We are no stranger to mega-ships. Heidi and I have sailed on the world’s largest cruise ships from all the major cruise lines. So, we thought we knew what to expect boarding Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas. Well, this new mega-ship certainly surprised us. Find out why with our Icon of the Seas cruise ship review.
Our Complete Icon of the Seas Cruise Ship Review Scorecard
We were fortunate to spend 10 days sailing on the brand-new Icon of the Seas. With all this time, we saw all the shows, tested the new food and beverage offerings, and finally figured out how to get around this 250K+ GT mega-ship.
First stepping onboard the cruise ship for our 3-day preview cruise, we quickly realized that Icon of the Seas was not just an enhancement to the Oasis-class ships. This vessel does share several layout features found on the previous record-breaking class of ship from Royal Caribbean. Yet, Icon of the Seas has a unique personality all her own. She improves upon several of the features we love about cruising with Royal Caribbean and adds many new amenities and attractions as well, putting her in a league of her own.
Our 7-day inaugural sailing had about 5500 passengers, which is essentially double occupancy. So, even though we were worried about crowds, there were never any issues. This surprised us, as we were initially concerned that the ship’s design would inevitably not disperse passengers as planned and lead to crowding.
While there are bound to be busy areas on any mega-ship, Icon of the Seas dispersed crowds even better than we imagined. While that might differ with another 1,500 cruisers onboard when sailing at full capacity, we suspect there will not be significant issues like other cruise ships from competitor brands.
The enhanced neighborhood concept, with these areas designed to be “inhabitable all day”, really eases any pain-points that you might expect on a cruise ship with so many passengers. While other cruise lines have decks with featured amenities or “zones”, Royal Caribbean was the first to introduce completely themed neighborhoods.
And, on Icon of the Seas, these neighborhoods provide even more amenities, including options for food and drinks, allowing cruisers to spend an entire day in one of the eight distinct areas. Given they are so distinct, cruisers can gravitate towards whichever neighborhood fits their mood on any given day. Families can choose to chill or thrill together or perhaps explore their own interests for part of the day.
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One neighborhood on Icon of the Seas to get an extensive upgrade is the pool deck. This new cruise ship boasts seven pools, all with a unique vibe and design. These pools are also scattered around the ship, with Decks 15, 16, and 17 comprising what you would typically think of a pool deck.
The most popular pool on our sailing, at least for adults, was the Hideaway on Deck 15. The Hideaway is one of the eight neighborhoods on Icon of the Seas.
With an entrance from Thrill Island on Deck 16, this aft pool area features the first suspended infinity pool at sea. Even though the pool didn’t officially open most days until 9 or 10 am, many of the sun loungers on the terraced sundeck were claimed by early morning. There are also daybeds that are available for rent here.
Like any cruise ship, the aft is the most desirable location. So, spending a day at sea with a drink from the Hideaway Bar and some wake views is pretty iconic.
Four additional pools can be found in the Chill Island neighborhood. The Cloud 17 pool is on Deck 17. It’s located forward on the starboard side and offers plenty of padded loungers and a small infinity pool. The Deck 16 Swim and Tonic was another popular spot, as it’s Royal Caribbean’s first swim-up bar at sea. Still, we were able to grab drinks one afternoon without much hassle. Here, cruisers can relax in the pool or on one of the in-pool loungers.
On Deck 15, there’s the record-breaking Royal Bay Pool on the starboard side. Given its large footprint, two whirlpools, and several in-pool chairs along with a variety of other lounge options, this popular pool never felt overwhelmed with cruisers.
There’s also the secluded Cove Pool on Deck 15 for those seeking a little shade. Once again, this infinity pool is surrounded by numerous seating options in the shade along with some bright and funky furniture lining the portside of this deck.
Not to mention, the Water’s Edge pool is in the Surfside neighborhood, and there’s a private pool for those in suites up in The Grove on Deck 18 forward.
Families with little kids will have the Surfside Neighborhood on Deck 7 all to themselves. Aft on this deck is Splashaway Bay. Designed for kids six years or younger, this is a popular water feature on many Royal Caribbean ships. For the adults, the Water’s Edge pool is behind this splash pad. This pool offers amazing aft views for you to enjoy while your little ones enjoy their own water playground.
Finding a spot at one of the pools was never an issue on our sailing. In fact, we were surprised at how many loungers were still available by noontime on a sea day. Whether cruisers are craving some sun or shade, the new Chill Island offers a variety of options.
