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The 21 largest cruise ships in the world.
Book your next cruise vacation on one of these floating megaresorts.
The Largest Cruise Ships in the World
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International
With every year comes bigger and grander cruise ships.
Just when you think cruise ships can't get any larger, a major cruise line unveils yet another longer, taller and grander state-of-the-art vessel – with the capacity to carry the population of a small town. To put the size of today's megaships into perspective: They often stretch three times longer than a 120-yard football field, and some feature nearly two dozen decks or measure more than 215 feet wide.
So, if you're looking for a vacation aboard a large-scale vessel, consider booking a voyage on one of the biggest cruise ships in the world. With cutting-edge technology and entertainment, world-class dining, and endless attractions and activities for cruisers of all ages, you may not even want to leave the ship. Here are the biggest cruise ships, arranged by gross tonnage.
- 1. Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas
- 2. Royal Caribbean Utopia of the Seas
- 3. Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas
- 4. Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas
- 5. Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas
- 6. Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas
- 7. Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas
- 8. MSC World Europa
- 9. Costa Smeralda
- 10. Costa Toscana
- 11. P&O Cruises Arvia
- 12. AIDAcosma
- 13. P&O Cruises Iona
- 14. AIDAnova
- 15. Carnival Jubilee
- 16. Carnival Celebration
- 17. MSC Euribia
- 18. MSC Virtuosa
- 19. Carnival Mardi Gras
- 20. MSC Meraviglia
- 21. Norwegian Encore
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Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas
Length: 1,198 feet
Width: 213 feet
Gross tons: 250,800
Maximum number of passengers: 7,600
Icon of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship afloat when it debuts in January 2024. The next-level megaship is Royal Caribbean 's first Icon-class vessel and the first of three ships powered by liquefied natural gas, or LNG, which is considered a more sustainable alternative to other fuel options. The ship will have 2,805 staterooms and carry up to 2,350 crew. There's no end to the fun with eight unique neighborhoods, including the new Surfside: a stay-all-day space designed specifically for families.
Other features on the ship include seven pools, nine whirlpools and six record-breaking waterslides. There are also more than 20 new dining venues, such as the swanky Empire Supper Club, which features an eight-course tasting menu; the AquaDome Market, the line's first food hall; and sushi restaurant Izumi in the Park. Cruisers will also find other international cuisine, including Japanese, Mexican and Italian fare, as well as The Lemon Post, the Surfside Eatery and Pier 7 in the Surfside neighborhood.
Read: The Newest Royal Caribbean Ships
Royal Caribbean Utopia of the Seas
Length: 1,188 feet
Width: 211 feet
Gross tons: 236,860
Maximum passengers: 6,788
Royal Caribbean's first LNG-powered Oasis-class ship will sail its debut voyage in July 2024. The new ship will have 2,834 staterooms and up to 2,290 crew members, as well as eight neighborhoods to keep passengers entertained. Ten complimentary dining venues include the line's new food truck concept, The Spare Tire, which serves up handheld eats on the pool deck. The ship will also feature sloping beach-entry and resort-style pools, plus three Lime & Coconut bars on the outdoor deck.
In total, there are more than 40 dining options, bars and lounges on Utopia of the Seas. Many of Royal Caribbean's specialty dining and bar favorites are returning, such as Chops Grille, Giovanni's Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, Rising Tide Bar and Vue Bar. Guests will also find familiar entertainment offerings with rock climbing walls, the AquaTheater, Splashaway Bay, laser tag, mini-golf, the Sports Court, Studio B and much more. With two casinos, five pools and a visit to private island Perfect Day at CocoCay, you'll never run out of things to do.
Read: The Top New Cruise Ships
Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas
Michel Verdure | Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International
Gross tons: 235,600
Maximum passengers: 7,084
Royal Caribbean's current largest ship at sea, Wonder of the Seas , first set sail in March 2022. The Oasis-class vessel has 2,867 staterooms and carries as many as 2,204 crew members. While you may get lost on this ship, you'll never be bored. Features include eight unique neighborhoods – such as Central Park, the Boardwalk, and the new Suite Class neighborhood, an exclusive space for suite guests.
