On-Site: An Iconic Ship That Exceeded Our Expectations

The world's largest ship, the 5,610-passenger Icon of the Seas, is now sailing its first revenue cruises. Travel Agent was aboard this Royal Caribbean International ship for a three-night preview cruise last week. Here's our first look at the massive ship and what it offers to guests.

When we first told friends early last week that we'd be away from home sailing on the Icon of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, the reaction was swift. Most notably, the reaction of those 45 to 75 years of age was, "Oh, you poor thing" or "I wouldn't want to sail on that big a ship" or "I don't like crowded ships." Three nights later, after sailing on the newly christened ship—and with no family in tow—our response to all of them is this: It couldn't have been more fabulous. It's the perfect ship for a wide range of guests of every age. And it never felt crowded. 

OK, by way of disclosure, there were about 4,200 VIP guests, travel industry executives, travel advisors and media aboard our three-night preview cruise, January 23-26, so, the ship was not totally full. Its capacity is 5,610 guests. That said, 4,200 is still a lot of people. Given the size and breadth of this vessel and how well the ship design spread out the people, our perspective is that even 100 or so guests in most spots wouldn't have created much difference in the "feel" of the experience.

So, here's our take on the Icon of the Seas experience:

1. Board and Debark: Easy Peasy  

Not all cruise lines have had experience with operating massive ships or building terminals that can handle the capacity of a mega-ship. But Royal Caribbean has many years of experience in doing just that with its Oasis-class ships. A few years back, my family boarded Allure of the Seas at Port Everglades and we were amazed that it was only 10 minutes from check-in to arrival on the ship. So, we had high hopes as well for a speedy boarding on the new Icon of the Seas.  

Checking in for our voyage using the Royal Caribbean mobile app was easy. With our SeaPass boarding pass, assigned boarding time (helping spread out the guests as they arrive at the terminal) and Express line access at PortMiami, boarding was a breeze. It was just 15 minutes from our car drop-off to our arrival inside the ship. 

Debarkation was easy peasy, too. We received luggage tags with our assigned debarkation time the night before. Instead, though, we opted for self-assist. We walked off with our small amount of hand luggage. It was 15 minutes from swiping our card at the gangway to reaching our curbside pick-up spot outside—and that included transiting the terminal, waiting for an elevator, passing through bag claim, going through facial recognition scanning at U.S. immigration, and heading out to Zone 5 outside the terminal.

Simply put, the line has mastered the embarkation/debarkation process for a huge ship extremely well. 

2. Head Out to Explore But Enjoy the Journey

Icon Of The Seas
Royal Caribbean's new Icon of the Seas offers the largest waterpark at sea. (Royal Caribbean International)

Our best piece of advice for customers heading onto Icon of the Seas is this: Don't psych yourself out.

The "world's largest cruise ship" label definitely created anxiety for some guests, who kept thinking about huge crowds. But it's worth noting that except for the main christening event (which funneled most guests into the AquaDome and the Royal Theater, crowds truly never materialized again during our time aboard.

That said, many travelers spent the first day or so aboard in "crazed" mode. They raced here and there—assuring that they could see, do and experience as much as possible. That's certainly understandable as many were travel advisors or travel industry professionals trying to educate themselves and increase their knowledge base with firsthand experiences on the ship. We did that, too, but on the second full day we slowed down, relaxed and began to take in the venues and activities at our own pace. And we fell back into experiencing the things we specifically enjoyed at sea and the way we liked to experience them. In essence, we began to enjoy the journey. 

Yes, Icon of the Seas has 40-plus restaurants, bars and lounges; eight neighborhoods; seven pools and nine whirlpools; plus plenty of thrills, intense activities and the world's largest waterpark at sea, but it's important to also realize that guests can find plenty of nooks and crannies so, they can easily relax, read, work remotely, socialize with a family member or friend, or sip on a glass of wine while people-watching. 

3. Admire The Pearl on the Royal Promenade

The Pearl, a central art piece and design element within The Royal Promenade of Royal Caribbean International's Icon of the Seas.
The magnificent Pearl at the core of the Royal Promenade; the lighting changes in color throughout the day. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

The Royal Promenade is best described as the heart of the ship, a central neighborhood that's a popular holdover from the larger Oasis-class ships. Spanning Decks 5 and 6, it also offers several new elements. Most notably, it debuts The Pearl. In one way, it's a magnificent art piece with 3,600 kinetic tiles; in another way, it's instead a massive artistic shell surrounding a wide, grand staircase leading up to the Pearl Cafe. (That's a new casual dining venue that's proving to be one of the more popular gathering spots on the ship.)

