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Icon of the Seas Dining

Empire Supper Club on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Sushi at Izumi on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
El Loco Fresh in the Chill Island neighborhood on Icon of the Seas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Buffet in the Surfside Eatery on Icon of the Seas (Photo Chris Gray Faust)
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Jorge Oliver
Editor

Variety is the name of the game when it comes to food on Icon of the Seas. The ship boasts more than 40 dining venues and bars, and about half of them are new to Royal Caribbean. You’ll find most of these venues in the ship’s eight neighborhoods. Familiar favorites like Izumi and Chops Grille are onboard, as well as new venues like Empire Supper Club and the Celebration Table.

One of the features we like about the neighborhood arrangement of Icon of the Seas is that each neighborhood has an included restaurant, a grab-and-go option and a specialty restaurant. This means you don’t have to leave whatever it is you’re doing to seek out a place to eat. (We just wish the grab-and-go options came with fewer single-use plastics; everything seems to come in a plastic container.)

You could easily eat at all the included restaurants on Icon of the Seas without spending a dime more, but then you’d miss out on some of the great food the ship has to offer. Our advice: Plan to mix in one or two specialty restaurants on your weeklong cruise.

The quality of food on Icon of the Seas is consistent, with few big whiffs and the occasional big hit.

Icon of the Seas does have the traditional cruise favorites: a main dining room (simply called The Dining Room) and a buffet (Windjammer Marketplace), as well as room service (a la carte fees apply).

Tip: You can save yourself some money on dining by booking restaurants before you sail or purchasing a dining package.

Free Restaurants on Icon of the Seas

The Dining Room: The ship’s lovely three-level sitdown restaurant, The Dining Room is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Located on decks 3 through 5, the space features a stunning chandelier and impressive multilevel art display will immediately catch your eye.

You can eat at a set time each night (either early or late) or at your leisure, depending what you’ve booked. Which level you eat on is dictated by the dining style you booked. Beware, it can be difficult to switch from one dining style to another, so make sure you book the option that makes the most sense for you and your travel companions.

Menus at The Dining Room are pretty standard at breakfast and lunch, with hot and cold items available at both meals. It’s a little quieter in The Dining Room than in other venues for both meals and makes for a quiet, unhurried respite.

For dinner the menu is pretty large, and it changes each night. You might find themed nights (Italian, for example). Menus offer appetizers, soups, salads, main courses and desserts, and it’s an nice opportunity to try something you might not otherwise try. Royal Classics, including a New York strip steak and Caesar salad, are available every night. Also offered every night are upgraded selections, like a fillet mignon or lobster tail, for a fee.

A kids menu is available, offering standards like grilled cheese, burgers and chicken fingers.

You’ll come away satisfied from The Dining Room, though we found the food to be a bit underwhelming: good but not great.

Service in The Dining Room was excellent, with attention to detail and check-ins from head waiters and maitre Ds. We felt special.

Windjammer Marketplace: A standard on Royal Caribbean, Windjammer is well-designed to move a lot of people through the space quickly and efficiently. Seating is available indoors and out.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this buffet option remains perhaps the most popular choice for a quick meal. It’s also probably the best buffet we’ve seen on a Royal Caribbean ship, thanks to its good variety and smart station style layout (the same food is offered in multiple locations, so no one spot is hit with endless lines.

As with The Dining Room, breakfast and lunch are a combination of cold and hot items. At breakfast, you’ll find an egg station for eggs made to order. Lunch has a pasta station, salad bar, sandwiches and more.

Dinner is a bit of a surprise. Where a lot of cruise ships strip down to the bare minimum at dinner (when most guests choose other, more formal options), Icon of the Seas’ buffet is well stocked and beautiful to look at. Yes, it’s pared down some, but if you elect to eat dinner in Windjammer, you will have lots of choice.

Many of the items offered on the buffet are the same or similar to what’s offered in The Dining Room, too. On Italian night in The Dining Room, lasagna and chicken parmesan were on the menu. Both were in Windjammer, too, along with a beautiful charcuterie setup, the pasta station, salad bar and many more items.

There’s always an Asian option, and gluten-free diners have their very own area of the buffet, clearly labeled.

Pearl Cafe: Located on Deck 6 is Pearl Cafe, which serves a variety of ready-made sandwiches, salads, pastries and specialty coffee. It sits beside massive floor-to-ceiling windows, providing incredible ocean views and is open 24 hours.

Sorrento’s: Royal Caribbean’s signature pizza place, Sorrento’s is located on Deck 5 in the Royal Promenade. Icon of the Seas’ version of Sorrento’s, however, features a couple of innovations. One is the layout of the eatery, with a cafeteria-style long counter that helps diners go in and out with greater ease. The second novelty is that you can now enjoy draft beer (with a drink package) aside from the usual soft drink options.

