Royal Caribbean Slashes Prices on Icon of the Seas' New Ropes Course by Almost 75%

In:
10 May 2024

If you were put off by the high cost of a signature attraction on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, you might want to check the price again.

Crown's Edge is on sale

It seems like Royal Caribbean runs promotions and sales all the time, and we've noticed prices vary for many extra-cost add-ons.

The Crown's Edge is one of the new features on Icon that was developed specifically for the ship, and prices seem to have plummeted for it.

Read more: Guide to Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean originally priced it at $89.99 per guest, but the cost came down almost immediately once the ship began to sail. 

Crown's Edge for $23.99

This week, we're seeing the price at just $23.99 per guest on many upcoming Icon of the Seas sailings, which is a 73% discount from the original price. According to the Cruise Planner website, the normal price is now $49.00 before any additional discounts.

Keep in mind prices can change at any time, and the price can vary from sailing to sailing. Moreover, sales come and go and that leads to price fluctuations.

On Facebook, many felt the new price made a lot more sense.

After the new price was posted, Cyndi Hopper wrote, "Much more reasonable price."

Megan Dowling added, "That’s a great price! You get to go twice and get a video and pictures which is also nice! Worth it."

Michael Iversen noted he didn't try it on the inaugural voyage of Icon because of the price tag, "I didn’t go because of the price when I was on the January 27 sailing."

What is Crown's Edge?

Man on Crown's Edge

Crown's Edge is a combination of skywalk, ropes course, and thrill attraction.  

Tethered guests walk along an elevated track that goes around the ship's Crown and Anchor logo. Here’s the catch: you’re walking off the side of the ship with nothing but the ocean below you.

The walkway drops for the second part of the ride, and you suddenly find yourself swinging 154 feet above the ocean back to safety.

Crown's Edge

The cruise line says the ride experience is approximately 90 seconds and may vary by rider. The full experience will be approximately 15 minutes long, which includes time for gearing up.

In order to try the Crown's Edge, you need to be at least 6 years old, weigh at least 44 pounds, and be 49 inches tall.

Crowns Edge check-in desk on Icon of the Seas

You cannot be taller than 83 inches and weigh no more than 297 pounds.

A video of the experience is included with the cost.

Pushback on prices

Crown's Edge on Icon of the Seas

The significantly lower price signals the original price may have been too high.

Right before the inaugural sailing of Icon of the Seas, travel agents had the opportunity to ask Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley questions, and the high cost came up.

At $89 for a 90 second ride, the argument was $1 per second seemed excessive.

Icon of the Seas sailing at dusk

Mr. Bayley said Royal Caribbean uses price to control demand in some cases, "sometimes pricing is to manage just the sheer volume of expectations."

He went on to say that ultimately, the cruise line would react to feedback from passengers, "as we go through the next several weeks, we'll get a lot of feedback from our revenue customers. They are going to tell us that this works or that doesn't."

How to take advantage of the lower price

Onboard activities to book

You can check the price of the Crown's Edge for any upcoming Icon of the Seas or Star of the Seas cruise by visiting Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.

Log into your account and select the sailing you have booked. 

Once there, the Crown's Edge is listed under Onboard Activities.

Crowns Edge Icon of the Seas

If you had booked it already, you can cancel your original purchase and then re-purchase it under the new price.  Look for Order History in your profile to access that.

There's no cancellation penalty for cancelling a Cruise Planner purchase.  If you used onboard credit, it will be refunded immediately.

4 mistakes I saw other people make on Icon of the Seas—and 2 mistakes I made

In:
09 May 2024

I spent seven nights on Icon of the Seas and noticed cruisers making some avoidable mistakes.

Icon is Royal Caribbean's newest ship and exemplifies the cruise line's effort to go above and beyond and solve problems on previous ships.

Because of that, the ship is full of innovations and designs, and it can be hard to get used to.

On my cruise, I witnessed people making silly mistakes—and I made a few myself!

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

Whether you're a veteran cruiser or new to this type of travel, Icon requires some new adjustments.

To make the most of your experience on the largest cruise ship in the world, here are some mistakes you can learn from.

Take this as a guide to what not to do when you get onboard.

Mistakes I saw other people make

Getting into any elevator

Icon of the Seas debuted a new elevator system for Royal Caribbean.

Instead of pressing an up or down arrow, and choosing your floor once you enter the elevator, you select your specific destination on tablets outside the elevators.

The tablet then tells you which elevator to wait at (a letter from A-L) and when the elevator arrives, it takes you directly to your deck.

I witnessed a couple of people still adjusting to this elevator system.

Once, I saw a lady walk right onto an elevator without choosing her destination floor. 

I’m not sure if she knew which direction the elevator was going, but I knew she would be stuck with no way to choose her floor from the inside.

She mostly likely had to get out at the next stop, select her destination on a tablet outside, and then enter the indicated elevator.

Not wearing shoes in public

This seems like common sense, but some guests can get carried away with the air of casual relaxation on a cruise ship.

It’s easy to go in between the pool and lunch, or the hot tub and your afternoon snack.

When you go from the pool deck to a dining area, however, it’s important to wear a cover-up over your swimsuit and make sure that you have shoes on.

I was entering the Windjammer for lunch when I saw the Washy-washy crew member turn away a young boy.

“I can’t let you in without shoes on,” he said.

I turned around and, sure enough, the boy was barefoot.

He had to walk away and find shoes before he was allowed to enter the dining venue.

Leaving children unattended 

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

Even though I don’t have children, I noticed a lot of fun areas focused on families with young kids, like the Surfside neighborhood, water slides, and even a playground on deck 15.

However, not every area is intended for children, and parents should still be mindful of where their children are and what they are doing.

I was in the gym when I saw a child wander into and start playing with the free weights. With no parents in sight, he started jumping on the machines and grabbing random weights.

I was worried that he might fall or drop something and hurt himself!

I’m not sure where his guardians were—maybe they had no idea their son had slipped away—but they should have been mindful of where he was.

The gym does not permit any children under 12, and guests under 16 are supposed to be accompanied by an adult.

While the families with young children lent a vibrant and playful atmosphere to the cruise, I didn’t think it was safe to leave kids unattended around the cruise ship.

Not bringing a water bottle

My travel buddy said they most regretted not packing a water bottle on this cruise.

It would have been helpful to carry drinks from the dining venues back to our stateroom, or out of the ship when we left on excursions.

I always pack a large Hydroflask water bottle on my cruises, and it helps me stay hydrated.

If you don't pack a water bottle, you'll have to resort to carrying cups of water around or paying extra for plastic water bottles.

Mistakes I made

Purchasing a shore excursion without looking for a better price

Before my cruise, I went onto Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner

I decided to buy the cheaper shore excursions that I saw offered there on the website.

Since I love birds, I was excited to see an aviary tour on Costa Maya, Mexico, offered for $59 per person. I bought it without a second thought.

When we arrived at the tour, the guide walked us just a few steps into the port and guided us into the aviary.

At the aviary itself, I saw that tickets were being sold for only $14 per person.

My heart dropped with regret.

If I had just waited until we got to the port and walked up to the aviary myself, I could have saved $45!

Read more8 things I love about Icon of the Seas (and 3 I didn't)

Forgetting to pack sunglasses

It's not easy to remember to pack everything you need—especially for longer cruises—but I wish I'd made more of an effort.

I forgot to pack sunglasses on my cruise and realized my mistake as soon as I got onboard.

Whether I was sitting at the pool, walking around the deck, or even sitting inside a sunny area, I found myself squeezing my eyes shut to protect myself from the sun.

Even though I knew the cost would be high, I gave in and started to peruse the shops onboard, looking for any pair of sunglasses at all.

A saleslady asked my budget and I told her I would pay up to $50 for them, thinking that already it was a steep price to pay for the $10 pairs I had left behind.

However, she let me know they didn't have anything in my price range and proceeded to show me sunglasses ranging from $119-$150.

I was so frustrated that I walked out of the store, and had to wait until we stopped at a port to buy some new, cost-effective sunglasses.

Packing isn't always easy, but this mistake was a further reminder of what I already knew: if you leave anything behind, it won't be worth it to buy onboard.

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

In:
07 May 2024

Last week, I went on a 7-night cruise on Icon of the Seas, which is the world's largest cruise ship.

To get the cheapest possible price, I booked an interior stateroom through the guarantee cabin process.

The total cost came out to $2897 (including pre-paid gratuities), which was divided out for two people over seven nights. That breaks down to $207 a night, per person.

Icon of the Seas is the world's current largest cruise ship, standing at a whopping 20 total decks and weighing 248,663 gross tons. 

Read moreShould I book a guarantee stateroom on a cruise?

She has 2,805 staterooms, and mine was assigned a few weeks before the cruise.

I received an Interior Plus category room, which is described on Royal Caribbean's website as having "a deluxe closet and dressing area."

"There's no such thing as overpacking in these staterooms," the deck plans read.

The website indicated the room measures 157 sq. ft. in total, but I was excited to see how it felt in person and as a home for the next seven days.

Because I opted for a guarantee cabin instead of picking a specific cabin, I assumed the leftover cabin choices would result in a less desirable location.

I received stateroom 10411, which is located far forward on deck 10.

Although this was close to the forward elevators, the deck was so crowded with staterooms that it was difficult to get orientated for the first couple of days.

We kept getting lost on the way to the stateroom, confused by the winding halls and multiple elevators.

Although I didn’t suffer too much seasickness from being so far forward, I did find that the room location was extremely noisy.

Sometimes we would hear stomping feet from above, or loud bangs coming through the walls.

It was so loud that I woke up in the middle of the night multiple times, thinking that someone was knocking on the stateroom door.

But the pitch black darkness you can only get in an inside stateroom and comfortable beds made it easy to fall back asleep.

When I first opened the stateroom door, I was shocked at how tiny living space was.

It narrowly fit the two stateroom beds and single armchair with a footrest.

This room was decorated with cute tropical paintings. Everything looked clean and bright, with warm lighting that spoke to how upgraded the room was.

