Icon of the Seas Review: Is the new Royal Caribbean Ship Worth the Hype?

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Last week, my family had the most fun sailing on the worlds largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the seas. This ship just started service in January 2024, and is sailing week long itineraries out of Miami, Florida. I know in our area there has been a ton of commercials for the ship and lots of posts on social media, but is the Icon of the Seas really worth the hype and the high price tag? Keep reading to find out my thoughts and my full Icon of the Seas review.

Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas Review: Is the new Royal Caribbean Ship Worth the Hype?


What is special about the Icon of the Seas?


I’m sure you can find lots of post regarding the specs of the Icon of the Seas. The ship has a crew of 2,350, and a capacity of 5,610 passengers at double occupancy, or 7,600 passengers at maximum capacity. Icon of the Seas has 20 decks with seven swimming pools and six water slides. Yes, it’s currently the largest cruise ship in the world, but what I want to let you know in this article is – is the Icon of the Seas a good ship for you.

My family booked this cruise in October 2022, when the Icon of the Seas first became available to book. We booked one Ocean view balcony room. But after a few other trips, I decided to switch to two cabins and the most economical option was two Central Park View infinite balcony rooms.

We love Cruises and I love shiny new things so I knew I wanted to get on the ship as soon as possible. Presidents week 2024 seem like the perfect opportunity for us to check out Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas

And I have to say right off the bat – the Icon was the best cruise we have ever been on. This was my 20th cruise, and as a family, we sailed Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas back in 2022, two Disney Cruises (the Disney Wish and Disney Wonder), the NCL Prima, and on Holland America back in 2018, so we have some good ships to compare this to.

The Pearl on Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas

What Makes the ICON of the Seas so Great?

Everything on the ICON of the Seas was great, but what really set the Icon apart was there was so much to do. There were so many eateries that for a weeklong stay you never had to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner in the same place. But at the same time it did feel like a normal cruise ship, and there was very little waiting or crowds involved.

In fact, I spent more time waiting in lines on the Disney Wish, which is a fraction of the size of the Icon of the Seas.

Icon of the Seas



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Did the Icon of the Seas Feel Crowded?


The ship is very well designed and there are so many different spaces, different eateries, different bars, different restaurants and activities, so you never had any one area getting jammed up with people.

Pool Decks on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas

I will say the one exception to that was trying to find a lounge chair in the sun on one of the sea days. There were plenty of chairs on the pool decks, but finding one in the sun was a little bit tricky. It is just one of those things where you have to go out early put down your stuff ahead of other people.

My husband felt like he was always doing this on every ship although I reminded him on ships like the Norwegian Getaway there are sundecks way up in the top that were places you could find seats even mid-day on a sea day.

Central Park Neighborhood on Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas

Our first sea day was cold and rainy, so I do think the second sea day saw an influx of kids to the waterpark as they had been waiting several days to try the new water slides. On that day, the lines for the water slides were on the longer side I think 20 to 40 minutes for a ride.

But on our third sea day, they were hardly any lines for the waterslides. And my kids LOVED the waterpark!

On our last sea day my kids decided they wanted to do Crowns Edge (the zipline off the side of the ship) and we could get a reservation for that same day.

Crown's Edge on Icon of the Seas
Crown’s Edge on Icon of the Seas

I also noticed that although the shows at the beginning of the week were filled, by the last two nights all of the shows were available. PS the shows on board included the Wizard of Oz, the Ice Skating show, the Aqua Show, and comedy shows. There also was a family-oriented Ice Skating show offered in the afternoons.

Wizard of Oz on Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas

Dining on Icon of the Seas

I also have to speak about the eateries. There were so many on board and Royal Caribbean has really up their game in the grab and go concept. This reminded me a lot of that food options on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady, which I very much enjoyed.

Food on Icon of the Seas
Food on Icon of the Seas: Breakfast from the buffet, Spaghetti from Giovanni’s, Hibachi and a wonderful dessert

On the Icon of the Seas, there was food available 24 hours a day. Yes, the pearl café was open for grab and go 24 hours. There were many other eateries that were open for the majority of the day, but I will say most of them were either self or quick service options. (Mexican Buffet, Food Hall with Asian, Mediterranean, Sandwiches and Mac and Cheese, Park Cafe, Surf Side Buffet, Snack shack in the Surf Side Neighborhood and Basecamp up by the waterpark)

I did find it strange that the main dining room was only open for limited hours in the morning for sit down breakfast and on some days not at all for us an ala carte lunch.Now, if you book a suite on Royal Caribbean , you do have access to the Costal Kitchen three meals a day which could be a good option for you if you enjoy those à la carte meals.