"As soon as you step on the Icon of the Seas you have a sense of open space," says John Lovell, president, Travel Leaders Network. "The Pearl is directly in front of you, which is an architectural marvel [and] stunningly beautiful." He adds that "this sense of openness continues throughout the entire ship."

Also, new is that the Pearl Cafe has floor-to-ceiling views out a massive expanse of glass. All in all, Icon of the Seas’ Royal Promenade has 15-plus restaurants, bars and lounges, including the 1400 Lobby Bar, which also opens that promenade to the outdoors. 

Dueling Pianos, a new lounge/bar/live entertainment spot in the Royal Promenade of Icon of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship.
The new Dueling Pianos lounge and live entertainment venue on Deck 6 of Icon of the Seas' Royal Promenade. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

The promenade's new Dueling Pianos venue was packed nightly—becoming one of the most popular bars with live entertainment. “My favorite parts of the Icon of the Seas included the live music," says Joelle Delva, vice president of operations for Dream Vacations, citing Dueling Pianos, among other musical experiences.

That said, the Royal Promenade has old favorites, too, including Starbucks and the wildly popular Sorrentos. People gravitated to the latter for the tasty pizza and great service by waiters; they brought refills of pizza and volunteered to head across the promenade to the Karaoke venue for alcoholic beverages.  

We also liked Giovanni's on Deck 6. Its small bar has been repositioned outward along the railing overlooking The Pearl and Deck 5 below. A curved section of the bar—consisting of just a few tables, chairs and bar-stool-style seating at a curved counter—was a terrific people-watching spot. We had a front-row perch to see guests pose with the Icon name displayed at the Pearl's entrance or gracefully descend or dance up the grand staircase.  

4. Be Prepared for Walking—Lots of It!

Exploring Surfside on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas. The ship has a lot of walking so anyone with mobility issues might consider an electric scooter for easy mobility aboard.
Icon of the Seas is a huge ship so an electric scooter is a good option for guests with mobility needs.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

Whatever guests plan to do activity-wise aboard, it's important to recognize that there will be a sizable amount of walking (it's inevitable). Icon of the Seas is nearly 1,200 feet long, so just walking to and from one's stateroom or suite to the other end of the ship can be a lot of steps.

Picking the right cabin/suite for your needs is crucial to having the best experience. Customers should discuss their needs with their travel advisor as well as what they enjoy doing on the ship. If guests desire to be close to the elevators or perhaps the spa, kids' play areas, or particular dining venues, it's important to pick the right cabin. 

Also, more so than on other ships, mobility devices are a good option if people have any significant challenges in walking long distances. That's the case for us with knee issues, so we rented an electric scooter from Special Needs Group. The rental price was $175 for the three-night cruise and it was waiting outside our cabin door upon arrival. We also just left it there when we debarked the ship on the last morning.

Interestingly, at least 20 fellow guests at different times and places on the ship stopped us to ask, "Where did you get this? Is it available on this ship?" Most weren't mature travelers. One couple in their 40s took a photo of the Special Needs Group sign on the back of our scooter. 

If you have a medical condition that dictates a limitation or prohibition for significant walking, our advice is that this is the ship for which to seriously consider renting a scooter. It provided us with the freedom to cover lots of deck space. We zipped here and there—seeing and doing a lot.

As for exercise, certainly those who walk on this ship will get plenty. But Icon of the Seas also has an exterior walking/running track in addition to a well-equipped gym. Guests liked that the gym wasn't within the spa but had its own space alongside the track. 

Icon of the Seas' walking/running track.
Guests who feel they don't get enough walking around Icon of the Seas can head for the ship's walking/running track. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

5. Chill Out at Chill Island

Chill Island is a new three-deck neighborhood on Decks 15-17. Each of Chill Island's four pools has ocean views. We visited on a fairly cool day so swimmers weren't in the water but readers can see the Royal Bay Pool (shown below) with its lifeguard standing by for safety. It offers 5,813 square feet of water space and is bordered by two whirlpools.

Chill Island is also home to Swim & Tonic, the line's first-ever swim-up bar; Cloud 17 with infinity ocean views; and Cove Pool, an infinity-edge pool. These four pools are among seven total on Icon of the Seas. Interestingly, they offer 62 percent more water surface than ever on Royal Caribbean.

