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Icon of the Seas: What you need to know about Royal Caribbean’s new ship (read before booking)

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By now, you’ve probably heard the buzz about Royal Caribbean’s newest ship – Icon of the Seas. Or maybe you just watched NFL football and saw a lot of commercials highlighting the upcoming ship and you want to know what the big deal is.

Icon of the Seas is getting a lot of press for its size and groundbreaking features. Here’s what you need to know about the new ship before booking. Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Well, there’s plenty to know. While new cruise ships are actually quite common (most cruise lines see a new ship about once a year), Icon of the Seas is something that’s on a whole other level. It’s bigger, with more things to do, see and experience, and a bunch of new features you’ll want to know about before you book.

This is what we think is important that sets Icon of the Seas apart from other cruise ships.

Icon of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship in the world

Cruise ships have grown tremendously over the years. In the 1990s, a cruise ship of 75,000 gross tons (a measure of ship size) would be considered large. Currently, the largest ships come in at around 235,000 gross tons. These are ships of the Oasis class – also built by Royal Caribbean. At present, Wonder of the Seas, built in 2022, holds the crown of the world’s largest cruise ship.

That will change with Icon of the Seas. The new ship will measure nearly 251,000 gross tons. It will be nearly 1,200 feet long and will be able to carry more than 7,500 passengers in its more than 2,800 staterooms at full occupancy.

One thing to note is that the title of largest cruise ship in the world may be short-lived, as a sister ship is already planned for Icon. In general, the new ships, even in the same class, are slightly larger than previous versions.

The ship will be at sea for activities like nothing else

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There are things to do throughout the ship, but the top deck comes complete with a six-slide water park, Flowrider, miniature golf, climbing wall, seven pools, basketball court, and more. Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

One look at the Icon of the Seas renderings, and it’s pretty obvious that it’s very different from your average cruise ship. Royal Caribbean takes what’s possible at sea and pushes the boundaries further.

First, there are eight different neighborhoods around the ship, many of which are new features, such as Surfside – a family-oriented area – and the all-new Aquadome. The Aquadome features an indoor waterfall with high-dive shows and a lounge area at the front of the ship with great views.

The ship will also have seven different pools, including one with a swim-up bar and one with the largest pool at sea. But perhaps the most eye-catching feature is the new Thrill Island water park located on the aft deck. It features six different water slides that will set all sorts of “at sea” records upon their debut. This is all in addition to the usual entertainment at Royal Caribbean, such as the Flowrider, miniature golf, sports field, climbing wall and more.

In fact, with the ship still about a year before it starts sailing, not even all the details of what’s been announced on board have been announced. You can read what we already know here.

It will be pricey to sail

The least expensive cruise we could find for Icon of the Seas cost more than $1,000 per person for a week-long cruise in an inside cabin, excluding taxes and fees.

Cruising is known to be beneficial. For one price, you get your room, entertainment, food, and transportation all included for much less than it would cost to stay at a country resort. However, the current prices for Icon of the Seas may surprise you.

A search on Royal Caribbean’s website shows that the cheapest trip aboard Icon of the Seas starts at $1,007 per person for a basic interior cabin. Add double occupancy, plus taxes and fees, and you’re looking at about $2,300 in total. In addition, you have expenses on board plus tip.

By comparison, the cheapest 7-day cruise from the United States for all ships in the fleet is a cruise from Galveston aboard Harmony of the Seas for $433 per person, or about $1,150 total – about half as much.

Icon of the Seas will debut in early 2024

The ship is currently under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, but will join the Royal Caribbean fleet at the end of 2023. It won’t start sailing with passengers until January 2024, but cruises are filling up fast now.

The first available cruise, according to the Royal Caribbean website, isn’t until the last departure of the month — January 27 — and even that trip is sold out, except for suites that start at $8,000.

In other words, if you want to be one of the first to sail, you have to book quickly or hope that more cabins become available.

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Icon Will Home in Miami

It only makes sense that the literal flagship of the fleet departs from the cruise capital of the world. Therefore, the new ship will depart from Miami, departing from Royal Caribbean’s Terminal A. Currently, the schedule on Royal Caribbean’s website shows that Icon will be sailing from the port until at least April 2025, which means if you want to sail, you’ll have to go to Florida to do it.

During that period, several other ships will also depart from the port at one time or another, including Explorer, Freedom, Grandeur, Independence, and Oasis of the Seas.

There is a big family focus in the design

The new Surfside neighborhood is a kid’s paradise, with pool, splash pad, arcade, kid-friendly restaurants and more. Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean has always placed a strong emphasis on family activities. As you would expect with everything else on this ship, Icon of the Seas offers something even bigger.

Specifically, the cruise line has created a new neighborhood – Surfside – that promises to become a family favorite. First, there’s a dedicated pool that overlooks the ocean at the back of the ship, complete with a Splashaway Bay water park for kids. Then there are all kinds of kid-friendly features, including the arcade, The Lemon Post (a bar with menus for kids and adults), Pier 7 restaurant designed for families with kids, and even a specialty buffet nearby (Surfside Eatery).

This is in addition to all the things older kids can do such as the water park, Flowrider and climbing walls. But if you’re cruising with smaller kids and want to have fun as a family, this new neighborhood is ideal.

There is a sizzling number of room options

You used to have four options for a room: interior, sea view, balcony and suite. You still have those options, but within each there are subcategories to consider.

Inside cabins have the classic inner room, but also “Interior Plus” cabins and “Spacious Interior” rooms that are about 15% larger.

Balcony cabins include cabins that overlook the ocean, as well as cabins that overlook the Central Park and Surfside neighborhoods. Icon of the Seas also sees the first “Infinite” balconies on the cruise line where instead of a separate outdoor space, the ocean-facing wall is essentially a large window that slides down, creating a half-wall that turns the entire cabin into a balcony .

Then there are the suites. They range all the way from cabins with some extra space to an entire 1,800-square-foot “mansion” before you add in the balcony.

Rooms cost up to $36,000 per person (Ultimate Family Townhouse)

We’ve mentioned that Icon of the Seas puts up some high marks for starting prices, as well as other mouth-watering cabins.

In particular, the Ultimate Family Townhouse is a unique cabin on the ship. It measures 1,772 square feet, has a two-level balcony, sleeps up to eight guests, comes with its own “Royal Genie” to suit your needs, features multiple bathrooms, and is decked out in a kid-friendly design.

It also includes access to the suite deck, free specialty restaurants, a beverage package, gratuities and Wi-Fi.

But the cost is high. We found the price (for the few trips where the suite was still available) at $36,362… per person. We will say that when pricing out with more people, the cost didn’t seem to increase, remaining at around $75,000 in total for the cabin for a week-long cruise.

For more information about Icon of the Seas, check out the following articles:

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