With the two beds split apart, each one had a small shelf with a lamp on top. They were comfortable and clean beds, with large, fluffy pillows. 

The beds were what I expected, but I did feel like the blankets were lighter and more comfortable than on older Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Read more5 busted Icon of the Seas myths

The stateroom’s television faced the beds.

When I was preparing for my cruise, I eagerly looked forward to the possibility of casting from my phone to the smart TV. 

Casting allows you to send movies and shows to the TV with your phone, projecting them onto the wider screen, but it is only available on Royal Caribbean’s newer ships, such as Wonder of the Seas.

Since Icon is the cruise line’s newest ship, I fully expected the TV to also have casting abilities.

However, it did not, limiting us to watching the 25 free channels, which included sports, news, kids' shows, and Royal Caribbean information.

Beside the television there was a touchscreen temperature control unit. This modernized unit could adjust the temperature of the air conditioning, as well as change light settings.

With a touch of the finger, we could choose between four adjustable moods: morning, evening, movie, and sleep.

I enjoyed playing around with these settings and appreciated the fact that it saved me the trouble of going around to adjust each lamp and light switch individually.

Just in between the television and the main stateroom door, I found the door to the bathroom.

If I had been disappointed by the stateroom’s size, the bathroom made up for it.

It was wide, with a long sink and ample shelves.

Three shelves sat below the sink, and three shelves sat to the upper left.

There was also a deep drawer to the left of the sink and above the trash can, which I didn’t even need to use because the space had so many storage options.

Opposite the sink sat the toilet and a series of shelves going all the way down the wall.

Even with two people traveling for seven nights, we did not get close to filling up all the shelving space in this bathroom.

The best upgrade to this cabin—one that a comedian onboard even mentioned during his set—was the increased size of the shower.

I’m used to tiny, tube-like showers on Royal Caribbean ships, that have a tunnel so small that opening the door takes up all the space.

This shower was about twice the size of the typical showers I’ve been used to, and it even had a seat to the left. 

There was enough space in the shower to move around, bend over, and even sit down.

Although the water pressure was a little low, the water got hot quickly and made for an enjoyable shower.

As I walked back and further into the room, I saw the reason for the main room’s smaller size.

Typically most inside staterooms have one large area with the beds, chairs, closet, and desk/vanity combination.

However, in this Icon stateroom, the sleeping area and the closet and vanity area were divided into two separate spaces.

Past the bed on the far wall, I walked into a doorway.

This deluxe dressing area stored the room’s combination desk/vanity, a long desk with a ring light surrounding the oval mirror.

Below the desk, there was a drawer for storage and a beanbag chair to sit on.

This style of chair is another new aspect of Icon of the Seas. I thought that they were plenty comfortable, but I missed having a chair with a back on it so I could throw towels or jackets on top.

To the right of the vanity, I found the tall closet. One of my favorite aspects of the room was how this closet brought together almost all the storage elements into one space.

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

The first compartment was a tall hanging area, perfect for long clothes like dresses or suits. The second compartment also had hangers for shorter clothes like jackets.

At the bottom of the closet, there was a small safe on top of a wide shelf space.

Below that, two black metal baskets were set inside shelves, and to the right, I found the small cooler.

It helped to have one space to store all my clothes, items, and food.

However, the baskets were a confusing addition to the room. 

They didn’t seem to fit well in the shelves: they were heavy and slid harshly over the wood below. They didn’t slide as easily as a drawer, and I had to pull them all the way out if I wanted to get an item out of the basket.

In the end, I placed the basket on the larger shelf space above and used the shelves below to fold and stack my clothes.

The safe was small—barely the size of a book—so I was only able to fit my passport inside. All other valuables had to go unprotected.

The cooler, however, kept drinks, milk, and sandwiches just cold enough.

At the end of this small vanity room was a full-length mirror, the perfect complement to the classy lighting in this clothing area.

I loved this one area to get dressed and ready in, but recognized that it made the stateroom feel smaller overall, by becoming divided into two areas instead of one large one.

The stateroom also had more charger options than typical Royal Caribbean ships. Usually, the only chargers are located above the stateroom’s desk. 

But on Icon, I found charging ports at the desk, below the TV, inside the bathroom, and on the left bedside table.

Although the cabin was small, I was happy overall with the comfort, convenience, and organization of the stateroom.

14 improvements Royal Caribbean developed just for Icon of the Seas

In:
12 Apr 2024

If necessity is the mother of invention, Icon of the Seas has a lot of children.

Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean designed Icon as a "white paper cruise ship", which means it was build from start with no pre-conceived notions or basis on other ships.

In developing the ship, new ideas for Icon required changes and improvements to Royal Caribbean's standard operating procedure on other ships. As a result, a number of innovations and improvements came out of the process.

The ship's cutting-edge advances were heralded by Heather Bishop, VP, Digital Product at Royal Caribbean Group, and Jennifer Goswami, Director Product Development at Royal Caribbean Group. Both spoke at Seatrade Global conference in Miami earlier this week.

In recounting what makes Icon different, we counted 14 different improvements Royal Caribbean came up with just for Icon of the Seas.

Chat with Guest Services in the app

Royal Promenade Icon of the Seas

Making it easier for passengers is an overarching goal with these improvements, starting with giving guests a way to bypass the Guest Service line.

Within the Royal Caribbean app, guests can chat directly with Guest Services.

Before you get an officer, you'll first interact with an AI Bot, that can help answer the common questions guests want to know, like "What can my SeaPass do?" and "How do I access Wi-Fi?".

The "Human in the Loop"  features adds the ability to connect you to an actual agent, without having to physically visit Guest Services. 

Read more: Royal Caribbean's clever idea using AI to get help on the world's largest cruise ship

No photo kiosks

photos-app-split

You'll notice there are no photo kiosks on Icon of the Seas, because everything is handled within the Royal Caribbean app.

Traditionally, there was a photo area to go and view all the photos you took with the ship's photographers.  That area has been repurposed for something else, and instead, you can view photos within the Royal Caribbean app.

"We were analyzing where there were points in the vacation where guests kind of had to stop what they were doing," Ms. Bishop explained. "One of those is typically towards the end of the sailing, as they've accumulated photos, they would have to go down to the kiosk. And so there was a large crowd of people at the kiosk towards the end of the vacation."

Window on the Royal Promenade

Moreover, the team felt most people wanted their photos on their phone to be able to easily share with friends and family. By removing the kiosks and making it digital, you could eliminate lines and get people what they ultimately want.

Another traditional kiosk that's been removed are the shore excursion kiosks.

Taking away that space allows for a larger Royal Promenade, which is one of the nice ancillary benefits many guests note with Icon.

Destination elevators

Destination elevator

One of the most noticeable improvements is how efficient the elevators are on Icon of the Seas, thanks to the destination elevators.

"Elevators, while kind of not always the flashiest of technology, have been an absolute smash hit for Icon," Ms. Goswami stated.

"When you're waiting outside of an elevator for three, four, five minutes, we call them microwave minutes where they feel like the longest minute of your life," she said.

Elevator

Instead of pressing a button to wait for an elevator, guests push a button for which floor they want to go to and are assigned an elevator.

The change improves upon a problem that has plagued all cruise ships, and Royal Caribbean knew they couldn't go with traditional elevators on a ship planned to be even larger than the Oasis Class ships.

Read more: Icon of the Seas vs other Royal Caribbean cruise ships

Aquadome

Aquadome

Royal Caribbean sought to create a neighborhood on Icon that "evolves throughout the day", and the Aquadome is the result they came up with.

Encompassing more than 33,000 square meters and extending from Deck 14 to 20, the AquaDome neighborhood is truly one-of-a-kind. 

"We wanted to have one space that feels completely different at 9 a.m. versus 9 p.m.," Ms. Goswami explained.

"When you walk into the Aquadome during the day, you hear the waterfall we have. All of our technology is actually off intentionally because we really want it to be a quiet space."

The Overlook on Icon of the Seas

"As the day transitions, we really turn it on. It comes to life. It feels like a different space."

Overhead is the dome itself, and it weighs 367 tons and is comprised of 12 different modules that are made of steel, glass, and aluminum panels.

Aquatheater show on Icon

Though projection mapping isn’t new, they’ve enhanced it during Aquatheather shows.

"We've added so much more flexibility to create our entertainment programs within the Aquadome, because it's now an enclosed space."

Stateroom attendant app

Icon Balcony

One focus on Icon was providing crew members with products to help them be more efficient and provide better service.

A new stateroom attendant app replaces the pads of paper they would traditionally carry around to track their progress between cabins. 

"Now we have an application for them that they can use to keep track of what rooms have been cleaned, and they get an alert if our guests have requested an item for their stateroom," Ms. Bishop said.

Guests can scan a QR code in their stateroom to indicate if they need additional towels, if there's an issue with the plumbing in their room, and that will send an alert to the stateroom attendant app, and they'll be able to provide service right away. This avoids having guests trying to flag down their stateroom attendant, or trying to find a phone to contact somebody.

Express boarding

Express Boarding pass

Royal Caribbean has been working on making the embarkation process as easy as possible, and Icon of the Seas offers an express boarding option.

If you complete all the pre-embarkation check-in steps via the Royal Caribbean app, you'll get an enhanced SetSail Pass that gets you through the check-in process even faster.

Read more: Royal Caribbean check-in process

Ready to check in

To qualify for it, you need to do the following within the Royal Caribbean app (not the website):

  • Scan your passport (don't manually enter it)
  • Take a selfie photo
  • Enter all the personal information, including a credit card
  • Complete the health questionnaire

Then when you at the terminal ,you can go through our express boarding lanes.

Port agents with iPads

Inside the cruise terminal

Speaking of a faster embarkation process, the port agents within the cruise terminal are now given iPads to help speed up the boarding process.

With up to 7600 guests coming through the terminal on embarkation day, the last thing Royal Caribbean wanted was people going up to a counter and forming lines.