On Icon of the Seas, one pool on Deck 15 within Chill Island.
A lifeguard stands watch, despite cool weather one day on Icon of the Seas. This is one of Chill Island's four pools. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

Among the places to grab a drink and food at Chill Island are The Lime & Coconut (which has a new frozen cocktail bar), El Loco Fresh & Cantina Fresca and the nearby Windjammer, the ship's casual buffet restaurant. 

6. Stellar Performances: AquaDome and "Wizard of Oz"

Icon of the Seas is the first Royal Caribbean vessel with an enclosed AquaDome (think aqua performers and aerial artists). It's a spectacular show, as we experienced during last week's ship christening ceremony in this venue. At one point during the ceremony, the performers leaped, swam, jumped from the water and soared high into the air—flipping along the way. It was all quite impressive.

At the christening ceremony of Icon of the Seas, an aqua/aerial performance unfolded in the ship's AquaDome.
An aqua/aerial performance unfolded in the AquaDome during Icon of the Seas' christening ceremony in early 2024. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

By day at AquaDome, guests can kick back in this tranquil oasis with a bite to eat or drink and admire the wraparound ocean views. Pluses? This area has a 55-foot-high water curtain, as well as the Rye & Bean coffee bar and Royal Caribbean's first food hall at sea, AquaDome Market

At night, AquaDome takes on a more vibrant vibe, and, of course, guests can enjoy the aqua performance show. Icon of the Seas also has other new entertainment offerings in other locations, too. Among them is Absolute Zero, the line’s oval skating rink with 2,873 square feet of ice. It's more an oval than a square in design, which many guests told us they liked. 

In total Icon of the Seas has 50 musicians and comedians who perform throughout their time aboard..

Hands down, the absolute highlight of our entire cruise experience, and, frankly, the best show we’ve ever seen at sea, is the new "Wizard of Oz."  We have also been told that repeatedly by travel advisors and trade executives who sailed on our cruise. Don't miss this show. Reservations are essential, so make those as soon as you board, or, if offered earlier, take action.

Getting ready for The Wizard of Oz to begin on Icon of the Seas.
Guests couldn't snap photos of The Wizard of Oz, per verbal PA system instructions about copyright restrictions. So, we just took an audience shot prior to the start of the show. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

Based on the original story by L. Frank Baum and the original 1939 motion picture owned by Turner Entertainment Co., this full-scale "Wizard of Oz" production show on Icon of the Seas is fantastic. Unfolding over one hour and 40 minutes or so in the Royal Theater, it features highly talented performers skipping along the Yellow Brick Road.

Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Toto travel together to Emerald City, a scary forest (yes, with bat-like critters) and the wicked witch’s castle. If you’re a fan of the 1939 movie starring Judy Garland, you’ll likely love this production. We certainly did. One reason is that the tunes and dialogue are true to the original movie. So, we found ourselves repeating the dialogue from that classic movie and singing some songs along with the performers.

The lead actor, Ruby Dollner, was highly believable in the Garland role and had a terrific voice to prove it, too. The other performers were also true to character and quite entertaining. Pretty cool: More than 600 costume elements are used in this show. Plus, there is a 16-piece professional orchestra seated on both sides of the stage.

"When I close my eyes, I can still imagine the incredible symphony of sounds" from that orchestra and other musical experiences aboard, says Dream Vacations' Delva. From Travel Agent's perspective, "The Wizard of Oz"—given the high-quality of the production and performances—is one of the top reasons to cruise on Icon of the Seas.

7. Relaxation and More Greenery in Central Park

In the evening, Central Park is a lovely spot for people to relax, sip and savor the uncrowded nature of the neighborhood. This is Central Park on the new Icon of the Seas
One of our favorite spots aboard Icon of the Seas is the lovely Central Park, which has 20 percent more greenery than other similar parks on Royal Caribbean's ships.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

One adult-friendly neighborhood that we’ve loved during our past cruises on the line’s Oasis-class ships is Central Park, a five-deck-high, open-air, garden-greenery space. Fortunately, it’s replicated on Icon of the Seas. One of the ship’s eight neighborhoods, it’s our place for “Far from the Madding Crowd,” an uncrowded enclave for relaxation, dining, live music, shopping and reflection. 

Yes, families with kids often walk through but most don’t stay, as there are simply far bigger family draws elsewhere. So, in Central Park, you’ll often find adults sitting, reading, people-watching and relaxing as they sit on benches along the park’s curved pathways, intimate seating areas a bit farther back from those pathways and the outdoor café or restaurant seating.

