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What The World's Biggest Cruise Ship is Really Like (From an Experienced Cruiser's Perspective)

Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, Icon Class
Icon of the Seas | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

In the history of cruising, there has never been as much hype around a cruise ship as there has been with Icon of the Seas. This has been the most anticipated ship since Royal Caribbean announced her, with Royal fans, seasoned cruisers, and folks who have never even stepped foot on a cruise ship before unable to stop talking about her. She is set to make her inaugural voyage on January 27th- and at Harr Travel, we were fortunate enough to get to sail on her before her official debut. This was our takeaway from cruising on the largest cruise ship in the world, as experienced cruisers who have been on many incredible ships throughout the years.

The Largest Cruise Ship at Sea
Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, Icon Class
Icon of the Seas | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

With 20 decks, massive venues, and a wide array of neighborhoods, Icon is part thrill, part chill, and 100% fun all wrapped up in one incredible cruise vacation. Even after 4 days on the ship, we were still discovering venues and spaces that we hadn't spent any time in. It is safe to say you will never be bored on Icon. Whether you are on a week, or even back-to-back cruises- there is plenty to do and see that will keep you entertained and engaged.

Endless Neighborhoods

Part of the reason why Icon will never let you get bored is the incredible amount of areas on the ship. Each area is it's own "neighborhood", with its own distinct vibe and personality. As you cruise you will discover your favorite neighborhoods that you will keep going back to time and time again, and with the amount of people onboard (Icon can hold over 7000 at full capacity), no one spot will feel too crowded because of how divided up the ship is.

Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean, AquaDome
The AquaDome | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

AQUADOME | This is the huge glass dome in the crown of the ship. Royal took the AquaTheater from the Oasis Class ships, and moved it into the dome on Icon, creating a distinct new neighborhood that offers a lounge space, Hooked Seafood, a coffee and cocktail bar, shopping, a new food hall, and of course, the incredible AquaTheater show in the new semi-circular format, so everyone has the best views in the house!

Surfside Family Neighborhood, Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas
Surfside Family Neighborhood | Photo Copyright: Harr Travel

SURFSIDE | The Surfside Family Neighborhood is located in the aft on Deck 7, and is the family fun zone onboard! Kids and parents alike can spend the whole day there, enjoying the splash pad, wading pools, carousel, the Surfside Eatery for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, quick grab-and-go options at Surfside Bites, and of course a Sprinkles soft serve station. In addition the Arcade is located here, along with some retail, the new Pier 7 restaurant, and Lemon Post- the spot for a delicious cocktail or kiddo mocktail!

Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, Chill Island, Cloud 17 Pool
Cloud 17 Pool, Chill Island | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

CHILL ISLAND | Up toward the top of the ship you will find the relaxing Chill Island. Here there are several different sundeck spaces located on Deck 15, 16, and 17. On each level you can grab a drink at the Lime and Coconut Bar (there are 4 Lime and Coconuts on the ship!), and then relax in the sun, or at one of the incredible pools. The Swim and Tonic pool offers a swim-up bar, the perfect place to hang out with friends and catch a few rays. The Cloud 17 Pool is located at the edge of the ship, with an infinity feel, so you don't know where the pool water ends and the ocean begins! The largest of the pools is on Deck 17- the Royal Bay pool, and nearby is the delicious El Loco Fresh where you can grab complimentary mexican cuisine to enjoy poolside.

Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, Crown's Edge, Thrill Island
Crown's Edge, Thrill Island | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

THRILL ISLAND | This is the space for the adventurers and risk takers! Category 6, the largest water park at sea, is located here, offering 6 distinct water slides from raft slides to the tallest drop slide at sea! For another stomach dropping activity, look no further than the Crown's Edge, a rope course and zipline off the side of the ship. Guests will be harnessed in and then make their way around the course, ending on the "edge", 16 stories above the water, where the platform will drop out from beneath and they will zipline back around and to the finish line. At the very aft you will also find the FlowRider surf simulator where you and your friends can try a bit of surfing or bodyboarding. There is also a bit of rock climbing at Thrill Island, with beautiful ocean vistas surrounding you.

