News

Royal Caribbean Just Unveiled Its Next-Generation, Totally Over-the-Top Cruise Ship

Icon of the Seas will be the world's biggest cruise ship when it sets sail.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Editor’s Note: We know COVID-19 is continuing to impact your travel plans. Should you travel now, be sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC’s latest guidance on domestic and international travel as well as local requirements, protocols, and restrictions for both your destination upon your arrival and your home city upon your return. Be safe out there.The largest waterpark at sea. The tallest drop slide ever on a cruise ship. The first suspended infinity pool to sail the ocean… These are just a few of the many, many new attractions set to literally make waves on Royal Caribbean’s next-generation cruise ship, Icon of the Seas. The company officially unveiled the floating all-in-one vacation machine-the first of three ships of the new Icon Class-on Thursday, boasting a laundry list of thrills and amenities aimed at pleasing every type of family vacationer.

Before we dig into the details, you might want to grab a flotation device, break out your highest SPF sunscreen, and take a deep breath, because there’s a ton to talk about. Here goes nothing.

Icon of the Seas, which is currently under construction at Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, is slated to debut in late 2023, with guest sailings out of Miami launching in early 2024. The ship will measure 1,198 feet long. It’ll have 18 passenger decks (and 20 in total), seven pools, nine whirlpools, six record-breaking waterslides, up to 2,350 crew members, and 5,610 passengers with its 2,805 state rooms at double occupancy (7,600 passengers maximum), according to the company. With a gross tonnage (a ship’s total internal volume) of 250,800, the Icon of the Seas will be bigger than the current biggest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas (236,857 GT).

Whew. Are you out of breath yet? Well, hold onto your swimsuit because there’s more.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Icon’s restaurants, bars, pools, and other amenities will be spread across eight areas of the ship that Royal Caribbean refers to as “neighborhoods,” including five that are brand new to the cruise line and three that have appeared on previous ships. They’re all designed to be destinations where you can spend a day or wander among them as you see fit. For example, the “Chill Island” section is all about relaxing vibes with abundant ocean views, an adults-only retreat, a pool that will be the largest at sea, and even Royal Caribbean’s first swim-up bar, regrettably dubbed Swim & Tonic. Okay, okay, we actually kind of love that name.

The other seven areas-Thrill Island, Surfside, The Hideaway, AquaDome, Royal Promenade, Suite Neighborhood, and Central Park-are jam-packed with, you guessed it, even more stuff to eat, drink, and do.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

“Now more than ever, families and friends are prioritizing experiences where they can bond and enjoy their own adventures,” Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International’s president and CEO, said in a press release. “We set out to create a vacation that makes all that possible in one place for the thrill-seekers, the chill enthusiasts and everyone in between, without compromise. It’s this first-of-its-kind combination that makes Icon the future of family vacations, and that future is here.”

Impressive numbers and attractions aside, the ship will also mark a significant milestone in the company’s pledge to switch to cleaner energy and fuel sources and its overall goal of net zero emissions by 2050. Icon will be the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the first to have fuel cell technology that will power some of the ship’s operations-steps in the right direction; however, there’s still a long way for it and other cruise lines to go before they can claim these mega-ships are “sustainable.” It’s an exciting ‘first,’ nonetheless.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Of course, there’s still a dizzying list of other cool ‘firsts’ and flashy bells and whistles coming with Icon. Here are a few additional highlights from Royal Caribbean’s announcement and a recent press event in Miami, which, full disclosure, Thrillist attended at the company’s expense.
 

  • AquaDome: As you can see in the renderings above, a dome will sit at the head of the ship, kind of like a crown. Inside, passengers will find panoramic ocean views, waterfalls, and plenty of food and drink during the day. At night, the space will turn into an entertainment destination with restaurants and bars, plus the ship’s AquaTheater.
  • Surfside: This new neighborhood is dedicated to young families with kids ages six and under, according to the company. Adults will be able to chill at the area’s Water’s Edge pool while their kids frolic feet away at Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay. There will also be dining, a bar, a carousel, an arcade, and a hangout spot for teens.
  • 28 Room Options: The ship will boast new room options for families of three to five and beyond, including the Family Infinite Balcony, Surfside Family Suite, and even a three-story Ultimate Family Townhouse that will sport a slide down from the second floor, among other over-the-top features.
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

As for sailing, Icon will make seven-night trips from Miami across the eastern and western Caribbean throughout the year. All sailings will include a stop at the company’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas, which is home to all sorts of other thrills and activities, including the tallest waterslide in North America. New with Icon will be an adults-only alcove on the island, Hideaway Beach, that will have private cabanas, ocean views, and a huge pool. The ship will also visit Cozumel, Mexico; Roatán, Honduras; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Royal Caribbean hasn’t revealed what Icon prices will be like, but that info should be available when bookings begin on October 25 (October 24 for Crown & Anchor loyalty members).

So, are you experiencing the rum punch sweats yet? We wouldn’t blame you-there’s a ton to take in here. And there’s somehow more to come. Bayley and other Royal Caribbean executives said we can expect additional Icon news in the coming weeks and months.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Tony Merevick is the Managing Editor at Thrillist. Follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick and Instagram @tonymerevick.

News

Mad Mex’s New Menu Item Is Inspired by a Popular Mexican Street Food

mad mex chicken al pastor

Mexican restaurant chain Mad Mex has dropped a new protein, and it’s one of the most popular street foods in Mexico.

Enter, Chicken Al Pastor. It’s traditionally made with pork and grilled on a spinning rotisserie with a pineapple sitting a top, but Mad Mex has put its own spin on it, serving chicken bathed in an Al Pastor marinade with a touch of juicy pineapple.

You can order the protein-packed filling in your favourite burrito, bowl, quesadilla, nachos, or in a taco.

As always, these things are here for a good time, not a long time. Pop into your local Mad Mex restaurant, order delivery or through the Mad Mex app today.

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