Late one afternoon before dinner, we ambled into Park Cafe, a casual grab-and-go eatery, and secured a table outside adjacent to the park's main pathway. We loved watching the people stroll by. Only about eight people were seated outside at the cafe. Soon, a friendly server arrived at our table to take our order. We opted for a small cheese plate, a separate small plate of charcuterie and a glass of wine. They also had meatballs and a few other items at this specific time. 

Blue orchids are a stunningly gorgeous complement to the green flora beds on Icon of the Seas.
A gorgeous blue orchid within Central Park.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

Best of all, a solo guitarist appeared and sat across from us on the other side of the pathway. As the sunlight faded, he played lovely soft tunes. It was the perfect spot to relax on this humongous ship. The couple seated in front of us started holding hands. People quietly sipped and savored.

Central Park also has a new live music venue, Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues; the new Bubbles, the line’s first walk-up Champagne bar; the Trellis Bar, which has debuted a new menu of bites; and a new walk-up window for Izumi in the Park.

In addition, Central Park on Icon of the Seas is better than ever as a green space—with 20 percent more greenery. That constitutes a total of 30,550 plants. Beyond flora planted in flower beds adjacent to the walkways, guests will also discover four living plant walls. Keep an eye out for live orchids of vibrant colors planted throughout the floral beds. One bluish variety was a lovely surprise. Most guests who noticed these said they'd never seen anything akin to this (nor had we). There were also gorgeous, deep pink orchids.

8. Exploring the Four-Deck Suite Neighborhood 

If you’re staying in a suite aboard Icon of the Seas, you’ll have key-card access to the four-deck Suite Neighborhood, some 60,924 square feet of luxury spaces.

One highlight is The Grove, a two-level suite sun deck. Suite guests will discover a private pool, whirlpool, variety of seating and a new casual Mediterranean dining venue.

The Suite Neighborhood's Coastal Kitchen is an exclusive restaurant for suite guests only. It's on other Royal Caribbean ships, too, but Icon of the Seas has the line’s first two-deck version of that eatery.

Coastal Kitchen's location affords AquaDome views through expanses of glass. So, diners might catch some of the aqua show action, depending on their dining time. We dined at Coastal Kitchen on our last evening. The starters included salmon sashimi, roasted beet salad, lobster bisque or creamy truffle risotto. The main course lineup included seared scallops, crab-crusted flounder, roasted pork loin, herb-crusted rack of lamb or potato gnocchi. Also available were a shrimp cocktail, classic Caesar salad, escargots a la Bourguignonne, French onion soup, broiled Atlantic salmon, grilled chicken breast or grilled New York sirloin steak. And the dessert menu included everything from baked Alaska and crème brulee to royal chocolate cake with dulce de leche and chocolate fudge, among many other options.

9. Discover Creative Artworks

The lower deck portion of a multi-deck, glass art piece; the upper part hangs from the ceiling on the deck above.
One part of a two-part artistic glass piece extends upward, while the other hangs from an upper deck. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

If you love creativity and unique art pieces, you’ll find much to love about Icon of the Seas. In particular, we liked one blue glass sculpture hanging down from one deck, while, on a lower deck, another part of the piece was positioned facing upward.  

We also liked the metal artwork. One floor art piece depicted a workman surfacing from his job underground by moving over the manhole cover. Another sculpture was a large dog giving one Royal Promenade lamppost a "leg up." It elicited many chuckles and second "looks" from those walking by and was a popular selfie spot. 

Most of all, we loved the realistic looking divers/swimmers at several spots around the ship. They were positioned "about to leap" or "having jumped" from a platform high above a pool or Central Park

An artistic diver leaps from a springboard into Icon of the Seas' Central Park
Around Icon of the Seas, art pieces of divers and swimmers look "ready to go." Here's one leaping from a ledge in Central Park.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

10. Surfside for Families with Young Kids

Royal Caribbean explains that many travelers sailing on Icon of the Seas will be sailing as part of a larger, multi-generational family group. So, those guests will range from grandparents to parents, teens and children. In addition, the group might include siblings, great-grandparents and very young kids. While the top decks are brimming with thrill slides as well as plenty of pools and other high-intensity or water play activities, Royal Caribbean took the Boardwalk concept on other ships and turned it into Surfside. That's a new neighborhood purpose-built for families with young children.

