Royal Caribbean Raises the Curtain on Icon of the Seasby Dori Saltzman /
Eight neighborhoods. The largest waterpark at sea. Fourteen new cabin categories. An expanded focus on families. Seven pools.
These are just a few of the highlights of Icon of the Seas revealed by Royal Caribbean at a press event in Miami earlier this week. (Bookings – with kids sail free – open on Monday, October 24 for Crown & Anchor loyalty members and on October 25 for everyone else; sailings are available through spring of 2025.)
An evolution of the line’s enormously popular Oasis Class, the Icon Class will take over the mantle of largest cruise ships at sea when it debuts in early 2024. The first ship, Icon of the Seas, will measure 1,198 feet long (nine feet longer than Wonder of the Seas), have 20 decks (two more decks than Wonder of the Seas) and hold 5,610 passengers at double occupancy (7,600 at full occupancy).
Like the Oasis Class, the Icon Class will have several neighborhoods, but they’ve been tweaked to create recreational areas designed to appeal to different types of vacationers. There’s a neighborhood for families that like theme park adventures, a neighborhood for those who like a beach resort stay, and even a neighborhood specifically created for young families with kids 6 and under.
“It takes the best of the most popular vacations and combines them onboard,” Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales, trade support and service for Royal Caribbean told Travel Market Report.
“Now more than ever, families and friends are prioritizing experiences where they can bond and enjoy their own adventures,” Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “We set out to create a vacation that makes all that possible in one place for the thrill-seekers, the chill enthusiasts and everyone in between, without compromise.”
“I challenge any vacation option to stand shoulder to shoulder with Icon and be able to deliver the kind of vacation experience that we'll deliver to a family,” he added.
Five New Neighborhoods
Five new neighborhoods join three familiar ones (Central Park, Royal Promenade, Suite Neighborhood) onboard Icon of the Seas. They are:
Located high at the top of Icon on the Seas, Thrill Island is a massive theme-park style area chock full of adrenaline-pumping adventure. At the heart of the neighborhood is Category 6, which Royal Caribbean says will be the largest waterpark at sea with six “record-breaking” slides.
- Pressure Drop – With a 66-degree include, it’s the industry’s first open free-fall slide
- Frightening Bolt – at 46-feet-tall, it’s the tallest drop slide at sea
- Storm Surge and Hurricane Hunter – the first family raft slides at sea with up to four riders per raft
- Storm Chasers – Cruising’s first mat-racing duo
But waterslides aren’t the only thrills on Thrill Island. Crown’s Edge is park skywalk, part ropes course and part thrill ride that culminates in cruisers swinging 154 feet above the ocean. And, what would a Royal Caribbean ship be without a FlowRider, rock climbing wall and mini-golf?
Created for those who love a good beach vacation, cruisers will find four of the ship's seven pools in this three-deck neighborhood, including Royal Bay Pool, the largest pool at sea. Others include Swim & Tonic, Royal Caribbean's first swim-up bar at sea; Cloud 17, an adults-only retreat; and the infinity-edge Cove Pool.
Cruisers will also find more than one location of the Lime & Coconut spread across Chill Island, so they're never far from a drink to cool them down.
Royal Caribbean in reinforcing its commitment to families with its first ever neighborhood created specifically for young families with kids, ages 6 and younger. Located on Deck 7, Surfside offers parents a pool located right next to Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay, so they can keep an eye on their little ones while still enjoying themselves.
“Parents also want to be participating, not just watching,” Freed said of the adult pool in Surfside.
Surfside takes over the space at the back of the ship that is the Boardwalk on Oasis-class ships. As such, cruisers will find a carousel here, but it’s been tweaked to be age-appropriate with carousel animals designed to look like pool floaties. There’s also an arcade (open to kids of all ages), a bar serving cocktails and kid-friendly mocktails, a couple of dining options (more details to be released later) and, of course, Sugar Beach, with its array of candies and ice cream for sale.
Surfside-facing cabins surround the area, all of which are designed with families in mind. The three-level Ultimate Family Townhouse is also located right next door, with a backyard that leads directly onto Surfside.
Many of the ship’s 14 new cabin categories are located in Surfside, such as the Surfside Family Suite, with a kids alcove tucked away from the adults to give each space.
Surfside can be accessed via stairs, as well by a slide from deck 8.
Tucked away toward the back of the ship is this beachy neighborhood that combines good vibes and spectacular views. The centerpiece of the neighborhood is a suspended infinity pool that hangs 135 feet above the ocean. There’s also whirlpools and a multilevel sun terrace with a variety of seating and a dedicated bar.
Icon of the Sea’s silhouette is dominated by the AquaDome, a glimmering dome located at the front of the ship. A tranquil oasis by day, with wrap-around ocean views, an awe-inspiring indoor waterfall, and spots to enjoy a casual bite or drink, the AquaDome transforms at night into the line’s iconic AquaTheater. The venue has been given a technological update with a transforming pool, four robotic arms and state-of the-art projection capabilities.
Three neighborhoods familiar to Royal Caribbean fans return on Icon of the Seas. They are:
The Royal Promenade on Icon of the Seas will be the first promenade with open ocean views, with floor-to-ceiling windows lining the space. As with all promenades, it features a wide array or restaurants, cafes, bars and lounges (more than 15 in total), including Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, the Schooner Bar and the English pub. The ship’s ice rink (called Absolute Zero) will also likely be located on the Promenade, a Royal Caribbean insider hinted at.
At the heart of the Royal Promenade will be the spectacular Pearl, a grand staircase encased in sculptural metallic dome that the line promises has more to offer (with details to be released at a future time).
Icon of the Seas’ Central Park will have 20% more trees than on Oasis-class ships. Cruisers will also find Central Park favorites like the Trellis Bar, Park Café, Chops Grille, and Izumi, along with an all-new jazz club.
The suite neighborhood on Icon of the Seas will be the line’s largest with three decks of suites, a two-level sundeck with pool and whirlpools, a two-story Coastal Kitchen and an all-new Mediterranean restaurant.
Icon of the Seas offers 18 cabin categories, with more than 80% capable of holding three or more passengers.
“So if a family says, I want a balcony or an ocean view that can accommodate four, we have more choice for that consumer,” Freed said.
Among the new categories are the line's first Sunset Corner Suites and Panoramic Ocean Views, located in the AquaDome.
Training on all the new cabin categories is now available on Royal Caribbean University.
Icon of the Seas will sail year-round, seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean vacations from Miami, every one of which will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay.