When it comes to shattering records, it looks like the newest of Royal Caribbean cruises out of Miami Florida is shooting for the moon. With a late 2023 arrival for their upcoming cruise-liner before its anticipated debut in January of 2024, their new ship, Icon of the Seas, is set to sail with a long list of new neighborhoods, features, and upgrades to existing favorites — some breaking records, and some being the first of their kind at sea as well as within the cruise ship industry.
“With each new ship, we raise the bar in the travel industry while enhancing what our guests know and love,” said president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, Jason Liberty. “From the moment they step on board, every experience is specifically designed to give them the best vacation anywhere on land and at sea. With Icon of the Seas, we’ve taken this to a new level and made the ultimate family vacation.”
Icon of the Seas aims to don the title of the first-of-its-kind combination of the best parts of every vacation — from the beachy retreat vibes to the ultimate resort relaxation and even over-the-top theme-park thrills. Alongside the largest waterpark at sea and its 7 ocean-view pools, 5 of the 8 neighborhoods guests can choose for their stay will be brand new, their decks featuring more than 40 new and returning dining, bar, nightlife, and entertainment options for singles, couples, families, and grandparents alike.
With names like Thrill Island, Chill Island, Surfside, The Hideaway, and the AquaDome, the five new neighborhoods set the tone of what Royal Caribbean guests can expect; and we're ready to break down each new 'hood and some of their most anticipated features.
First up, Thrill Island. The spot you'll want to hit if you're looking to play in the largest waterpark at sea, Category 6. The new park will feature six record-breaking slides. Pressure Drop, with a 66-degree incline, will debut as the industry's first open-free-fall slide. If you're not afraid of heights, you can say you've gone down the tallest drop slide at sea when you climb to the top of the 46-foot tall Frightening Bolt.
The first family raft slides to sail the ocean will also find a home on Thrill Island, taking on the names Storm Surge and Hurricane Hunter, and will be able to seat up to four riders per raft. Those looking for a little competition can slip down the first mat-racing duo slide at sea named Storm Chasers. Or if you're really looking to test your fear of heights, a cool combo of ropes course meets thrill-ride, Crown's Edge, will have you swinging to new heights at 154 feet above the surf.
Adrenaline seeking not your thing? Chill Island may be more your speed. Among the seven pools aboard Icon of the Seas, four have cozied up on the three-deck slice of paradise that is Chill Island.
For the adults, you'll find the cruise line's first swim up bar at sea within Chill Island, The Swim & Tonic. Alternatively, you and your boo could make this cruise a sneaky romantic getaway with Cloud 17 — the exclusive adult's only oasis on-board. Alongside the largest pool at sea, the Royal Bay Pool, guests will also see The Lime & Coconut return to the cruise-liner with four locations, including Royal Caribbean's first frozen cocktail bar.
If this cruise happens to be a family affair, the Surfside neighborhood was crafted from end to end with young families in mind, especially those with children under age six. The Grown Ups can get comfortable taking in endless views at the Water's Edge Pool, all while easily keeping an eye on the kiddos at the nearby Splashaway and Baby Bays.
Just steps away from Surfside's three watery playgrounds, you'll also find an array of dining options, lounging zones, a bar, carousel, arcade, and Adventure Ocean. Royal Caribbean didn't forget about the teens in the family though, giving them their own little hangout bubble at Social020.
Those looking for a more secluded cruise experience will likely want to hole up in The Hideaway neighborhood. This neighborhood will be tucked away 135 feet above the ocean, mixing the vibes of the beach club scene with panoramic ocean views. The star of the show will be at the center, the first suspended infinity pool at sea, surrounded by multi-level sun terraces with whirlpools, a dedicated bar, and ample seating for serious sun soaking.
At the tippy top of Icon cruisers will find the AquaDome — a unique oasis by day and an entertainment mecca by night. With wraparound ocean views and a waterfall, it's the perfect spot to grab a sip or bite while the sun's out. Once it's set, a vibrant nightlife comes to life, complete with restaurants, bars, and marquee aqua shows at the AquaTheater; where artistry meets cutting-edge technology with a transforming pool, robotic arms, state-of-the-art projection, and more to experience.
While a lot aboard Icon of the Seas is brand new, Royal Caribbean is also raising the bar with upgrades in its existing signature neighborhoods.
The Royal Promenade will feature its first floor-to-ceiling ocean views, plus more than 15 bars, cafes, lounges, and restaurants. Central Park will take on a more lush and lively vibe, with more ways to wine, dine, and be entertained. The largest Suite Neighborhood will offer four decks of luxury with a multilevel suite sun deck called The Grove. It's here you'll find a private pool, whirlpool and dining, as well as a two-story Coastal Kitchen, the on-board restaurant known for its signature Mediterranean-fusion flavors.
Other returning favorites will include experiences like new takes on mini golf at Lost Dunes, and rock climbing at Adrenaline Peak. Absolute Zero, Royal Caribbean's largest ice arena, will also make a return with dining venue favorites, such as Giovanni's Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar on the Royal Promenade and Central Park's Asian-Inspired eatery, Izumi.
In total, the cruise-liner will have over 28 different ways to stay, with rooms thoughtfully designed for every type of vacationer. With new layouts rolling out for families of three, four, five, and more, such as the Family Infinite Balcony, or the Surfside Family Suite that features alcoves for the kiddos that are tucked away from the adults. Some layouts really go over the top, such as the three-story Ultimate Family Treehouse that comes complete with its own little mailbox and picket fence.
Icon will sail year-round from Miami, with 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean vacations. Each will port at Royal Caribbean's top-rated private island destination in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay, where cruisers can do everything thrill and chill. Whether you're looking to splash down the tallest North American waterslide at Thrill Waterpark to lounging in The Bahama's first overwater cabanas at Coco Beach Club, or go on an over-the-top helium balloon Adventure at Up, Up & Away, there's a little something for everyone.
The cruise-line will also unveil the island's adult-only oasis, Hideaway Beach, including an expansive pool, private cabanas with pools, and endless ocean views. The ship will also make stops at Caribbean gems such as Cozumel Mexico, Philipsburg, St. Maarten, and Roatan, Honduras.
Though Icon isn't set to sail from Miami's ports until 2024, December marked a milestone of construction progress for the "titanic" waterpark on the water. At the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland, the ship made its first float from the dry dock after a long 8 months of construction. Royal Caribbean shared a sneak peek with photos of the ships construction to their website.
Vacationers can already start to book their vacations aboard the multi-record breaking ship through Royal Caribbean's website, while Crown & Anchor loyalty members saw special early access on Monday, October 24 of 2022. Tickets for Icon's 7-night cruises certainly aren't cheap though, going for an average of $1040 to $1503 per person as of publication.
This might be a vacation we have to save a while for.
Article by Rachael Volpe