Like many aspects of Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean took its typical sports deck to new heights. The newly themed Thrill Island includes many staples found on other ships in the fleet along with some firsts at sea.
Of course, there is your typical sports court suspended above Deck 16. This unique design opens up the aft of the ship, enabling more public venues and improving passenger flow.
Below the court on the portside is the Lost Dunes mini-golf. This intricately themed mini-golf is complimentary and open most of the day. We gave the course a test match and had a fun afternoon putting around. We don’t have to mention who won.
Adrenaline Peak is the rock climbing wall on the ship. It is in a different location from the Oasis class. Actually, the design and layout reminded us more of the Quantum class.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Royal Caribbean cruise ship without a FlowRider. Tucked away on the starboard side, this surf simulator faces inward towards the ship. On most vessels in the fleet, the FlowRider is outward facing towards the ocean.
Though, the highlights of Thrill Island are the two new attractions.
The Crown’s Edge is Royal Caribbean’s attempt at a ropes course on one of its ships. This up-charge activity is set to a theme where adventurers need to escape from Thrill Island. The big draw is when the floor drops from beneath you and you zip line over the edge of the ship.
While it is fun, other cruise lines offer more intricate courses, with more exhilarating experiences (in our opinion), for free.
Lastly, the crown jewel of the sports deck is the Category 6 waterpark. Of course, I had to test all the slides for this Icon of the Seas cruise ship review.
With the cruise line positioning Icon as the “best of every vacation,” the complimentary water park is certainly a direct competitor to theme parks on land. With 5 unique attractions, these slides are undoubtedly the best at sea. They have plenty of re-ride ability.
Thankfully, Category 6 is separate from the pools. So, cruisers wanting a more relaxing pool day don’t have to worry about this attraction.
During our cruise, the waterslides had small lines. But, the cruise line claims that it can process 1500 passengers in about an hour. So, you shouldn’t be waiting all day, even during summer vacation, to experience the best waterpark at sea.
If you are looking for the biggest thrill, I suggest you head straight for Frightening Bolt, the tallest drop slide at sea.
Royal Caribbean boasts that there are over 40 ways to eat and drink on Icon of the Seas. Of course, we made sure to try all of the restaurants during our sailing.
Along with new concepts, there are many returning favorites. When it comes to casual eats, El Loco Fresh still serves up Tex-Mex nachos, burritos, and tacos on the pool deck until around 8 pm.
Likewise, the Park Café in Central Park still features breakfast sandwiches, a bagel bar, salad bar, and the Royal Kummelweck sandwich. This casual restaurant has a new upscale look and feel with comfy seating, making it look more like a trendy cafe than a cruise ship quick service restaurant. What’s new is that Park Café now offers tapas in the evenings like mini meatballs and meat and cheese plates.
Icon of the Seas’ upgraded 24-hour spot is the Pearl Café. Finally, Royal Caribbean has significantly improved its menu at the onboard coffee shop. The new steak and cheese breakfast sandwich and barbecue chicken biscuit were vast improvements over the small bites typically found at the Café Promenade on other Royal Caribbean ships. This venue also features new grab-and-go items.
Pearl Café still serves Starbucks Coffee, which is included in the Royal Caribbean drink package or the Café Select Coffee card. The licensed Starbucks location one deck down is NOT included.
Not to mention, the overall vibe of the Pearl Café is much different. The area is open with floor-to-ceiling ocean views, comfy seating options, and plenty of outlets. So, cruisers can relax or do a little work while enjoying some coffee and snacks throughout the day.
Additionally, there is the new Basecamp on Deck 16. Some of the quick bites at this Thrill Island location are complimentary like the pretzel bites, tater tots, or a hot dog. But, the menu also has up-charge items, like a smash burger for $11, waffle chicken nuggets for $7, and shrimp bao buns for $8. While good, we are not sure if they are worth the up-charge.
Now, our favorite addition to the dining lineup on Icon of the Seas is the AquaDome Market. Five unique stations are open most of the day from 10:30 am serving a variety of casual fare. Of course, we tested all the small bites here for this Icon of the Seas cruise ship review. And they were all great.
We appreciated the perfectly sized portions and fresh food quality. It was tough to pick out a favorite. But, I was fond of the gyros from Feta Mediterranean, the ginger beef from GNGR, and the strawberry Nutella crepe. Heidi liked the chicken from GNGR and the mac & cheese as well.
