The Getaway
15 Things You Must Do on the Icon of the Seas

It doesn't matter how many times you've been on a cruise before. You'll be wowed by the sheer scale of Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's newest and most innovative cruise ship, which also happens to be the largest one sailing the seven seas. The ship can accommodate 8,000 passengers, but it's so big and well-designed it never feels crowded. Bright and airy interior spaces connect passengers to the ocean more deeply than before, and it's not unusual to see people reading or napping in peaceful nooks. Activities range from karaoke and face painting to a surf simulator, pickleball, and state-of-the-art water parks. With so much to do, you may wish you had Hermione Granger-like tools to keep FOMO at bay.

Advertisement

01 Boarding and first impressions

World's largest cruise ship ICON OF THE SEAS during second sea trials in Finnish archipelago. High altitude aerial side view. Jouni Niskakoski / Shutterstock.com

Your embarkation experience begins on Royal Caribbean's app. You should be able to scan your ID documents, complete a health form, and select your preferred boarding time on your phone. Don't forget to carry your passport. When you first board the Icon of the Seas, the initial views from the Royal Promenade are impressive. The area is longer than a football field, and "The Pearl," an enormous kinetic art piece supporting the above staterooms, is at its heart. You'll want to start your cruise with a little recce expedition. Explore the ship's various neighborhoods to learn the lay of the proverbial land.

Advertisement

02 Dining experiences

As its name suggests, Rye & Bean in the AquaDome is a spot for cocktails or coffee. Desserted is your go-to spot for colorful, over-the-top freakshakes. The cinnamony Stranded Burro feels decidedly festive. At Thrill Island's Basecamp, try the waffle chicken nuggets for a sweet and savory complimentary snack. The soft pretzel bites with cheese sauce are also gratis. Bubbles in the Central Park neighborhood is a sophisticated champagne bar for those who want to imbibe.

03 Neighborhood highlights

The neighborhoods in Icon of the Seas have a lot going on and are designed to suit your mood. AquaDome sets the stage for applause-worthy acrobatic shows and is home to the AquaDome Market. Central Park is the green lung of the ship, with lots of plants, a sushi window, and a jazz bar providing a smooth soundtrack to proceedings. The Royal Promenade is full of bars with live music, and the Suite Neighborhood is an exclusive area for suite guests to gather.

Chill Island (distinct from Thrill Island) has a swim-up bar for the ultimate splash-and-sip experience. The pool here is less noisy too. Then you have The Hideaway, a kid-free area with the first suspended infinity pool at sea and Vegas vibes. Surfside is where the whole family can hang out with splash pads, eateries, and the Lemon Post bar. Finally, Thrill Island is the part of the ship you may have seen in promo photos—the section that looks like clown intestines. Those are, of course, the colorful water slides at Category 6 Water Park.

04 Unique ship features

World's largest cruise ship ICON OF THE SEAS during second sea trials in Finnish archipelago. Aerial close up view of Aquadome. Jouni Niskakoski / Shutterstock.com

Icon of the Seas has many features that set it apart from other cruise ships. For starters, you have "The Pearl", a favorite spot for photos. It serves a decorative and functional purpose and is taller than the Hollywood sign in LA. Swim & Tonic on Chill Island is the largest swim-up bar at sea, and AquaDome looks like a spaceship seamlessly docked at the front of a Royal Caribbean vessel. It's an ultramodern mixed-use space dedicated to waterfall-backgrounded tranquility during the day and home to a Cirque du Soleil-like show at night. Absolute Zero is the brand's biggest ice arena for skating and watching the pros.

Advertisement

05 Entertainment and shows

You can expect Olympic-level high diving, synchronized dancing and swimming, and aerial athleticism at the Aqua Action show. The Icon of the Seas also has other game-changing productions to get theatre kids and musical fans rubbing their hands in anticipation. Currently, it's The Wizard of Oz, a must-see play with special effects, talented actors, and an actual orchestra.

06 Adventure and relaxation

Adventure and relaxation—arguably, the two main ingredients for a life well lived. Well, you'll get them both in spades on this record-breaking ship. Category 6 Water Park will please adrenaline junkies—Frightening Bolt is a tall drop slide, and Pressure Drop is an open freefall slide. Both crank the thrill level to the max. The Crown's Edge ropes course will also test your courage. When you're done screaming and giggling, head for Central Park's lush and serene cocoon for a more zen ambiance, or splurge on a session at the spa.

07 Culinary delights

More than a dozen eating spots on Icon of the Seas are complimentary, and a dozen specialty restaurants add to the onboard variety but also the cost of your cruise. Hooked is one such offering, but seafood lovers should consider splurging on its New England-inspired menu. Maine lobster rolls and Maryland crab cakes promise to bring the East Coast to your plate. The cruise line's first food hall at AquaDome Market offers diverse cuisines from Mediterranean to Korean.

08 Activities for families

Surfside is the ship's dedicated spot for young families. You'll find arcade games, a beachy carousel, a climbing area, and food that's sure to put a smile on little faces. SplashAway Bay and Baby Bay are water parks designed for mini cruisers with drench buckets, water cannons and other glee-inducing elements. Ice skating, a rock climbing wall, and putt-putt are additional attractions for older kids. Childcare is more or less sorted thanks to Adventure Ocean, a youth and kids club with fun programming.

09 Adult escapes

Adults looking for kid-free spaces need not despair. Icon of the Seas has plenty of adult-only areas like the stand-up comedy space, The Attic. There are 15 bars for libations and darts and billiards await. The Hideaway provides a grownup atmosphere poolside.

10 Exploring the ship

A big part of the cruise experience is participating in scheduled activities to meet people and make memories. Surfside, for example, has ring toss and bowling games. You'll find trivia and other contests dotted around the ship. Figuring out the ship layout early on will help you get to activities expeditiously and make the most of your vacation. The ship is massive, but you've got this. Deck maps can help, but navigating the neighborhoods becomes more manageable if you watch a walkthrough video before you ever set foot on Icon of the Seas. Do as much walking as possible on Day One to familiarize yourself with the eight distinct spaces.

11 Staterooms and accommodations

If you've got moola to spare, why not cruise as comfortably as possible? Staterooms are spacious, premium accommodations with concierge service, boarding and departure privileges, and other perks. All staterooms offer luxurious bedding, a sitting area, and a round-the-clock attendant. Some have awe-inspiring views, and others are interior rooms. The Star Class category of the Royal Suite Class is as good as it gets on a cruise ship.

12 Planning your day

Whether you're an early bird or a night owl, the ship's daily schedule of activities has fun in store for you. Use the app or the printed schedule to choose what you and your traveling companions want to do and structure your free time around these activities. You'll want to arrive early to the main night shows because the best seats fill up fast.

13 Evening entertainment

You can expect a world-class show at the AquaTheater, Absolute Zero ice arena, and the Royal Theater every evening. These productions are open to all ages. The Royal Theater is where you'll see Broadway-style plays. Cool off at the ice rink while figure skaters gracefully twirl right where amateurs were falling earlier in the day. Sandwich these performances with time at Lou's Jazz 'N Blues, Dueling Pianos, The Overlook, The Attic, or Rye and Bean while kids are entertained at the youth club. Feel like dancing with those sea legs of yours? Music Hall is the place to show off your moves.

14 Departure and reflections

Disembarkation day can be a little depressing after the highs of the cruise, but it'll go better if you're organized. You can use self-disembarkation or luggage tags. The former allows you to leave later because you'll be hauling your own bags off the ship. If you use luggage tags, you're assigned a disembarkation time which is changeable at Guest Services. We recommend getting off early. There are no activities on the last day, so the ship feels noticeably subdued. But you can eat breakfast at the Windjammer and Main Dining Room until 9 am if you don't have an early flight.

15 Looking ahead

We've looked at what the ship offers as part of the onboard experience, but we've left out an important part—cruises rarely go nowhere. You'll stop at dreamy ports and leave the ship's bubble to experience new cities and countries. If you've enjoyed the Icon of the Seas experience and want to do it again, you can simply change your itinerary. The ship will feel like home, but everything else will be fresh. Bon voyage!

Share

Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.
Advertisement
Advertisement