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Icon of the Seas Activities

View of Central Park on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Storm Surge waterslide on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
Aqua Action show on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
Surfside neighborhood on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
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Jorge Oliver

Entertainment & Activities

Theater and Shows on Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas’ main stage is found in the Royal Theater. The venue spans decks 4 and 5 on the forward end of the ship. The Royal Theater currently stages two productions: The Wizard of Oz and Showband! On our sailing, we got to see the former, which is the first rendition of L. Frank Baum’s classic at sea. While the show starts off as a slightly modern representation of the story, it quickly turns into a fairly faithful rendition of Victor Fleming’s 1939 film, musical numbers and all. And speaking of music, the theater holds a 16-piece orchestra, split into two groups that sit either side of the main stage.

Although it’s the largest entertainment venue, Royal Theater isn’t the only stage on Icon of the Seas. Absolute Zero on Deck 5 is the ship’s ice arena – the cruise line’s largest one yet. And for the first time on a Royal Caribbean ship, this venue features an oval-shaped ice rink, which benefits the audience by providing a better overall viewing experience regardless of the seat.

The most impressive entertainment venue on Icon of the Seas is the AquaTheater. Found on Deck 15 inside the AquaDome neighborhood, this familiar Royal Caribbean stage feels new and exciting thanks to innovative features like four robotic arms and a 55-foot water curtain that drops from the top of the dome. The Cirque du Soleil-esque Aqua Action! show straddles the line between live-action cinematography and theatrical display. You may not always know what exactly is unfolding before your eyes, but it’s impossible to look away. A more family-friendly interactive show – Pirates vs. Mermaids – also takes place in the Aqua Theater.

Tip: Icon of the Seas’ AquaTheater fills up fast, so it’s a good idea to hang out in the AquaDome neighborhood well before the show starts so you can secure decent seating.

Daily Things to Do on Icon of the Seas

You’ll never have a shortage of things to do on Icon of the Seas. The schedule is filled with activities from fairly early in the morning, to well into the night.

All activities are found on the Royal Caribbean app, as well as on a printed daily schedule. The app updates often and allows you to highlight the things you want to do and move them into a favorites section – you’ll even get a reminder if you’re added something to your calendar.

Nightlife on Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas is first and foremost a family-friendly ship, but that doesn’t mean it’s not built for partying. After sundown, the ship aims to strike a balance between kid-friendly entertainment and options for adults, offering both combined amenities that are suitable for kids and grownups and venues that are exclusively aimed at the 18+ passengers.

The bulk of the ship’s nightlife entertainment is found in the lower decks. Royal Promenade features venues like Spotlight Karaoke, Dueling Pianos, Boleros and The Attic comedy club. In Central Park, the live music venue Lou’s Jazz n’ Blues and Bubbles, a walk-up champagne bar, are two new options that bring a nightlife vibe to this otherwise tranquil neighborhood.

The after-hours options are found farther below. The super-sized Casino Royale takes up a good portion of the midship real estate on Deck 4 and is most readily accessible via escalator from the Royal Promenade. But thanks to its location, and in keeping with Icon of the Seas’ profile as a family-first ship, the casino is easily avoidable for passengers who can’t or don’t want to visit it. Casino Royale is also connected to the two-story Music Hall, where live music and DJs keep the party going until (almost) the wee small hours of the morning.

Icon of the Seas Bars and Lounges

You can’t turn a corner on Icon of the Seas without finding a spot to have a drink. Beverage packages come in several varieties on the ship, and many guests purchase them – along with nonalcoholic packages for the kids.

Bars range from hang-by-the-pool spots to dance-your-butt-off venues, and many of them feature live music. No matter which of the ship’s eight neighborhoods you’re in, you’ll find a bar.

It’s worth noting that each bar offers its own menu and signature drinks, though favorites can be purchased at any of them.

Our Picks

For a Game: Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade on Deck 6 is easily the best spot on Icon of the Seas to watch your favorite team. The menu specializes in cold draughts on tap and pub grub. And if you’re feeling competitive, you can take on the Playmakers Challenge: eat 100 hot wings in 45 minutes and you get a commemorative shirt.

For a Pint: Point & Feather is Icon of the Seas version of an English pub, with a solid selection of international beers and cocktails. True to its name, the venue features dart boards as well as chilled-out live music.

