Icon of the Seas: Floating Bliss or a Horror at Sea?

Currently the largest ship at sea, Royal Caribbean's floating metropolis includes eight themed neighborhoods to explore.
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Written by Brad Walters
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If you love the idea of a vibrant mega-cruise, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas is potentially your wildest dream come true. If not, it could be your worst nightmare.

Most everyone in the travel world, it seems, has a strong opinion on Icon of the Seas, the new Royal Caribbean mega-ship that sailed its maiden voyage in January. An initial rendering of the ship went viral and prompted social media comments likening the ship to a “floating hellscape,” and a rechristening of the ship’s name to “Icon of Disease.” (Two words: hand sanitizer!).

Is Icon of the Seas right for you and your family? Your ultimate decision will depend a lot on how you feel about big crowds, endless water features and the whole idea of a floating resort executed on a truly titanic level — 250,800 gross tons over 20 total decks, to be exact.

Here’s an overview of the Icon of the Seas' cruise itinerary, plus a visual tour of the ship.

Icon of the Seas itinerary

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Icon of the Seas sails a variety of 7-day Caribbean itineraries, all originating from Miami.

Most itineraries include a stop at Royal Caribbean’s private island, CocoCay, which includes free beaches and dining or extra paid features such as a water park and zip line. Other stops include such destinations as St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and the popular Mexican resort areas of Cozumel and Costa Maya.

At last check, sailings started at $1,527 per person — but that price is for sailings in February 2025. You’ll pay quite a bit more to sail earlier than that, and you can expect to pay extra for such things as Wi-Fi, gratuities, excursions and alcohol. You can check prices and itineraries here.

Cruise lines often have their own branded credit cards just like airlines do, but these cards typically aren't your best choice, even for booking travel with the cruise line itself. Underwhelming bonus offers, confusing redemption rules and inflexible rewards could leave you adrift.

The best credit cards for cruises are often general purpose travel rewards cards that are both rewarding and versatile. Here are a couple examples to jumpstart your research.

Popular travel cards
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
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on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
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on Chase's website

Citibank Strata Premier Card
Citi Strata Premier℠ Card
NerdWallet Rating
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on Citibank's application

Rates & Fees
Annual fee

$695.

$95.

$95.

$95.

Welcome offer

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Earn 70,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, redeemable for $700 in gift cards or travel rewards at thankyou.com.

Earn rate

• 5 points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 spent per year.

• 5 points per $1 on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

• 1 point per $1 on other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

• 5 miles per $1 on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

• 2 miles per $1 on all other purchases.

• 5 points per $1 on travel booked through Chase.

• 3 points per $1 on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout), select streaming services and online grocery purchases (not including Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).

• 2 points per $1 on other travel.

• 1 point per $1 on other purchases.

• 10 ThankYou® points per $1 spent on hotels, car rentals and attractions booked through the Citi Travel site.

• 3 points per $1 on air travel and other hotel purchases.

• 3 points per $1 on supermarkets.

• 3 points per $1 on gas stations and EV charging stations.

• 3 points per $1 on restaurants.

• 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

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Icon of the Seas tour

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Icon of the Seas has 2,805 staterooms that can accommodate a maximum of 7,600 guests. There are 28 cabin and suites to chose from including inside cabins, ocean-view cabins, balcony cabins and suites. Each category has several versions depending on if you're looking for more space, a particular view, or perks and amenities. Some rooms even have the ability to accommodate up to eight guests.

The ship has eight themed "neighborhoods," which was themed areas of the ship. Three can be found on other Royal Caribbean ships, while five are exclusive to the Icon class. These include:

AquaDome

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

AquaDome is a multi-purpose space on Deck 15, at the front of the ship. It offers 220-degree views through floor-to-ceiling windows and features an aerial/acrobatic show by night.

Central Park

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Central Park is billed as an open-air garden neighborhood, featuring a variety of restaurants and venues including a jazz club and a walk-up sushi bar. It's located on Deck 8.

Chill Island

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Chill Island is the ship's main pool area, spanned over Decks 15-17. It includes four of Icon's seven pools including an adults-only pool plus what Royal Caribbean bills as the first swim-up bar at sea. The ship also has nine whirlpools.

The Hideaway

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

At the back of Deck 15, the Hideaway promises Vegas beach club vibes. It includes what’s billed as the first suspended infinity pool at sea and a Champagne-based cocktail bar.

Royal Promenade

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

The two-deck Royal Promenade on Decks 5 and 6 is the ship’s main drag, where you’re not far from many of the ship’s indoor attractions such as the casino, shopping, dining and bars. Its architectural focal point, an indoor sphere called The Pearl, is a central multi-purpose gathering place.

The Suite neighborhood

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

The Suite neighborhood features three decks’ worth of space reserved for guests who’ve shelled out for suite accommodations, including a separate pool and a hot tub, plus an exclusive two-level restaurant. This neighborhood can be found on Decks 16-19.

Surfside

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Located on Deck 7 aft, Surfside is specially dedicated to families, offering splash areas for younger kids with fountains, water cannons and more — plus kid-friendly eateries and a separate pool for the parents.

Thrill Island

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Thrill Island is Icon’s water slide complex, featuring six unique slides from family-friendly options to a scream-inducing free-fall drop. Also included are a ropes course/skywalk combo and other active options such as rock climbing and the FlowRider surf simulator. It can be found on Deck 16, aft.

Icon of the Seas dining

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

As with most cruise ships, Icon offers a wide variety of eating options ranging from buffet-style offerings to specialty dining that costs extra. On a ship this large, it’s no surprise that just about every popular cuisine is available. The following eateries can be found onboard.

Included in your cruise fare:

  • AquaDome Market.

  • Coastal Kitchen. (Select guests)

  • El Loco Fresh.

  • Park Cafe.

  • Pearl Cafe. (Snacks only)

  • Sorrento's Pizza.

  • Surfside Bites.

  • Surfside Eatery.

  • Sprinkles.

  • The Dining Room.

  • The Grove. (Select guests)

  • Windjammer Marketplace.

Additional flat-rate cost:

  • Celebration Table.

  • Chops Grille.

  • Empire Supper Club.

  • Giovanni's Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar

  • Hooked Seafood.

  • Izumi Hibachi & Sushi.

A la carte pricing:

  • Basecamp.

  • Desserted.

  • Pier 7. (Included for kids 12 and under)

  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade.

  • Vitality Cafe.

Icon of the Seas bars and nightlife

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Along with the typical offerings such as a jazz venue, a coffee shop and a casino, one of our favorite architectural features are these Overlook Pods in the AquaDome neighborhood.

The 15+ venues include The Attic (adults-only comedy), Royal Caribbean's first dueling pianos bar, Bubble (a walk-up Champagne bar), Swim & Tonic (swim-up bar) and Spotlight Karaoke.

Icon of the Seas shows

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

In addition to the AquaDome entertainment venue, there’s a separate ice rink, plus a theater that will feature Icon’s rendition of The Wizard of Oz, among other shows. Icon also has shorter shows available for families at select venues.

The bottom line

If you’ve read this far and aren’t scared off by the thought of a week spent in close quarters with a few thousand strangers and their germs, it’s not too late to book one of Icon’s earliest sailings.

The ship has several neighborhoods to explore, with areas that cater to families and adults-only. Just know that you’ll pay pretty handsomely for access to all of these superlatives. Savvy cruise goers book their trips with travel credit cards rather than cruise cards, so they can collect flexible points and miles and enjoy other perks.

(Top image courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Cards for Cruises from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

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Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

on Bank of America's website

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
4.2
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5x-2x

Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Points
See more cards for cruises
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