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The most eye-popping feature of Icon of the Seas, the new world's largest cruise ship: The cost

Nov. 01, 2022
8 min read
Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas
The most eye-popping feature of Icon of the Seas, the new world's largest cruise ship: The cost
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Are you eyeing a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship? Get ready to pay a hefty premium.

With demand for the much-awaited new vessel through the roof, initial Icon of the Seas sailings are selling at fares that are more than 50% higher in some cases than other Royal Caribbean ships on similar itineraries.

As of Tuesday, for instance, seven-night Icon of the Seas voyages to the Eastern Caribbean out of Miami in February 2024 — the ship's first full month in operation — were priced starting at $1,259 per person. By comparison, similar seven-night Eastern Caribbean sailings out of Miami on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas for the same month are available starting at just $728 per person.

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In other words, you'll pay a 72% premium to sail on Icon of the Seas.

The starting fares listed above are for the least-expensive, windowless interior cabins on the ships. But it's not just entry-level cabins that cost significantly more on Icon of the Seas. There's a sharp differential in pricing for higher-level cabins on the two ships, too.

As of Tuesday, balcony cabins on Icon of the Seas sailings to the Eastern Caribbean in February 2024 started at $1,658, compared with $908 for similar cabins on Oasis of the Seas sailings for the same month.

That works out to an 83% premium for a balcony cabin on Icon of the Seas.

Related: The ultimate guide to Royal Caribbean

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The two Caribbean itineraries are roughly the same, with both starting in Miami and offering several sea days plus a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas.

Icon of the Seas will have the largest water park at sea, as seen in this artist's drawing. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

The Icon of the Seas itinerary offers additional stops at St. Thomas and either St. Kitts or St. Maarten (the Dutch side of the island of St. Martin). The Oasis of the Seas itinerary offers additional stops at Labadee, Haiti, and either St. Thomas or Falmouth, Jamaica, with some departures also including an additional stop at Nassau in the Bahamas.

The sky-high pricing for Icon of the Seas is a sign of just how much excitement among cruising fans there is for the ship — the first in a new series of vessels at Royal Caribbean that will be bigger than anything seen before in the cruise world and have more amenities than most other cruise ships.

Cruise executives at Royal Caribbean and other major lines have long said many cruising fans are most drawn to the biggest cruise vessels that have the most restaurants, bars, showrooms and decktop attractions.

Pricing driven by supply and demand

Royal Caribbean sets and adjusts pricing for specific ships and itineraries based on supply and demand, resulting in sometimes sharp differentials between vessels sailing in the same parts of the world.

The starting fares for the Icon of the Seas sailings in February 2024, for instance, also are significantly higher than the fares for similar Royal Caribean voyages to the Caribbean that month out of Port Canaveral, Florida, and Galveston, Texas, on the line's Wonder of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas, respectively.

However, you'll only pay a 36% premium for the Icon of the Seas sailings as compared to the voyages out of Port Canaveral. By contrast, you'll pay an enormous 134% premium as compared to the sailings out of Galveston.

Related: This single Amex offer could cover half the cost of your Royal Caribbean cruise

As of Tuesday, sailings out of Port Canaveral and Galveston started at $928 and $538, respectively.

The differential in Icon of the Seas pricing continues beyond February 2024. Seven-night Icon of the Seas sailings to the Eastern Caribbean in April 2024, for instance, start at $1,128 — 59% more than similar sailings on Oasis of the Seas.

An artist's drawing of a planned pool area on Icon of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

The pricing differential for Icon of the Seas as compared to other Royal Caribbean ships beyond April 2024 cannot be calculated yet as Royal Caribbean hasn't opened bookings on other vessels in the Caribbean beyond that month.

Last week Royal Caribbean opened bookings for sailings for Icon of the Seas through April 2025.

The differential in Icon of the Seas pricing, notably, is even bigger when the vessel is compared to the ships of Royal Caribbean rivals sailing out of Miami. Seven-night Eastern Caribbean sailings out of Miami in February 2024 on MSC Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line ships start at $449, $579 and $659, respectively.

That means that you'll pay about 174%, 117% and 91% more, respectively, to sail on a seven-night voyage on Icon of the Seas out of Miami in February 2024 than you would on ships operated by those three lines.

The new giant of the seas

Cruising fans are particularly excited about the arrival of Icon of the Seas in 2024 as it will mark the first time a cruise line has launched a new class of ship that will eclipse all others in size and amenities in 15 years. The last time that happened was in 2009 when Royal Caribbean unveiled its much-ballyhooed Oasis class.

Ranging from 226,838 to 235,600 tons, the five ships of the Oasis class are the current size leaders in the cruise world, with even the smallest among them being nearly 10% bigger and more amenity-packed than any other cruise vessel afloat.

Related: The 6 classes of Royal Caribbean ships, explained

Each of the Oasis-class ships offers dozens of restaurants, bars, lounges and decktop attractions, making them the biggest resorts in the world that float.

At 250,600 tons, Icon of the Seas will be more than 6% bigger than the biggest of the Oasis-class ships, the 7-month-old Wonder of the Seas. It'll be able to hold up to 7,600 passengers — a new record for a passenger ship. That's about 7% higher than Wonder of the Seas' maximum capacity of 7,084 passengers.

The bigger passenger capacity is in part due to the ship's greater focus on family travelers. Icon of the Seas is being built with a lot more cabins that have plenty of extra bunks to accommodate families with many children. It'll also have more amenities geared to 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 earlier this month, 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 mocktails for kids and cocktails for grownups.

An artist's drawing of a Panoramic Ocean View suite 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.

Icon of the Seas 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. The line also has one more Oasis-class ship on order for delivery in 2024.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Featured image by ROYAL CARIBBEAN
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
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Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
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
  • Annual Fee

    $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