In the Surfside neighborhood, there are two more casual, complimentary dining options. The Surfside Eatery is a family-forward buffet. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there is a dedicated kids menu and some options for the adults. Some of the fan favorite items include the lasagna bites and taquitos. However, of all the dining on the ship, this was our least favorite.
But you can’t go wrong with popcorn chicken or a pizza toastie at the nearby Surfside Bites. This takeout window also has burgers, hotdogs, and irresistible cinnamon churros. This venue is open most days until 6 pm.
Pro Tip: grab some soft serve ice cream from the nearby Sprinkles and top it with two churros. Trust us!
Of course, the Windjammer Marketplace is still available on Icon of the Seas as well. This staple Royal Caribbean buffet offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the cruise. Also, it wouldn’t be a Royal Caribbean ship without Sorrento’s serving up slices of pizza into the early morning hours.
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Bars and Lounges
Royal Caribbean has also elevated its beverage program along with all the new dining. Icon of the Seas has nearly twenty bars, including 10 new establishments. Of course, we made sure to pop into each venue to try at least one signature cocktail. Thankfully, Royal Caribbean did not change the drink prices on Icon of the Seas. So, most specialty cocktails are covered in the beverage package.
The 1400 Lobby Bar is the new hip watering hole on the Royal Promenade. This trendy and modern space serves up signature cocktails themed after the different Royal Caribbean ships with the Fourteen Hundred in honor of the Icon-class. This bar is the perfect addition to the completely redesigned 2-story Royal Promenade.
Chill Island has 4 Lime and Coconut bars, including the brand-new frozen bar featuring poolside favorites like a Miami Vice. Of course, the other three locations still shake up favorites like the signature Lime & Coconut drink. The first swim-up bar in the Royal Caribbean fleet is the Swim and Tonic. This pool bar serves unique cocktails like the Iconic Gin and Tonic and the Limoncello Tonic.
The new Hideaway neighborhood has an upscale outdoor bar too. The Hideaway Bar boasts lux outdoor furniture and a signature drink menu with new favorites like the Oh Mai Gawd and Bae at the Beach.
Margaritas and mezcals are on the menu at Cantina Fresca on Chill Island, conveniently found near El Loco Fresh. Cruisers can also get some liquid courage from the rum-based specialty cocktails at the Basecamp Bar in Thrill Island.
Further, the new AquaDome neighborhood is home to a few bars too. These include the Overlook Bar with the signature Overlook Spritz. The new Rye and Bean coffee bar serves espresso-infused cocktails and other coffee drinks. The espresso martinis here are a must, especially as a pre-show drink.
While some Royal Caribbean ships have jazz clubs, Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues on Deck 8 in Central Park is an entirely re-imagined space. With a sultry, smooth vibe and specialty cocktails like a hurricane and jazzy saz, it is a relaxing departure from other bars on the ship. Cruisers also have the option of enjoying the music inside the venue or outdoors in the Park.
Or, they can enjoy the scenic surroundings of Central Park with a glass of champagne from Bubbles, the new champagne bar takeout window. There is also the spruced-up Trellis Bar. This venue offers the standard beverage menu, with a new tapas menu that is available for an upcharge.
The family can grab a drink at the Lemon Post on Deck 7. All drinks feature flavored lemonade, with a wide selection of adult concoctions, like the Shade thrower, along with zero-proof offerings for the little ones.
Inside, the loyal Royal cruisers will find a typical lineup of bars and lounges. Though, some are in new locations. The Schooner Bar overlooks the two-story promenade on Deck 6 starboard side. Recently, Royal Caribbean updated this classic bar’s menu. Luckily, Heidi’s favorite lavender daiquiri is still available, along with the new toasted marshmallow old fashioned to go along with the nightly live piano music.
Likewise, Boleros remains on the Royal Promenade but is now found on Deck 6 across from the Schooner Bar. The Boleros menu has received a minor update as well. The Point and Feather is the newly updated English pub. This venue features a variety of ales and lagers, some new cocktails, and the same great live music.
Venues like Spotlight Karaoke, the Music Hall, and even the new Dueling Pianos all feature the same musically-inspired menu. However, each one has a signature cocktail to enjoy during the nightly performances.
