It seems that, for the foreseeable future at least, Royal Caribbean has a monopoly on the largest cruise ships in the world. And as soon as one ship has launched, they start planning how they can beat it.
It feels like we’ve only just welcomed Wonder of the Seas into the fleet and now we’re already looking at the shiny new plaything, Icon of the Seas. Both are utterly incredible ships – genuinely amazing feats of engineering and planning, and absolutely packed with things to see and do.
But how do they compare, and ultimately, which is best? Let’s take a look.
Is Icon of the Seas Bigger Than Wonder of the Seas?
Icon of the Seas is the biggest cruise ship in the world – bigger than Wonder of the Seas. It has a higher guest and crew capacity, more passenger decks, a higher gross tonnage, and it is 10 feet longer too.
With the Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas size comparison, we’re only talking marginal differences from a percentage perspective – overall, Icon of the Seas is around 5% bigger than Wonder of the Seas in terms of gross tonnage. In terms of the Icon of the Seas capacity, that’s around 8% more.
But it is larger in every area overall. Harmony of the Seas was actually a couple of inches longer than Wonder of the Seas, but Wonder was bigger overall – Icon beats both in every criteria.
|Icon of the Seas||Wonder of the Seas|
|Gross tonnage (GT)||250,800||236,857|
|Maximum guest capacity||7,600||6,988|
Read more: Royal Caribbean Ships By Size
The Oasis-class ships, including Wonder of the Seas, first introduced the concepts of neighborhoods to the fleet. Each neighborhood is a themed area of the ship where different features are grouped together.
Icon of the Seas has taken that concept and pushed it even further. While both ships have 8 neighborhoods, Icon of the Seas has improved old favourites and added some thrilling new ones.
The neighborhoods shared by the ships are:
1. Central Park
Central Park is an indoor neighborhood with live trees and greenery, as well as relaxing dining venues and entertainment. Icon of the Seas has an enhanced version of Central Park which is described as “lusher and livelier”.
2. Royal Promenade
The Royal Promenade is one of the main hubs of the ship, home to speciality dining restaurants, bars and shops galore. The Royal Promenade on Icon of the Seas brings a little more of the outside in – it’s the first in the fleet to have floor-to-ceiling ocean views.
3. Suite Neighborhood
The Suite Neighborhood is a relaxed area of the ship that is available exclusively to suite guests, including private pool, dining and sun terrace areas. Icon of the Seas has the largest and most luxurious in the fleet.
The other neighborhoods on Wonder of the Seas (but not on Icon of the Seas) are:
Designed to be similar to classic boardwalks on the oceanfront, this is where you’ll find Johnny Rockets, the arcade, the sports bar and the candy store.
2. Pool and Sports Zone
A straightforward name for a straightforward neighborhood where you’ll find the pools, hot tubs and sports court.
3. Entertainment Place
Home of live entertainment including the theatre, comedy club and ice skating rink, as well as the casino.
4. Youth Zone
Another arcade can be found here, as well as the Adventure Ocean kids club and the teen club.
5. Vitality Spa and Fitness
With a fitness centre open to all guests, and a spa and salon with various treatments available, this is a place where guests can unwind and burn off some steam.
And the neighborhoods debuting on Icon of the Seas are:
Situated at the top of the ship, AquaDome offers a peaceful oasis during the day (with its own tranquil waterfall), and at night it comes to life with vibrant bars and restaurants.
An enhanced version of the AquaTheater, it incorporating more technology than ever before including state-of-the-art projection and robotic arms.
2. Chill Island
Chill Island is the main pool area – home to four of the seven pools on the ship. As well as the Swim & Tonic pool with swim-up bar, the Royal Bay Pool (the largest pool in the fleet) and Cloud 17, an adults-only pool, it also has four Lime & Coconut bars.
Surfside is a fun-packed family area of the ship, replacing elements of the Pool and Sports Zone, Youth Zone and Entertainment Place on Wonder of the Seas. It’s here you’ll find Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay, as well as the Adventure Ocean kids club, Social020 for teens, the arcade, carousel and more dining venues.
4. The Hideaway
This peaceful neighborhood is situated higher up the ship in a quiet corner, ideal as a space for the adults to escape and unwind. It has the first suspended infinity pool at sea, as well as a multilevel sun terrace with whirlpools and a bar.