These iPads can be used to view guest information, make updates, and get them checked-in.

"It also gives us the flexibility to move around and move the flow of guests around in the terminal," Ms. Bishop said.

Read more: 30 cruise ship embarkation day do’s and don’ts

Apple Pay

Something else new in the app is the ability to use Apple Pay and the ability to store up to four credit cards in a wallet.

"If you're laying in bed at night, like most of us probably do, thumbing through on your phone, dreaming about your vacation, now you don't have to get up to go find your credit card if you want to book a shore excursion or buy a beverage package, it's all right there in a couple of taps and really easy to do."

Virtual queues

Next Cruise on Icon of the Seas

Eliminating lines was something Royal Caribbean was targeting on Icon, and another area of improvement is for lines at NextCruise.

"Oftentimes, that area gets busy towards the end of the sailing, and so Jennifer's team looked at, how do we create this amazing, amazing lounge space for our company?"

The fix was to create a virtual queue, so if it does get busy (especially at the end of a sailing), the team working there can put guests into a virtual queue.

"You can relax comfortably in the chair with your drink and wait for your name to appear at the top of the board until you're until it's your turn."

"For you" section in the app

At the bar

Something else you might notice within the Royal Caribbean app is a new button labeled "For You", and it makes personalized recommendations for things like shore excursions, beverage packages, onboard activities, etc.

It does things like suggest a beverage package if you haven't purchased one, or create shore excursion recommendations.

In addition, there are better push notifications in the app on Icon.

"If you're getting close to your vacation, we offer great deals, great cruise, and we don't want you to miss out on that. So we're doing a lot of personalization around our push notifications as well."

Leveraging AI

Icon of the Seas galley

Artificial intelligence isn't new to Royal Caribbean, but it's being used more on Icon of the Seas.

"We've been using AI for things like food waste to make sure that we are doing modeling to make sure that we have enough food to keep our guests full and happy, but also reducing waste and not over, over ordering food," Ms. Bishop said.

Read more: How 6,000 Meals a Day Are Made on the World's Largest Cruise Ship

Icon-Chat-2

"We also use AI and generative AI now in our customer self-service... in order to provide the most efficient service for our guests, we want to get them the quickest answer as possible."

In short, it helps get guests answers to basic questions like hours of operation, or schedule of events.

Digitalized departure

Icon of the Seas in Miami

The app on Icon of the Seas also helps make getting off the ship on the final morning easier.

Guests can make a departure time request within the app, and then they will see when it's their turn to depart the ship in the app.

Read more: 8 reasons to get off your ship as early as possible on disembarkation day

A better pool experience

Chill Island pools

Not everything new on Icon has to do with technology. One focal point for this ship was to provide more connectivity to the ocean.

In the planning process, Ms. Goswami's team discovered in their research passengers felt cruise ships didn't provide much of a way to enjoy the ocean, "One of the most fundamental things that I think caught everybody off guard was that guests, while they're on the ocean, don't feel connected to the ocean."

"So you will see that now, even from the Royal Promenade all the way up, you can see the water."

Overlook

In addition, the team made another change compared to what you might find on the Oasis Class ships. Icon has a centralized hub for the pools.

"We also pushed our pools outward so that you can see the water while being in the water, but also creating different kinds of experiences."

"We do have one large pool when you want a party. We have smaller pools when you don't feel like a party. We've created different experiences that you can have across seven days."

A true crew neighborhood

Java-Cafe-Icon-2

Another important innovation for Icon was giving crew members a better experience.

Royal Caribbean centralized what crew members need while working and living onboard Icon, "They don't need to leave and go all the way aft for an experience. Everything that they have, their cafe, the food, the bars, they're all forward," Ms. Goswami described.

Royal Caribbean worked with crew members to better understand their needs and come up with what would benefit them.

Read more: Photos show the secret crew-only areas on Icon of the Seas

Photos show a tiny crew-only cabin on Icon of the Seas

In:
29 Mar 2024

Have you ever wanted to take a peek into crew cabins onboard the world's largest cruise ship?

Wong-Icon-Cabin-Hero

Chris Wong, an Assistant Casino host onboard Icon of the Seas, gave a tour of his cabin on his YouTube channel. The video, which is titled "Seriously, The SMALLEST Crew Cabin EVER!" was posted on March 16 and has garnered over 64,000 views. 

This isn't the first time that he's provided insight into exclusive crew areas, either. In early March, he posted a video tour of crew-only areas, including their Windjammer equipped with portholes, fitness center, gaming lounge, nightclub, bars, barber shop, and more. 

The video received many positive reactions, with comments praising the work Royal Caribbean has done to provide their crew with comfortable and enjoyable spaces. 

Read more: Photos show the secret crew-only areas on Icon of the Seas

Crew-Windjammer-Icon-3

@juanitafurtado8805 wrote, "Royal definitely took it to the next level with these crew areas. Happy crew means happy guests. A special shout out to the crew bar, every bit as nice as any guest bar. Outstanding!"

"Thanks for a visit to the crew neighborhood. It is great to see Royal upping their game in caring for their tireless crew members," commented @billbruff9613.

"While cruise guests are continuing to pay increasingly higher prices, it is nice to see some of that money being well invested in crew amenities and not just pocketed as more profits. Thanks Chris."

Crew-Gym-Icon

One thing the video didn't cover, however, was the crew cabins, which are traditionally much more compact than guest staterooms. Within the first minute of the tour, he acknowledges the size, claiming that it's probably the smallest cabin he's ever had while working on a cruise ship. 

"At the same time, this is also one of the modern, and almost nicest, cabins that I've stayed in," Wong says. 

Let's take a look at his single crew cabin onboard Icon of the Seas

The cabin was designed to feature more storage space. In fact, he says that there's so much he can't fully utilize all of it!

Wong-Icon-Cabin-Tour-2

"I don't really have too [many] personal belongings," he admits, "I think it's probably a bit more of a struggle [to fit everything] if you are a female...and you naturally just have a lot of things."

A neat feature of the wardrobe is the slide-out rack, which makes it easy for Wong to pursue his clothes. 

The other half of the closet is comprised of built-in shelves, where Wong stores things like spare toilet paper, snacks, video equipment, and more. 

Read more: Photo tour of a balcony cabin on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas

Wong-Icon-Cabin-Tour-1

The wardrobe is also home to Wong's desk, which he can pull out whenever he wants to use it. Otherwise, it can remain tucked away to increase floor space. 

It's large enough to comfortably fit his MacBook, iPad, work phone, and AirPods without feeling too cluttered. He doesn't even have to store them elsewhere, either, as they squeeze into the wardrobe when he wants the desk retracted. There are two built-in outlets, too. One is a standard American socket, whereas the other is European. 

The fold-up chair for the desk is hung near the door to the cabin. When the chair isn't being used, Wong likes to hang it underneath the coat hooks to maximize the amount of available floor space. 

Wong-Icon-Cabin-Tour-3

The bottom cabinet of the closet is where the mini-fridge resides. The two additional shelves are home to Wong's socks and undergarments. 

Just like in the guest cabins, Wong can store stuff underneath his bed, too, such as his suitcase and shoes. "As you can see, there's still quite a bit of space in the back that I haven't even utilized," he says. 

There's even more storage directly underneath his bed. The sliding doors open up to reveal folded clothing. He has quite a bit of unused space, so he could have certainly packed more if he wanted to! 

Wong-Icon-Cabin-Tour-4

While he doesn't show viewers the contents behind the other door, he says it's where he keeps his dirty laundry and other miscellaneous items, such as plastic bags. 

The bed is raised to accommodate all of the built-in storage that's underneath

Wong-Icon-Cabin-Tour-5

"For me, being 5'10", [it's a] very, very comfortable length," he says after he demonstrates how he hops into bed. 

He flips the camera around to reveal a large flat-screen television, which he believes is larger than the one he had while working onboard Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean provides basic options like the cruise map and other line-specific channels, as well as plenty of movies to keep the crew entertained while resting. 

Wong-Icon-Cabin-Tour-6

There's a small reading light affixed to the wall that features a USB port, allowing Wong to charge devices from the comfort of his bed. The light can be adjusted, too, so he can rotate it to his liking. 

And, of course, even more storage! There's a small cabinet attached to the ceiling next to the air conditioning unit. While he doesn't actively store anything there, it's pretty deep, and he thinks it could be a neat place to keep a PlayStation. 

Next to the television, there are a few open shelves that he doesn't use, either. One is occupied by the cabin's telephone, whereas the shelf above it is where he stores the remote for the TV. 

The cabin's sink is right next to the entrance 

Wong-Icon-Cabin-Tour-7

Since it's tucked into the corner of the room, there's no real vanity space. Instead, there's a medicine cabinet above it, which is where Wong stores his toiletries. 

Though it looks like he doesn't utilize all of the space, he says that the overall storage is pretty minimal: "You can fit too many things inside of the medicine cabinet...which is why I like to keep a lot of my personal belongs that I need in the old wash bag." 

The singular shelf underneath the sink is where Wong opts to keep some cleaning supplies, including Lysol wipes, sponges, and bleach spray. 

Wong-Icon-Cabin-Tour-8

Read more: I stayed in a 200-square-foot room on the world's largest cruise ship

While Wong has his own stateroom onboard Icon of the Seas, he does share the bathroom, which consists of the toilet, shower, and some extra storage that isn't used

Wong-Icon-Cabin-Tour-9

"A lot [of viewers] may think this is small, but if you're going to have a shower on an Emirates plane, this is certainly probably bigger than that I imagine, or a very similar size," Wong remarks. 

While it doesn't feature the glass doors that are a staple in guest cabins, there are two racks inside the shower for toiletries. 

It's also tall enough for Wong, who is close to 6" tall, to comfortably stand. His head doesn't appear to be too close to the adjustable showerhead. 

Wong-Icon-Cabin-Tour

"Could you see yourself living in here?" he asks as he concludes the video. 

"This is definitely the smallest crew cabin I have ever stayed in throughout my entire career," he says.

"At the same time, one of the nicest crew cabins I've ever stayed in...I do feel at home." 

Icon of the Seas cabins to avoid

In:
21 Mar 2024

If you’re planning to sail on Icon of the Seas, you might be wondering if there are certain cabins to avoid booking. After all, you’re spending hard-earned time and money to take a cruise vacation!

Icon of the Seas cabins to avoid

Icon of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s biggest ship, and the biggest in the world. Measuring 250,800 gross tons, Icon of the Seas can hold up to 7,600 guests at maximum capacity. The ship is nearly 1,200 feet long and towers 20 decks above the sea. This massive cruise ship is so big that Royal Caribbean split it into eight distinct neighborhoods for guests to explore, relax, dine, and more.

Icon of the Seas at CocoCay

There are 2,805 staterooms onboard Icon of the Seas for guests to book, meaning you have many options for securing your cabin. This ship has 28 different types of cabins, including infinite balconies, which are new to Royal Caribbean International. 

Icon of the Seas Central Park Infinite Cabin

Icon of the Seas has:

  • 179 suites divided among 13 suite categories (eight are new to the cruise line)
  • 1,815 balcony cabins divided among eight categories (four are new to the cruise line)
  • 276 oceanview cabins divided into two categories
  • 535 interior cabins divided among five categories (two are new to the cruise line)
Icon-Royal-Loft-3

While Icon of the Seas has the most modern cabins in all of Royal Caribbean’s fleet, there are definitely cabins onboard you’ll want to avoid booking. Not every cabin is the same, even within the same category!

Some of these cabins are in poor locations on the ship, making them prone to noise, while others are simply not worth your money. A little research can go a long way when it comes to booking your cabin on this new ship.

Here are the cabins we recommend you avoid booking on Icon of the Seas. 

1. Below Chill Island

Icon of the Seas Royal Bay Pool

Icon of the Seas has seven pools, nine whirlpools, and six waterslides spread out between multiple decks. Many of these pools, as well as tons of lounge chairs, are found on decks 15-17 in a neighborhood called Chill Island

Although having a cabin close to Chill Island might seem like a good idea, being directly below the pool deck can be noisy.

Icon of the Seas Chill Island

You will hear the crew members shuffling chairs around the pool deck very early in the morning. In addition, the crew stack the pool deck chairs at the end of each day. Therefore, this area can be very noisy in the early morning and late at night. The cabins directly under the pool deck can be found on deck 14.

Cabins to avoid:

  • 14164 - 14286
  • 14564 - 14686

2. Below The Hideaway and Windjammer

The Hideaway on Icon of the Seas

Since there is no adults-only Solarium onboard Icon of the Seas, The Hideaway has been designated as the new adult hangout spot. This neighborhood features plush daybeds, its own aft-facing bar, and an infinity pool overlooking the ship’s wake.

The location of The Hideaway is perfect for adults looking to enjoy their sea day. However, the adults-only pool is quite noisy. In my experience, I found that during sea days, a DJ would play upbeat music throughout most of the day. The Hideaway turned into a big party when the music was blasting!

The Hideaway at sunset

I would avoid booking any cabins at the aft of the ship on deck 14 since these are located below The Hideaway. Additionally, these aft cabins are directly under the Windjammer. While this won’t keep you up late into the evening, you can expect heavy foot traffic and noise coming from the buffet in the early morning.

Cabins to avoid: 

  • 14288 - 14350
  • 14352 - 14362
  • 14688 - 14750
  • 14752 - 14762

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

3. Near the AquaDome

Icon of the Seas AquaDome

One of the most exciting additions to Icon of the Seas is a new neighborhood called the AquaDome. This versatile space is home to dazzling entertainment and high-diving aqua shows. While the entertainment is fantastic, you will likely find noise from the productions that carry from the venue.

There are forward cabins on decks 12 and 14 that you might want to avoid if you don’t want to hear the thumping bass from the music playing in the AquaDome. Luckily, the shows are only performed a handful of times so you wouldn’t have noise for the entire duration of your cruise. But, you might find music playing here during rehearsals too.

Cabins to avoid: 

  • Deck 12: 12134 - 12162 and 12530 - 12562
  • Deck 14: 14538 - 14562 and 14138 - 14162

4. Surfside balconies

Icon of the Seas surfside neighborhood

One of Royal Caribbean’s newest neighborhoods is Surfside, located on deck seven. This is designed to be the go-to spot for families with small children where kids can play all day and adults can relax with a drink in hand.

Surfside has Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay, which is essentially a small waterpark for children, and adults can swim in the nearby Water’s Edge Pool. This area is undoubtedly noisy during the day while families are having fun (aka squeals and laughter).

There are oceanview balconies on deck seven that face the ocean, although their proximity to Surfside is sure to be noisier than the sound of the sea. These cabins are also above Adventure Ocean and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade - two noisy venues.

Icon of the Seas surfside neighborhood cabins

Surfside features inward-facing balconies that overlook the neighborhood. Unless you have kids, you might want to avoid booking a balcony in Surfside, especially on the lower decks between decks nine, ten, and eleven. You will likely hear noise from the pool area, even if you have an oceanview balcony facing the sea.

Cabins to avoid:

  • Deck 7: 7280 - 7346 and 7680 - 7746
  • Deck 9: 9293 - 9347 and 9693 - 9747 
  • Deck 10: 10293 - 10347 and 10693 - 10747 
  • Deck 11: 11293 - 11347 and 11693 - 11747

5. Obstructed Central Park balconies

Central Park on Icon of the Seas

Located on deck eight is Central Park on Icon of the Seas. This neighborhood is filled with real greenery with an open-air concept. There are bars and restaurants that line Central Park, including Park Café, Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, Lou’s Jazz N’ Blues, Chops Grille, retail stores, and more.

Balconies in Central Park are generally good choices for balconies because this area is busy without being too noisy. However, if there is a parade in the Royal Promenade or a pool party on the top deck, this area can get noisy.

During the inaugural sailing on Icon of the Seas, I actually stayed in cabin 10225 on deck 10. This stateroom was classified as a Spacious Infinite Central Park View Balcony. While I appreciated trying out an infinite balcony, I was disappointed to see how obstructed my cabin was.

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

Because my cabin was located right above The Pearl, my view was partially obstructed. My cabin was not labeled as obstructed online. I would argue that this should be considered an obstructed cabin, so I would encourage potential cruisers to avoid booking these cabins on deck 10.

Cabins to avoid:

  • 10219 - 10235

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.

6. Surfside and Central Park interiors

Icon of the Seas interior cabins to avoid

Although Surfside and Central Park are lined with balconies facing inward, you can also book interior cabins that provide a view of the neighborhoods. These cabins are classified as Surfside Family Interiors on deck eight and Central Park Interiors on deck nine.

If you’re going to book an interior cabin, there are probably better locations onboard to consider. These interior view cabins are located in two busy areas onboard Icon of the Seas. While the natural light might be a positive, these cabins will likely be noisy. In addition, most of the cabins have blocked views, such as the ones located directly above Park Café in Central Park and the ones above Surfside Bites in Surfside.

Cabins to avoid:

  • Deck 8: 8321 - 8347 and 8721 - 8747
  • Deck 9: 9181 - 9201, 9241 - 9257, 9287 - 9599, and 9623 - 9657

7. Outside of Music Hall

Icon of the Seas Music Hall

Most guests prefer to avoid cabins on the lowest decks of a cruise ship because many activities and venues are located on the higher decks. Oftentimes, however, cabins on lower decks can be cheaper than ones on higher decks.

Icon of the Seas has some lower-deck areas you’ll definitely want to avoid if you’re a light sleeper. One of these venues is the Music Hall, which spans across decks three and four.

Music Hall is home to various late-night parties with live music playing throughout the evening. There are cabins located directly outside of Music Hall, which is sure to be noisy. If you plan to stay up late, this might not be an issue. However, light sleepers or those who want to head to bed early won’t appreciate the music blasting from here.

Cabins to avoid: 

  • Deck 3: 3180 - 3200
  • Deck 4: 4180 - 4200 and 4577 - 4591

8. Too far forward

Icon of the Seas traditional balcony cabin

If you’re someone who is prone to motion sickness, it’s important to choose a cabin centrally located where you won’t feel the ship moving too much. Although Icon of the Seas has the latest and greatest technology for stabilization, you can still encounter rough waves.

As a rule of thumb, the cabins located at the front of a cruise ship will have the most motion. You’ll be able to feel the ship sway up and down during rough weather if you’re at the front of the ship.

Icon of the Seas interior cabin

Because of this, it’s best to avoid cabins at the very front of the ship. This is not to say that everyone will feel sick in these forward cabins. However, those who are prone to seasickness should prioritize cabins located midship.

Many of the new infinite cabins onboard Icon of the Seas are located midship, so you could consider this type of cabin if you want to feel less motion. And a bonus: these cabins are 25% bigger than regular cabins!

Read more: Photo tour of a balcony cabin on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas. It has more power outlets than I've seen on any ship

9. Near the elevators

Destination elevators on Icon of the Seas

The elevators can often be a source of noise on a cruise ship, especially as people come and go. Cabins that are located near the elevator are generally busy spots with heavy foot traffic as well. Some cruisers have found that booking a cabin too close to the elevators cultivates a noisy environment.

One thing to note is that Icon of the Seas has destination elevators located in a rotunda-style design.

Those who are light sleepers will want to reconsider booking a cabin too close to the elevators on Icon of the Seas. Even if you can book a cabin that is located just a few doors down from the elevators will cut down on the noise you hear while cruising!

Icon of the Seas cabins to avoid

5 busted Icon of the Seas myths

In:
11 Mar 2024

Royal Caribbean has made big headlines with its newest and largest cruise ship in the world, but not everything you may have heard is necessarily true.

Icon of the Seas at night

Icon of the Seas has garnered a lot of attention for a lot of good reasons. It's not only big, but delivers new experiences and reimagines concepts borrowed from existing ships. Icon has generated buzz and some people have started to come up with ways to summarize the ship, but are they fair representations of what you can expect?