Overall, we liked the variety of venues and drink menus. While some bars were more popular than others, this was primarily due to the live entertainment. Even when the venues were busy, we never waited too long to get a drink from the bar or a roaming server.
Along with distinct cocktails, many Icon of the Seas’ venues are home to live music and performances in the evenings.
Boleros features Latin dance music and alternates between a duo or a band. Phoenix rocked out the Music Hall with classic rock tribute shows. This venue was also home to a DJ and some parties and other activities later in the evening on select nights.
Kevin Phillip was the pub acoustic performer. With his Scottish accent and lineup of typical hits and sing-alongs, this was a rowdy good time most nights. The new open design of the pub incorporates more promenade seating without interfering with the passenger flow in this often busy area.
Brand new to the cruise line is the Dueling Pianos bar. While Royal spent only a few minutes thinking about what to call the venue, they obviously did their homework. This lounge quickly became the most popular nighttime spot. The venue is open to the promenade, so those without seats can still peek in and enjoy the show.
Cruisers must arrive early to get a seat and sing along with Tim and Sarah during one of their several sets throughout the cruise. If you are a night owl, you will have a better shot at getting a seat during the 11 pm or midnight shows. But, the wait is worth it, as both performers kept the crowd crooning all night long.
Despite this new addition, the Schooner Bar is still home to classic piano music. Andy C. offered relatively standard renditions each evening. While new, we were surprised that the jazz club was never all that busy, even though it had some great cocktails and live band music.
Out in Central Park, there was often live music in the evenings as well. With either strings or an acoustic guitar, these soothing tunes provided a lovely backdrop as cruisers enjoyed the surroundings with a drink and good company.
The Attic, newly relocated to the second floor of the Royal Promenade, has comedy shows on most nights of the cruise.
While Royal Caribbean typically has two comedians, this special sailing featured three, including our favorite, Simeon Kirkiles. Reservations can be made pre-cruise or once onboard. However, we went standby later in the cruise and had no issues getting into one of the shows.
Of course, a Royal Caribbean cruise wouldn’t be complete without parties and parades. Along with the embarkation day Midnight Balloon Drop, there was also the Ships Ahoy parade as well as a family-friendly and adult-oriented Hush Silent party, among other events.
For us, Royal Caribbean offers the best entertainment in the industry. The cruise line has long pushed the envelope, offering Broadway productions and unique entertainment stages. While not debuting any new venues on Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has enhanced several of its still one-of-a-kind stages.
The most significant change to the Icon class is relocating the AquaTheater to the top of the ship on Deck 15 forward in the AquaDome neighborhood. While we were skeptical of this change, after experiencing the ship, we think it better utilizes the space. Plus, there’s no longer a need to cancel shows due to rain.
For now, there is one featured production, Aqua Action. This intense diving and aqua show attempts to replicate an action movie utilizing state-of-the-art pools, lifts, and robots. A second show Pirates vs. Mermaids will debut at a later date.
During our sailing, Aqua Action was only a little over half done. Still, it featured amazing performances by high-divers, synchronized swimmers, dancers, and aerial artists. The digitally enhanced dome added a layer of storytelling and immersion into this fast-paced, meticulously choreographed show. It certainly can not be missed.
Likewise, the Studio B ice rink found on several Royal Caribbean ships has been transformed into the new Absolute Zero. It does take a little searching to find this venue all the way aft on Deck 6. Cruisers must walk through a shop and then Playmakers to find the entrance.
Absolute Zero is now the largest ice rink at sea and features a new circular design with better sight lines. This venue is home to two signature shows. Starburst: Elemental Beauty brings the basic elements of the universe to life through an intricate mix of ice dancing, skating, and special effects. There is also the family-friendly Once Upon a Time: The King’s Royal Ball.
In the main theater, there is the Wizard of Oz. This Broadway adaption of the classic story perfectly fits this family-focused cruise ship. The state-of-the-art theater brings all aspects of the original to life. From a tornado whipping through the theater to flying monkeys and strolls down the yellow brick road, this is one of the best full-scale productions at sea.
The cruise line is still preparing for its second theater show, Showband. Thus, during our cruise, there were a variety of headliner acts. Many of these entertainers will be familiar to regular Royal Caribbean cruisers, like Mo5aic.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed all the entertainment and recommend cruisers reserve all available live entertainment pre-cruise. We believe these spectacles will amaze you even if you are not a show person.
