Set to debut in January 2024, the cruise line is marketing the vessel as the “best family vacation in the world”; and based on what I’ve seen so far, I think it will be among the top options for families who love fun-filled activities and spots.
As someone who has been on a dozen ships and covers the cruise industry daily, this is the ship I’m personally most excited about right now.
The Icon-class is an evolution of the Oasis-class; it’s an already top-rated lineup of ships.
In this article, I compiled five things I’m most excited about on Icon of the Seas based on what’s been released by Royal Caribbean.
Like the Oasis-class ships, Icon of the Seas has space for high-dive shows. But unlike the Oasis-class ships, it won’t be an open-air spot at the aft — instead, it will be a glass-enclosed dome on the forward part of the top deck.
The AquaDome is one of the eight “neighborhoods” on Icon, encompassing more than a theater space for the diving shows. By day, the AquaTheater will serve as a hangout space, complete with a circular waterfall used during the evening shows.
It will also house restaurants, including Hooked Seafood, and a coffee shop called Rye & Bean that transforms into a bar at night and retail space.
The AquaDome is home to The Overlook, like Icon of the Seas’ massive take on an observation lounge. It includes a variety of seating areas, as well as The Overlook Pods — elevated conversation nooks with 360-degree views.
If all of that weren’t enough, the rear sides of the AquaDome include cabins, whose floor-to-ceiling windows are some of the dome’s geometric glass panels.
The AquaDome is an entirely new concept for Royal Caribbean, and I think it’s a fantastic move as they evolved the Oasis-class blueprint to create the Icon-class.
The AquaTheater’s location at the aft on the Oasis-class ships is excellent when you’re attending a show, but it seems like a waste of valuable outdoor space during the day.
In its place on Icon are the Splashaway Bay kids’ water park and infinity-style pool, which is a brilliant use of an open-air area that will get a lot of sunshine.
What’s more, The Overlook is just right up my alley both in terms of practical architecture — giving me that observation lounge space — and interior design.
The renderings (especially the mood lighting at night) remind me of the moon Pandora in the film Avatar.
2. The Hideaway Pool
I predict that the Hideaway Pool will be the most stunning pool on the Icon of the Seas. It reminds me of pools suspended between two buildings or ones at the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore.
Located in the beach club-inspired Hideaway neighborhood, the Hideaway Pool is suspended mid-air eight stories up. It features full-size daybeds surrounded by water, cushy loungers, a nearby bar, and a resident DJ.
I remember when Viking and MSC Cruises pioneered the first infinity pools at sea, which was a novel and exciting feature for a cruise ship at the time. I love the connection they create with the ocean, and it’s amazing to see them on so many ships now.
With the Hideaway Pool, Royal Caribbean is taking that idea a step further, which will be so fun to experience.
3. Lemon Post
Why am I so excited about a family bar in a neighborhood geared toward young kids?
Well, it’s because of its lemon theme!
I have a particular affinity towards lemons, so I was very excited when Royal Caribbean announced this venue on Icon.
Lemon Post is an open-air venue in the Surfside family neighborhood next to the Splashaway Bay water play area on deck seven. It will feature one menu for kids and one for adults. “With color-changing drinks, unique souvenir cups, and performative pours, this is not your ordinary lemonade stand,” as Royal Caribbean had put it.
While the actual menus are not out yet — and likely won’t be available until the ship debuts — we can only guess that this bar will offer many citrusy, fruity, refreshing beverages perfect for families to enjoy during a hot afternoon.
Based on the rendering, the interior design will feature lots of lemon elements with a yellow and green color scheme.
You can bet that if/when I get a chance to sail Icon of the Seas, I’ll take photos at Lemon Post and post them on Instagram ASAP. After all, I have to keep up my lemon-loving reputation!
4. Thrill Island
Thrill Island is another neighborhood on Icon of the Seas, and — as its name implies — this is where the ship’s most thrilling activities can be found.
The focal point is the six waterslides, which help comprise the largest waterpark at sea (17,010 square feet!), called Category 6.
The waterpark will represent a lot of firsts for the cruise industry, including the first family raft ride at sea, the first duo mat racing slides at sea, and the tallest drop slide at sea.
Thrill Island will also offer a fresh take on Royal Caribbean’s classic rock climbing wall and a shipwreck-themed mini-golf course.
I’m a big fan of waterslides, and Icon will have six is a huge plus for me. I also enjoy rock climbing walls and themed mini golf!
Another aspect of Thrill Island that puts the “thrill” in the name is Crown’s Edge. Royal Caribbean describes it as “a fear-inducing challenge that’s part skywalk, part ropes course, part thrill ride, and an all-out test of your courage.”
It takes guests over the side of the ship, including a part where you’re dangling over the ocean.
This is part of Thrill Island that I’m a little apprehensive about. I’m not against ropes courses, and I’ve done them, but they’re not my favorite either.
I know that you have to step off a platform and essentially “zip line” for a short distance over the edge of the ship might be scary to enjoy.
But for thrill seekers and those who don’t get wobbly legs on ropes courses, this will be just the ticket. Otherwise, I’m pumped for everything that Thrill Island has to offer!
5. Family Staterooms
Even though I won’t be using any of the Icon of the Seas’ family staterooms anytime soon, I think they’re one of the most innovative, unique features of the entire ship.
This vessel has quite a few “family” stateroom categories, including the Family Infinite Ocean View Balcony, Surfside Family Suite, and the Surfside Family View Interiors.
Without getting into further details — which vary slightly for each category — I’ll just list a few features that some of these staterooms have.
- Split bathrooms
- Separate kids’ alcoves with bunk beds (each with a TV!)
- Games (such as Scrabble) and chalkboards on the walls
- Separate kids’ hangout nook
- Close proximity to the Surfside family neighborhood (some even overlook it)
Icon of the Seas will also feature an evolution of the massive only-one-per-ship Ultimate Family Suite, which can be found on Symphony and Wonder of the Seas.
Such a multi-story accommodation on Icon is called the Ultimate Family Townhouse, and it opens right out into the Surfside neighborhood.
There you have the things I’m most excited about on Icon of the Seas. What are you most looking forward to onboard?