This article is Did Icon Live Up To The Hype? It is a review of my experiencing sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas.
So how did Icon of the Seas live up to the hype? The short answer is yes, the experience lived up to the hype!
I had an awesome time sailing on the “Maiden Voyage” to the Eastern Caribbean on January 27. 2024. This was the first sailing where paying guests got to experience the ship. Royal Caribbean had approximately six other sailings prior to this Maiden Voyage where cruise line staff, influencers, media, travel agents and celebrities were invited to check out the experience prior to the first paying guests.
I booked Icon of the Seas the day it went on sale approximately 15 months prior to the sailing. The cruise was booked into a group rate staying in a Balcony Cabin for approximately $3,000 for two people. I added the beverage package and internet for about $1,000 as well as selected two tours, one in St. Kitts for about $50 and Hideaway Beach on Perfect Day at Coco Cay for $60.
The prices for everything on Icon of the Seas is higher than the other ships, and I had to closely monitor my onboard experiences and cancel and rebook when the prices went down. For example, when Hideaway Beach went on sale it cost $100. It later went down to $80 and then to $60 and then back up to $105 on the ship.
Guests on Mariner of the Seas, who were at Coco Cay at the same time only had to pay $39 for their passes. You can thank all the hype which has created the demand on Icon!
The prices for the sailing skyrocketed after that first day when I booked and at times when I checked, I saw inside rooms going for $6,000 for a couple. So my balcony room for $3,000 was a very good price.
For my review of Icon of the Seas, I will break this down into several categories and highlight the things I liked and disliked about each category.
Icon of the Seas is stunning from the first view and those jaw dropping experiences continued throughout the stay.
When you arrive on Icon of the Seas for the first time, your first view is the Pearl which is a multi story circle experience with lots of mirrors and kinetic tiles and are paired up with LED lights to create different experiences depending on the time of day.
The view is stunning and this is something that you have never seen before on a cruise ship.
Above the Pearl features the Pearl Cafe which offers coffee and snacks throughout the day and night. The coffee at Pearl Cafe is included in the beverage and refreshment package. The Starbucks that is in the Royal Promenade is not included in the drink package.
The Pearl Cafe features a cool statue above the seating as well as large picture windows.
So the initial appeal of the ship sure lives up to the hype!
I was booked in a Oceanview Balcony Room at the Aft of the Ship on Deck 14, Room 14736. The room was directly below the buffet and the Hideaway but I rarely heard any noise from the deck above.
Here is a walkthrough of the room:
Positive: The room was clean and comfortable and had a modern appeal
The room was clean and comfortable and it featured modern touches.
The beds could be converted from the king into two double beds.
The bed was comfortable and the temperature in the room was easily controlled.
The room included a seating area that could be made into a bed.
The balcony offered a good view of the ocean. It had a slight overhand from the deck above, but the view was not restricted fortunately.
There was storage all around the room on shelves and drawers so you will have plenty of space for your personal items.
The bathroom featured a large shower with a door that pivoted out to offer more space. In addition, there were plenty of storage locations in the bathroom.
Icon of the Seas offers two US power ports in the bedroom, one European port in the bedroom, one US port in the bathroom and USB ports near both beds, the deck as well as two USB-C ports at the desk.
Could Be Better: Amenities in the Bathroom/Shower
One thing that took away from the experience in the room was the limited amenities in the bathroom and shower.
At the sink, there was a small square hand soap and in the shower, there was a combo body wash and shampoo. No lotions, conditioner, shampoo or liquid hand soap was offered in the bathroom.
While this is not unique to Icon of the Seas, Royal could really add a lot by adding a couple more amenities in the room similar to other brands.
Could Be Better: Noises in Room
This is a minor issue, but it took away from the experience in the room.
Throughout the stay, there was a vibration in the wall near the beds and couch.
In addition, at times there was a high pitched noise coming from near the beds.
These issues did not keep us up, but they were little annoyances that I encountered.
Icon of the Seas has so many cool guest areas and neighborhoods. Some focused on family and some focused on adults.
There were a variety of pools on the ship. Some for lounging, some for sun bathing and others for swimming. It was laid out well and there were options for everyone.
You can even go to a swim up bar on Icon of the Seas!
In the Thrill’s Area you could go to the Category 6 Water Park with several amazing slides!