The Surfside neighborhood on Icon of the Seas is designed for families with young children.
A humongous pink flamingo greets families arriving at the new Surfside neighborhood. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

In this open-air neighborhood, adults can soak up ocean views while keeping an eye on the kids at Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay. Steps away are food and drinks for all ages, an arcade and a Playscape with tiny slides.

We watched a two-year old yell and chuckle in glee after sliding down a Playscape tiny slope. Her dad turned to briefly see how his his other children were doing on the carousel. Just in the nick of time, he turned back around to see the two-year-old actively racing back to do the mini-slide again.

As for Surfside's carousel, Royal Caribbean told reporters aboard that it brought in kids to design that. The goal was to create a ride designed for the participants not for watchers. So, this isn't your grandparents' carousel. Reimagined and beach themed, it's nontraditional in appearance.

There's also entertainment, such as the "Once Upon a Bedtime Story" and "Steel Pan Family Jam" at Surfside. Finally, Rover, the ship's new Chief Dog Officer (a golden retriever living on the ship), may make an appearance here at times to the delight of little ones. Separately, the ship also offers a supervised Adventure Ocean kids club, plus a teen club, too. A babies' program at Adventure Ocean provides a break for parents, watching over kids as young as six months of age.

The carousel at Surfside on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas was designed by kids for kids.
This colorful Surfside carousel with playful, fun critters was designed by kids for kids.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

In addition to new Surfside family suites that overlook the neighborhood, there is the new, three-story, 2,523-square-foot Ultimate Family Townhouse. It can accommodate up to eight. Of the Ultimate Family Townhouse's two balconies, one is a wraparound balcony with whirlpool and a dining area. Interior perks of this top-end suite include a multilevel slide, area for karoake and movie-watching. The townhouse also has direct access to Surfside.

11. Thrills Galore  

While Surfside is designed for young children and family members, Icon of the Seas has a zillion other family experiences elsewhere on the ship for older children and teens; many are also appropriate for adults. Guests can expect a mini-golf course, Royal Escape Room, Sports Court and multiple slides—both wet and dry—and more. In fact, Thrill Island on Decks 16-17 is purpose-built for older children, teens and adults. Category 6 is the largest waterpark at sea. There's also a daring "Crown's Edge," alongside the returning FlowRider surf simulator and a rock climbing adventure. 

We briefly walked through Thrill Island, with not much time to see or do activities here, given our schedule. But the folks there looked to be having a lot of fun, that was clearly evident. 

12. Infinite Balcony Stateroom

Photo of infinite balcony stateroom, #10593, on Icon of the Seas. The stateroom faces Central Park not the ocean.
The living room and infinite balcony area of No. 10593 on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

During our short time aboard, we stayed in No. 10593, a 250-square-foot Spacious Infinite Central Park View Balcony category stateroom. It faced the outdoor Central Park neighborhood. While we didn't have ocean views, we did face a gorgeous green space. At the touch of a button, we could automatically drop the top panel of glass to create an open-air balcony.

No matter the weather, we could use the two chairs, stools and table on that interior balcony space. We also liked the long sofa convertible to a bed, and, across from that, an elongated desk with a chair. That desk area had drawers, a mini-fridge and along one side of the adjoining wall, a number of cubbyholes for storing small items. 

The bedroom area included a Royal King bed, convertible to two twins as needed, plus two small nightstands. USB plugs were available above those tables. Two long cupboard-like doors opened to one closet. That closet offered a small area for hanging long clothes, and a bigger space for shorter clothing items. We particularly liked the four pull-out bins below the hanging space. 

The storage closet of an infinite balcony stateroom, #10593, on Icon of the Seas.
The storage closet in No. 10593 on Icon of the Seas.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

A wall-mounted, infotainment HDTV screen faced the bed and could be viewed from the couch, as well. Just inside the entry door is the bathroom, small but efficient with a toilet, small vanity with one sink, a few lower shelves and a walk-in shower that was bigger than some we've had on other ships. In particular, we liked the built-in shower seat. 

One thing that appeared missing at the start of our stay, but actually wasn't: a personal safe. We searched high and low for a safe to put our wallet in. No dice. Then we encountered a fellow journalist who'd had the same issue and asked her cabin steward. Turns out that the long mirror on the entryway's side wall near the bathroom has "hidden" storage behind it. We pulled the mirror out and discovered a few small shelves plus a small personal safe. It's not large enough for a laptop, but perfect for wallets and jewelry. 

Could Be Improved: Royal Caribbean clearly has spent a great deal of effort to enhance the guest experience on Icon of the Seas but we'd like to see one improvement. Looking up in Central Park, decorative slat-like, see-through shutters were added on one side of some infinite balconies or other accommodations facing the park but these structures actually extend over a portion of the guest's viewing glass or balcony area.  

