The Icon Class of Royal Caribbean ship is now the talk of the cruising world. Debuting with Icon of the Seas, it somehow manages to take the concept of a cruise ship to a whole new level, as the cruise line continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on a ship.
If you’re not yet clued up on everything Icon Class, you soon will be – let’s look in detail at what this class of ship is, which ships you can look forward to cruising on, and how it compares to others in the Royal Caribbean fleet.
What Class Is Icon of the Seas?
Icon of the Seas is the first of the new Icon Class of ships sailing for Royal Caribbean. Originally announced in 2016, the ship and class debut in 2024 as the largest in the world. Icon Class will consist of at least three ships, though more could be ordered.
There are a lot of firsts debuting on Icon of the Seas, but it also takes a lot of what makes the Oasis Class ships amazing and enhances them. The result is a class of ship that isn’t just big, but that offers an incredible experience on-board for the whole family.
Is Icon Class Bigger Than Oasis Class?
The Icon Class is a bigger class of ship than the Oasis Class. Icon of the Seas is the biggest ship in the world, taking that title from Wonder of the Seas, which is the largest of the Oasis-class ships.
You can read more about how the two classes of ship differ in this post: Icon Class Vs Oasis Class.
Ever since the Freedom of the Seas first debuted as the first Freedom-class ship for Royal Caribbean, the cruise line has held the title of the biggest cruise ship in the world. The title has simply passed from ship to ship within the Royal Caribbean fleet since then.
Oasis of the Seas became the biggest ship in the world when she launched in 2009, but she was surpassed by her sister ships Harmony of the Seas (2016), Symphony of the Seas (2018) and then Wonder of the Seas (2022), with marginal size increases every time.
Icon of the Seas is significantly larger again – around 5% bigger in terms of gross tonnage compared to Wonder of the Seas. It can host 600 more passengers, and it has an additional 2 decks.
When the Icon-class ships were first announced in 2016, it wasn’t expected that they would be bigger than the Oasis-class ships – the forecast was for the ships to be around 200,000 GT, so around 10% smaller than the Oasis Class.
But that later changed, and in 2022 it was confirmed that each Icon Class cruise ship would be the biggest in the world, starting with Icon of the Seas in 2024 and followed by two more ships in 2025 and 2026 – Star of the Seas and an as-yet-unnamed third ship.
About Royal Caribbean’s Icon Class
The Icon Class ships are being defined by Royal Caribbean as ‘the best of every vacation’. The ship is seen as combining everything you love about a beach retreat, a feature-packed resort hotel and a full-on theme park.
The Oasis Class was always seen as being defined as the “biggest and best”, while the Quantum Class was launched with a focus on innovation and technology. With Icon, the size is important but it’s not the defining factor – it’s how it brings together the best of everything – and debuts some exciting new features – in one epic ship.
History of the Royal Caribbean Icon Class
The Icon Class was announced in October 2016, when it was initially given the name ‘Project Icon’. Around the same time, the name ‘Icon of the Seas’ was trademarked by the cruise line, showing that the name has never been in doubt.
Originally two ships were ordered, but an order for a third was announced in July 2019, originally planned to debut in 2025. Dates have since shuffled slightly, likely due to the global pause slowing down construction, so now the ships are planned for 2024, 2025 and 2026.
Ships in the Icon Class
There are currently three ships planned for the Icon Class. The first Icon-class cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, debuts in early 2024 while Star of the Seas will set sail in summer 2025. The third ship is yet to be named and is expected for 2026.
Features of the Icon Class
There are several features that have been announced for the Icon Class that help to define it as the best of every vacation.
Several new accommodation types have been announced for Icon of the Seas, including the first three-storey suite for the fleet – the Ultimate Family Townhouse. Other new suites include the Surfside Family Suite, with alcoves that younger kids can enjoy and great access to the waterparks.
It’s not just Icon’s suites that have been revamped – there’s a new Inside Plus category, which adds a large dividing wall between the room and the bathroom. And even crew cabins have been redesigned with crew input, so guests and crew can sleep easier.
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Icon of the Seas may be a colourful ship packed with family-friendly attractions but there’s plenty for adults to enjoy too, including various bars and lounges – including the first frozen cocktail bar at sea, and the first swim-up bar on a cruise ship too.
The Hideaway is a relaxing area designed for adults, with the first suspended infinity pool at sea and a multilevel sea terrace with whirlpools. There are a lot of firsts on this ship, and not all are just for the kids.
Various attractions are either being introduced or improved for the Icon Class, including the water slides – there are now 6, and each one of them breaks new ground in some way, including the first open free-fall slide, the tallest drop slide, and the first mat-racing duo slides.
There’s an improved AquaTheater too, along with the largest ice skating rink on a Royal Caribbean ship. Plus, the brand new Crown’s Edge combines a skywalk, a ropes course and a thrill ride and sees guests swing out over the ocean from 154 feet above the sea.
The Icon Class is the first for Royal Caribbean to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Other cruise lines have got there first, but Royal Caribbean is now building ships designed to use this fuel which burns much cleaner than traditional diesel.
Read more: List Of All LNG-Powered Cruise Ships
Coupled with Royal Caribbean’s existing technologies, this makes the Icon Class the most sustainable of the Royal Caribbean fleet.
Icon Class vs Other Royal Caribbean Classes
Here’s how the Icon Class shapes up when compared to other classes in the Royal Caribbean fleet.
|Class||Number of ships||Average gross tonnage||Average guest capacity||Launch dates|
|Icon Class||3||250,800||7,600||2024 to 2026|
|Quantum Ultra Class||2||169,000||5,566||2019 to 2021|
|Quantum Class||3||169,000||4,905||2014 to 2016|
|Oasis||6||228,000||6,820||2008 to 2024|
|Freedom||3||154,000||4,616||2006 to 2008|
|Radiance||4||90,000||2,496||2001 to 2004|
|Voyager||5||138,000||3,858||1999 to 2003|
|Vision||4||78,000||2,525||1996 to 1998|
Read more: Royal Caribbean Ship Classes
Everything about Icon of the Seas is designed to be better than the ships before it. It is the newest, the biggest and the cleanest regarding energy used.
The Icon Class really is the next big leap from Royal Caribbean – one we haven’t really seen since the introduction of some of the Quantum Class’ innovative features in 2014.
Whether you’re a Royal Caribbean and member of the Crown and Anchor loyalty scheme already, or you’re tempted to switch allegiances with everything Icon of the Seas has to offer, or you’ve never cruised before – this new class and ship really is one to get excited about.
Icon of the Seas is packed with amazing technology, with spacious and modern accommodations and a wealth of entertainment and attractions. There’s no way you can see and do everything in one cruise – so you might just need to keep coming back.
And when we see the debut of the second and third Icon-class ships in the coming years, more and more people will have the chance to experience everything this next generation has to offer.
Icon of the Seas debuts in January 2024 and sails year-round from Miami with both Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries. You can read more about Icon of the Seas itineraries here.
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Don’t miss the latest Royal Caribbean offers…