It is not a surprise that the largest cruise ship in the world offers a variety of activities. Most of what you can find on the Cruise Compass, the ship’s daily list of activities, is typical of any cruise line.
There were a variety of trivia and competitions throughout the day. From general trivia to sports, music, geography, and movies, these sessions happened each day of the cruise. Some predictable games included morning trivia at 10 am in the Schooner Bar. Later in the day, there was trivia at 5 in The Attic.
Various editions of Name that Tune or Finish that Lyric game shows occurred throughout the week. Themes ranged from one hit wonders to 90s hits, country, and everything in between. Many of these competitions were family-focused and often occurred in Dueling Pianos or Spotlight Karaoke.
Across the various venues, there were other activities staff-led events. In Absolute Zero, there were sessions of open skating. All cruisers need is socks and long pants, and the cruise line provides the rest. There is also laser tag, usually on sea days. The Rise of Poseidon inflatable course is the biggest we’ve seen.
Organized scavenger hunts, riddle challenges, and puzzles also made the list of regular activities throughout the week. Of course, there’s also the seaside carousel and an arcade found in the Surfside neighborhood.
On the outdoor decks, along with open play, there were volleyball competitions, basketball free-throw challenges, pickleball, table tennis, and baggo, among other sports events.
Yes, there were also the pool deck favorites including a Sexy Legs competition and the Belly Flop contest occurring in the Royal Bay Pool.
We enjoy game shows, but while several were offered, they were at off-times. For instance, the very popular Love and Marriage game show occurred at 3 pm on a sea day. Others, including Family Feud and Majority Rules, were game shows we could not catch due to showtime conflicts. We did attend the Liar’s Club and the always-a-good-time Crazy Quest.
Trying to get everything done in one week is nearly impossible with so much going on around the ship. So, this is the one area that we often skipped on in lieu of other events.
But, if you are just looking to relax, there are plenty of areas to do so as well. Perhaps the most beautiful spot on Icon of the Seas is the new Overlook. All the way forward on Deck 15, this posh space features 220′ views and plenty of comfy furniture including the first-of-their-kind pods at sea. It’s a great place to chill with a book or a drink anytime of day.
Main Dining Room
The main dining room is one area Royal Caribbean didn’t change much on Icon of the Seas. The three-story MDR is on Decks 3-5 aft. From layout to décor and menu, this dining room felt like any Royal Caribbean mega-ship.
The dining room featured daily breakfast and lunch on two of the sea days. A relatively new offering in the main dining room is a sea day brunch on the first sea day, Day 2. This menu isn’t just a mix of lunch and breakfast; it offers unique dishes that cruisers can enjoy from 8:30 am to noon.
For dinner, the main dining room did offer the new themed menus. Since our last Royal Caribbean cruise, these menus have been slightly tweaked. For instance, the cheese plate is back on the menu.
We ate dinner here a total of three evenings. During the first formal night, there was a special menu which was a slightly altered version of the Taste of France menu. We also dined here on the Taste of Italy and the Bon Voyage nights.
Overall, food quality was what we have come to expect from Royal Caribbean main dining room experiences. My NY strip was cooked medium rare and well-seasoned. It was one of the best steaks in any main dining room. Likewise, I enjoyed the braised lamb on the final night. Further, you can’t go wrong with lobster tails, and Heidi always enjoys the turkey dinner.
The food was always delivered well-plated and at the appropriate temperatures. The service from our waitress Lyna was on point as well. We were in and out of dinner in about 75 minutes each evening.
However, there is one new restriction. The cruise line still allows guests to order multiple starters, entrees, and desserts. But servers can only deliver one dish at a time.
So, when I wanted the mushroom risotto entrée alongside my steak, I couldn’t have them on the table simultaneously. Or, when getting the lobster and beef tenderloin, I had to eat them separately instead of as my own “surf and turf”. This seemed silly to me.
Pre-cruise, the options for traditional dining were 5:30 PM or 8 PM. Since neither of those times worked for us, we selected My Time Dining and then made reservations for most nights at the same time, 6:45 pm. We sat in the same section with the same server, so it was almost like traditional dining anyway.
During our cruise, the main dining room seemed relatively empty. With all the new complimentary venues open later, we suspect that more cruisers will skip on the MDR. We are a prime example as Heidi is adamant that we always go to the main dining room dinner. Yet, on this trip, we had two casual dinners as there was just so much to try. Never mind all the specialty restaurants.