Take advantage of the AquaTheater, an outdoor live entertainment venue with a 30-foot diving platform and incredible ocean views. Wonder Playscape is an underwater-themed outdoor space for kids filled with slides, climbing walls, games and more. You can also enjoy a few of Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class favorites, such as the FlowRider surf simulator, the rock climbing wall or laser tag at the Battle for Planet Z. If you dare, head into the Ultimate Abyss: Billed as the tallest waterslide at sea, it towers 150 feet above sea level and features an exhilarating 13-second ride through 10 stories of dark, winding tunnels.
When hunger strikes, dine at your pick of more than 20 complimentary and specialty restaurants, including the new Mason Jar Southern Restaurant & Bar. If you're craving a cold beer, a cocktail or a cup of Starbucks coffee, you'll have roughly a dozen bars and lounges at your disposal.
Read: The Top Party Cruises
Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas
Width: 215.5 feet
Gross tons: 228,081
Maximum passengers: 6,680
Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas , another Oasis-class ship, debuted in April 2018. This ship features 2,759 passenger staterooms and accommodates 2,200 crew members. There are seven distinct neighborhoods, four pools, roughly 20 restaurants (about half of which are specialty venues), and about a dozen bars and lounges. The ship even boasts two robotic bartenders that whip up drinks at the Bionic Bar.
Adults can enjoy Broadway-style shows in the onboard theaters and major international sports games at Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade. Meanwhile, kids can cool down at the Splashaway Bay water park, soar on a zip line nine decks high through the Boardwalk neighborhood, try out rock climbing or attend a show at the AquaTheater.
Read: Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival
Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas
Gross tons: 226,963
Maximum passengers: 6,687
Another Oasis-class ship, Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas has been sailing since May 2016. The vessel features 2,747 staterooms and up to 2,200 crew members. Cruisers have plenty of places to dine thanks to eight complimentary venues – including the main dining room and Windjammer Marketplace, a globally inspired buffet – as well as nine specialty restaurants serving everything from burgers and shakes to Italian fare. The Boardwalk, one of the ship's seven neighborhoods, is a favorite spot for cruisers; it contains casual eateries, retail shops and carnival games.
Harmony of the Seas also has Splashaway Bay, the Ultimate Abyss waterslide and a trio of slides called The Perfect Storm. In the evening, don't miss a pre-dinner cocktail at the Rising Tide Bar, which offers a ride between the Central Park neighborhood and the Royal Promenade with dazzling skylight views. Sit back and sip your drink while the entire bar slowly floats between the decks.
Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas
Simon Brooke | Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International
Length: 1,187 feet
Width: 215 feet
Gross tons: 226,838
Maximum passengers: 6,771
Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas was the largest cruise ship in the world when it was launched in 2009. The line's debut Oasis-class ship is nearly five times bigger than the Titanic by gross tonnage; it has 2,801 staterooms and carries 2,109 crew members.
Oasis of the Seas was reimagined in 2019, with many added amenities that are on newer Oasis-class ships, such as FlowRider simulators, the Perfect Storm waterslides, the Ultimate Abyss and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade. Across the ship's seven distinct neighborhoods, you'll also find state-of-the-art technology such as VOOM, billed as the fastest internet connection on the high seas – plus exciting live performances and theater productions, laser tag, escape rooms and more.
Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas
Gross tons: 225,282
Maximum passengers: 6,826
Embarking for the first time in 2010, Allure of the Seas was Royal Caribbean's second Oasis-class vessel. The ship underwent a refurbishment in 2015. Allure of the Seas has 2,748 staterooms and 2,054 crew. Onboard highlights include seven neighborhoods, four pools, and several whirlpools and hot tubs, plus more than 20 dining venues and too many bars and lounges to count.
