Royal Caribbean’s Icon Class: Unpacking the Hype and Reality

The majestic ‘Icon Class’ by Royal Caribbean is currently causing ripples across the cruise industry’s vast oceans.

Its inaugural vessel, the record-breaking ‘Icon of the Seas‘, elevates the cruising experience by leaps and bounds, reaffirming Royal Caribbean’s knack for reimagining the magic of ocean voyages.

Curious about what sets the Icon Class apart? Is it worth the hype?

What Is Royal Caribbean’s Icon Class?

Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean is known for their incredible cruise ships, and the Icon Class is no exception.

Icon Class is a new and impressive class of ships that’s set to make its debut in 2024. With at least three ships planned, including the world’s largest, you can expect nothing short of an unforgettable experience.

Now, you might be wondering what sets the Icon Class apart from other Royal Caribbean ships. Well, these ships are designed to be the most sustainable in the fleet, thanks to their use of liquefied natural gas (LNG). This means that not only will you enjoy a luxurious vacation, but you’ll also be doing your part in reducing your carbon footprint.

As the first ship of the Icon Class, Icon of the Seas is scheduled to set sail in early 2024. This amazing vessel, along with the other ships in its class, will combine the best features from previous Royal Caribbean ships, offering you a top-notch vacation experience.

Some highlights you can look forward to on the Icon Class ships include:

  • A variety of adults-only features and attractions
  • Cutting-edge architecture combined with innovative design
  • Environmentally friendly technologies for a sustainable vacation experience

With luxurious amenities, state-of-the-art facilities, and a commitment to sustainability, the Icon Class will truly be a game-changer in the world of cruising.

What Class is Icon of the Seas?

Icon of the Seas belongs to the brand-new Icon Class created by Royal Caribbean. Set to make its grand entrance in 2024, this class of ships will be the largest of its kind. With Icon of the Seas leading the way, the Icon Class is expected to consist of at least three ships.

Two additional vessels are planned to follow in this remarkable fleet, Star of the Seas and a third-unnamed one.

Brimming with sensational firsts, Icon of the Seas enhances the already extraordinary features of the Oasis Class ships, providing an unforgettable onboard experience for the whole family to cherish.

Is Icon Class Bigger Than Oasis Class?

Royal Caribbean Icon Class Ship, Icon of the Seas

The Icon Class surpasses the Oasis Class in size. Icon of the Seas, the first ship in the Icon Class, holds the title of the world’s largest cruise ship, overtaking Wonder of the Seas from the Oasis Class.

Royal Caribbean has consistently held the title for the world’s biggest cruise ship starting with the introduction of the Freedom of the Seas of the Freedom-class in 2006, and the title has simply moved from one ship to another within the Royal Caribbean fleet.

Oasis of the Seas became the world’s largest ship in 2009 until it was surpassed by Harmony of the Seas (2016), Symphony of the Seas (2018), and then Wonder of the Seas (2022) with incremental size increases.

Icon of the Seas sets itself apart from Wonder of the Seas as it is approximately 5% larger in gross tonnage. It can accommodate 600 more passengers, and it also features two extra decks.

When Icon-class ships were initially announced in 2016, they were not expected to be larger than Oasis-class ships. The projection was for the Icon Class to have a gross tonnage of around 200,000 GT, making them approximately 10% smaller than the Oasis Class.

However, this changed in 2022 when it was confirmed that the Icon Class would take the crown as the largest in the world, starting with Icon of the Seas in 2024 and followed by two more ships in 2025 and 2026.

New and Noteworthy Features on Royal Caribbean’s Icon-Class Ships

Royal Caribbean Aquadome

Embarking on Royal Caribbean’s Icon-class ships, you’ll likely notice some familiarity from their Oasis-class counterparts, such as the Royal Promenade and Central Park neighborhoods. However, you’ll also find a whole new world of features and neighborhoods to explore on these cutting-edge vessels.

On the Icon-class ships, you’ll experience a total of eight distinct neighborhoods, with six of them being entirely new additions. One fresh neighborhood, Surfside, is specifically designed for families to enjoy. Additionally, you’ll find two innovative top-deck recreation areas: Chill Island and Thrill Island.

Among the most striking design elements of the Icon-class ships are the AquaDome and the Pearl. The AquaDome is an enormous glass-enclosed space, boasting a spectacular 50-foot waterfall as its centerpiece, and accommodating the AquaTheater as evening entertainment. The Pearl, on the other hand, offers a remarkable multi-sensory walkway situated along the Royal Promenade.

These well-crafted neighborhoods, including a separate suite-only complex, ensure that crowding is prevented while providing endless entertainment for passengers throughout the day.

Whether you prefer spending your time poolside, at the ice-skating rink, enjoying a Broadway-style performance, or indulging in food and drinks, Royal Caribbean’s Icon-class ships have got you covered.