For Nautical Nerding Out: 1400 Bar is the ultimate ode to Royal Caribbean’s shipbuilding history. The bar’s name is a nod to the working title given to Icon of the Seas’ by Meyer Turku shipyard project and all the drinks on the menu are homages to the cruise line’s ship classes and their standout features. The bar is also strategically located across The Pearl in Royal Promenade.

For the Views: Spanning two decks inside the AquaDome behind the AquaTheater, the Overlook has the ship’s best indoor vantage points. The elevated Overlook Pods are awesomely quirky (and first-come, first-served) and help establish the cool vibe of this section of the AquaDome neighborhood. Aside from the central Overlook Bar, you’re also close to Rye & Bean, the best place to get your espresso martini fix.

For a Singalong: One of the venues debuting on Icon of the Seas, Dueling Pianos turned out to be one of the most popular bars during our sailing. The sing-along interactive element is a huge draw, plus the menu is chock-full of music-inspired cocktails, like Strawberry Fields, Raspberry Beret, Ice Ice Baby, Hotel California or Metalliquor.

For a Drink With the Whole Family: It may seem out of place to find a bar in Surfside, the neighborhood fully devoted to young families. But the Lemon Post offers two menus: one with alcoholic drinks for adults and a second one with kid-friendly mocktails. The concept works well, as it allows parents to enjoy their drink of choice without having to leave Surfside.

Pools and Hot Tubs on Icon of the Seas

Nothing on Icon of the Seas comes in short supply, and pools aren’t an exception. The ship offers a total of seven pools, providing 62% more water surface than any other vessel in the fleet as well as a solid combination of options for children and adults.

As one would expect, the lion’s share of the pools are located on the top decks. At 5,813 square feet and capacity to hold more than 40,000 gallons of water, Royal Bay Pool on Deck 15 leads the pack and is billed as the most expansive pool at sea. On decks 15 and 17 respectively, Cove Pool and Cloud 17 Pool are two infinity-edge pools on the starboard and port side of the ship, while Hideaway Pool on Deck 15 offers spectacular views from the aft end of the ship. Swim & Tonic on Deck 16 is Royal Caribbean’s first pool/swim-up bar combo.

The most exclusive pool onboard Icon of the Seas is found on Deck 18, as part of the Suite Neighborhood. In Deck 7’s Surfside neighborhood, the youngest passengers get their own pool complex consisting of Splashaway Bay, Baby Bay and Water’s Edge Pool. About a dozen whirlpools and hot tubs are also sprinkled throughout the ship, strategically located near the pools.

Waterslides, Zip-Line and Mini Golf on Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas’ impressive Category 6 waterpark takes up 17,000 square feet of real estate and features six slides. The 46-foot tall drop slide Frightening Bolt brings the biggest thrills, while Pressure Drops packs a 66 degree incline and is described as the first open freefall slide at sea. The twin Storm Chasers invite mat-racing, while the remaining two slides -- Hurricane Hunter and Storm Surge - require a minimum of two riders.

A dry but no less thrilling experience can be had at the new Crown’s Edge attraction on Deck 16. Equal parts skywalk and zipline, here you’ll glide 154 feet above the sea. While Crown’s Edge commands an extra fee, other attractions like the ship’s rock-climbing wall Adrenaline Peak, Lost Dunes mini golf and the FlowRider surf simulator, are included in the fare.

Sundecks on Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas’ top heavy layout means outdoor space is abundant, giving sun worshippers a good deal of options to work on their tans. The Chill Island and Thrill Island neighborhoods, as well as Deck 18's Suite neighborhood, comprise the bulk of the ship's sun decks. Having said that, because Central Park and Surfside carve an opening in the middle of the ship, there isn’t a traditional expansive lido deck. Moreover, the ship’s wavy terraced layout that allows for seamless connection between decks also creates an interesting light and shade dynamic that limits the areas that are always exposed to the sun.

Services and Wi-Fi on Icon of the Seas

The bulk of Icon of the Seas’ services are found on Deck 5. Here, you’ll find the guest services desk, as well as a large variety of shops, selling everything from jewelry to logo items and daily needs, like sunscreen and toothpaste. The ship offers several ATMs.