5. Thrill Island
Few ships can introduce 6 new water slides at once, but Icon of the Seas doesn’t just do that – it introduces 6 slides that all break records, including the tallest drop slide at sea, the first mat-racing duo slides, and the first open free-fall slide.
Here, you’ll also find the unique Crown’s Edge – part skywalk, part ropes course, part thrill ride.
Staterooms and Suites
Both Wonder of the Seas and Icon of the Seas have some of the most innovative accommodations you’ll find on a cruise ship, including some incredible suites!
There will actually be fewer staterooms on Icon of the Seas than on Wonder of the Seas – Icon has 2,805 while Wonder has 2,874.
Despite that, Icon can carry 600 more guests than Wonder – which tells us there will be even more family suites available that can host families of four, five and six.
Read more: Wonder of the Seas Suites
Read more: Icon of the Seas Suites
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Ultimate Family Accommodations
Both Wonder and Icon have a multi-storey suite that offers incredible accommodations for families. On Wonder of the Seas that’s the Ultimate Family Suite, a two-storey room with a slide from the bedroom to the living area, and loads of fun features.
On Icon of the Seas, it’s the Ultimate Family Townhouse. A third storey has been added, the slide has been retained, while the balcony area has a cute white picket fence and its own mailbox. It’s also around 50% larger than the Ultimate Family Suite
Icon of the Seas Stateroom Debuts
There are some other debuting suites and staterooms on Icon of the Seas that you won’t find on Wonder of the Seas. These include:
- Inside Plus – a redesigned Inside stateroom with a full dividing wall between the bedroom and bathroom for extra privacy
- Surfside Family Suites – new suites located near the pool areas, with alcoves just for the kids to enjoy
- Panoramic Ocean View rooms situated inside the AquaDome
- Family Infinity Balcony staterooms to sleep families of three, four, five and more
Icon of the Seas features a really exciting mix of dining venues. Included options include the obvious spots like the Windjammer Marketplace buffet, the main dining room, Sorrentos Pizzaria and the Park Cafe. However, there are some new options that you won’t find on Wonder of the Seas like the AquaDome Market, the Surfside Bites snack bar and the Surfside Eatery buffet.
|Restaurant||Icon of the Seas||Wonder of the Seas|
|150 Central Park||No||YES|
|Boardwalk Dog House||No||YES|
|El Loco Fresh||YES||YES|
|Empire Supper Club||YES||No|
|Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar||YES||YES|
|Izumi Hibachi & Sushi||YES||YES|
|Main Dining Room||YES||YES|
When it comes to speciality dining on Icon of the Seas versus Wonder of the Seas you can, again, expect a mix of classic speciality dining favourites like Chops Grille and Izumi Hibachi & Sushi as well as some new spots to try like Pier 7 which serves ‘beachside’ cuisine and the Empire Supper Club, a luxurious 1920s New York restaurant.
Just as on all Royal Caribbean cruise ships, there will be an extra charge to eat at the speciality restaurants so you’ll want to know which ones are worth your money. Check out my guide to Icon of the Seas restaurants to learn more.
Bars & Lounges
Here’s how the ships compare from a bars and lounges perspective:
|Bar/Lounge||Icon of the Seas||Wonder of the Seas|
|Cask & Clipper||No||YES|
|Playmakers Bar & Arcade||YES||YES|
|Rising Tide Bar||No||YES|
|Swim & Tonic Pool Bar||YES||No|
|The Hideaway Bar||YES||No|
|The Lime & Coconut||YES – 4||YES|
Lime & Coconut, the Caribbean bar that appeared on Wonder of the Seas, is returning for Icon of the Seas but with four locations on the ship instead of just one, one of which will be the first frozen cocktail bar for the fleet.
There’s also Swim & Tonic – one of the pools situated in the Chill Island neighborhood that has the first-ever swim-up bar at sea. Guests will be able to relax with a gentle swim and a tasty cocktail at the same time.
And there’s a bar in The Hideaway, where guests can enjoy a peaceful drink away from the louder areas of the ship whilst overlooking the suspended infinity pool.
The bars and lounges available on Wonder of the Seas are:
- Schooners Bar
- Trellis Bar
- Playmakers Bar & Arcade
- The Attic
- The Lime & Coconut
- Cask & Clipper
- Diamond Club
- Rising Tide Bar
- Solarium Bar
- Suite Lounge
- Bionic Bar
- English Pub
- Vue Bar
- Wipe Out Bar
- Cantina Fresca
Activities and Entertainment
Wonder of the Seas has some of the best activities and entertainment at sea. While we don’t know the full extent of what Icon of the Seas offers yet, we do know that it includes many of the features that are present on Wonder of the Seas, and adds some exciting new ones.
|Activities/Entertainment||Icon of the Seas||Wonder of the Seas|
|Fitness & Spa||YES||YES|
|Rock Climbing Wall||No||YES|
|The Perfect Storm||No||YES|
Wonder of the Seas has four main waterslides:
It also has Ultimate Abyss which is a dry slide, so there’s no water, but it is the tallest slide at sea.
Icon of the Seas has six main waterslides, including:
- Pressure Drop – the first open free-fall slide at sea
- Frightening Bolt – the tallest drop slide at sea
- Storm Surge & Hurricane Hunter – the first family raft rides at sea
- Storm Chasers – two mat-racing slides (the first at sea)
Both Wonder of the Seas and Icon of the Seas have an AquaTheater. On Wonder of the Seas it’s located at the rear of the ship, but on Icon it’s moved inside the AquaDome, on top of the ship. Both offer incredible choreographed shows, although Icon’s AquaTheater has upgraded projection and robotics.
Both Wonder of the Seas and Icon of the Seas feature epic live entertainment on-board every night. While we don’t know what Icon will have to offer yet, Wonder of the Seas includes inTENse at the AquaTheater, and 365 at the ice rink.
Both ships have a large ice rink where guests can skate during the day, and enjoy live shows at night. Of course, Icon of the Seas has one that’s larger – Absolute Zero, the biggest in the fleet.
Read more: The Best Royal Caribbean Ships for Kids
One of the biggest differences between Wonder of the Seas and Icon of the Seas is destination – at least for part of the year.
Wonder of the Seas is based in Orlando, Florida for half the year, offering 7-night Caribbean sailings. Guests will visit the private resorts of Labadee and CocoCay, as well as explore Basseterre and Nassau.
During the summer months, the ship crosses to the Mediterranean, with Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) becoming its base. From here, guests will be able to enjoy 7-night cruises to Palma de Mallorca, Marseille, Florence/Pisa, Barcelona and Naples/Capri.
Icon of the Seas isn’t offering any cruises in Europe. Instead, it will be based in Miami year-round. 7-night cruises to the Caribbean will include popular ports like Cozumel, Philipsburg and Roatan, as well as CocoCay, the private island.
It’s worth noting that the new adults-only beach at CocoCay is named The Hideaway, opening at the same time as Icon of the Seas launches with its own Hideaway neighborhood.
Cost to Build
The Wonder of the Seas cost $1.35 billion to build, with the final figure being revealed close to her launch in 2022. This did not make her the most expensive cruise ship in the world though – her elder sisters Oasis and Allure of the Seas actually cost more at around $1.4 billion.
The final cost for Icon of the Seas hasn’t been revealed yet, but early estimates put the cost of the ship at around $2 billion, which would be a significant increase. However, there are some who now estimate the cost of the ship as being closer to the $1.3 billion mark. It will likely be a similar cost to Wonder of the Seas once it is finalised.
There are some savings – a lot of the new features have already been designed for Wonder of the Seas – but as the first ship to be powered by LNG, and with new areas of the ship including the impressive AquaDome, it will still be quite an expensive ship.
Which Is the Best?
It really is too early to say whether Wonder of the Seas or Icon of the Seas is the better ship. It looks like Icon of the Seas will be better overall – it’s bigger and will have some very exciting new neighborhoods.
However, bigger isn’t always better, and some people prefer the (slightly) smaller crowds of Wonder of the Seas.
Destination plays a big part too. You won’t think Icon of the Seas is better if you want to book a cruise in the Mediterranean – the natural choice would be Wonder of the Seas. And if you wanted a post-Disneyworld cruise, Wonder of the Seas sails from the nearer port too.
What isn’t up for debate is just how impressive both of these ships are. They might not be to everybody’s taste, but they are amazing for families or anyone who essentially wants a theme park/city on the sea.
With so many places to eat, bars to drink at, activities to try and more, you won’t even need to leave the ship during a port day.
Or more likely, when comparing Wonder of the Seas vs Icon of the Seas, you’ll need multiple cruises on each ship to enjoy them to their fullest.
NEW DEALS JUST RELEASED!
Don’t miss the latest Royal Caribbean offers…
- Icon of the Seas Size Comparison
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