Icon-Class Ships Feature a Suites-Only Neighborhood

Experience luxury in the Suite Neighborhood on Icon-class ships. Spanning four decks and covering over 60,000 square feet, this exclusive area offers a range of amenities and suite types to elevate your cruising experience.

Relish in the two-deck dining area, Coastal Kitchen, complete with two bars. Upstairs, relax on the two-level sundeck with a pool and whirlpool while enjoying casual Mediterranean fare at The Grove.

With eight unique suite types, Icon-class ships cater to your preferences, whether they’re within the Suite Neighborhood or other areas like Surfside and the aft of the ship. The neighborhood showcases opulent accommodations like the two-deck Royal Loft Suites, the Infinite Grand Suite, and the Sky Junior Suite.

Depending on your suite, indulge in special perks such as Royal Genie butler service, complimentary internet, specialty dining and beverages, ensuite dining options, and free access to the spa’s thermal suite. Enjoy a lavish cruise surrounded by comfort and elegance in the Suite Neighborhood.

Not to mention all the amazing Suite Perks you get!

Who Are Royal Caribbean’s Icon-Class Ships Ideal For?

Icon-class ships by Royal Caribbean are specifically designed to cater to families, especially young families. These ships include a unique neighborhood known as Surfside, dedicated to providing family-specific cabins, suites, and activities.

Parents can look forward to numerous water features, splash pools, and slides, along with convenient family eateries, bars, and easy access to the kids’ club just one level below.

The Surfside Family Suite offers special accommodations for families with young kids, such as designated sleeping areas with Bluetooth-enabled TVs, age-appropriate beds, and privacy curtains for a comfortable stay.

For thrill-seekers, Icon-class ships offer adrenaline-inducing attractions such as Category 6 waterslides, a 4-deck drop slide called Frightening Bolt, a climbing wall, and the Crown’s Edge zip wire that extends off the side of the ship.

Classic favorites like the FlowRider surf simulator are also available for guests who enjoy action-packed experiences.

 FlowRider surf simulator

On the other hand, if you desire some quiet time, you can visit the Pearl Cafe or the AquaDome during the daytime.

However, it’s essential to note that the large scale of these ships can make finding uncrowded areas challenging, and they may not be ideal for those seeking peace and solitude.

One notable improvement in Icon-class ships compared to Oasis-class vessels is the ample natural light available.

Sunlight floods many areas, such as the Royal Promenade, Central Park, and the SkyDome, which features glass panels for an inviting atmosphere.

Royal Caribbean Oasis Class vs. Icon Class

When comparing Royal Caribbean’s Oasis and Icon class ships, you’ll notice similarities in their immense sizes, as they carry around 5,200 and 5,600 passengers, respectively.

Both classes feature the distinctive Central Park area and are organized into themed neighborhoods for easy navigation on these massive vessels.

You’ll find many familiar dining, entertainment, and accommodation options on both Oasis and Icon class ships. Yet, the Icon class introduces several exciting new options: 20 new dining choices, 14 accommodation variations, the Wizard of Oz Broadway show, and the immersive AquaDome at the front of the ship.

While experiencing either ship, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy the vast range of amenities, making your cruise a memorable one.

Royal Caribbean Quantum Class vs. Icon Class

The primary difference between Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class and Icon-class ships lies in their carrying capacity, with Quantum-class ships accommodating over 1,000 fewer passengers.

Additionally, Quantum-class ships exhibit a conventional cruise ship design, while Icon-class vessels boast a distinct hollowed-out center known as Central Park.

Quantum-class ships are renowned for their innovative technology, such as the Two70 hi-tech theater situated at their aft, the impressive North Star observation pod, the simulated sky-diving experience RipCord by iFly, and a SeaPlex area complete with bumper cars.

Both classes feature a Royal Promenade; however, Icon-class ships incorporate a remarkable focal point, The Pearl, and are characterized by abundant natural light.

Both ship classes employ robotics in various areas, like the Two70 theater on Quantum-class vessels and the AquaDome on Icon-class ships. Familiar dining options, such as Izumi and Chops Grille, can be found on both classes, but Icon-class ships introduce new culinary and drinking experiences with Pier 7 and a Dueling Pianos bar.

Lastly, the Icon-class boasts an exclusive suites-only neighborhood, complete with a private restaurant, bars, and sundeck. It also dedicates a separate area, Surfside, exclusively for kids.


Royal Caribbean Panoramic Suite

Room Categories

On the Icon-class ships, like the Icon of the Seas, you’ll find an array of room options to choose from across 28 unique categories. These cruise ships provide some of the most spacious rooms Royal Caribbean has ever designed.

In fact, they introduced new categories of cabins, neighborhoods, and views that have never been offered before on their ships!

The Ultimate Family Townhouse, the fleet’s first three-story suite, offers luxury and space for everyone. Alternatively, the Surfside Family Suite provides cozy alcoves for youngsters while maintaining proximity to water-based activities.

Icon Class not only upgrades its suite choices; Inside Plus cabins present an innovative design with a spacious divider between the room and bathroom.