Icon of the Seas is equipped with Zoom internet, powered by Starlink. We were able to use it to stream Peloton classes while getting in a workout, but video was spotty with video conferencing – it was better when we turned off our camera but still laggy. Packages are available, and it often is included in offers from Royal Caribbean.

The ship’s app is virtually required for your sailing. The app allows you to check the daily schedule, make reservations for dining and entertainment and even save items to your own schedule. Times seemed accurate to when things actually took place, which isn’t always the case with other apps and other cruise lines.

Spa and Thermal Suite on Icon of the Seas

Vitality Spa is located on decks 12 and 14, though the entrance is Deck 14. The spa offers a variety of treatments, including massages, facials and medispa treatments. There’s also a salon and blow-dry bar offering hair and nail services. Treatments cost about the same as you’ll pay at spas on land. You can save some money on treatments by booking the offer of the day or having a treatment while the ship is in port.

Outside the entrance is a smoothie and juice bar, offering healthy beverages (for a fee) as well as a nice place to relax and talk with friends or read a book.

A thermal suite is located on Deck 14, offering a hamam, a steam room, experience showers and infrared sauna, as well as heated ceramic lounge chairs. It doesn’t have a thalassotherapy pool or any kind of hot tub or pool. As seems to be the trend among cruise ship thermal suites, you won’t find and windows or natural lighting in this area on Icon of the Seas, which feels like a bit of a departure on a ship that otherwise brings in natural lighting so well.

Fitness and Gym on Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas has a suitably large gym to meet the needs of its fitness-minded passengers. It’s actually a two-deck deck fitness center, though most of the equipment is found on Deck 5, with Deck 6 reserved for spaces for classes.

The gym is filled with LifeCycle equipment, from free weights to weight machines and cardio machines. It’s crowded early in the morning and in the evening before people start getting ready for dinner in the evening. Even so, we didn’t wait too terribly long for equipment at any time.

Classes, such as stretching, yoga and cycling, are offered most mornings, for a fee. These take place on Deck 6, in what feels like a bit of a pass-through area.

To reach the gym from Deck 5, you have to walk outside, on the ship’s jogging track. One lap around is 2,197 feet; 12 laps is 5 miles. We love the jogging track, which is covered and away from other traffic, like deck chairs and sunbathers. Our only slight complaint is that the design seems to channel wind into the deck. You’ll be running against the wind halfway, and with it at your back the other.

Is Icon of the Seas Family Friendly?

The fact the Royal Caribbean dreamed up an entirely new neighborhood targeting young families (in particular those with kids 6 and under) on Icon of the Seas is your first hint that this ship is exceedingly family friendly. And that might be an understatement.

The Surfside Family Neighborhood is All About Small Kids

The new Surfside neighborhood, on Deck 7 (and accessed via a slide down for kids who prefer that option to boring old stairs) was designed to be a space where neither young kids nor the grownups looking after them have to miss out on any fun.

The whole, colorful and joy-inducing scene radiates out from a custom-made, whimsical carousel. Designers tapped kids when it came to which animals to use for the carts, and the creative young minds passed on classic horsies for far more fun subjects, among them a narwhal with a rainbow-hued tooth, cupcake and flamingo.

Within steps of the carousel and a small playground are three options for family-friendly dining that include a walk-up snack window offering things like churros and fruit kabobs, the buffet at Surfside Eatery and a specialty restaurant, Pier 7, where kids under 12 eat free and all-day brunch is on offer. (Learn more about Icon of the Seas’ dining options.)

The waterplay area is all the way to aft and includes Splashaway Bay, with slides and spray features, and a tamer version for littler kids called Baby Bay.

Fringing both of those with uninterrupted ocean views and also a clear line of sight to where the kids are playing is the Water’s Edge pool, where the idea is that parents can be basking in the water or stepping out to hang on a barstool with a cocktail at the adjacent Lemon Post (which serves matching mocktails for kids) while never losing sight of their little ones playing in the water zone.

Surfside also hosts family festivals during sailings with balloon-twisting, face painting and appearances by a magic trick-wielding crew member called Admiral Awesome.

Kids’ Activities in Other Icon of the Seas Neighborhoods

Aside from Surfside, the entire ship is also family friendly, with so much on offer, from Adventure Ocean, the onboards kids program, to the dedicated teen area and through extensive programming (everything from family karaoke nights and bingo to the entertainment).