Along with the weeklong maiden voyage, Heidi and I spent three days onboard a preview cruise. Across those 10 nights, we dined at four specialty restaurants. While several new dining concepts exist for complimentary venues, there are only a couple new specialty restaurants.
Among the new specialty dining venues we tried was Pier 7. Located on Deck 7 in the Surfside neighborhood, this casual specialty restaurant serves brunch on sea days and dinner every night.
We tried brunch and dinner, and the latter was our clear favorite.
At night, some standouts were the lettuce wraps, Korean fried chicken, and the Buddha bowl. Also, the caramel waffle is a delectable ending to the meal.
This a la carte venue is priced from $6 to $18 per dish. The dinner menu was a step above included dining. However, the breakfast items like pancakes and eggs looked like something you would get on other cruise lines for free. The pancake board was definitely not worth the $11 up-charge.
Plus, cruisers on the unlimited dining plan only receive a $20 credit when choosing to eat at this restaurant. Though, one positive note is that kids under 12 eat free here off the menu.
During the preview cruise, we dined at Chops Grill. This signature steakhouse located in Central Park did not disappoint. My crab cake had a crispy crust with a moist stuffing filled with crab meat. For an entree, I opted for one of the new iconic cuts. The wagyu filet was tender and cooked to the ideal medium rare temperature. Though, these cuts do come at an up-charge to the standard cover charge to dine here.
Then, on the first evening of the inaugural cruise, we dined with friends at Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen. This venue is now found on the second level of the Royal Promenade on Icon of the Seas.
With some extra people, we didn’t feel bashful ordering several appetizers. The pizza here is always a safe bet, with a thin handcrafted crust and just the right combination of toppings. The stromboli and the meatball were also favorites at our table.
For entrees, Heidi went with the chicken parmesan, and I did the osso buco which were similar to our previous dining experiences at this venue. Then, it was on to dessert. The Go Bananas is a dessert stromboli, combining Nutella and bananas. The cannoli was filled with sweet ricotta reminiscent of similar offerings in Boston’s North End.
Finally, we dined with a friend at Izumi Sushi towards the end of our weeklong cruise. We are fans of Asian cuisine, and the mix of small and large plates that we shared here were on point. The fried rice, dumplings, and udon noodles served up the pan-Asian flavors we have come to expect from this Royal Caribbean staple. I also tried the spicy crispy tuna roll which was not my favorite. Next time, I would go with something different.
Other specialty restaurants on Icon of the Seas include Playmakers Sports Bar, the Empire Supper Club, Izumi Hibachi, and Hooked Seafood. The Empire Supper Club features an elevated menu paired with cocktails and live music. It is a set menu, so we opted not to dine here given Heidi’s picky palette.
Not to mention, there are a few snack locations with up-charge items as well. Besides Basecamp already mentioned above, there’s Izumi in the Park and the Desserted Milkshake Bar. Of the two, we preferred Izumi in the Park. This takeout window serves sushi and delicious bubble cones.
While the milkshakes at Desserted are Instagram-worthy, they are quite pricey. We would opt to spend our money on the bubble cone from Izumi over the milkshake here.
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We stayed in a traditional balcony cabin, cabin 14258. While Icon of the Seas debuts a new type of cabin for Royal Caribbean, the infinite balcony, there are still regular balcony staterooms on the ship.
Our midship stateroom was closer to the aft elevator bank on the ship’s portside. Given all of the enhancements and trendy design of the public venues, we were surprised by the stateroom.
While Royal Caribbean added more luxurious finishes and updates to most aspects of the ship, the staterooms received only some minor updates. For the most part, the cabin’s layout and function were identical to other ships in the fleet.
Immediately upon entering our room, the bathroom was to the right on the midship wall. The bathrooms were redesigned, offering a rectangular shower with a glass door and a seat. This new layout was a nice change from the tubular showers found on most other Royal Caribbean vessels. This shower also utilized the inward-facing hinges found on Excel class ships in the Carnival fleet and Prima class on NCL ships.
Similar to sister brand Celebrity Cruises’ Edge class, the cabins on Icon of the Seas maximize interior space. The mirror hides the safe and additional shelves for storage, which are in addition to the closet and desk drawers.
