Icon of the Seas will become the biggest cruise ship in the world when it begins sailing in January 2024, and Royal Caribbean International has made the most of the space the ship offers by incorporating a host of new, expansive venues and attractions. Icon will be divided into eight neighbourhoods, five of which have been designed specifically for the ship, and will offer over 20 dining venues and 15 bars and nightlife experiences.
Icon will also offer a range of new outdoor venues, which, like the ship, will break several industry records. Royal Bay will be the largest pool at sea, while Category 6 will be the biggest waterpark at sea and Frightening Bolt will be the tallest drop slide on a ship.
To enable guests to make the best use of these new attractions, the ship must sail itineraries to destinations with good weather. According to Bert Hernandez, senior vice president international at Royal Caribbean International, this is one of the main reasons the cruise line chose to base Icon in the Caribbean for its maiden season.
“Icon was designed to be the icon of vacations – one that combines the best of beach escapes, resort getaways and theme park thrills into one unforgettable family vacation,” says Hernandez. “With Icon’s debut in January, we needed to select a climate that was well suited to showcasing all of the incredible offerings guests will find onboard. Plus, we also wanted to ensure that guests on Icon had the opportunity to visit our private destination – Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas – where adventurers can create their ideal day.”
Icon will homeport in Miami for its inaugural season, offering seven-day Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries. The choice of Miami as the new ship’s first home was an easy one for the cruise line.
“Royal Caribbean has a long history in Miami as we have been sailing from there for more than 50 years,” says Hernandez. “As the ‘Cruise Capital of the World,’ Miami is the ideal option to welcome Icon when she arrives in January.”
During each week-long voyage onboard Icon, guests can expect to visit some of the most popular destinations in North America, with calls in Mexico, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Honduras and St. Maarten. They will also have the chance to experience a variety of different shore excursions along the way, says Hernandez.
“On the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, holidaymakers have their choice of picturesque locales from a new range of destinations,” he says. “Travellers can get their adrenaline fix ziplining through lush forests in Philipsburg, discover the rich history of San Juan and recharge in Royal Caribbean’s private destination, Labadee.
“If guests want to head west, then our island-hopping itinerary is for them. Guests can explore ancient Maya ruins in Puerto Costa Maya, marvel at the dense jungles of Roatan and swim in the crystal-clear waters of Cozumel.”
Both Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries onboard Icon will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay, which will open its first adults-only area, Hideaway Beach, in January just as the ship begins its first sailings. It will offer a private beach and pools, new venues for drinks and dining, exclusive cabanas, live music, and more.
“Perfect Day at CocoCay has been incredibly popular with guests since its inception and is our guest’s number-one-rated destination,” says Hernandez. “It is a destination that truly offers something for everyone, with experiences for children and families – such as the 13 waterslides at the record-breaking Thrill Waterpark and the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean – and now an adults-only paradise, Perfect Day at CocoCay is designed for every type of vacationer, from ship to shore.”
This article was first published in the 2024 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox.