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Icon of the Seas' stern (Rendering: Royal Caribbean)

What Are the Royal Caribbean Icon-Class Ships?

Icon of the Seas' stern (Rendering: Royal Caribbean)
U.K. Executive Editor
Adam Coulter

May 15, 2023

Read time
5 min read

Royal Caribbean's Icon-class ships will make their debut in a big way in early 2024 with the maiden voyage of Icon of the Seas. That ship, and likely the class itself, will keep Royal Caribbean at the head of the pack when it comes to launching the biggest entertainment-packed ships around the world.

While we only know details about Icon of the Seas itself so far, two more Icon-class ships have been confirmed by Royal Caribbean and construction has already begun on the second Icon-class ship which is likely to have many if not all of the same features as Icon of the Seas.

Amenities and features on Royal Caribbean's Icon-class ships expand some of the most famous offerings on their wildly popular Oasis class of ships. Using Icon of the Seas as a blueprint, Icon-class ships will have eight distinct neighborhoods, over 40 restaurants and 28 cabin types, including the three-floor Ultimate Family Townhouse. That family-friendly ethos carries over to the biggest water park at sea, the tallest dropside at sea, and the largest swimming pool at sea by volume.

With more to offer than any Royal Caribbean ship at sea (or any other, really), Royal Caribbean's Icon-class ships have already proved to be a huge hit with excited cruisers booking this ship faster than any other in Royal Caribbean's 50-year history.

Read on for Cruise Critic's breakdown of everything you need to know about Royal Caribbean's Icon-class of ships.

New And Noteworthy Features on Royal Caribbean's Icon-Class of Ships

Surfside Eateries on Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's Icon-class was imagined from scratch, with the line expanding its suite offerings and family-friendly extras. While the Icon-class ships will feel slightly familiar to those who've sailed on the line's Oasis-class ships before, including staple neighborhoods like the Royal Promenade and Central Park, the rest of the ship is new.

Those neighborhoods aside, Icon-class ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet are likely to take their cues from first-in-class Icon of the Seas. There are eight different neighborhoods, six of which are entirely new. The Surfside neighborhood is dedicated to families and there will be two new top-deck recreation areas on Icon-class ships, Chill Island and Thrill Island.

The Aquadome aboard Icon of the Seas (Rendering: Royal Caribbean)

If Icon of the Seas is the template for future Icon-class ships, the two biggest design wows in class are the AquaDome and the Pearl. The AquaDome is a huge glass-enclosed space with a 50-foot waterfall as its centerpiece and houses the AquaTheater at night; while the Pearl is an astonishing multi-sensory walkway on the Royal Promenade.

The eight Icon-class neighborhoods, including Royal's entirely separate suite-only complex, are designed to prevent crowding and keep passengers entertained all day, whether by the pools, at the ice-skating rink, taking in a Broadway-style show, or drinking and dining.

Icon-Class Ships Feature a Suites-Only Neighborhood

Panoramic Suite aboard Icon of the Seas (Rendering: Royal Caribbean)

The Suite Neighborhood on Icon-class ships spans four decks and 60,924 square foot of space, and features a two-deck dining area, Coastal Kitchen, with two bars; above is a two-level sundeck with a pool and whirlpool and a casual Mediterranean dining restaurant called The Grove.

Icon-class ships will have eight different suite types (though not all will be in the Suite Neighborhood -- some including the Ultimate Family Townhouse, are based in Surfside; while others are at the aft of the ship).

The Suite Neighborhood will feature the two-deck Royal Loft Suites, the Infinite Grand Suite and Sky Junior Suite.

Perks (depending on suite level) include butler service (known as a Royal Genie), free internet, free specialty dining and drinks, ensuite dining options and free access to the spa's thermal suite.

Who Are Royal Caribbean's Icon-Class Ships Best For?

Rendering of The Lemon Post Bar, Icon of the Seas (Rendering: Royal Caribbean)

From our tours of Icon of the Seas, it's clear Royal Caribbean continues to perfect its family-friendly ships with their Icon-class. That's especially true for young families. Icon-class ships are the first Royal Caribbean ships to feature a family-specific neighborhood of cabins, suites and activities called Surfside.

As well as a huge amount of water fountains, splash pools and slides, there are also dedicated casual family eateries, bars and easy access to the kids' club, just one deck below.

The Surfside Family Suite aboard Icon of the Seas (Rendering: Royal Caribbean)

There are also family rooms specially designed for families, where young kids get their own cool sleeping area, complete with Bluetooth-enabled TVs, smaller-sized beds designed for younger children and a privacy curtain.

The line also has a myriad of option for older kids who want more adrenaline-pumping sports such as the Category 6 waterslides, the 4-deck drop slide, Frightening Bolt, a climbing wall and the Crown's Edge zipwire which goes off the side of the ship.

The FlowRider surfing simulator aboard Wonder of the Seas (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

There are also the familiar favorites such as the FlowRider surf simulator. Just like Oasis-class ships, Icon-class ships are very much for the cruiser who wants to be engaged in some high-adrenaline activity or another.

There are places to curl up with a book, such as the Pearl Cafe and the AquaDome during the day, but by and large if you want peace and quiet and/or don't like crowds, then these megaships really aren't for you; it's hard to find an uncrowded spot anywhere (even the one calm spot, Central Park, now has a Jazz and Blues club installed. Royal has filled every possible space on Icon-class ships with a fun activity or experience.

One big difference is, taking on board the criticisms leveled at Oasis-class vessels about the lack of natural light, is that you'll find light everywhere now -- flooding into the Royal Promenade from the mezzanine floor; into Central Park, where there is a viewing spot above the Pearl and in the SkyDome, which is covered in glass panels.

Royal Caribbean Oasis Class vs. Icon Class

Central Park aboard Wonder of the Seas at night (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Anyone who has sailed on an Oasis-class vessel will spot similarities on Icon-class ships, not least the sheer size of the ships, which carry 5,200 vs. 5,600 passengers respectively.

Both classes of ships have a scooped out middle section (Central Park) and follow a similar layout, with themed neighborhoods for entertainment, kids, action or relaxing, which helps when trying to navigate such vast vessels.

There are also many familiar restaurants, bars, accommodations and entertainment options on offer on both Icon-class and Oasis-class ships.

However, Icon-class introduces 20 new dining options, 14 different accommodation types, a new Broadway show, Wizard of Oz and a spectacular section at the front of the ship called the AquaDome.

Royal Caribbean Quantum Class vs. Icon Class

TA Quantum of the Seas NorthStarF

The big difference between Royal Caribbean's Quantum-class of ships and Icon-class vessels is they carry more than 1,000 fewer passengers. Quantum-class also has a "traditional" cruise ship design, whereas Icon-class ships have a unique hollowed-out center, home to Central Park.

The most notable differences on Quantum-class vessels are the hi-tech theater at the aft of the ships, Two70; the huge eye-in-the-sky, North Star, that takes you up high above the ship; a simulated sky-diving feature RipCord by iFly and a SeaPlex area with bumper cars.

Both ships have a Royal Promenade, but on Icon-class vessels this will have a central feature called The Pearl, as well as lots of natural light. Both ships also use robotics, most notably in the Two70 theater on Quantum-class vessels and in the AquaDome on Icon-class. Both ship classes also have some of the same restaurants including Izumi and Chops Grille; however the Icon-class ships introduce new dining and drinking options including Pier 7 and a Dueling Pianos bar.

Icon-class also has a dedicated suites-only neighborhood, with its own restaurant, bars and sundeck; and a dedicated kids area, Surfside.

Updated May 15, 2023
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