Read more: All about Icon of the Seas

I wanted to debunk some of the common Icon of the Seas myths I've read so far, and share why they may not be entirely true.

Icon of the Seas is only for kids

Couple at Empire Supper Club

Royal Caribbean may have designed Icon of the Seas to be its most family-friendly cruise ship to date, but it's far from a floating elementary school at sea.

This myth is rooted in Royal Caribbean's extremely effective marketing of the new ship. The cruise line wants to compete more directly with Florida land vacations that attract families, especially families with young children.

They turned an entire neighborhood into a kids space, added a waterpark to its top deck, and designed more cabins for parents and their children to fit into than ever before.

Surfside

While those are indeed wonderful changes specifically for people taking a cruise with kids, there's still plenty for adults to do, including those without any kids.

Just like other Royal Caribbean cruise ships, there's an adults-only space onboard.  Located in the Hideaway neighborhood, you'll find a new take on the adults enclave. 

Music Hall

Then there's all the bars and lounges that lean more adult, such as the Music Hall, Schooner Bar, Pub, and Playmakers. Plus, there's new bar concepts that you'll only find on the Icon Class ships. Dueling Pianos is a new bar that brings an experience never offered before. Rye and Bean is another new bar that offers coffee-infused cocktails that is great for a pick-me-up.

The new jazz club in Central Park brings a throwback to Harlem jazz clubs, and it's the perfect spot for live music, a cocktail, and a good time.

Casino on Icon

The casino on Icon is massive, and the layout has been greatly improved as well.

Of course, adults will enjoy many venues that kids like too. After all, a space doesn't have to be exclusively for adults for adults to be able to enjoy it. 

Hideaway beach

Don't forget the new adults-only expansion at Perfect Day at CocoCay.  Hideaway Beach is an extra cost section of the private island where you wont find any children.

The idea it's "just for kids" is overlooking quite a lot of things to do to keep adults entertained too.

You have to book specialty dining for good food

aquadome-market

While Royal Caribbean ships have added lots of extra cost restaurants over the years, Icon of the Seas has some really good choices included with your cruise fare.

First and foremost, don't overlook the Aquadome Market as one of the cruise line's best new dining concepts in a long time.

AquaDome market on Icon of the Seas

Aquadome Market is a food hall, where you can go to any booth and order a freshly made dish. Each booth caters to a specific cuisine, and you'll find Asian, Greek, salads, and more to consider.

You'll also notice a greater emphasis on grab-and-go choices on Icon of the Seas, especially at Pearl Cafe.

Pearl Cafe on Icon of the Seas

Pearl Cafe is a replacement and upgrade to Cafe Promenade, where there are all sorts of breakfast items, snacks, and compliments to a morning cup of coffee.

In the Surfside neighborhood, there are two restaurants included in your cruise fare, and while they may be in the "kids area", it has some great comfort food many adults will love as well.

Surfside Eatery is a buffet that is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it's a smorgasbord of chicken nuggets, quesadillas, hot dogs, pizza, and more. 

Adults in suite deck on Icon

If you happen to be in a suite, there's two restaurants just for you, instead of the usual one. You'll find sit-down meals at Coastal Kitchen and casual buffet choices at The Grove.

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

Main Dining Room on Icon of the Seas

And then of course you have the stalwarts of the included cruise dining game: Main Dining Room, Windjammer buffet, Sorrento's Pizza and Park Cafe.

While there are indeed lots of compelling extra-cost restaurants, you can easily stick to the dining included with your cruise fare and not miss out on great eating.

The ship is too big and overwhelming

Chill Island at night

Icon of the Seas was designed to capture the public's imagination, and if you've never cruised before, a ship of this size may seem overwhelming.

There's no denying Icon is big, but don't let its size fool you. Royal Caribbean is no stranger to building big ships, and they recognize the importance of ensuring it's manageable and easy to navigate.

The ship is divided up into neighborhoods, which means sections of the ship have a distinct theme and look to them. The idea is that without studying a deck map, you can visually differentiate areas and that makes it easier to remember how to get around the ship.

Overlook

As soon as you walk around Icon of the Seas, I think you'll find it easier than you think to get around the ship without feeling lost.

One welcome change Royal Caribbean made was to make spaces more open. The Royal Promenade in particular is wider than on other ships, and there's more windows too.

Ever since the age of the megaship dawned in the 90s, the public has been in awe of how big cruise ships are and wonder how difficult it will be to find their way around the ship.

Central Park on Icon

The reality is a cruise is what you make of it, and you can choose to do a lot or nothing at all. Plus, the ships tend to be more manageable than you might think simply by looking at photos of them.

Icon is too expensive and unaffordable

Icon sailing away

Like all myths, there's a bit of truth to the assumption that Icon of the Seas is expensive. After all, it's a brand new cruise ship and new ships always command a higher price tag.

While Icon of the Seas is not going to offer bargain basement fares, there are deals out there if you're flexible and can plan ahead.

Looking at cruise prices for Icon, there are significantly lower prices for select sailings in 2025 and 2026.  If you want to get on Icon without paying top dollar, you want to book your cruise now.

Icon of the Seas cruise prices

At the time of writing this article, I found lower prices for upcoming dates in the next two years. Here are examples of some starting prices:

  • January 10, 2025: $1723 per person
  • May 10, 2025: $2146 per person
  • May 24, 2025: $2046 per person
  • August 16, 2025: $2254 per person
  • September 6, 2025: $1983 per person
  • September 27, 2025: $2,057 per person
  • October 18, 2025: $1964 per person
  • November 15, 2025: $1859 per person

There's even lower prices for a number of winter and spring cruises in 2026.

What's affordable or a deal will vary from person to person, but the high prices you may be seeing for Icon of the Seas this summer can be avoided if you're willing to book well in advance and can sail during certain times of the year.  That isn't to say there's going to be bottom of the barrel prices, just that there are lower prices out there.

Speaking of lower prices, it's always worth working with a good travel agent because sometimes they have agency specific group rates that can be even lower than what you see on the Royal Caribbean website.

You can play with the ship's family dog

Rover Promenade

There is indeed a dog that lives on Icon of the Seas, and she's as cute as she looks. But I wouldn't make belly rub plans quite yet.

Rover is the name of the golden retriever that is the official "family dog" on Icon. She's less than a year old, and super cute and there is a chance you might see her around the ship.

Read more: I take care of a dog on the world's largest cruise ship

Alison-and-Rover-Icon

If you're like my kids, your first reaction was "I can't wait to meet Rover", but the reality is it's more likely you'll go the entire cruise without seeing Rover than not.

With up to 7,600 passengers at maximum capacity, there's a lot of other people who wouldn't mind playing with Rover.  And while Rover is probably used to being on a ship now, she is understandably not going to be at the center of attention to avoid overwhelming her.

Plus, Royal Caribbean wants to ensure Rover gets to live her best life. There's plenty of time for naps and quiet time.

So while you might be able to spot Rover onboard, don't make any firm plans to interact with her in the same way you might plan to meet a theme park character.

Icon of the Seas vs Wonder of the Seas

In:
07 Mar 2024

The two newest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet are Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas. Both ships make an excellent vacation choice, but how do they compare to one another?

Side by side image of Wonder of the Seas vs Icon of the Seas

The most obvious difference between these two ships is that they belong to two different ship classes. All Royal Caribbean cruise ships belong to one of seven classes of ships, each of which has a varied layout and diverse onboard offerings.

Icon of the Seas is the first ship in the Icon Class, whereas Wonder of the Seas is the sixth Oasis Class ship. While the two ships share many similarities, including water slides, an ice-skating rink, and modern accommodations, there are quite a few ways in which the vessels differ from one another.

Let’s take a look at Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas to see how these ships compare.

Ship Size

Icon of the Seas is currently the largest cruise ship in the world. She took the record away from Wonder of the Seas, who had held the title for around two years. Icon of the Seas is not drastically larger than Oasis Class ships, but the extra space onboard provides even more room for activities and amenities.

Here’s how these two vessels size up:

Icon Wonder size graph

Dining & Bars

aquadome-icon-5

Food is an integral part to any cruise vacation, and rest assured, you won’t go hungry on either vessel. Both Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas have over a dozen dining venues—both complimentary and specialty.

While the two ships share several restaurants, including the Main Dining Room and Sorrento’s Pizza, they each offer different options, too.

Here are the restaurants found on Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas:

graph showing complimentary restaurants on Icon of the Seas
graph showing specialty restaurants on icon of the Seas

Many of the dining venues found on both ships are tried and true favorites, such as Chops Grille and Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen. Others, however, offer unique dining experiences, like the whimsical-themed Wonderland on Wonder of the Seas or food hall concept at Icon's AquaDome Market.

the-world-wonderland-symphony

Icon of the Seas saw the addition of over a dozen new dining venues, including Celebration Table, a private dining experience available to book for special occasions with friends and family.

Related: Icon of the Seas restaurant and dining guide

Needless to say, whether or not you plan to dine at only complimentary restaurants or splurge on specialty dining, you’ll find more than enough food to try on either ship.

Additionally, Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas have no shortage of bars and lounges. From sipping a cocktail on the pool deck to enjoying a glass of wine before a show, it’s convenient to find a drink anywhere onboard.

1400 Lobby Bar

Here are the bar and lounge venues found on Icon and Wonder of the Seas:

bars on icon and wonder

Pool Deck

Pool deck on Wonder of the Seas

The upper decks of both Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas are filled with pool spaces and onboard thrills, along with a selection of dining and bar venues. You can’t go wrong with spending a day on the pool deck on either ship, but there are a few differences between the two to be aware of.

First, Icon of the Seas’ pool deck is three decks high, and it features four pools, including the largest pool at sea, the Royal Bay pool, along with Swim & Tonic, the first swim-up bar at sea. In addition, there are two infinity pools—Cloud 17 and The Cove pool—which provide unmatched views of the ocean.