There are also plenty of entertainment options for guests of all ages, including an ice skating rink, the Sports Court, a nine-deck-high zip line, two rock climbing walls and two FlowRider simulators (a Royal Caribbean favorite). Kids will especially enjoy the interactive H2O Zone Water Park. Adults on this ship will appreciate Broadway productions like "Mamma Mia!," aerial acrobatic performances in Oceanaria (an original AquaTheater production) and '70s disco dance parties. If you find yourself on board for business reasons, rest assured that the ship's conference facilities can host as many as 1,394 guests.
Find a Royal Caribbean cruise on GoToSea.
MSC World Europa
Courtesy of MSC Cruises
Length: 1,093 feet
Width: 154 feet
Gross tons: 215,863
Maximum passengers: 6,762
MSC World Europa was one of the most anticipated new cruise ships when it launched in December 2022 as the first vessel in the line's MSC World-class fleet. It's also the first LNG-propelled ship by MSC Cruises , reaching a maximum cruising speed of 22.7 knots.
The ship's futuristic interior and exterior design features a 341-foot-long promenade. Half the promenade is covered with the Meraviglia-class LED sky screens, while the other half is open-air and offers ocean views. MSC World Europa features 2,626 staterooms and can house 2,138 crew members. As a special touch, each passenger deck is named after an international city, including London, Paris, Lisbon and Rome.
The ship is divided into distinct areas, with a quiet zen district for adults and a family zone that has bumper cars and roller skating. At the fleet's largest onboard water park, younger cruisers will find a twisty, stainless steel tunnel slide towering 11 decks high at the center of the ship. Luna Park Arena, the ship's 300-seat multifunction entertainment venue, can accommodate almost any performance or event.
When you're exhausted from all of the action, grab a bite to eat at one of 13 restaurants or a drink at a selection of bars and cafes. Then, take time to relax and unwind with a signature treatment at the Balinese-inspired MSC Aurea Spa. For an all-inclusive VIP experience during your voyage, book stateroom accommodations in the MSC Yacht Club. This exclusive part of the ship boasts premium suites, a separate pool, a private restaurant and lounge, butler service, and other amenities.
Courtesy of Costa Cruises
Length: 1,106 feet
Width: 138 feet
Gross tons: 185,000
Maximum passengers: 6,554
Costa Smeralda was the first of the two Excellence-class vessels in the Costa Cruises fleet. The vessel debuted in 2019 as the Italian cruise line's largest ship to date. It was also the line's first vessel to use LNG power at sea and in port. The ship has 2,612 staterooms and can carry as many as 1,678 crew members.
Cruisers will never go hungry or thirsty, thanks to the 11 restaurants and snack bars plus 19 bars and lounges on Smeralda . One of the most notable dining venues on board is Archipelago, which serves innovative cuisine created by three world-renowned chefs. If you're interested in culinary pursuits, join other passengers for a cooking class at sea in the Food LAB. When it comes to entertainment, centrally located Colosseo – modeled after the piazzas across Italy – is the place to go for socializing and live performances. What's more, the ship also has 13 pools and hot tubs, an aqua park, the Beauty Spa Solemio, and the Squok Club for kids ages 3 to 11.
Costa Toscana, Costa Cruises' newest flagship and the second Excellence-class vessel in the fleet, set sail on its debut voyage in March 2022. Similar in size and passenger capacity to Costa Smeralda, Toscana is also LNG-powered. This vessel has 2,663 staterooms, and there can be up to 1,678 crew members on board.
Similar to Smeralda, Colosseo is the centerpiece of Toscana; you'll find live entertainment and themed bars in this area. There are 11 restaurants and snack bars plus 19 bars and lounges on the ship. For a refreshing aperitif with a view, head to the Aperol Spritz Bar, which features special beach cocktails. Another dining highlight is Sushino at Costa, the line's new sushi bistro. After dinner, take in unparalleled views of the sea along the Volare Skywalk, the highest point of the ship, which towers more than 200 feet above sea level.
Explore Costa Cruises deals on GoToSea.
