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Sky-high demand for new world's largest cruise ship leads to record bookings at Royal Caribbean

Oct. 27, 2022
5 min read
Icon of the Seas
Sky-high demand for new world's largest cruise ship leads to record bookings at Royal Caribbean
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It looks like Royal Caribbean has a winner on its hands.

As we reported earlier this week, the first sailing of the line's soon-to-debut Icon of the Seas — the world's largest cruise ship — sold out within hours of opening for bookings on Monday. And now Royal Caribbean is saying the opening of bookings for the ship also drove total bookings across the line's fleet this week to the highest level in 53-year history.

The line told TPG on Thursday that the company set an all-time, single-day booking record in the 24 hours after Icon of the Seas itineraries became available to book on the line's website.

The much-awaited new ship, which is set to debut in January 2024, opened for bookings for the first time on Monday to members of Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Society. The general public could book starting Tuesday morning.

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“The enthusiasm and excitement for Icon are undeniable in more ways than one,” Royal Caribbean president and CEO Michael Bayley said in a statement sent to TPG. “The incredible response we have received from our loyal guests, vacationers new to cruising, crew members and travel partners continues to come in.”

The frenzy to book Icon of the Seas is perhaps to be expected, given that the ship will be the first of an all-new series of vessels at Royal Caribbean. This is the line's first new series since the debut of its smaller Quantum class ships a decade ago.

Icon of the Seas also will break new ground in cruising on several levels.

Related: Icon of the Seas will set new size records

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Icon of the Seas will have lots of family-friendly attractions. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

At 250,600 tons, Icon of the Seas will be more than 6% larger than the current size leader among cruise ships, Royal Caribbean's 7-month-old Wonder of the Seas. It'll also be able to hold up to 7,600 passengers — a new record for a passenger ship.

The bigger passenger capacity is in part due to the ship's greater focus on family travelers. Notably, Icon of the Seas will have many more cabins that have plenty of extra bunks to accommodate families with many children. It'll also have more amenities geared toward families, including a new-for-the-line outdoor "neighborhood" called Surfside dedicated to families with young children.

Related: Icon of the Seas will cater to families

As announced last week, Surfside will feature splash areas for babies and kids, pools and lounge spaces for parents, family-friendly eateries and shops, and a bar with "mommy and me" matching drinks (mocktails for kids and cocktails for grownups).

An artist's drawing of a balcony cabin on Icon of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

Icon of the Seas will also feature the largest water park ever built on a cruise ship, with a record six decktop waterslides.

In all, the ship will include eight neighborhoods — what Royal Caribbean calls the distinct areas of its bigger ships themed around specific activities. Five will be new to Icon and three will return from the line's last series of giant ships, the five-vessel Oasis class. The current size leader in the cruise world, Wonder of the Seas, is part of the Oasis class.

As previously announced, the first sailings of Icon of the Seas will be seven-night voyages to the Caribbean out of Miami, starting on Jan. 27, 2024. The ship will alternate between Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean itineraries.

Related: The 6 types of Royal Caribbean ships, explained

On Monday, Royal Caribbean opened all of the ship's departures through April 2025 to bookings.

It is currently under construction at the giant Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland. Icon of the Seas was ordered before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic brought a downturn in cruise bookings. It has been under construction since June 2021.

The ship is just the first of three sister ships Royal Caribbean has on order for delivery by 2026 that will make up its new Icon class.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Featured image by ROYAL CARIBBEAN
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
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    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees