Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, set for delivery in the fall of 2023, with sailings out of PortMiami starting in January 2024, is set to dazzle the industry. Last month, during a 3D preview of the ship, media got a look at some of the new Icon-class offerings, and truth be told, they are spectacular. And we only caught a glimpse of what’s going to be on offer for your family clients when the Icon of the Seas—the first ship of the Icon class—debuts in less than two years. Keyword here: family. All ages are welcome, of course, but the experience is laser-focused on young families and multigenerational groups. And the best news—reservations are now open.
“The collective vision for the Icon class is that it’s part of the journey that Royal Caribbean has been known for as a brand,” Michael Bayley, president of Royal Caribbean, told the media attending the reveal event for Icon of the Seas, which took place at Royal Caribbean’s headquarters in Miami. “We started with a DNA of innovation, and we have a massive amount of people who have been loyal to Royal for a long time. We have a lot of passion for what we do, and we are acutely focused on our customer. We get great joy and happiness from making our customers happy. That’s what drives us—it’s about the passion for delivering a great vacation. Over the years, we’ve evolved our ship classes and our experiences; we fine-tune our thinking as it relates to who our customer is, and we’ve really focused on family. And as you move into Icon, our focus on family is probably the highest level it’s ever been.
“We’re going more and more towards delivering phenomenal vacations to family and this statement that we’ve made about the ‘world’s best family vacation’ is what Icon is going to be. I challenge any vacation option to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Icon and to be able to deliver the kind of vacation experience we’ll deliver to a family,” he added.
One of the splashiest debuts on the Icon of the Seas will be the Surfside neighborhood, where young families can hang out all day. It features a Baby Bay for kids 2 and under; the Splashaway Bay for kids aged 2 to 6; and the Water’s Edge pool for the adults in the group. And steps away are dining options, places to lounge, a bar, the signature carousel, an arcade, Adventure Ocean, and Social020 for teens.
But one of our favorite spots has got to be The Hideaway, a neighborhood sitting 135 ft. above the ocean that has a beach club vibe and the first suspended infinity pool at sea as its centerpiece, surrounded by a multilevel sun terrace with whirlpools, a variety of seating and a dedicated bar.
Speaking of bars, the 3-deck Chill Island area—where you’ll find four of the seven onboard pools—is home to the line’s first swim-up bar at sea, Swim & Tonic, as well as the largest pool at sea, Royal Bay Pool. This space is also the location of the adults-only retreat, Cloud 17, and the infinity-edge Cove Pool.
“[We’ve] taken the best of the most popular vacations and combined them on board the Icon the Seas,” Vicki Freed, sr. v.p., sales, trade support and service, told the media. “We’re not throwing out the best of our already successful product, we’re just enhancing some areas by adding more thrills.” She noted, too, that the dining and entertainment offerings are going to be vast, pointing out that no other cruise line comes close to Royal Caribbean’s entertainment offerings. “We have entertainment across four different stages, including the AquaTheater,” which features a transforming pool, four robotic arms and state-of-the-art projection.
Other highlights include Thrill Island, home to the largest water park at sea with six slides, including the industry’s first open free-fall slide, Pressure Drop, as well as the first family raft slides at sea and Crown’s Edge, which is part skywalk, part ropes course and part thrill ride, culminating in passengers swinging 154 ft. above the ocean. The Royal Promenade neighborhood will feature its first floor-to-ceiling ocean views, plus more than 15 restaurants, cafes, bars and lounges; and Central Park will be more lush and livelier with more dining options.
With all it has to offer, “cruising is already an incredible value,” said Freed, “but going on the Icon of the Seas is going to be your client’s best vacation value ever.”
But the most impressive element of all the “wows”is the amount and variety of stateroom and suite categories, including 14 new categories. The one that blew us away the most? The 3-story Ultimate Family Townhouse, complete with its own white picket fence and mailbox. Referring to the new Townhouse category, Freed noted, “It’s going to be the most priceless experience for a family. It’s not going to be inexpensive but it’s that iconic moment that people are going to want on vacation. We never have trouble selling the Ultimate Family Suite and because this is a 3-story townhouse, you will have the clientele
that says that’s what I want and you will have a waitlist on every sailing for that accommodation.”
Beyond the Townhouse, there’s the Family Infinite Balcony and Surfside Family Suite—with kids’ alcoves tucked away from the adults. For the best views, the brand’s first Sunset Corner Suites and Panoramic Ocean Views in AquaDome are highly recommendable.
“Eighty-two percent of the ship’s accommodations can hold a family of three+; we won’t be able fill that many as the ship can’t hold that many, but what it does allow is choice,” said Freed. “So, if a family says I want a balcony or I want ocean view that can accommodate four, we will have more choices.” Additionally, every single one of the staterooms in Surfside is a family stateroom.
Due to the number of categories and because half are new, Freed mentioned there will be lots of training for travel advisors. “There’s lots to learn on this ship,” she said.
Icon of the Seas will sail year-round on 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami, with both itineraries stopping at Perfect Day at CocoCay.
For more information on the ship, visit royalcaribbean.com/icon-of-the-seas/site.