Even crew quarters have been improved, ensuring restful nights for all onboard.


When it comes to amenities, Royal Caribbean’s Icon-class ships don’t disappoint. You’ll find the convenience and comfort of concierge service, which not only helps with any questions or requests you might have but also provides priority boarding and departure privileges, and dedicated entertainment seating. This ensures that every aspect of your vacation flows smoothly.

In addition, if you choose to indulge in one of Royal Caribbean’s luxurious suites, you’ll get to experience the ultimate at-sea experience. These suites come with more space and comfort, perfect for making some unforgettable memories.

Along with these benefits, the Icon-class ships offer various pools catering to different moods, including the largest pool at sea, the Royal Bay. So, whether you’re a thrill-seeker or prefer a more laid-back atmosphere, Icon of the Seas has something for everyone.

Remember, the key to enjoying your cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Icon-class ships is choosing the right accommodations and amenities to suit your needs and tastes.

With a wide variety of options available, you’re sure to have the perfect vacation experience aboard these innovative cruise ships!

Comparing Icon Class to Other Royal Caribbean Classes

Here’s an easy comparison of the Icon vs. other classes in the Royal Caribbean fleet:

  • Icon Class: With 3 ships, these giants have an average gross tonnage of 250,800 and a remarkable guest capacity of 7,600. Their launch dates range from 2024 to 2026.
  • Quantum Ultra Class: These 2 ships weigh in at 169,000 gross tons and accommodate 5,566 guests on average. They were launched between 2019 and 2021.
  • Quantum Class: Consisting of 3 ships with a gross tonnage of 169,000 and a guest capacity of 4,905, these vessels made their debut from 2014 to 2016.
  • Oasis Class: With 6 ships, they have an average gross tonnage of 228,000 and can carry 6,820 passengers. They were introduced between 2008 and 2024.
  • Freedom Class: These 3 ships weigh 154,000 gross tons and host 4,616 guests. They made their first appearance from 2006 to 2008.
  • Radiance Class: Comprised of 4 ships with 90,000 gross tons, they can accommodate 2,496 passengers. They were launched between 2001 and 2004.
  • Voyager Class: With 5 ships, their gross tonnage averages 138,000, and they can carry 3,858 guests. They were first introduced from 1999 to 2003.
  • Vision Class: Featuring 4 ships, they have a gross tonnage of 78,000 and accommodate 2,525 passengers. They made their debut between 1996 and 1998.

The Icon-Class indeed marks a significant step forward by Royal Caribbean. As the newest, largest, and most environmentally friendly in the fleet, they surpass the innovative features introduced with the Quantum Class in 2014.

History of the Icon Class

The Icon Class emerged in October 2016, initially dubbed “Project Icon.” At a similar time, Royal Caribbean trademarked the name “Icon of the Seas,” solidifying the title.

Initially, two ships were planned, but a third ship was added to the order in July 2019, set to debut in 2025. However, due to global disruptions slowing down construction, the launch dates have been adjusted, and the ships are now anticipated to set sail in 2024, 2025, and 2026, respectively.

Reason for Development

The inception of Royal Caribbean’s Icon Class likely stems from a combination of strategic decisions and market observations.

Within the vast expanse of the cruising industry, there always lies the potential for undiscovered niches or underrepresented demands.

Royal Caribbean, with its keen market acumen, might have identified certain unique amenities or a demographic yearning for a different kind of cruising experience. This realization could have sown the first seeds for the Icon Class.

Also, brands are always evolving. For Royal Caribbean, the introduction of a novel ship class might not just be about adding another vessel to their fleet.

Instead, it could be a strategic move to rejuvenate the brand, making it resonate with both newcomers and the cruise line’s loyalists.

On top of all this, in the fiercely competitive waters of the cruise industry, standing still is not an option. The emergence of the Icon Class could be Royal Caribbean’s response to rival cruise lines, an assertive move to stay not just afloat but to lead the fleet.

The Icon Class might represent their commitment to offering unparalleled experiences, ensuring they remain at the industry’s forefront.

The dawn of new technologies ushers in a realm of possibilities. The Icon Class might be Royal Caribbean’s ode to modernity, integrating state-of-the-art technological innovations to enrich the passenger experience.

By leveraging the latest advancements, they can redefine what’s possible on a cruise.

In Summary…

You might be a committed Royal Caribbean fan or a first-time cruiser, regardless, the Icon of the Seas offers a thrilling experience worth exploring.

This ship boasts cutting-edge technology, spacious accommodations, and a variety of entertainment options. It’s impossible to experience everything in one cruise, so multiple visits might be enticing.

As additional Icon-class ships are introduced in the upcoming years, more people will have the opportunity to enjoy this next-generation cruising experience.

Icon of the Seas, along with the soon-to-come Icon class ships, are a must-experience for any and all cruise ship lovers.

Royal Caribbean Cruises have really raised the bar with this new class and we are excited to see the next two ships on this groundbreaking fleet.

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