AquaDome Market: Royal Caribbean’s first-ever food hall, AquaDome Market comprises five little restaurants. Feta Mediterranean offers shawarma either in a bowl or on a pita, with chicken or pork, and toppings like hummus or veggies. Toast and Garden serves up sandwiches and salads, while GNGR is the spot for Asian food. Mac’s specializes in various forms of mac and cheese. Creme de la Crepe is a crepe stand, the only restaurant in AquaDome Market serving dessert.

All options and AquaDome Market are fresh made when you order, so fully customizable. The restaurant itself is fairly small, and we encountered lines several times on our sailing. The quality is only so-so – GNGR, for example, felt on-par with Panda Express, and the vibe was a little bit “shopping mall food court.” The ship has better grab-and-go and made-to-order options.

Park Cafe: As the name suggests, Park Cafe is located in the heart of the Central Park neighborhood on Deck 8. The venue specializes in deli offerings and made-to-order sandwiches and paninis, as well as grab-and-go salads, parfaits, fruit cups and more. The restaurant, which includes indoor and outdoor seating, is a popular alternative for lunch or an afternoon snack. But, we loved Park Cafe as an option for a tranquil early morning breakfast, when Central Park is at its most serene.

Basecamp: The only eatery in the heart of Thrill Island and its Category 6 Waterpark, Basecamp offers short-order items that function better as snacks than a full meal. The soft pretzel bites with cheese sauce and the french fries are included in your cruise fare, but Basecamp also offers premium items for a fee, including waffle chicken nuggets, Wisconsin cheese curds, shrimp bao buns and grilled chicken sandwiches.

The venue features plenty of shaded seating as well as a soda fountain. Opposite the order counter, you’ll also find a full service bar, appropriately named Basecamp Bar.

El Loco Fresh: This Tex-Mex eatery has become a staple in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. On Icon of the Seas, El Loco Fresh can be found port side on Deck 15, close to both Cove Pool and Royal Bay Pool. The venue offers a buffet-style selection of Mexican and Tex-Mex goodies, including quesadillas, burritos and many ingredients (chili con carne, shredded pork, beef, chicken, veggies) to create your own flour tortilla tacos. There are also stations with a decent selection of toppings and sauces to garnish your meal. Adjacent to El Loco Fresh you’ll find Cantina Fresca bar, where margaritas and other Mexican concoctions like micheladas and other tequila- and mezcal-based cocktails are on offer, albeit at an extra cost.

Surfside Eatery: Located in the Surfside neighborhood on Deck 6 (designed for families with kids younger than 6), Surfside Eatery is a buffet-style restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s heavy on food for children, but adults will find options, too.

Surfside Bites: This is the grab-and-go option for the ship’s Surfside neighborhood. It’s a small menu with kid-friendly options, like popcorn chicken, french fries, hot dogs and churros.

Sprinkles: A favorite on a hot day, Sprinkles offers soft-serve ice cream in Chill Island on Deck 15.

Coastal Kitchen: Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Coastal Kitchen is the sitdown restaurant for suite guests only. (Guests in Sea Tier Suites can only visit Coastal Kitchen for dinner.) Food uses elevated ingredients, and menus are different than you’d find in The Dining Room.

The best part of Coastal Kitchen might be that its second level overlooks the AquaDome stage, so if a show is ongoing, these might be the best seats in the house.

The Grove: Located on the exclusive sundeck for suite guests in Sky or Star Tier Suites, The Grove is a buffet style restaurant open for breakfast or lunch. Al fresco dining is just steps from a bar.

What Restaurants Cost Extra on Icon of the Seas

Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, $$$: We love that Icon of the Seas features Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar prominently on the ship’s Royal Promenade. This is by far the best spot for pizza onboard Icon of the Seas, and we love the big meat and cheese platters, that by themselves could be a meal. Kids will like Giovanni’s too, which has a nice selection of foods that appeal to young ones, including a giant meatball and plain old spaghetti.

Giovanni’s is open for dinner and lunch, when it has a smaller menu and price tag.

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, $: Located on Deck 6 , forward, Playmakers is a sports bar packed with flatscreen TVs and space for rooting. No matter the season, you’ll catch the biggest games here. The menu is pretty much what you’d find at a sports bar on land: heavy on fried foods like wings, jalapeno poppers and nachos. Burgers (including Impossible Burgers) also abound. You won’t find healthy or quiet here, but if you’re looking for bar bites and a couple hundred new friends to enjoy the game with, this is your place. Prices are a la carte.

Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, $-$$$$: With a home in the middle of Central Park, Izumi Hibachi & Sushi is the ship’s Asian restaurant. It’s two parts, really. One is a more subdued, intimate sushi restaurant. The other, a boisterous hibachi show in which the chef is the entertainer, and the guests are all participants in a culinary performance.

The sushi menu lineup includes small plates, such as miso soup, pork dumplings, spring rolls and chicken kara-age. The large plate options include a dozen rolls that will feel familiar to sushi lovers and novices alike (many are tempura style or otherwise cooked in some way for those who aren’t into raw fish). Sashimi is also offered. Additionally, ramen, udon noodles and teriyaki are available. Prices are a la carte.

