Icon of the Seas, biggest cruise ship ever built, arrives in Florida for first sailings

The biggest cruise ship ever built, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, has finally arrived in Miami and is ready for its first sailings with paying passengers. The massive ship, with 20 decks, underwent regulatory inspections in San Juan, Puerto Rico before making its way to Miami. The Icon of the Seas is aimed at the family cruise market and will be based year-round at the port of Miami for seven-night sailings to the Caribbean.

The fares for the voyages start at $1,707 per person, excluding taxes and fees, which is a high price for a mass-market cruise ship. This speaks to the strong demand for the vessel. The first sailing with paying passengers is scheduled for January 27th, with a seven-night voyage to the Eastern Caribbean.

The Icon of the Seas is the first in a new series of ships at Royal Caribbean that will be bigger than anything seen before. At 250,800 tons, it is more than 6% bigger than the current size leader among cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas. It can hold up to 7,600 passengers, setting a new record for a passenger ship. With 2,350 crew members, the ship could sail with nearly 10,000 people on board.

The ship was built over nearly three years at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland, one of the only shipyards in the world big enough to construct a vessel of this size. It marks the first time in 15 years that a cruise line has launched a new class of ship that eclipses all others in size and amenities.

The Icon of the Seas will operate voyages to the Eastern and Western Caribbean, visiting destinations such as St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Roatan, Honduras, and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. Every sailing will also include a stop at Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

One of the ship’s biggest differences is its focus on family travelers. It has more cabins with extra bunks to accommodate families with multiple children, as well as amenities geared towards families. It features an outdoor neighborhood called Surfside, dedicated to families with young children. Surfside includes splash areas for babies and kids, pools and lounge spaces for parents, family-friendly eateries and shops, and a bar with matching mocktails for kids and cocktails for adults.

The Icon of the Seas also boasts the largest water park ever built on a cruise ship, with six decktop waterslides, and a record seven pools, including the first suspended infinity pool at sea. The ship offers eight neighborhoods, with over 40 restaurants, bars, and lounges, spread across 2,805 cabins.

The Icon of the Seas is just the first of three sister ships that Royal Caribbean has on order for delivery by 2026, making up its new Icon Class. The line also has one more Oasis Class ship, Utopia of the Seas, on order for delivery later this year. This marks one of the biggest stories in the cruise world in over a decade, similar to the debut of the Oasis Class in 2009.

Overall, the arrival of the Icon of the Seas is an exciting development for the cruise industry, offering a new level of luxury and amenities for passengers. With its massive size and focus on family travelers, it is set to attract a wide range of cruise enthusiasts.

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