For more chill vibes, grab a putter and take to the mini golf course- Lost Dunes. And while you are in Thrill Island, don't forget to grab some delicious waffle chicken or cheese curds at the brand new fast-casual food venue- Basecamp.

Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, The Hideaway
The Hideaway | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

THE HIDEAWAY | This is the adult's only section located above the Surfside Family Neighborhood at the very aft of the ship. It is very private, as the only access is stairs leading down from Thrill Island. Here there are several hot tubs, a sundeck space, a bar, and the first suspended infinity pool at sea!

Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, The Royal Promenade, The Pearl
The Pearl, Royal Promenade | Photo Copyright: Harr Travel

ROYAL PROMENADE | The classic Royal Caribbean venue that has been on many ships before Icon, the Royal Promenade is the center of the ship, and on Icon it is bigger and better than ever before! At the very heart of it is The Pearl, a huge orb-like main staircase that leads to the complimentary Pearl Cafe for a quick bite, and incredible views off the side of the ship. This is the first time large windows and natural light have been in the Promenade, and it truly makes the space feel even larger and more spacious.

In addition to the Pearl Cafe, there are several other food and bar options including the Schooner Bar, Dueling Pianos, Boleros, Sorrento's Pizza, Starbucks, Giovanni's Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar, and Point & Feather Pub. There are also several retail options including the Crown & Anchor for all your Royal and Icon merch, and the guests services desk is also located here. At the very aft is the main dining room, as well as Absolute Zero, the ice rink venue where you can enjoy a bit of skating as well as the incredible ice shows!

Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, Central Park, Lou's Jazz & Blues
Lou's Jazz & Blues, Central Park | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

CENTRAL PARK | One of the favorite neighborhood venues from the Oasis Class ships has been brought to Icon, but with a few incredible changes. There are still thousands of live plants, including 4 live plant walls- all taken care of by the ship's onboard horticulturist. As you stroll through the park, you can stop by the Trellis Bar, Lou's Jazz & Blues, or Bubbles for a delicious drink with friends. Izumi Hibachi and Sushi has been relocated to the park on Icon, and includes a new takeout window where guests can order sushi and bubble cone ice cream as late as 10pm! Chops Grill is also in the park, with indoor and outdoor seating, and a new butcher's counter where you can select the exact cut of meat you would like.

There is retail throughout, so you can shop for some diamond jewelry or a watch to remember your time onboard. At the center of the park is the Park Cafe, a complimentary quick-bites stop with delicious sandwich options.

Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, The Grove, The Suite Sundesk, The Suite Neighborhood
The Grove | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

THE SUITE NEIGHBORHOOD | The neighborhood designed specifically for suite guests has been expanded on Icon. The Grove is the new pool and sundeck space, with two different levels offering a variety of loungers and daybeds, a hot tub, and a relaxing pool. In addition the Grove Restaurant is a small buffet offering fresh mediterranean fare, complemented by the Grove Bar just across the way with skilled bartenders and delicious cocktail options.

Just below is the Coastal Kitchen Restaurant, with a new location overlooking the Aquadome. Here guests can relax in the lounge space, grab a drink, and then sit down for a superb dinner while watching the incredible Aqua Show right from their table.

Incredible Accommodations

Royal has brought an elegant and elevated vibe throughout all their suites and staterooms, while still keeping the classic Royal Caribbean feel. While all the accommodation options on Icon are amazing, here are a few of the new categories that we fell in love with:

Ultimate Family Townhouse, Star Class, Icon of the Seas, Icon Class, Royal Caribbean
Ultimate Family Townhouse | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

ULTIMATE FAMILY TOWNHOUSE | Walking through this 3-story family paradise, our jaws couldn't help but drop. The colorful rooms, indoor slide, movie theater, and interactive dining room table were just some of the many incredible highlights throughout the space. While this is the only Star Class suite not located in the Suite Neighborhood, the private access to the Surfside Family Neighborhood cannot be beat. There has never been a more family-oriented suite than the Ultimate Family Townhouse, and we are in love and know you will be too.

