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

Launching in January 2024, Royal Caribbean's floating metropolis includes eight themed neighborhoods to explore.
Brad Walters
By Brad Walters 
Edited by Kevin Berry

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If you love the idea of a bustling 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 launching this January.

One rendering that recently went viral 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 cruise itinerary and a visual tour of the ship.

Icon of the Seas itinerary

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Beginning Jan. 27, Icon of the Seas will sail a variety of 7-day Caribbean itineraries, all originating from Miami.

Each itinerary includes 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 $1,651 per person — but that price is for sailings in September 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.

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Icon of the Seas tour

Icon of the Seas has 2,805 staterooms that can accommodate a maximum of 7,600 guests.

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

The ship has eight themed neighborhoods:

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

AquaDome is a multi-purpose space at the front of the ship offering 220-degree views through floor-to-ceiling windows and featuring aerial/acrobatic shows by night.

(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.

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Chill Island comprises a 3-deck pool area, including an adults-only pool plus what Royal Caribbean bills as the first swim-up bar at sea. All told, the ship includes seven pools and nine whirlpools.

(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 a surf simulator.

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

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.

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

The Hideaway promises Vegas beach club vibes. It includes what’s billed as the first suspended infinity pool at sea.

(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.

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Royal Promenade 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, called The Pearl, is a central multi-purpose gathering place.

Icon of the Seas dining

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

As with most cruise ships, Icon will offer 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.

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 piano bar, one of our favorite architectural features are these so-called overlook pods in the AquaDome neighborhood.

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.

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.

Just know that you’ll pay pretty handsomely for access to all of these superlatives.

(Top image courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Cards for Cruises from our Partners
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