A green slated structure extends into the window space of an infinite balcony cabin on Icon of the Seas.
A green-slatted, shutter-like structure is distracting on an Infinite Balcony stateroom overlooking Central Park.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

While we admit that those slat-like shutters for window decor look fantastic when standing in Central Park and looking up, we greatly disliked having to look through the slats from inside our stateroom. We would have preferred a totally clear glass structure. So, that's our "could be improved" from the guest experience side.

Overall, though, the rest of the stateroom proved comfortable and we had a good experience during our three-night stay, with a kind and friendly cabin steward. Service is provided in this stateroom once a day. We selected morning. and the steward asked us to remove the "do not disturb" magnetic sign from our door and put it in the mail slot when we were ready for that service. This simple system worked well. .  

13. Smart Elevators 

We liked the high-tech elevator system on Icon of the Seas. Except the christening—when everyone on the ship was going to one of two spots and the system became overwhelmed with too many people doing that—it worked quite well throughout the rest of our voyage. 

In two spots forward and aft, there is an oval with 10 elevators. The guests simply go to one of many large electronic panels and presses in the deck they desire. Then that panel informs them which elevator to stand at, A or D and so on. Then that elevator begins to flash when it's nearly there. Presto, you're in, but you don't press any buttons as the elevator already knows exactly which deck you'll need. Quickly, you're there and getting off. In addition, the elevators are large enough that when no others were in the elevator we could pivot our electric scooter fully around to be facing out when the doors opened. 

One day we were going deck to deck in rapid fashion to take photos. We did so in 90 minutes; with a normal elevator system, it likely would have taken far longer. Even with a day at sea and 4,200 people running around the ship, it worked perfectly for us. 

We also feel this system is a big improvement in ease of use from the automatic elevators we've seen on other lines in the past. Dream Vacations' Delva, told us: “From an operational lens, the ship's operation was exceptional, easing the flow of people efficiently with the innovative elevator system."  

14: Our Parting Thoughts

Overall, we felt Icon of the Seas delivered a terrific guest experience on many fronts. The entertainment was fantastic. The elevators worked well nearly all of the time. The ship design spreads out guests well. Those seeking thrills—water and dry slides, sports and other activity options—will find those. 

But we also appreciated the ship's ability to deliver relaxation and quiet spots here and there for guests to relax, read or just chat with friends. For instance, the ship's new Hideaway Beach is a space just for adults. So, parents who've arranged for their children to participate in the children's supervised programming can enjoy adult "me time" there. Perfect for solo adults and couples without kids, too, it offers the first suspended infinity pool at sea, surrounded by a multilevel terrace, whirlpools, comfortable seating and a bar. 

Bottom line? Icon of the Seas creates great diversity in the cruise experience offered for a broad mix of guests.

One of the unused nooks and crannies on a pool deck of Icon of the Seas.
An unoccupied "nook" for relaxation on one pool deck of Icon of the Seas.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

Throughout our voyage, we never felt the ship was crowded. In fact, it seemed less crowded than some other ships of 3,000 passengers that we've sailed on. 

Dining was robust in terms of the selection of eateries and quality of the food. In Windjammer, we particularly enjoyed the fresh veggies and the restaurant's Asian station. Service was friendly there, too. Coastal Kitchen's seafood choices were fabulous, based on what we ordered. We can highly recommend the lobster bisque, seared scallops and escargot. And we sampled "small bites" and "tastes" at the ship's other specialty restaurants at several points. Those, too, were quite savory. 

All in all, the ship has a diverse mix of accommodations—something for everyone. Overall, there are 14 new categories of accommodations from an Icon Loft to a Sunset Suite, from a Surfside Family Suite to the Ultimate Family Townhouse. While we toured several suites and they looked spacious and well-appointed, they were packed with people so photos were nearly impossible. We thought the Royal Loft Suite was spacious, luxurious and had a nifty wraparound outside deck and views of the pool area from its two levels.

We typically enjoy sailing on ships of all sizes, big and small. So, would we book Icon of the Seas for a personal vacation? Our answer is a resounding "yes." We also believe people will rebook after a short cruise aboard; it's impossible to see and do it all on a three- or four-night cruise. 

Others have told us much the same. "It is truly an icon, and it will be a delight for travel advisors to sell to their clients," believes Travel Leaders' Lovell. 

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