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Icon of the Seas: World’s Largest Cruise Ship Begins its Maiden Voyage

Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to have a wonderland city floating on the sea? Well, wonder no more as Royal Caribbean International recently revealed the awe-inspiring Icon of the Seas, a cruise ship that’s set to redefine the world of cruise travel and break all existing records. And now, embarking on its maiden voyage from Miami, Florida, the largest vessel in the world has set sail for a seven-day island-hopping journey through the Caribbean.

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On Wednesday, the Royal Caribbean vessel made its inaugural arrival at Port Miami, receiving a warm welcome featuring celebratory fireboat salutes, banner planes, and a community celebration held at Pérez Art Museum. The launch of the Icon of the Seas signifies an extraordinary milestone for the Royal Caribbean. At its recent departure, it claimed the title of being Royal Caribbean’s inaugural Icon Class cruise ship and also marked the first time the firm has introduced a new model since 2014.

As a pioneering cruise ship, the Icon of the Seas introduces an unprecedented wealth of innovation and features, allowing onboard guests to experience and relish a plethora of novel features and attractions that we’ll cover below. However, what truly sets this remarkable vessel apart is its massive scale. Stretching almost 1,200 feet in length and weighing a quarter million tons – equivalent to five times the weight of the Titanic – it can accommodate an impressive 7,600 passengers and will be home to 2,350 crew members across its expansive 20 decks.

Featuring an impressive eight unique neighbourhoods to explore, this extraordinary ship promises an unforgettable experience for every vacationer. Whether you’re a young family or an adult yearning for exclusive spaces like its groundbreaking duelling pianos bar, the ship offers an extensive range of options to cater to diverse tastes. There’s a staggering selection of 28 accommodation choices, allowing families of three, four, five, or even larger to find their ideal layouts, such as the Family Infinite Balcony and Surfside Family Suite, designed for utmost comfort and convenience.

The ship will offer an extraordinary array of more than 40 dining establishments, bars, and lively nightlife venues, creating an unparalleled culinary and entertainment experience. While aboard the vessel, you can check out some of the mesmerizing performances at the AquaDome or spend your days sipping martinis at the “chill island” swim-up bar on the pool deck. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Royal caribbean’s highly anticipated icon of the seas arrives for the first time
Image: Royal Caribbean International

The Icon of the Seas will also house the world’s largest waterpark at sea, known as Category 6, which boasts a remarkable collection of six groundbreaking water slides, along with seven pools and nine whirlpools. Adding to its allure, the ship features a lush “Central Park” that will have thousands of real plants. Royal Caribbean International is touting the watercraft as the pinnacle of its cruise line’s evolution, incorporating cutting-edge technology and building upon 50 years of knowledge and experience.

Michael Bayley, the company’s CEO said in a statement, “We are positioning it as the ultimate family vacation and when you step back and look at all the energy and time that has gone into creating this ship it is mind-blowing.”

Royal caribbean’s highly anticipated icon of the seas arrives for the first time
Image: Royal Caribbean International

Icon of the Seas also marks a significant milestone for Royal Caribbean International as it becomes its first ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and fuel cell technology. This aligns with the company’s vision of transitioning towards a clean-energy future. While talking about the fuel efficiency of Icon of the Seas CEO Bayley said, “Our new Icon class is coming with LNG-hybrid but, basically it’s LNG. It’s 35 per cent more fuel energy efficient than regular fuel. And the ship itself, because of the design, is about 30 per cent more efficient.”

However, the USD$2 billion ship has not been without criticism and concerns. The colossal vessel is being hailed as environmentally conscious due to its use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel, known for its cleaner combustion compared to conventional marine fuel. Yet, environmental advocates are expressing apprehension regarding potential methane leaks from the ship’s engines, citing it as an adverse risk to the climate.

According to Bryan Comer, director of the Marine Program at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), it’s a “step in the wrong direction.” Speaking to Reuters, he explained, “Based on our calculations, the utilization of LNG as a marine fuel results in over 120% more greenhouse gas emissions throughout its lifecycle compared to marine gas oil.”

Royal caribbean’s highly anticipated icon of the seas arrives for the first time
Image: Royal Caribbean International

The Icon of the Seas is scheduled to commence its service from Miami at the end of this month, offering passengers a choice of four distinct seven-night itineraries. Prices per person range from USD$1800 (AUD$2650) to USD$2200 (AUD$3239), depending on your chosen itinerary.

For example, if you choose the seven-night Western Caribbean & Perfect Day cruise, which is set to sail from Miami and includes stops at Roatan, Honduras; Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico; Cozumel, Mexico; and CocoCay, Bahamas. The starting price for an interior cabin on this cruise is USD$1851 (AUD$2726) per person, while suites are available at higher rates, reaching up to USD$10,000 (AUD$14,727).

To reserve your spot or find out more about these incredible packages and trips, you can check out Royal Caribbean’s official website.

Royal caribbean’s highly anticipated icon of the seas arrives for the first time
Image: Royal Caribbean International