Family area was at the aft of the ship in Surfside with a small water attractions, arcade, face painting and restaurants just for kids.
Positive: The Hideaway is the Adults Only Area on the Ship and it is awesome
Icon of the Seas introduced an adults only area. Hideaway is free to use on the ship!
The adults only deck featured a party pool.
On sea days, the pool was very lively and throughout the day there was a good mix of music from the DJ’s. At times, you could even get a champagne shower for some free champagne were someone sprayed champagne into guests mouths while the Champagne Shower song was played by the DJ!
The pool is infinity one and it hands off the aft of the ship which gave it an awesome look.
I enjoyed sitting in the Hideaway Sundeck to get some sunshine and listen to the DJ music from Hideaway.
Could Be Better: Most of the Pools were very shallow
Icon of the Seas has a lot of pools, but nearly all of them are shallow.
The Hideaway Pool was only 3 feet deep. The Swim and Tonic Pool was similar as well.
These pools were good for standing and cooling off a little, but they didn’t allow for you to stay underwater to cool off completely from the heat.
This issue again is minor but it is something to consider if you like to swim on a cruise ship!
Could Be Better: Pools do not open until 10:00 AM
I am not sure if this was just due to the sailing being in the winter, but it was surprising that even on sea days all the pools were closed until 10:00 AM.
The hot tubs were open, but none of the pools were open.
I know that Royal Caribbean has lifeguards at each pool, so perhaps this was something to do with staffing. Guests like to be in the pools on sea days, so 10:00 AM really seemed late to me.
Positive: The variety of experiences available
I loved the fact that the ship offered something for everyone. All the pools were unique and the spaces were well themed and they offered fun experiences for all.
Positive: The Overlook offers an awesome window view at the front of the ship!
Probably my favorite place on Icon of the Seas was the Overlook.
The window view reminded me of the windows in Eden at the aft of Celebrity Edge Class ships and it offered cool chairs and seating options to take in the view.
The Overlook featured two bars. The colorful one above as well as a coffee and Rye bar on the other side.
I loved taking in sunset one of the days from the Overlook as it offered a cool perspective.
Royal Caribbean offers amazing entertainment. From the Dueling Piano Bar to an English Pub, and Latin Bar and traditional lounges, there are so many great experiences to enjoy on Icon of the Seas.
In addition, Royal Caribbean offered the Wizard of Oz with a modern take on the classic Broadway show as well as an ice show and a Aqua theater show.
I loved the Wizard of Oz. The cast really did a great job.
Since the show is copyrighted on Broadway, guests are not allowed to take photos or videos to remember the experience.
Positive: Aqua Show was amazing
The Aqua Action! show on Icon of the Seas was incredible. The talented performers did jumps, stunts and tricks in the water in an awesome production show.
As you can see from these clips, the performance was really cool!
Positive: Ice Show was unique
The ice show on Icon of the Seas was awesome. The ice skating performers were very talented and they did some amazing stunts on the ice.
The show also featured a juggler that used drone like balls as part of his performance.
You won’t want to miss any of the production shows!
Icon of the Seas Maiden Voyage sailed to St. Kitts, St. Thomas and Perfect Day at Coco Cay.
I normally book shore excursions via Shore Excursion Group or Viator as the prices are often less expensive as via the cruise line. In addition, I enjoy going to beach clubs so I always look at the options on Resort for a Day to get that beach club experience in port.
Thank you for considering to use my links to support John the Wanderer Blog.
In St. Kitts I went on an overview tour of the city which offered about a three hour tour of the beautiful island.
Positive: St. Kitts is beautiful and the views are spectacular.
What a beautiful island St. Kitts!
There were beautiful flowers all around the island.
The island offered many colorful buildings and landscapes as well.
From the Port Area in St. Kitts, you could get some awesome views of Icon of the Seas.
The sail away experience in St. Kitts happened at Sunset and it offered some incredible views as well!
Could be Better: Tour experience
Like many shore excursions, the tours tend to spend a lot of time driving by sites that you would love to get out and take photos and videos from and then stop for long periods of time at locations that are less than desirable.
For example, the tour offered a drive along the beaches of St. Kitts, but the tour did not stop there. In addition, there was one spot where everyone could have gotten an incredible view of Icon in St. Kitts.
The tour stopped at one location that was a home of slave owners and it preserved the home and history. While slavery is in the history of the island and world, it does not seem right to dwell on the people that sold slaves and profited from forcing people into slavery.
I took an expensive shared cab ride into the downtown and then walked up a lot of steps to get an overview of the island from above.
The taxis use these open air busses and pack in about 30 people and charge each person $6 for a two-mile drive from the port to downtown! So they are basically making $180 each ride to and from the city for a two mile drive!
Despite having to make the taxi ride to the city, it was a lot of fun walking up those steps and taking in the views from the island!
Once we were at the top of the steps there were some cool statues as well.
I also loved the pretty flowers from along the path of the walk up the steps!
It was fun exploring St. Thomas.
Perfect Day at Coco Cay
The final port was Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at Coco Cay!
The island is a fun beach destination with multiple areas and experiences for everyone. From the Thrill of a large water park, to ziplining and relaxing in the sun from many different beaches, Perfect Day at Coco Cay is an awesome place to visit.
Positive: Hideaway Beach at Perfect Day at Coco Cay
I paid $60 for a day pass to Hideaway Beach at Perfect Day at Coco Cay.
The experience is Adults Only and offers some cool dining options including pizza and upgraded beach club fair such as coconut shrimp as well as a party pool and beautiful beach.
The party pool has a large swim up bar with great music from the DJ’s all day.
The beach was beautiful and there were chairs by the pool and beach.
I spent most of my time at the pool enjoying the DJ music and the party.
Could Be Better: Difficult Finding a Chair
When I arrived at Hideaway Beach about 11:00 AM, there were very few seats available. At first I found a couple by the beach but none by the pool. Eventually after walking around a small chair was found near the cabanas by the pool so I was able to use that.
It is best to go right to Hideaway as soon as you arrive at Perfect Day if you get a day pass so that you can get some chairs near the pool.
Could Be Better: Long Waits for Drinks at Swim Up Bar
In what was a surprise to me with the large swim up bar, I found that I had to wait a very long time to be served drinks at the swim up bar. I also observed the bartenders serving everyone around me but not offering me a drink. In addition, I also observed the bartenders serving guests arriving at the swim after me first before they finally served me.
Did I need to have a lot of drinks, no, but I was just surprised with the wait given how many bartenders were there.
Perfect Day at Coco Cay
Overall Perfect Day at Coco Cay was a lot of fun!
Royal Caribbean definitely does not disappoint with bringing all the fun at Perfect Day at Coco Cay!
Guest Activities and Parties
Icon of the Seas offers some amazing guest experiences.
At sail away there was a fireworks display in the port area in Miami to celebrate the maiden voyage for Icon of the Seas! It made for a cool experience.
Positive: Fun Parties in the Royal Promenade
The cruise director on Icon of the Seas and the entertainment team put on some awesome parties in the Royal Promenade on Icon of the Seas.
I loved taking in the experiences as well as dancing and having a great time.
The first experience was the balloon drop party that first night.
Icon of the Seas brought the WOW with this amazing balloon drop!
All of the singers, dancers, entertainers participated in the Ships Ahoy Parade during the week and was fun display of dancing and theatrics.
In addition, there was a one-hit wonder dance party that was hilarious as well!
The cruise director and entertainment team really made sure guests were having an Iconic experience! That lived up to the Hype of the cruise!
Could Have Been Better: Silent Disco Party
The schedule for the week originally had a silent disco party in the Royal Promenade. That would have been so much fun singing and dancing with people in the big space. Unfortunately, it was cancelled the day of the event.
A silent disco party was added later in the Music Hall. That was a smaller party.
Two live DJ’s were playing the tunes, but it did not have the draw of a party in the Royal Promenade, so that took away from the experience overall.
I still had a good time at the Silent Disco like always since it is a blast, but I just wished it was a bigger party in the Royal Promenade.
Icon of the Seas Overall
Overall it was an amazing week on Icon of the Seas.
It was such an amazing experience to get to experience the incredible ship.
Did Icon of the Seas Live Up To The Hype?
From the awesome neighborhoods and experiences to the amazing entertainment, Icon of the Seas really lived up to the hype.
It sure was a great week on the World’s Largest Cruise Ship!
Do you want to sail on Icon of the Seas?