Royal Caribbean, Icon Loft, Icon of the Seas
Icon Loft | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

ICON LOFT | The loft style suites are very popular options, so we were not surprised when Royal announced the Icon Loft would be a new Star Class suite option onboard Icon. This elegant space opens up with 2-story windows, a large living room, and a loft bedroom with the bed facing the incredible ocean views. Royal also has an accessible Icon Loft, which we could not be more excited about. Having a wheelchair accessible Star Class suite is a gamechanger, and we know the public will be huge fans of this option.

Royal Caribbean, Sunset Corner Suite, Icon of the Seas
Sunset Corner Suite | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

SUNSET CORNER SUITE | This Sky Class suite is located at the aft on the corner, giving guests the ultimate wrap-around balcony with views over the aft and Surfside Family Neighborhood, or the aft and side of the ship, depending on which suite you choose. There is an amazing amount of space, and the views of the sunsets cannot be beat.

Over-the-Top Entertainment
Royal Caribbean, Absolute Zero, Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
Absolute Zero | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

As always, Royal hits it out of the park in the entertainment category, and Icon is no exception. There are many different unique entertainment venues onboard, located in different areas of the ship, all with incredible, over-the-top shows! Here are a few highlights:

AQUA SHOWS | Located in the new AquaDome, the popular Aqua shows are back on Icon! With the new semi-circle layout, every guest has the best seat in the house for showtime. This performance has been ingeniously crafted, and will blow you away with the light shows, acrobatic feats, diving and swimming tricks, an incredible skateboarding on a halfpipe built by robots that are also part of the show. This is sure to be the highlight of your trip- it was for us!

THE WIZARD OF OZ | This classic production is making its first Royal Caribbean appearance on Icon, and can be enjoyed in the beautiful Royal Theater. Watch skillfully choreographed dances, hear the slightly updated classic tunes, and marvel as the actors fly over the audience on wires during several mesmerizing acts.

ICE SHOW | Absolute Zero is the ice rink onboard, and not only can you enjoy skating during the day, but the ice show Starburst will have you marveling at this incredible dances and stunts performed on skates by the highly talented Royal skating team. The rink on Icon is round, with seating in a circle, so you won't miss any of the action during the show.

THE MUSIC HALL | Grab a drink with friends and get on your feet to enjoy the incredibly talented rock bands playing on Icon. The Music Hall is a classic Royal venue, and is always a popular stop after dinner for a cocktail and a great performance that will have you singing late into the night.

In addition to these incredible stage performance venues, you will be able to enjoy delightful music and entertainment at The Attic, Boleros, Dueling Pianos, Lou's Jazz & Blues, Schooner Bar, and throughout the ship! We didn't have to go far on Icon to find music blasting and entertainers performing for all the guests.

Perfect Destinations
Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, Perfect Day at CocoCay
Icon of the Seas at CocoCay | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

Icon is offering week long cruises throughout the Caribbean, the perfect location for this new Royal Caribbean ship! She will be sailing from her home port of Miami, and will take guests to beautiful destinations such as Cozumel, St. Maartan, St. Thomas, and of course a Perfect Day at CocoCay! Onboard Icon are thrills, chills, entertainment, delicious food, and everything in between, so to be able to continue that same feel and take it to the next level on CocoCay makes Icon the perfect ship to stop at this private island.

Final Thoughts

Icon has a whole lot of everything for everyone, making it an incredible option for single families, multi-generational families, couples, and friend groups. Each neighborhood has its own feel, so everyone can find their favorite spot onboard; and the vast and varied activities and shows will ensure every guest is entertained on their vacation.

We have never seen anything quite like Icon before, and we are excited for the public to experience her too! She truly is an epic start to Royal Caribbean's new Icon Class, and we look forward with eager anticipation for the Star of the Seas and the rest of the ships to come!

Booking Your Cruise

Now that you are ready to book your ultimate cruise vacation on Icon of the Seas, reach out to the experts at Harr Travel. We know Icon inside and out, and have an amazing relationship with Royal Caribbean. Our advisors will craft the iconic cruise of a lifetime for you, your friends, family, or group at an incredible rate, and give you the Harr Travel signature service every step of the way.

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Day 1 of the Inaugural is almost in the books. Wow is all I can say. Loving this Big Girl. Best ship ever for us. Thanks Harr Travel for making this special and also happen for us.

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