What distinguishes this vessel is its grandiosity and a myriad of unique features.
There is nothing subtle about the world’s largest cruise ship, the Icon of the Seas, crafted by Royal Caribbean. Stretching almost 1,200 feet in length and boasting a gross tonnage of 250,800, it resembles a towering, multilayered birthday cake. Adorned with seven swimming pools, a whimsical striped carousel, tropical greenery groves, and vibrant waterslides in green, pink, blue, and orange, the ship is a spectacle.
The maiden voyage of this $2 billion marvel commenced from the Port of Miami at sunset on a Saturday, commanding attention with fireboat salutes and a banner flag flyover upon its arrival. Lionel Messi, the Argentine soccer star, played a role in the ship’s christening on January 23, assuming the title of the “godfather.”
Officially claiming the title of the world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas surpasses Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, which, introduced in early 2022, trails closely behind in size at 1,188 feet long and 235,600 gross tons.
With a passenger capacity of 7,600 guests and a crew of 2,350—equivalent to the entire population of Sedona, Arizona—Icon of the Seas promises an array of superlatives and firsts. The ship’s attractions include Category 6, a 17,000-square-foot water park spanning Decks 16 and 17, featuring slides like Frightening Bolt and the first family raft slides at sea.
Noteworthy is the ship’s environmentally conscious design. Although social media generated buzz and polarized opinions about its grandeur and potential environmental impact, Royal Caribbean asserts that Icon of the Seas is 24% more energy-efficient than current ship design standards. The ship operates on liquefied natural gas (LNG), a choice that has sparked criticism due to the methane emissions associated with LNG production.
The vessel’s features cater to various demographics, with eight distinct onboard “neighborhoods” offering something for everyone. From family-focused areas like Surfside with its Seussian carousel to The Hideaway, an adult-oriented space featuring a suspended infinity pool, the ship aims to compete directly with land resorts, according to Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic.
Icon of the Seas has garnered significant interest among cruise enthusiasts, with McDaniel noting its groundbreaking status as the first in a new class of Royal Caribbean ships since 2014. The ship’s popularity prompted the early opening of bookings for its sister ship, Star of the Seas, set to debut in August 2025.
With over 40 onboard restaurants, bars, and lounges, including pay-extra offerings like a walk-up sushi window and a specialty restaurant with a $200 per person menu, Icon of the Seas presents an array of dining options. Accommodations range from 157-square-foot interior cabins to the luxurious three-story Ultimate Family Townhouse.
The ship boasts engineering marvels, such as the AquaDome, housing a theater and Royal Caribbean’s first food hall, and the Pearl, a sphere-shaped structure on the World Promenade offering panoramic ocean views.
Royal Caribbean’s President and CEO, Michael Bayley, asserts that Icon of the Seas fulfills the company’s vision, emphasizing its suitability for the Caribbean and broader family vacation market. According to Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean’s Chief Product Innovation Officer, the ship is designed to compete not just with other cruise ships but with any family vacation option worldwide, offering a blend of excitement and relaxation.