For the hibachi portion, your dinner will include soup, salad, fried rice and your pick of meat or seafood – from chicken breast to shrimp and beef tenderloin, or some combination of several options. You can add on appetizers like octopus takoyaki or softshell crab steamed buns, priced a la carte. We tend to find the included meal to be plenty, but it’s a fun opportunity to try a little bit of everything.

Here, chef’s will chop and flip ingredients on a hot hibachi, all while telling jokes and even singing. It’s a nice pick for something a little different for the kids, who will love watching a snake made of eggs “slither” on the hot grill.

Izumi in the Park, $: A sushi window located right next to the main Izumi restaurant, Izumi in the Park is your option for takeaway sushi and yummy ice cream in bubble cones.

Chops Grille, $$-$$$$: On Icon of the Seas, Chops Grille retains its crown as the grand dame of dining in Central Park. The steakhouse’s menu includes several appetizers, like lobster bisque, shrimp cocktail, crispy goat cheese salad, beef carpaccio, grilled black pepper bacon, tuna tartare, and wild mushroom soup. Entrees, as you would expect, emphasize prime cuts like bone-in ribeye, New York strip and porterhouse, as well as premium (added cost) options like dry-aged beef and filet mignon. The sides are served in sharing-portion sizes; we especially enjoyed the truffled French fries and the Gruyere cheese tater tots, though all the options were solid.

The venue offers indoor and outdoor setting, and while the atmosphere is meant to be intimate, Chops Grille’s popularity means you’ll seldom see it uncrowded.

Empire Supper Club, $$$$: If you’re looking for part entertainment, part dinner and eight courses, step right up to Empire Supper Club.

This venue is new to Royal Caribbean, and it doesn’t come cheap, but you’ll get a meal that features items like caviar, oysters Rockefeller and wagyu ribeye. Each course is paired with a drink as well as a song from the three-piece band playing.

The venue is inspired by 1930s New York, and space is limited. Two seatings are offered each night. Interestingly, the venue has its own formal dress code, regardless of what dress is required on the rest of the ship.

Note: If you have purchased a dining package, you’ll still have to pay extra to eat at Empire Supper Club.

Hooked Seafood, $$$$: Located in the AquaDome, Hooked Seafood is the ship’s best spot for those who crave fish and shellfish. Messy sandwiches, oysters prepared three ways, lobster rolls and a raw bar will are on offer.

Hooked is open for lunch and dinner; lunch is less expensive and comes with modified menu.

Celebration Table, $$$$: Not so much a restaurant as a space inside Hooked Seafood, Celebration Table is a private place for you to dine privately with friends and family. The space is limited to 14 people.

At Celebration Table, you can pick from one of four family-style prix fixe menus: Italian, Seafood, American or Asian. Your meal includes appetizers, entrees and desserts, plus a signature cocktail.

Desserted, $: A delicious milkshake bar that is adorable in its approach to frozen concoctions, like an Oreo milkshake. Its Thrill Island location makes perfect sense, as it is the best treat on a hot day after plunging down waterslides.

Pier 7, $-$$: It’s brunch all day at Pier 7, where you can enjoy pancakes, tacos and eggs benedict, all in one meal. Prices are a la carte, and kids (12 and younger) eat free here.

Trellis Bar, $-$$: Bar nibbles abound at Trellis Bar, where you can nosh in Central Park.

Cruise Critic Restaurant Picks on Icon of the Seas

With so many options for food on Icon of the Seas, it’s tough to make a bad decision. And while the ship offers plenty of new food venues, we still found the old familiar favorites to hold their own among the ship’s vast culinary offerings.

Chops Grille in Central Park delivers the goods: the upscale, romantic venue is the best place to savor a solid steakhouse experience at sea. It’s often easy to forget that your restaurant is inside a cruise ship. And right across, Izumi’s dual offering of sushi and hibachi provides an Asian-inspired feast. On Icon of the Seas, the experience is further enhanced with the introduction of Izumi in the Park, the take-out window where you can get your Izumi fix as a grab-and-go option.

Among the newcomers, we found Basecamp to be a smart complement to the thrilling attractions of Category 6 Waterpark. By offering comfort food favorites that kids love and adults can also appreciate, Basecamp allows cruisers to stay fully invested in the fun of Thrill Island without having to venture too far for a bite. Plus, Desserted’s yummy and massive milkshakes are right next door to bring your meal full circle.

Dietary Restrictions on Icon of the Seas

Dietary restrictions are considered on all food venues aboard Icon of the Seas. Restaurants with wait staff, however, are usually better at keeping tabs on the allergies and dietary restrictions of passengers than self-serve eateries, as your servers will routinely ask about ingredients that you need to avoid. In any case, it’s best to be proactive; making the staff aware of your dietary restrictions and asking questions about the dishesis always a good idea.

Menus will also be explicit about ingredients that can be problematic for people with allergies. Some venues also take extra steps to segregate meals and ingredients; the Windjammer buffet, for instance, has a gluten-free section.

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