P&O Cruises Arvia
Courtesy of P&O Cruises
Length: 1,130 feet
Maximum passengers: 5,200
Arvia joined the P&O fleet as sister ship to Iona in December 2022. It is also LNG-powered, has 2,614 cabins and carries up to 1,800 crew. The family-friendly ship offers guests many firsts, including Altitude, a new activity area with an escape room, a high-ropes experience, the Splash Valley aqua zone, the Sports Arena and much more.
Arvia has 30 bars and restaurants. New dining venues include the American-inspired 6th Street Diner and Green & Co. feat. Mizuhana, which focuses on sushi and plant-based dishes. For entertainment, plan to see the line's production of "The Official Take That Musical," an adaptation of London West End musical "The Band." Guests can also head to the dome beneath the SkyDome retractable roof for live performances, aerial displays, movies on the giant SeaScreen and DJ parties under the starry skies.
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Courtesy of AIDA Cruises
Gross tons: 184,600
Maximum passengers: 6,654
The sister ship to AIDAnova, AIDAcosma set sail in early 2022. The partly LNG-powered AIDA Cruises vessel has 2,732 staterooms and the capacity for up to around 1,500 crew members. With 17 restaurants and 23 bars and cafes, AIDAcosma offers passengers a seemingly endless number of venues to dine and imbibe. Other onboard attractions include a four-deck outdoor area, complete with an infinity pool and an expansive area for sunbathing; an indoor playground with a bouldering wall and ropes course; the Body & Soul Spa; and a 360-degree stage at the Theatrium.
P&O Cruises Iona
Length: 1,129 feet
Gross tons: 184,000
P&O Cruises' Iona, which launched in spring 2021, has the distinction of being the first LNG-powered British cruise ship. The family-friendly vessel has 2,614 cabins and carries 1,800 crew members. Iona's top features include the two-story SkyDome, a gin distillery, four pools, 10 entertainment venues, and 30 restaurants and bars offering a wide variety of food and beverage options.
With selections ranging from casual eateries to gelaterias to Indian- and British-inspired cuisine at Sindhu, you won't get bored with the restaurant choices. For an especially unique meal, dine and sip wine while watching aerial performances in the Grand Atrium at The Glass House. Or, enjoy dinner at The Limelight Club, an adults-only supper club venue featuring vocal performances and other live music. After dinner, check out the entertainment around the ship, including aerial productions in the Grand Atrium, guest and crew shows in Headliners, late night dancing in The Club House, and performances in partnership with the entertainment company Creativiva in the SkyDome.
Gross tons: 183,900
When German line AIDA Cruises' first Helios-class ship, AIDAnova, debuted in December 2018, it was the first LNG-powered cruise ship in the world. The ship is equipped with 2,626 staterooms, including the two-deck Penthouse Suite, and carries around 1,500 crew members. You won't miss this ship when it's docked in port: It features the line's signature exterior design, with bold red lips at the ship's bow and blue-and-yellow eyes on the port and starboard sides.
While on board, passengers can check out 17 restaurants, along with 23 bars and lounges; party the night away at the Beach Club; and take in live performances on the 360-degree stage in the Theatrium. When it's time to relax, head to the Body & Soul Spa, where you can book a massage, spend time in one of the hot tubs or saunas, take a dip in the private pool, and chill out on the private spa sun deck.
Width: 137 feet
Gross tons: 183,521
Maximum passengers: 6,631
Carnival Jubilee, as sister ship to Carnival Celebration and Carnival Mardi Gras, will offer many of the same features and amenities as its two predecessors when it launches in December 2023. The new vessel will have 2,687 staterooms, 1,735 crew and six zones of fun. Currents and The Shores are new to Jubilee . Currents is inspired by the underworld of the ocean with mermaids and sea monsters; it's designed with new bars, restaurants, music venues and high-tech spaces, including a wave-shaped LED ceiling and six LED windows that virtually take guests under the sea. The Shores is all about the outdoors, inspired by beaches and boardwalks. Cruisers can grab a slice of pizza at Coastal Slice, a hot dog at Beach Buns and a cocktail at Marina Bar.
