After much anticipation, in late 2022, Royal Caribbean finally unveiled Icon of the Seas, their newest addition to the fleet set to sail in early 2024, and it’s nothing short of mind-blowing. Icon of the Seas, which will be part of Royal Caribbean’s all-new Icon class, meaning the design is a new concept, will be even larger than the current record holder: Wonder of the Seas. At 250,800 gross tons (gross tons refers to a ship’s overall internal volume), Icon of the Seas is 15,200 gross tons larger than Wonder of the Seas. With that additional space comes additional features that, as the cruise line itself is calling it, will make Icon of the Seas “the icon of vacations.” Moreover, many of these features will Icon will once again have Royal Caribbean at the helm of revolutionizing the cruising industry. While there are many reasons to look forward to sailing on board this ship, I’m highlighting my top three most anticipated features that are sure to pique your interest.
A Water Park at Sea
Water slides have become increasingly common on cruise ships. In fact, many of Royal Caribbean’s new cruise ships have them, and the company has been adding them to their older ships during renovations. Water slides are definitely a crowd-pleaser, so, of course, they’re included in the cost of your cruise aboard the cruise line’s newest prize possession. But Icon of the Seas won’t just feature a few water slides, it’ll boast a whopping six record-breaking water slides in what’s called Category 6, the largest water park at sea.
Thrill seekers: Icon of the Seas is calling your name because Category 6 will be home to the longest, tallest, and fastest slides at sea, including Pressure Drop, the industry’s first open free-fall slide; Frightening Bolt, the tallest drop slide at sea; Storm Surge & Hurricane Hunter, the first family raft slides at sea; and Storm Chasers, cruising’s first mat-racing duo. Talk about breaking records—Icon of the Seas does just that. The Category 6 water park is so large, it takes up much of the ship’s starboard side of the aft. Even better: the water park is expected to be included with your cruise fare.
The All-New AquaDome Neighborhood
Icon of the Seas will feature a total of eight neighborhoods, many of which are unique to this ship, and while all neighborhoods will likely be perplexing, the AquaDome neighborhood stands out. As Royal Caribbean states, it’s “a tranquil oasis by day [and] a vibrant hot spot by night.” Located at the forward top of the ship, AquaDome will be encased—as the name suggests—in a dome, making for a serene, weather-protected environment while offering awe-inspiring, 220-degree, wraparound views of the ocean.
Aside from serving as a place to take in the beauty of sailing, AquaDome will also include dining, bars, and lounging options. However, the neighborhood’s purpose extends beyond just that as the centerpiece of AquaDome is the next-level AquaTheater. Unlike Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class ships, which first introduced the AquaTheater, Icon of the Seas’ version is no longer at the back of the ship and is completely enclosed, providing an entirely new setting to host the cruise line’s marquee aqua shows. With the theater’s new location, Royal Caribbean will be capable of better executing the shows by having “control [of] the weather, control of the production values, the lighting, [and] the smoke effects […] at the touch of a button,” according to Nick Weir, Senior Vice President of Entertainment for Royal Caribbean. Additionally, robots as well as improved flying artists will be introduced to the aqua shows.
AquaDome is expected to be a truly transformational neighborhood, serving as a serene getaway during the daytime, complete with fountain shows throughout the day, and a hot spot in the evening, complete with top-notch entertainment. It’ll be exciting to see what AquaDome has in store when Icon of the Seas sets sail.
The Re-imagined Royal Promenade
Although many of Royal Caribbean’s ships have an indoor shopping and dining area, known as the Royal Promenade or Royal Esplanade, which is, essentially, each ship’s heartbeat, Icon of the Seas’ iteration will be completely re-imagined.
As you board the ship, you’ll be greeted by The Pearl, a new element to the Promenade that spans decks 5-8 and serves as a grand stairway within a unique sphere-shaped structure. Royal Caribbean has yet to share more information about The Pearl, but it’s expected that the structure will produce special effects and lighting features, making it even more eye-catching.
Additionally, expect a new contemporary design, new offerings, and a new layout. In total, 15 restaurants, cafes, bars, and lounges will encompass Icon of the Seas’ Royal Promenade. Plus, for the very first time, Royal Caribbean is adding floor-to-ceiling oceanview windows to the Promenade, allowing you to enjoy the wonders of sailing by “sea-ing” the sea. With this addition, there are more ways to take in the beauty of being at sea.
The Royal Promenade is a signature element for Royal Caribbean, and Icon of the Seas’ revamped concept of the Promenade is a welcome change that will make the area feel refreshed, grander, and more welcoming.
While there are many other exciting things to come on Icon of the Seas, some of which are yet to be revealed, I believe these three features are worthy of attention. When Icon of the Seas debuts in 2024, it will be more than just a cruise ship. As highlighted by Royal Caribbean, it will be a beach retreat, resort escape, and theme park adventure. These descriptive words refer to the amenities and activities onboard, including the Surfside neighborhood and enhanced pool areas, the accommodations and serene areas, and the Thrill Island neighborhood (home to the Category 6 water park), respectively. With Icon of the Seas, the cruise line hopes to deliver a revolutionary ship for every kind of family and adventurer.
To learn more about Icon of the Seas, click/tap here to read our post about the ship’s reveal.