Our closet was tucked around the corner from the bathroom. It had a clothes bar with some metal storage cubbies below. We used these to store shoes but really wished they were on a sliding track of some sort. When it comes to closet setup and storage space, the Quantum class is still our favorite layout for Royal Caribbean ships.
The desk and sofa followed, with the bed next to our balcony. Once again the desk and sofa were pretty typical. The one added feature were the most power outlets that we’ve ever seen in a cruise cabin. There was the usual line-up of power options on the desk, along with two USB-C ports. There was also a USB port on each side of the bed and one power outlet near the bed.
Additionally, the cruise line added small shelves and more USB outlets tucked around the corner from the desk. This was the perfect place to store electronics and served as a charging station throughout the week.
We were pleasantly surprised with the balcony size. While some cruise lines have reduced their balcony sizes on newer ships, this one was deeper than expected. The two chairs, small table, and ottomans made it the perfect place to do a little work in the afternoon or to watch our sail away from ports. Given our room location, support beams did partially block the view though.
Overall, the cabin was functional. We were able to unpack all our clothes and gear for the week using a few of our trusted cruise cabin hacks. Still, we expected the cabin to feel more like Norwegian Prima’s balcony staterooms, which we would argue are the best for a contemporary cruise line.
One of the biggest concerns travelers have with large ships is service. They are worried about not being able to escape the crowds or waiting in long lines for food and drinks. But, we are happy to report this was not the case. The Icon of the Seas’ service was excellent.
Whether it was Hari or Oliver in the Pearl Café or one of the servers at the Lime and Coconut, most of the crew were cheerful and talkative. Service at the casual restaurants was also prompt and attentive. Even at peak dining times, most of these quick service venues were manageable, and finding seats took minimal work.
We had My Time Dining with the same waitstaff team during our three visits. Our waitress, Lyna, remembered our names and food preferences after just one visit visit. Meals were perfectly paced, with our three courses typically taking about 75 minutes.
As mentioned, we dined at a few specialty restaurants too, and service was equally impressive. However, these dinners all took two hours. Even when members of our party indicated they had a show reservation, the server couldn’t speed up our dinner.
Corbett, our stateroom attendant, worked around our schedule to make up our room daily. Like many contemporary cruise lines, Royal Caribbean has reduced servicing rooms to only once a day though.
Given this was a new ship and we expected to find some kinks, we really didn’t. Most venues had adequate staffing, and crew members seemed genuinely happy and excited to be working on this new ship. The cruise line certainly has many of its A-team onboard, and it shows.
We can honestly say that the only venue where we felt the crowds was Dueling Pianos. With a little planning, and making reservations prior to the cruise, you hardly realize that you are on the largest cruise ship in the world!
Even the smart elevator design worked flawlessly, in comparison to some other cruise lines that have attempted this.
Overall Icon of the Seas Cruise Ship Review
Heidi and I were skeptical about going on this Icon of the Seas cruise. Would Royal Caribbean still be able to deliver a memorable cruise experience on an even larger ship? Luckily, based on our experience during the inaugural cruise, we can say a resounding “yes”.
From the dining to the entertainment and service, along with the pool deck and sports deck amenities, Icon of the Seas delivered a distinctly Royal Caribbean experience. Yet, the ship was not simply a super-sized Oasis-class ship. Icon of the Seas has more upscale décor, as well as more open space and new neighborhoods. This made the ship feel familiar but different.
The itinerary is less critical because there is so much to do and see on the ship. But our Icon of the Seas cruise was an Eastern Caribbean itinerary. We sailed to St Thomas, St. Kitts, and Perfect Day at CocoCay. Given the ship is a destination in itself, we reserved most of our port days to do and see more of Icon of the Seas. Though, the new adults-only Hideaway Beach at CocoCay made for a great ending to our cruise.
While we had some initial reservations, we can honestly say that Royal Caribbean delivered on its promise of creating the “the first-of-its-kind combination of the best of every vacation”. We think this ship makes a great vacation for multi-generational families, yet couples like ourselves can still carve out their own oasis away from all the kids.
Mega-ship cruise fans will definitely want to book a cruise on Icon of the Seas. Or, you can secure your spot now on her sister ship, Star of the Seas, for when she sets sail from Port Canaveral in 2025.
Do you agree with our Icon of the Seas cruise ship review? Do you plan to sail on this new Royal Caribbean ship class soon? Drop us an anchor below with your thoughts on this largest cruise ship in the world.