On Jubilee, you'll also find Carnival Cruise Line favorites such as BOLT, the first and fastest roller coaster at sea, as well as Waterworks, the onboard water park with twin racing slides, three spiraling slides and more. The line's "next-level fun" ship will also include familiar eateries and lounges like Shaquille O'Neal's Big Chicken, Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse, Cucina del Capitano, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and more.
Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Celebration sailed its inaugural cruise in November 2022. Carnival's second-newest ship at sea is LNG-powered and the second in the line's Excel class, with 2,687 staterooms and as many as 1,735 crew. Guests will find new attractions to enjoy on the ship, such as the partnership with the Kennedy Space Center at Space Cruisers: This program is designed for children ages 2 to 11 at Camp Ocean.
Adults can check out the new bar at Latitudes, which features specialty cocktails and outdoor scenery through the virtual windows. Celebration has a variety of complimentary dining venues, including Shaq's Big Chicken, Guy's Burger Joint and Mexican favorites at BlueIguana Cantina. There is also a selection of specialty restaurants like Emeril's Bistro 1397, Rudi's Seagrill, the Steakhouse and Bonsai Teppanyaki. For action and 360-degree views of the ocean from the top of the ship, take a spin around the track on the BOLT roller coaster.
Compare Carnival Cruises on GoToSea.
Length: 1,087 feet
Width: 141 feet
Gross tons: 181,541
Maximum passengers: 6,327
MSC Euribia, the newest MSC Cruises ship, debuted in June 2023. The line's second LNG-powered vessel – and the fifth Meraviglia-class ship – has 2,419 cabins and can carry as many as 1,711 crew members. The ship's hull features Alex Flämig's artwork "#SaveTheSea" to highlight the company's dedication to preserving the marine ecosystem.
On board Euribia , guests will find five pools and 11 dining venues, offering everything from sushi and teppanyaki to Latin American street food. There are also 21 bars and lounges, the MSC Aurea Spa, the Ocean Cay Aquapark, luxury retail shopping and more. Two additional highlights are the longest – and most impressive – LED Dome at Sea, which covers the ceiling of Galleria Euribia, and the reimagined Carousel Lounge. The beautiful, updated space features floor-to-ceiling windows, outdoor terraces and cozy seating to enjoy live entertainment, including performances by one of the largest big bands at sea.
Maximum passengers: 6,334
This vessel launched in 2021 as a sister ship to MSC Grandiosa , the line's other Meraviglia Plus-class ship. MSC Virtuosa has 2,421 staterooms and carries around 1,704 crew members. It offers cruisers 11 dining venues plus 21 bars and lounges. At the heart of the ship, Galleria Virtuosa houses the largest shopping area on a cruise ship, with more than 12,500 square feet of retail space. In this area, you'll also find entertainment venues, restaurants and cocktail bars. And don't forget to look up: An impressive LED dome, one of the longest at sea, spans the ceiling of the promenade.
Another highlight to check out during your voyage is the MSC Starship Club, which features Rob, the first humanoid robotic bartender on a cruise ship. The multilingual expert mixologist even tells jokes and will show you a dance move or two. After all the indoor fun, head outside for a cool dip in one of MSC Virtuosa's five pools or take a ride on the slide at the Savannah Aquapark.
Book an MSC Cruise on GoToSea.
Carnival Mardi Gras
Gross tons: 180,000
Maximum passengers: 6,465
One of Carnival Cruise Line's newest ships, Mardi Gras , debuted in July 2021. Its name honors the line's first ship, the TSS Mardi Gras, which launched in 1972. The original Mardi Gras was around 27,000 gross tons and 650 feet long – in contrast, the new Carnival Mardi Gras weighs more than six times as much and is nearly twice as long. This ship also holds the title as North America's first LNG-powered ship. It has 2,641 staterooms and holds up to 1,745 crew members.