Add to that the largest water park at sea, Category Six, with its six waterslides (including twin family raft slides that can fit three or four people per raft, weight considerations pending) and the ship truly feels made for families to enjoy moments together and on their own.

Adventure Ocean on Icon of the Seas

Adventure Ocean is Royal Caribbean's dedicated kids' program, with separate facilities for kids ages 3 to 5, and 6 to 12. (More on babies and infants under 3 below.) All three dedicated areas are located on Deck 6 and accessed via a colorful hallway lined with screens where you can register your kids using your SeaPass card.

AO Juniors is a single, roomy space for potty-trained (there are no diaper changing options here) 3 to 5 year olds with a large screen and plush areas to lounge for storytime, as well as walls lined with books and all kinds of toys, and a small playground.

Reservations are required for the complimentary program, which offers the option for you to have staff take your kids to dinner (must be reserved in advance) at Surfside Eatery, particularly when there are themed adult dinners and the like in the evenings.

The program is open from 9 a.m. to noon on sea days, then again from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.. Kids can stay later, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., for $10 per child, per hour. During port days, AO Juniors is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and again from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. (with the extra fee after 10 p.m.)

AO Kids, for ages 6 to 12, is designed to flow freely and give this older age group freedom to move between the “Hangout” area with video games, movie screens and chairs for lounging into the more active “Arena,” full of sports games and activities (a mini soccer “field,” inflatable games like ring toss and Skee ball and foosball). There’s also a separate “Workshop” room for arts and crafts.

Reservations are required, and kids 9 and up can check themselves out on their own with adult approval during sea days only. The program is open from 9 a.m. to noon on sea days, then again from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., all on a complimentary basis. (You can arrange for staff to take your kids to Surfside Eatery during the between hours, too, for lunch and dinner, but there are no planned activities during those hours).

Kids can stay on from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for $10 per child, per hour. During port days, AO Kids is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and again from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. (with the extra fee after 10 p.m.).

Babies and Toddlers on Icon of the Seas

At Adventure Ocean Babies, infants aged 6 to 36 months can enjoy quiet time, fun and educational play, snack time and nap time under the care of professionals, all who have education-related degrees and have been trained under Royal Caribbean’s dedicated training program for caring for babies.

The program, for which reservations are required, costs $6 per baby per hour during the day and $8 per hour after 6 p.m. During sea days, it’s open from 9 a.m. to noon and again from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.. Sometimes, during formal dinner nights, you can leave the children for dinner (between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.), too.

The staff can give bottles and snacks (they can also order room service to the nursery for your kids) and will change diapers, but there are no bottle-warming facilities in the room. A small room with several cribs and cots is available for nap time in a more dimly lit setting that’s open to the main room.

Be sure to arrive on time as spaces are forfeited after 30 minutes because the room has limited space. There are generally a maximum of four babies per staff, with two or three staff.

Activities take place on soft flooring pads and include age-appropriate soft toys as well as more rigid and interactive ones and crafts like coloring and painting.

Tweens and Teens on Icon of the Seas

Teens are notoriously hard to impress with their constant redefining of what’s cringe. But Royal Caribbean International has carved out a cool (at least we think it is) space for the 13 to 17 year old set, Social 020, which they can check into themselves with their SeaPass card. (No need to check out; it’s come and go as you like).

The space, designed to be a bit hidden, is reached via a door just for teens at Absolute Zero and accessed down a dim hallway. Teens step into a large, open room with lounge nooks with couches lining it (including one with a digital jukebox where they can play their favorite music) and a theater where they can screen the same movie offerings available in the cabins.

There are several supervisors on hand and the space is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on sea days, then again from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on port days. Hourly planned activities might include trivia and games like Jeopardy and Teen Feud (a take on Family Feud), air hockey tournaments and the like. And there are foosball tables as well as digital interactive tables where several people can play the same game or different ones at once.

Social020’s teen programming takes place outside of the space, too, at spots like the FlowRider and Spotlight Karaoke bar. There are plans to organize teen-only takeovers of the 18 and up pool at The Hideaway during sailings, too.

-- Editor in Chief Colleen McDaniel and Cruise Critic Contributor Terry Ward contributed to this review

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