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ShipsRoyal CaribbeanFirst Impressions of Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, the World's Largest...

First Impressions of Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, the World’s Largest Cruise Ship

I am currently on Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, the largest cruise ship ever built. It’s a three night preview cruise for members of the media and travel agents before the ship’s inaugural voyage this weekend.

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas (Left) is the largest cruise ship ever built and will sail its inaugural cruise this weekend.
Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas (Left) is the largest cruise ship ever built and will sail its inaugural cruise this weekend from Miami. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

After spending a few nights onboard, here are my first impressions of Icon of the Seas.

One of the first things that stood out to be about the Icon of the Seas is the amount of space on the ship. The Royal Promenade is so much more open that other Royal Caribbean cruise ships and all of the venues have open facades instead of a doorway to get in them.

Video Tour of Icon of the Seas

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While Icon of the Seas is a brand new class of ships, those who have sailed on an Oasis class vessel will find the basic layout of the ship semi-familiar but with one key difference. The cruise line connected the neighborhoods and it’s much easier to get from one to another now.

There’s a stairway to get from the Royal Promenade to Central Park.  From Surfside, which is located where Boardwalk is on Oasis class ships, you can go straight to Central Park or the Royal Promenade from it. I believe this will greatly improve the flow of traffic around the ship for those who are concerned with the number of passengers the ship carries.

Another pain point that Royal Caribbean looks to have fixed is the elevators.  The hallway where the elevators are located is huge and there’s 10 in each one. They are smart elevators, you push the floor you are going to and it tells you which elevator to get in.

At a press briefing yesterday, the cruise line said that they are using AI with the elevators to move people around the ship faster.  Even though the new system is already faster than the old one, they said in a few months that they will be able to tweak it for optimal performance based on data from the first few cruises.

Icon of the Seas is very colorful, from the shutters in Central Park to the main pool deck. Since the ship is sailing to the Caribbean, it instantly puts you in vacation mode.

There are more than 40 dining and drink venues on Icon of the Seas. I’m been attempting to try as many of them as possible on this three day cruise. We will have a complete rundown of everywhere to eat on this ship when the cruise is over.  So far, it’s been great.

Royal Caribbean has replaced Cafe Promenade with the Pearl Cafe and it’s one of the best changes Royal Caribbean did on this ship. There’s a 25-30 foot glass window which provides a great view of the ocean while you’re sailing. I am actually sitting there right now writing this first impressions article.

Under all of the couches, there are 110 outlets and USB, including USB-C, so you can plug in laptops and phones and work in this space. More people than ever are working while on cruises and this area is going to be popular for that.

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Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship
Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas docked in CocoCay ahead of its inaugural voyage. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Royal Caribbean has really raised the bar on entertainment on Icon of the Seas.  Yesterday, I was able to view STARBURST: Elemental Beauty in Absolute Zero, the cruise line’s new oval ice rink.  For those who know me, you know I’m usually not into most cruise entertainment. However, this show was phenomenal and loved how they brought in Viktor Kee as a guest star in it.  I remember watching him make it into the top 10 on America’s Got Talent and he’s the most incredible juggler I’ve ever seen.

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The biggest headliner show on Icon of the Seas is a full stage production of The Wizard of Oz. I was able to catch the first half of the show yesterday (had dinner so missed the second half) but plan on watching the rest of it today as it will have two more performances. Anyone who is a fan of the classic movie is going to love this show.

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The AquaDome is something you have to see and experience. It’s also a great lounge during the day with incredible views over the ship’s bow.

The Dueling Pianos venue is a hit and standing room only.

We are staying in an ocean view balcony cabin on deck 8. It has a decent size shower, plenty of power outlets, a couch, and a good size balcony. It has everything you need for a cruise.

The crew have been awesome as always. When I was getting a Coke on CocoCay, the bartender saw me and said, you came into the Schooner Bar the other day and also ordered a Coke. I didn’t remember him but he remembered me. Royal Caribbean does have some of the best crew members in the industry.

For those who have young children, you’re going to love Surfside. I have a three year old boy and wish he was here with me. He will never want to leave Surfside and it’s such a great space for kids.

Located where Boardwalk is on Oasis class ship, Surfside takes up this entire area and has everything from a waterpark to restaurants. It’s far and away the best area at sea for families with young children.

I have not seen Rover yet, the resident dog on Icon of the Seas. She’s a Golden Retriever and I heard she will spend a lot of time in Surfside with the kids.

The Royal Promenade on Icon of the Seas with The Pearl serving as the crown jewel of this area.

In an effort to connect guests to the sea as much as possible, you can now see the ocean from Central Park.

I am going to go and experience more of Icon of the Seas.  There’s the world’s largest cruise ship waterpark on the top deck calling my name and other features that I need to check out before I get off the ship tomorrow.

Cruise Fever will have more about this brand new cruise ship once the cruise is over so stay tuned for those articles. You can follow along on our cruise on Icon of the Seas on Facebook, X, Instagram, and TikTok (Username: @CruiseFever).

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises, and flown nearly one million miles. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, Drudge Report, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
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