Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has just taken delivery of their latest mega-ship, “Icon of the Seas” which has been built by Meyer Werft’s Turku shipyard in Finland and is now heading to Spain for last outfitting before sailing transatlantic to Miami, where it will be based.
The Icon of the Seas will have its inaugural sailing from Miami in January of 2024, carrying paying passengers for the first time, and according to RCCL, the maximum capacity of the mega liner is 7,600 guests + 2,350 crewmembers.
It will be the largest cruise ship in the world for the time being, carrying close to 10,000 people at once, which has caused quite a stir among cruise enthusiasts, with some being aghast of the dimensions and others can’t wait to get on for the maiden voyage.
Royal Caribbean has published pictures from the handover ceremony on its social media pages:
It’s official. 🍾 #IconoftheSeas is a part of the family after more than 7 years of dreams-in-the-making. Now, she's off to Cadiz, Spain, where she’ll get her finishing touches before sailing from Miami January 27. Are you ready for the Icon of Vacations? pic.twitter.com/dzwwtrtwrb
— Royal Caribbean (@RoyalCaribbean) November 27, 2023
Now it’s time for Royal Caribbean to send the payment for their new baby -over US$2 Billion to Mayer Werft – a sum that more than doubles the building cost of Celebrity Edge and has broken the record of the Allure of the Seas, which had a construction cost of approximately $1.43 billion.
RCCL has ordered a total of three ICON class ships at this point, which will be delivered in Q2/2025 and Q2/2026, respectively. By then, we will know if the deployment of this new class of mega vessel is a huge success or a huge flop, depending on how the passengers like it.
Would you travel on a cruise ship with 7,600 other guests plus another 2,350 staff (which means close to 10,000 people will be swarming the cruise ship)??
When Royal Caribbean launches Icon of the Seas in late 2023, it intends to deliver, “the most transformational ship the world has ever seen.”
Icon of the Seas will sail from Miami beginning January 27, 2024 and offer alternative Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings, with every single itinerary visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay.
The ship itself will be delivered at the end of October or early November 2023 and since it is the first ship of a new class, extra testing and adjusting will be required before she can enter service. Combined with the holidays at the end of the year, the first revenue sailing won’t take place until late January.
Icon of the Seas is big!
She has 20 decks and has a capacity at double occupancy of 5,610 passengers, and up to 7,600 passengers if every cabin is maxed out.
She’s 1197 feet long.
- 20 total decks (18 guest decks)
- 5,610 guests @ double capacity and 7,600 max guests
- 2,350 crew (bringing ULTIMATE total to 9,950 guests)
- 7 pools, 9 whirlpools
- 6 record-breaking waterslides
- 250,800 GT
- 1,198 feet long
That’s definitely a whopper. When I first read these numbers I was shocked but of course these are maximums and considering the size of the ship they can be deceptive.
I decided to look at this with an open mind and let it surprise me. One thing I have to admit right away, the images are spectacular:
The interior courtyard:
The massive Aft with large pool landscapes:
Lovers of pools and waterslides will definitely get their money’s worth:
A beautiful, colorful promenade (even though I wouldn’t want a room facing this zero privacy area):
Sunset view lounge space? Yes, please!
The Aqua Dome at night:
The standard “Balcony” cabins are modeled after the Infinite Verandas that are currently on Celebrity Edge, love them or hate them:
This ship is obviously massive. What I’m concerned about is the scenes on embarkation and debarkation. I don’t want to imagine what happens on tender days if the ship ever requires to undergo a tendering operation.
With the first commercial sailing still about 15 months out, there is still some time to plan or consider booking a cruise on this vessel. The maiden voyage will be out of Miami, which is a bit inconvenient for me, but should my path ever cross an itinerary where the Icon of the Seas is sailing, I’m inclined to try it at least once to experience it.
Here is the pricing of a random ICON sailing at the end of January 2024 (the maiden Voyage):
These prices are per person based on double occupancy plus port taxes, so a one-week balcony Caribbean sailing will come at roughly US$5,000. That’s an insane pricing for a Caribbean cruise!
Of course, one has to consider the concept of Royal Caribbean, which is more family-oriented than their Celebrity Cruises arm. The design of the ships also pays tribute to that.
After all, kids need to have something fun to do during the day, and I think a Celebrity Edge would be too boring for most children. Even teenagers probably feel out of place. For that age group, an RCCL ship is definitely the better choice, and that only contributes to the parents enjoying the vacation as well.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has taken delivery of their Icon of the Seas with big fanfare, and the ship is going to be available for commercial sailings from late January 2024. The sailings that are currently listed aren’t that attractive yet in terms of pricing, and usually, it takes a few months until the market has corrected itself, similar to new hotels.
Unless you have a thing for going on maiden voyages of new cruise ships, I wouldn’t recommend booking one, as there will be many kinks that are yet to be evened out. That’s just a natural thing, no matter how many test runs you do with mock passengers, nothing will ever replicate the “trial by fire” with real paying guests who expect perfection and will complain if things go wrong.
Would you sail on such a big ship, or are you even booked on the inaugural cruise?