Wonder of the Seas has three main pools along with Splashaway Bay, an aqua park for kids, but you will not find infinity pools or a swim-up bar on the ship.

Related: 6 things to know before you book Wonder of the Seas

One of the major differences between Icon and Wonder is the adults-only pool area. On Wonder of the Seas is a traditional adults-only Solarium, which is fully enclosed, climate-controlled, and located in the front of the ship.

Icon of the Seas does not have a Solarium. Instead, you’ll find The Hideaway, an adults-only pool neighborhood inspired by Las Vegas pool parties.

The Hideaway at sunset

While the area is fully outdoors and lacks shade, it is, undoubtedly, a trendy spot to hangout.

As far as activities, both ships have water slides, a sports court, and mini golf course on the upper decks. Wonder of the Seas, however, only has three water slides, whereas Icon of the Seas has six slides at the Category 6 Waterpark, which is complimentary to all guests.

Icon of the Seas also features Crown’s Edge, an obstacle course and zip line attraction, whereas Wonder of the Seas has the Ultimate Abyss, a dry-slide reaching speeds of nine miles per hour.

Crowns Edge Icon of the Seas

Regardless of which ship you choose, either will provide ample opportunities to enjoy some time in the sun.

Central Park

Central Park on Icon of the Seas

One of the most popular neighborhoods on Wonder of the Seas and Icon of the Seas is Central Park, an open-air park in the middle of the vessels. With lush greenery, shops, restaurants, and bars, it’s no surprise this area is a hit with guests onboard.

However, there are a few key differences between Central Park on the two ships.

Both ships have several specialty restaurants within the park, with Wonder of the Seas offering steaks at Chops Grille, upscale cuisine at 150 Central Park, and Italian delights at Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar.

Icon of the Seas also has Chops Grille in Central Park, but Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen is found in the Royal Promenade instead. In its place is Izumi in the Park, the first-ever Izumi Sushi and Hibachi location in Central Park.

Chef Travis at Izumi

Not only does Izumi in the Park feature indoor seating for both sushi and teppanyaki, but the restaurant also offers a walk-up window where guests can purchase grab-and-go sushi, gyoza, and other Japanese favorites.

Related: Izumi in the Park review on Icon of the Seas

And while guests won’t find the fan-favorite 150 Central Park on Icon of the Seas, they can enjoy an 8-course meal at the nearby Empire Supper Club instead, which includes live jazz music.

In terms of bars, guests will love the new Lou’s Jazz n’ Blues venue on Icon of the Seas, which offers live soul and jazz tunes each evening in a classy setting. Wonder of the Seas does not have a jazz bar; instead, guests will find Giovanni’s Wine Bar in its place. While this bar does not feature live music, musicians may occasionally perform in the park during the evening.

icon-lous-1

Trellis Bar, another bar within the park, also differs between the two ships. The bar has far more seating on Icon of the Seas compared to Wonder of the Seas, and it also has its own food menu, although these dishes come with an extra cost.

Despite these differences, the overall ambiance of Central Park on either ship remains similar. The park provides a quiet escape away from the hustle and bustle elsewhere onboard, whether you're enjoying a relaxed lunch at Park Cafe or simply taking a stroll through the trees.

Surfside vs The Boardwalk

Surfside

In addition to Central Park, you’ll find another open-air neighborhood at the aft of both Icon and Wonder of the Seas. This area is referred to as the Surfside neighborhood on Icon of the Seas and The Boardwalk on Wonder of the Seas.

While these neighborhoods may look similar at first glance, they could not be more different from one another. Both neighborhoods are family-focused, but Icon of the Seas takes this focus up a notch.

On Wonder of the Seas, The Boardwalk caters to all ages. Sure, kids will love the neighborhood’s carousel, arcade, rock climbing wall, Johnny Rockets location, and candy store, but adults will appreciate Playmakers Sports Bar and the AquaTheater entertainment venue.

Wonder of the Seas boardwalk

On Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean wanted to make Surfside the ultimate destination for families, rather than just a place for families to stop by throughout the day.

Related: Icon of the Seas Surfside neighborhood: What to expect

New kid-friendly complimentary dining venues were added—Surfside Eatery and Surfside Bites—along with the new specialty restaurant Pier 7, where kids under 12 eat for free. Additionally, the neighborhood features Splashaway Bay and an aft-facing infinity pool, along with The Lemon Post, a new bar with mommy-and-me cocktails and mocktails.

Not only that, but Surfside is located just above Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean kids programming center, which helps keep most family-focused areas in one place.

Royal Promenade

Wonder of the Seas Royal Promenade

The Royal Promenade is the hub of any Royal Caribbean ship. It has dozens of areas to explore, from restaurants to retail stores, lounges, and cafes. It’s an area most guests frequent every day of the cruise. While Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas both have a Royal Promenade, there are a few differences between the two.

Icon’s Royal Promenade is more expansive than Wonder’s, as it fully wraps around two decks. On Wonder of the Seas, guests can only walk the entire length of the promenade on one deck. This leads to more congestion as passengers go from Point A to Point B onboard.

Another difference is The Pearl. It’s hard to miss the massive, shining structure—known as The Pearl—upon boarding Icon of the Seas. The Pearl is at the forefront of the ship’s Royal Promenade, functioning not only as a structural component of the ship, but also to provide that "WOW!" factor.

Pearl

Near The Pearl is Pearl Café, Icon’s coffee shop, which is a major upgrade from Cafe Promenade found on Wonder of the Seas. Pearl Café features a greater variety of snack options compared to the latter, and it also offers specialty coffee beverages and beautiful ocean views from the cafe’s 36-foot high windows.

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

Both Royal Promenades feature popular bars including an English-style pub, Boleros Latin bar, and karaoke venue. Icon of the Seas has even more bars, though, including the new Dueling Pianos Bar, where guests can watch live pianists, and the 1400 Lobby Bar.

Ocean views are more accessible in Icon of the Seas’ Royal Promenade as well. The neighborhood has a large amount of windows, whereas there are no ocean views from the area on Wonder.

Pearl Cafe

Either ship’s Royal Promenade is sure to be a dynamic place to spend your evenings while cruising, whether you’re listening to live acoustic music at the pub, shopping for a new souvenir, or people-watching from one of the Promenade’s many seating areas.

Entertainment

Aqua 2

Even though all Royal Caribbean ships offer impressive entertainment options, production shows on the fleet’s newest ships go above and beyond the rest. Both Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas offer spectacular entertainment choices—here are the differences to note.

Perhaps the most major entertainment difference between the two ships is the AquaTheater. Oasis Class ships, including Wonder of the Seas, are known for their outdoor AquaTheater, where guests can witness unique performances combining high diving, synchronized swimming, and acrobats paired with high-energy music.

On Icon of the Seas, the AquaTheater was moved indoors to the AquaDome, a multi-deck high dome placed atop the vessel. The AquaDome is also home to The Overlook, an indoor lounge with breathtaking ocean views, along with several dining venues and bars. At the forefront of the neighborhood, though, is the performance venue.

Aquadome Overlook

Both ships also have an ice-skating rink, with Absolute Zero found on Icon of the Seas and Studio B on Wonder of the Seas. Guests can enjoy performances from professional figure skaters on either ship, although the circular rink on Icon of the Seas is larger than the rectangular rink on Wonder of the Seas.

Another major difference is in the Royal Theater, as Icon of the Seas features a 90-minute Broadway production, The Wizard of Oz, while Wonder of the Seas does not. In lieu of a Broadway show, passengers on Wonder of the Seas can enjoy The Effectors II, a Royal Caribbean original production, along with Voices, an a capella group.

Aside from signature production shows, each ship boasts a wide array of other entertainment options, including comedy shows, game shows, and live bands.

These are the signature production shows on Wonder and Icon of the Seas:

entertainment list on Icon Wonder of the Seas

Cabins

Balcony room

There are 28 categories of cabins to book on Icon of the Seas, ranging from the most basic interior cabin to lavish suites.

All things considered, the standard cabins on Icon of the Seas are similar to those on Wonder of the Seas. Every cabin includes a king-sized bed, private bathroom, chair or couch, desk/vanity, television, and storage space in closets and drawers.

Nonetheless, there are a few differences to note between the two ships.

First, Icon of the Seas has more cabins that can accommodate more than two guests. 82% of cabins on Icon of the Seas can accommodate three or more guests, which is ideal for such a family-focused ship.

Family surfside suite

This is why, while Wonder of the Seas technically has more cabins onboard, Icon of the Seas can accommodate more passengers at full capacity.

Secondly, there are more sub-categories of rooms within each category. Not only can you book an interior cabin on Icon, for instance, but you can book a Spacious Interior cabin, too, which offers a slightly different layout with additional storage space.

Likewise, infinite balcony cabins launched on the ship, which differ from a traditional balcony in that the balcony is part of your overall living space instead of a separate outdoor area. The goal of these balconies is to provide additional living space to guests while still having access to a private outdoor veranda.

Spacious Infinite Central Park Balcony Cabin on Icon of the Seas

For a deeper look into cabins onboard, check out the following cabin tours:

As another plus, Royal Caribbean introduced destination elevators with Icon of the Seas. These “smart” elevators get passengers to their destination more quickly. To use the elevators, guests press a button indicating the deck of their destination while they are still in the elevator lobby.

Passengers are then assigned an elevator with other passengers traveling to that deck, which is much more efficient than having several elevators stop at every floor.

Suite Experience

Icon-Sky-Junior-Suite-5

Both Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas are wonderful ship options for those booking a suite on Royal Caribbean. Not only does each vessel boast an array of suite categories, but both ships have a dedicated Suite Neighborhood exclusive to suite guests.

Everything from basic Junior Suites to multi-story, luxurious cabins are found on either ship. In total, there are 174 suites on Wonder of the Seas and 179 suites on Icon of the Seas. Icon of the Seas features more suite categories than Wonder, which include suites such as the Sunset Junior Suite and Icon Loft Suite.

