in the elevator one night when I saw a boy holding a plate covered with napkins. 

When we asked why he had napkins over his food, he took them off to reveal a few slices of Sorrento's pizza.

"The pizza's too oily, so I'm tryna get it off," he said.

Sure enough, three of the napkins were soaked through with oil.

Sorrentos on Icon

For the record, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley went on record to say his favorite food on Icon of the Seas was a slice of pepperoni pizza from Sorrento's.

Pros:

  • Open late into the night
  • Endless, yummy pizza

Cons:

  • Can have long lines at certain times
  • The pizza is very oily 

I went on Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship and saw why the surging hype is real

In:
11 May 2024

You've probably heard lots about Icon of the Seas by now, but what makes the ship so highly celebrated?

I sailed on Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship this month on a 7-night Western Caribbean sailing.

I wanted to see exactly why this ship has been so hyped over the past few months, and if all the praise is deserved.

Initially, I expected the ship to feel like a bigger version of an Oasis-Class ship, with tons of amenities and huge crowds.

Other than knowing about the ship's size and focus on providing a fun experience for younger families, I didn't know what to expect.

But by the end of the sailing, I think I was just as impressed as everyone else. Icon of the Seas felt more like a mix between an Oasis-Class and a Quantum-Class ship.

Yes, she's big, but the vessel has more to offer than just size.

From the moment you step on board, it's evident that Royal Caribbean wanted to improve upon previous problems while creating an entirely new class of ship.

Read more14 improvements Royal Caribbean developed just for Icon of the Seas

What justifies all the hype around this ship is that the improvements and new ideas are well-designed, well-executed, and extremely celebrated throughout your time onboard.

The size makes you feel like you're not on a cruise ship at all

Icon of the Seas docked at CocoCay

Of course, Icon's size cannot be overlooked.

Since the vessel debuted, I've seen graphics and photos of how large the ship is. However, it's hard to comprehend once you're onboard.

Especially with the wide-open public spaces, it hardly feels like you're on a cruise ship.

icon-of-the-seas-royal-promenade-hero

Icon of the Seas feels more like a small city.

Part of her novelty is that you can almost forget you're floating in the ocean (until you glance outside, that is).

I think Royal Caribbean wanted to lean into this aspect because, at the beginning of the cruise, they announced that there wouldn't be any daily event announcements or updates from the captain.

Binoculars

Without a direct connection to the bridge, the ship felt less like a cruise ship and more like a theme park.

I won't say that everyone will enjoy this aspect, but it made for a unique and interesting experience that you can't get anywhere else.

Read more: First look Inside the World's Biggest Cruise Marvel, Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas

The ship's design is the perfect mix of elegant and fun

When I first walked up the gangway, and onto deck 5, I was immediately struck by the bright colors and cheerful style of decoration.

This is most evident in Surfside neighborhood, an area focused on families with young kids that pops with neon colors and bright pinks and blues.

However, all areas around the cruise ships are filled with these vibrant colors.

Overlook

I even mentioned it to our stateroom attendant, and she agreed.

"It's so cheerful!"

However, the playful colors were combined with elegant designs onboard.

For example, art pieces were in every corner of the ship.

icon-pearl

The Pearl brought a smooth, graceful atmosphere to the Royal Promenade.

The entire design of the ship, from decorations to layout to art pieces, perfectly mixed the vibe of young and old, fun and elegant.

Read more: I took the inaugural cruise on Royal Caribbean's newest ship. It was a giant party, but not everything was totally ready

Extra space, stairs, and seating helped move crowds along

The biggest difference I noticed from other large Royal Caribbean ships I've sailed on was the lack of crowds.

Of course, you could still tell there were a large amount of people onboard. But the ship's layout ensured that no one would ever be squished into one place, and we never ran into any traffic jams.

I noticed that high-traffic areas, like the Royal Promenade and the Windjammer, were built a little wider than usual, helping to create space for a large amount of people.

Destination elevators on Icon of the Seas

There was also a ton of seating everywhere on the ship, so everyone found a place to sit and rest.

I also really liked the large amount of central staircases onboard, such as in the Royal Promenade, going up to Central Park, or down to Surfside neighborhood.

Lastly, the destination elevators helped to alleviate crowds as well.

These all helped to ease foot traffic and calm crowds.

The ship was intentionally celebrated

Excitement is contagious, and I think that's another part of why Icon has been so heavily hyped.

Even though it's been a few months since the ship's inaugural sailing, crew members and cruisers were still extremely excited about being onboard.

Wherever we went, staff welcomed us, saying: "Have an Iconic cruise!"

My cruise embarked the day after Royal Caribbean's partnership with Hard Rock Casinos was announced, so we were greeted at the port with live music, dancers, and free T-shirts!

Hard Rock resort

Throughout the cruise, I saw everyone wearing their "Hard Rock 'n' Royal" T-shirts. A common uniform is a great way to build camaraderie, so this move also added to the energy onboard.

Not only that but on night one, the ship's cruise director, Gemma Hugo, made a speech to everyone gathered on the Royal Promenade for the balloon drop.

She made everyone solemnly swear to have fun and eat tons of food while onboard.

Such intentionality and care lends itself to an infectious air of excitement.

A focus on families with young children creates a playful atmosphere

Even as someone who doesn't have kids, I could tell that Icon of the Seas was the perfect ship for families with young children.

A lot of fun areas focused on families with young kids, like the Surfside neighborhood, water slides, and even a playground on deck 15.

Icon of the Seas provides an awesome family experience, and I could tell when I was onboard.

Surfside

Kids were included in tons of events onboard, like silent discos or being allowed to compete in trivia games.

One night in the Main Dining Room, I saw a waiter bring two kids a lobster folded out of dinner napkins! They were overjoyed.

I loved how much kids were included in the fun onboard—it lent a vibrant, playful atmosphere to the cruise.

Seeing babies dance at the silent parties and children sing at "finish the lyric" challenges genuinely warmed my heart.

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