In the main dining room, for dinner (at least at the late seating) it was not busy at all. In fact, I don’t know where all the people were on a ship this large! I think many families opted for some of the quick service or grab and go options for dinners, or of course, the Windjammer Buffet.

Now, on a ship this size you would be worried that the buffet would be nuts, but it was very large, and never felt crowded. They were lots of stations, lots of tables, and it was never an issue.

Nightlife in the Central Park Neighborhood on Icon of the Seas
Nightlife in the Central Park Neighborhood on Icon of the Seas

I also did find it strange that two eateries were NOT included with your cruise fare – some of the entrees at Basecamp up by the waterpark (although some items are complimentary) and the food at Playmakers, the sports bar.

Lastly, the ship was so well staffed that the second you put down a dirty plate, someone was there to pick it up. The ship was so clean, immaculate! No garbage around I cannot believe how well taken care of we were on this sailing.

Who should book the Icon of the Seas?

If this is your first cruise, I think the Icon of the Seas might be a little overwhelming. But if you are a seasoned cruiser, I think you’ll find that is just a very well appointed, well thought out ship.

Central Park Neighborhood Icon of the Seas

That said, I would not shy away the first time cruiser from choosing the Icon of the Seas. I mean, might as well go big, or go home. If you are a seasoned Royal Caribbean cruiser, you are going to love the Icon of the Seas. It’s like they’ve taken all the best of all their ships and put them into one.

I also think Disney Cruisers and Virgin cruisers would really enjoy Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas. You can tell they have taken some of the best of those lines and incorporated details into this ship.

Central Park Infinite Balcony Room on Icon of the Seas
Central Park Infinite Balcony Room on Icon of the Seas

Who Would Not Like The Icon of the Seas?

For guests that have mobility issues, do not like a lot of people, or do not like large ships, the Icon would not be a good choice. At the end of the day it is a big ship and sometimes to get from one space to another, there was a lot of walking. I also found the top decks are very confusing as the decks 15, 16, 17 and 18 do not go all the way through from forward to aft so you had to navigate a lot of stairs.

Now we sailed during a peak vacation week, Presidents Week, 2024. There were a ton of families on board. The adult only spaces include the Hideaway on the back of the ship, which is the replacement for the solarium. The Icon of the Seas does not have a solarium, but instead has an area called the Overlook, which is an all ages indoor space.

Hideaway on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas
Hideaway – the adults only area on the Icon of the Seas

There was an adult comedy show, but besides that and the Hideaway, there wasn’t a lot of adult only spaces and this is definitely a family forward ship. The Surfside neighborhood, which is designed for families is truly a kiddie oasis. The Buffet there offers kid friendly  food and you have loud activities going on all day. This is where you will find the carousel and kid type music playing all day, and of course kids screaming from the playground, and splash area.

If you are taking an adults only trip on the Icon of the Seas, I would recommend booking an Ocean View balcony, or a room in the Central Park neighborhood. Or perhaps a suite where you have access to a dedicated pool area and have that intimate more smaller ship experience.

ICON of the Seas Surfside Neighborhood

The Icon of the Seas is also commanding quite a hefty price tag, which could be a consideration for some families. Also, Royal Caribbean is known for nickel and diming you once on board as everything is ala carte. I would say our family spent at least an extra $1500.00 dollars on specialty dining, the drink package for my husband, excursions, and other on board charge items. The Icon of the Seas is definitely not a budget vacation.

I do hope this article helped you decide if you are interested in sailing on the Icon of the seas. Royal Caribbean ‘s next ship to emerge will be the Utopia of the Seas which is an Oasis class ship. The next Icon class ship is the Star of the Seas, which will be debuting in 2025 and sailing out of Port Canaveral.


Rover the Chief Dog Officers on Icon of the Seas
Rover the Chief Dog Officers on Icon of the Seas

For a variety of reasons, you should ALWAYS book cruises with a travel agent. I am now booking clients for Royal Caribbean’s Star of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, and of course the Icon of the Seas. So please CLICK HERE if you would like some professional planning help with your next upcoming Royal Caribbean or any cruise line cruise.


Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas

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