Related: Guide to Icon of the Seas cabins and suites

suite neighborhood Wonder of the Seas

The suite neighborhood on either ship has a pool, Coastal Kitchen restaurant, and Suite Lounge. Guests should note that Wonder of the Seas has a much larger Suite Lounge, though, and that Icon of the Seas has The Grove, a Mediterranean grab-and-go dining venue that is not found on Wonder.

Suite guests on both ships will enjoy the amenities of Royal Caribbean’s Royal Suite Class, which is broken into three tiers: Sea, Sky, and Star Class. Each tier comes with its own host of benefits, with the most exclusive Star Class offering benefits such as complimentary specialty dining and the services of a Royal Genie.

Bottom Line

Icon of the Seas docked in St. Thomas

Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas are, without a doubt, the cream of the crop in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. Either vessel provides the best of the best that Royal Caribbean has to offer, including the newest restaurants, most modern staterooms, and state-of-the-art entertainment.

There is no wrong choice when deciding between the two ships for your cruise vacation; it all comes down to preference. Comparing the two ships’ entertainment offerings, dining venues, cabin categories, and, of course, price, will help you decide which to pick for your vacation.

It also helps to watch a ship tour of each vessel, which are found on our YouTube channel:

Icon of the Seas vs. Wonder of the Seas

Photos show the secret crew-only areas on Icon of the Seas

In:
04 Mar 2024

From one-of-a-kind experiences to the first-ever Chief Dog Officer, Icon of the Seas is truly unlike any other ship at sea. This distinction extends to its crew area as well. 

Icon-Crew-Hero

While you can book a behind-the-scenes tour to view areas such as the Bridge and galley, they won't take you into the majority of crew-only areas. 

For the first time ever, Royal Caribbean designed a dedicated neighborhood for crew members that includes a private gaming lounge, multiple bars, and even a Windjammer with porthole windows and televisions. 

Chris Wong, an Assistant Casino Host onboard Icon, recently took to YouTube to give viewers a look inside of their living areas. He begins the video by saying, "Welcome to Icon of the Seas, the newest, the biggest, and best cruise ship in the world." 

While some areas are confidential, let's dive into Wong's tour of the crew neighborhood on Icon. 

The Crew Windjammer is impressive

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The first area he shows in his video is the Crew Windjammer on Deck 2. That's right— crew members have their own mess hall, and yes, they have a handwashing station, too! 

On the day of filming, it was the crew appreciation dinner, so the spread was more expansive than it usually is. The Windjammer was also decorated with banners, balloons, and even an ice sculpture of the infamous Crown & Anchor logo. 

Crew-Windjammer-Icon-2

Like the standard guest Windjammer, there are different stations available to the crew, including "Off the Grill," "Fresh from the Garden," "International Flavors," and "Pasta."

"On this side, I can see steak, chicken, [and] a whole bunch of other meats. Look at this, [I] see all sorts of rice and bread rolls, cold meats, hot meats, cheese platters...can you believe this is all for the crew?" Wong says. 

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Moreover, there's complimentary coffee, juice, and tea available to crew members.

He explains that this is where he eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day; however, since this day of filming was crew appreciation night, he notes that dinner isn't always as exciting. Additionally, he says that it's rare he sees it as busy as it was. 

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The seating area is bright and colorful, with multi-color chairs and light that floods in from the porthole windows. That's actually a first, as all other crew Windjammers in the fleet don't have any natural light or ocean views. 

On the back walls are a couple televisions, so the crew can watch the latest sporting match or other program while dining. 

Unlike the guest Windjammer, they are responsible for cleaning up their own dishes, rather than leaving them to be collected by someone else. 

Read more: 7 most important crew members to meet on your cruise ship

Wong leaves the Windjammer and heads into the Java Cafe

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He describes it as a "chill-out area," that features tons of seating, television screens, and board games, as well as a coffee bar where they can purchase cold beverages like soda or specialty beverages. 

"You will never get anything like this on another Royal Caribbean class of ship; this is only on Icon Class," Wong remarks. 

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Inside of the Java Cafe is the crew shop; however, on the day of filming, it was already closed. 

Thankfully, Wong's able to press his camera up against the storefront gate to show viewers a decent look at what's inside, which includes snacks, toiletries, and other essentials. "I do like buying instant noodles and chips," he says. 

Crew-Store-Icon

There are also pool and ping-pong tables for the crew to enjoy, which are located right outside of the Crew Gaming Lounge in the back of the Java Cafe. 

Nearby are the machines that they use to recharge their SeaPass cards, as well as an ATM. 

Read more: A look at the secret crew-only areas on the world's biggest cruise ship

The Crew Gaming Lounge is a paradise for crew members who enjoy playing video games

Crew-Gaming-Lounge-1

The guidelines posted on the exterior of the door indicate that food and drinks shouldn't be brought inside, and they're to sanitize controllers before and after every use. Moreover, when the gaming room is full, they are to limit their time inside to 30 minutes. 

Inside the Gaming Lounge are numerous televisions and consoles, including Xboxs and PlayStations. 

Crew-Gaming-Lounge-2

Wong admits that he hasn't spent too much time here yet; however, after his reaction to seeing Grand Theft Auto, I presume he might make more of an effort to venture to the Gaming Lounge every so often. 

"Honestly, there's so much in this [crew neighborhood], I forget what's here sometimes," Wong confesses

Crew-Barber-Icon

After walking back through the Java Lounge, he pans to the Crew Barber Shop. 

There are two barber chairs onboard Icon of the Seas. While it's not too large, Wong says that it's a nice little space. It allows the crew to stay on top of their grooming during their contracts. 

Read more: Photos show the cabin a dog lives in on the world's largest cruise ship

The Crew Nightclub and Karaoke Lounge can be found on Deck 3

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The Crew Nightclub & Karaoke Lounge features a small dance floor, as well as a bar where they can purchase beverages. According to Wong, it's not as loud or hectic as the main crew bar, which is located on Deck 7. 

It's amazing to think about all of these spaces hidden beneath the guest areas. While you're watching an AquaTheater show or hanging out at the Dueling Pianos, crew members are having their own night out at their dedicated club. 

Directly across from the Crew Nightclub is the Training Center

Crew-Training-Icon

Essentially like a large conference room, this is where all crew are required to go to complete various trainings, especially when they begin their contracts. 

"[I've] had many, many hours spent in here learning all the things that we need," says Wong. 

Those wanting to look like an Icon (i.e., strive to meet their fitness goals) will have to venture down to Deck 1

Crew-Gym-Icon

When comparing Icon's crew gym to other ships that he's worked on, Wong claims that he likes the look of Icon's: "It's very visually pleasing."

While there's a nice variety of machines, he does add that the free weights section is pretty limited. He does, however, have access to the guest gym, though, this isn't the case for all crew members onboard. 

The main crew bar on Icon of the Seas is reminiscent of an English-style pub and has forward-facing windows, allowing plenty of light to fill the space during the day

Crew-Bar-Icon

Deck 7 is home to many amenities for guests, including the brand-new Surfside Neighborhood, as well as the upper level of the Royal Promenade. Did you know, however, that it's also where the primary crew bar is? 

Passengers won't be able to access this venue, as it's only accessible through crew-only corridors that are hidden from the public. 

According to Wong, this is where a lot of the crew like to go get a drink after work in the evenings. 

Icon-Crew-Patio-1

The bar is connected to the Crew Patio, which features a smoking area. 

After walking through the smoking area, you'll find an exclusive outdoor deck for the crew that's located near the helipad, or as Wong calls it, the "winch pad," as helicopters aren't able to actually land on Icon. 

Icon-Crew-Patio-2

While slightly limited, the available seating seems to be the perfect place to relax outdoors during time off, especially if it's during sunset or when sailing into port. Fun fact: this area is where the champagne was smashed during Icon's naming ceremony! 

Wong ends the video by asking, "What do you think? Is this pretty cool or not?" He says it is by far the best crew area he's ever seen on any ship that he's worked on, and he enjoys spending time around the various exclusive venues. 

10 lessons learned after trying Icon of the Seas for the first time

In:
29 Feb 2024

Welcome our guest writer, Phil Schoen! He took some time to write this post entry to share some tips and tricks he and his family learned while sailing on Icon of the Seas. 

Icon of the Seas docked in St. Thomas

We just finished up an amazing week on Icon of the Seas, sailing from February 17th to the 24th of 2024. We were a family of 5, staying in a Family Infinite Ocean View Balcony room, and there were definitely some things we learned along the way. 

Since lists are always fun, I thought I would share some of them. Obviously, this is all just based on our experience and everyone cruises differently. I should also mention that the ship was not at full capacity yet; there were about 6,000 total guests, with 1,200 of them being children. 

Also, we were seeing them making some tweaks to schedules and what is included in various packages and pricing for things. Basically, your experience may differ from what ours was. 

Aqua 2

For instance, the Unlimited Dining Package now includes $10 daily credit to Izumi in the Park. Also, the drink package now covers floats at Desserted, though still not milkshakes). 

We also saw them adjust some of the theme nights. They removed White Night for a Red, White, and Blue Night.

You will need to prioritize what you want to do

Water Slides Boarding Day

This goes without saying, but this is a massive ship with a ton to do and a ton of new stuff not seen on other Royal Caribbean ships. Because of that at the end of the week, my wife and I were commenting about the things we didn't get to. 

For example, we never ate at El Loco Fresh or visited the Sports Court, whereas on our last cruise, those were two locations we spent a lot of time at. 

A week goes really fast, and if there is something you are really looking forward to checking out, make it a priority and add it to your "calendar" in the app.

For our family, one priority was the Category 6 water slides, so we went there right after boarding the ship, having packed bathing suits in our carry-on bag. We were able to do a number of them right away with shorter lines than we saw later in the cruise, especially on sea days. 

Additionally seeing the new shows and exploring some of the new venues was a priority, such as Dueling Pianos. 

Consider skipping a port to stay on the ship 

Hideaway-Icon-Guest-Post

On a related note, you may want to take advantage of a less crowded ship when in port to accomplish more of your priority list. 

We found that on sea days, the pool decks and other venues were very crowded, and there were longish lines for water slides. We decided to not get off the ship when it docked at Perfect Day at Coco Cay, and it turned out to be a great call! 

We got to check out multiple pools and hot tubs, ride the water slides a bunch, and attend a trivia session with only 3 total groups. There weren't any lines at bars, and there were minimal folks in the Hideaway Area pool. It was just really nice to explore this ship with low crowds and made for a really relaxing day.

Read more: 5 best reasons to stay onboard the ship while in Perfect Day at CocoCay

You don't need to pack as many multi-port adapters

outlets

One thing the rooms on Icon have is outlets, especially USB ports. You'll find them all over the room, including between the desk, the shelf near the TV, the bathroom, and by the beds. 

Our room also had multiple USB-A outlets near the bunk bed area. If I counted correctly, we had 4 U.S. outlets, 1 European outlet, 10 USB-A outlets, and 2 USB-C outlets.  We did utilize one multi USB-A plug on the desk just to keep things more organized with phones and battery packs, etc., but we absolutely could have made it through without anything. 

Read more: The clever reason to bring a European power adapter on your cruise ship

This is very different than other ships where we felt like we had multiple multi-port adapters in use at all times. There are also outlets out around the ship, with the Overlook area having an exceptional amount and a great place to go if you need to get on a laptop. 

In the Overlook area, especially in the pods, we saw people utilizing the outlets to keep phones and laptops charged and running. 

You will want to pack magnetic hooks to hang things from in the room

hooks-icon

One negative thing we found about the rooms (and heard from others as well) is the lack of storage compared to other ships like the Oasis Class. For our family of 5, we struggled to fit everything on the hanging racks and ran out of shelf space. We fit everything, but was tight. 

Additionally, there's no clothesline in the bathroom for hanging up bathing suits or other wet items, only a couple of knobs to hang a few things from. We are glad we brought several magnetic hooks to use on the metal walls, as it allowed us to hang things like hats and nearly-but-not-quite-dry bathing suits. 

Bonus tip: Bring at least 1 more swimsuit than you think you might need, but also try to not overpack other items as storage is at a premium.

Read more: 30 Cruise cabin hacks that cruisers love

Bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper

Ear plugs

Overall, we liked the space in the Family Infinite Ocean View Balcony room, especially having the bunk bed area which helped separate the kids' area from the main part of the room. 

We also liked how the infinite veranda space made the room bigger, and the chairs on it were comfortable. Opening the window was fun - if a bit of a gimmick - and the black-out shade really worked. It definitely doesn't replace a traditional balcony, and I would refer to the room more as an "Oceanview Plus" vs a real balcony room.

That being said, I thought I would mention another slight negative thing we found, which is that the walls appear to be quite thin, as we could definitely hear our neighbors on both sides. One group was rather loud with quite a bit of screaming from both kids and adults. 

Daughter looking out infinite window

If you are someone who needs things really quiet to sleep or just wants quiet when relaxing in the room, consider bringing earplugs, headphones, or something that can block sound out 

If you are debating it, get the drink package

Toasted Marshmallow Old Fashion from Schooner Bar

I know the drink package, especially for this ship, is expensive, but if you are someone who is contemplating getting it, go for it. There are so many unique bars and drinks on this ship that we got so much use out of our package and really enjoyed trying different things that we might not be as open to ordering (for fear of not liking it) if we were paying per drink. 

Also, consider doing a bar crawl, as it motivates you to check out the different bars and drinks. You can spread it out throughout the cruise; you don't need to do it all in one day.

The Basecamp Bar, for instance, has a lot of tropical drinks, themed to Category 6 water park. I found that many of them were pretty strong! The Rye and Bean specializes in coffee and tea-based drinks, whereas Swim and Tonic, a swim-up bar specializes in gin-based drinks. The 1400 Lobby Bar has drinks themed to elements traditional to Royal Caribbean, with names like the FlowRider and the Rising Tides. 

Toasted Marshmallow Old Fashion from Schooner Bar

 

Some drinks that I wish I could have right now include the Coffee Boulevardier from Rye and Bean (the espresso martinis here are also excellent) and the Tradewinds from Basecamp Bar.

Similarly, if contemplating the Empire Supper Club, book it! 

Empire-Icon-Guest-Post

Speaking of things that are not cheap, we got to experience the Empire Supper Club, and it did not disappoint. It was one of the best meal experiences I have had in my life. 

The food was wonderful and creative. They also had some really interesting cocktails, with some pairings I would never have thought of but worked. The excellent music absolutely complemented the meal without taking away from being able to have conversations. 

I probably also had the best service I have ever had on any cruise ship. It's most likely not something you are going to do every cruise, but for a special occasion or if just something you think will appeal to you, go for it! A meal like this on land, when factoring in the cocktails and entertainment, would likely cost 2-3x what they are charging.

Empire Supper Club plate

Overall, it felt very Great Gatsby-like, and we went all out getting dressed up and trying to match the glitz and glamour of the venue and the event. There are lots of Art Deco touches throughout, including on the rim of the plates, and don't forget to look up! 

A formal invitation with a wax seal is left in your stateroom the evening before, and when you first arrive your server greets you by name. I suppose they use your boarding photo so they know what you look like. 

You are required to arrive at a set time, and they lock the doors behind you to keep the "speakeasy" vibe. Once seated, you are asked what type of water you want, and they start serving the champagne, which keeps flowing during the first few courses, including a few appetizers not even listed on the menu! 

Raviolo

Once you get into the menu, you are given very detailed information about each dish, as well as the cocktail served with it and why it was selected. My favorite course was the raviolo, which was a singular large ravioli served with a decadent sauce and topped with shaved botargo and edible flowers. 

The most interesting cocktail pairing was the Blood and Sand, which was served with the langoustine. I just wouldn't normally pair a scotch-based drink with seafood, but it worked! 

My wife does not eat pork or beef, and they were able to modify a couple of appetizers, so she could fully experience them. For example, they prepared a mushroom-based sauce to go with the raviolo, rather than the standard one which had guanciale in it.

Read more: Icon of the Seas restaurant and dining guide

Pearl Café is a game-changer

Pearl Cafe on Icon of the Seas

Two of the best changes they made for this ship were the opening up of the promenade and the addition of the Pearl Café. I cannot overstate how much of an upgrade this is over Cafe Promenade. 

The setting is lovely with the large windows, view of the Pearl, and the artwork above your head. The food is really, really good; the steak and egg breakfast sandwich become an everyday item for me, and it is open 24 hours a day. 

One food item they had there that my son enjoyed and got quite often was the tomato and mozzarella salad. We also enjoyed the various croissants they had there, and I also really liked the BBQ chicken biscuit they had in the afternoons.

Pearl Cafe choices

I will say the line for the coffee where you can get lattes and the like made with Starbucks coffee can get rather long; the crew there is working hard, just lots of people want their coffee! 

 The line for coffee was definitely the longest in the morning. By the afternoon, it would be much shorter, but always at least a few people there. 

There are two separate lines, one for the specialty coffees and one for the food, so if you just wanted food you had a much shorter wait, though if you wanted both coffee and food you had to wait in two lines. 

Seating for the shows, including non-reserved seating for the aqua show

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Royal Caribbean entertainment is generally amazing and what is found on this ship is no exception. You probably don't need me to advise you to go see the Wizard of Oz, the Ice Shows, or the Aquashows, but for each, here are a few tips for where to sit. 

For the Wizard of Oz, it's best to sit in the lower section, as close to the middle as you can, but if the only thing available is on the side that is fine, too. Just being closer to the stage is great and several effects will, literally, go over your head, and it really adds to the experience. 

For the ice shows in Absolute Zero, outside of a few seats that may have a pole impacting your view, there really aren't "bad" seats, but I would advise getting as close as you can and even going for the front row, especially for the secondary show, which is aimed at families. 

Non-ReservedSeatingatAquaShow

We had the kids in our group sit in the front row, and at times, the performers would come by and give them high fives; they loved that! 

Perhaps my best tip overall is about AquaAction. The reservations for the shows in the aqua theater (there was only one ready on our sailing) are just for the wooden benches and chairs within that area, NOT for the chairs behind the benches. We wanted to see the show twice and just showed up early. We found that we could just sit in the chairs at the back. 

They're way more comfortable than the wooden benches. Plus, they have tables for your beverage or a crêpe from the Aquadome Market. While slightly further away, the view is just as good, and I would take these over the area the reservations are for. 

Dueling Pianos is an absolute must-do. Get there early!

Dueling Pianos

One of the most fun experiences I have had anywhere, let alone on a cruise ship, was at Dueling Pianos on Icon of the Seas. The level of talent and engagement with the crowd is off the charts! 

Singing along with hundreds of strangers/new friends and laughing with the antics of the performance, you just can't not smile during the show. The "bit" they do for Piano Man was one of the funniest things we have experienced in quite a while. 

That said, it is really popular. You will want to get there at least 30 minutes prior to showtime if you want a seat and you will, unfortunately, see people "saving" seats with drinks for an hour or so like they are deck chairs. 

Also, the earlier shows seem to attract more kids, and they try to go with the crowd (I mean, they did take a request for Baby Shark), so I would suggest going to a later show for the full experience where it gets a bit more "PG-13."

dueling-pianos-guest-post

Speaking of shaving chairs, we did see some loungers with towels up on the pool decks. We did find on our second sea day that a lot of chairs were in use. Combined with the ones being saved, it was hard to find loungers that were clearly free on that day. 

This was partially impacted by our first sea day being a bit cloudy and rainy, so everyone was eager to get out. Outside of that second day, there were generally loungers available, even if maybe not in the specific spot you would want one.

There you have it, my top 10 list of tips and thoughts from our week-long cruise on Icon of the Seas. I could probably add 10 more, but this post is already more than long enough! 

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