Six themed areas each offer unique dining and entertainment experiences. For New Orleans -inspired cuisine, head to the French Quarter; there, you'll find Emeril's Bistro 1396 and The Brass Magnolia, a bar reminiscent of The Big Easy's jazz culture and Garden District. Don't miss one of the ship's top onboard attractions: the BOLT roller coaster, where riders can hit speeds of nearly 40 mph at 187 feet above sea level.
Read: The Top Themed Cruises
Courtesy of Port Miami for MSC Cruises
Length: 1,036 feet
Gross tons: 171,598
Maximum passengers: 5,655
MSC Cruises' Meraviglia first set sail in 2017 with an impressive 2,244 staterooms and the capacity to carry 1,536 crew members. A dozen restaurants offer a wide variety of cuisines, including a Spanish tapas bar with dishes created by a Michelin-starred chef, Japanese teppanyaki, Italian fare, fresh seafood, steaks and more. There are also 20 bars, lounges and cafes serving everything from Champagne and cocktails to ice cream and crepes.
The central highlight of the ship is Galleria Meraviglia, a 315-foot promenade with eateries, boutiques and evening parties. Nightly entertainment includes live performances and shows in the Broadway Theatre and the Carousel Lounge. Kids will find plenty to do, as well: There's an Aquapark, an F1 simulator, a flight simulator, LEGO play areas, bowling and more. When it's time to wind down, book a signature treatment at the MSC Aurea Spa.
Length: 1,094 feet
Width: 136 feet
Gross tons: 169,116
Maximum passengers: 3,998 (double occupancy)
Norwegian Encore was built in 2019 as one of Norwegian Cruise Line 's Breakaway Plus-class ships. The vessel has 2,040 staterooms and carries 1,735 crew members. There are several complimentary culinary venues on board, including three main dining rooms, The Local Bar & Grill, the Garden Café buffet, and grab-and-go options. Specialty dining restaurants offer a variety of cuisines, from seafood to steak to Japanese teppanyaki.
When it's time for cocktail hour, 14 bars and lounges serve up everything from cold brews to fine wine and whiskey. For a pre-dinner option, head up to the Observation Lounge for panoramic ocean views. Norwegian Encore is also home to several entertainment venues featuring award-winning live shows and performances.
You'll find the most fun on the ship's top decks. First, head to the Encore Speedway race track, which takes thrill-seekers on a heart-pumping ride through high-speed curves extending 13 feet off the side of the ship. Also at the top of the vessel you'll find The Haven: Norwegian's exclusive "ship within a ship" concept boasts luxurious suites, villas and penthouses with balconies. These luxe accommodations include perks like 24-hour butler service, a concierge and a private sun deck.
Find a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise on GoToSea.
Frequently Asked Questions
The largest cruise ship currently in service is Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, at more than 235,000 gross tons. Icon of the Seas will become the largest cruise ship in the world at 250,000-plus gross tons after its launch, set for January 2024.
Carnival Jubilee, scheduled to debut in December 2023, and Carnival Celebration are the line's largest ships at 183,521 gross tons.
The line's largest ship is Disney Wish at about 144,000 gross tons. The vessel is 1,119 feet in length and 128 feet wide; it has 1,254 staterooms and carries up to 4,000 passengers and 1,555 crew.
Why Trust U.S. News Travel
Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed on nearly every type of cruise ship built, including the newest megaships, paddle-wheelers on the Mississippi River, and an 18-stateroom river ship on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. She has also cruised on a traditional masted sailing ship and on a small luxury expedition vessel in Antarctica crossing the notorious Drake Passage twice. She covers the travel and culinary industries for major publications including U.S. News & World Report.
You might also be interested in:
- The Top World Cruises
- The Top Cruises on Small Ships
- The Top Gay Cruises
- Cruise Packing List Essentials
- The Top Cruise Insurance
Tags: Travel , Cruises
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- Ships and Lines
Largest Cruise Ships
See here the world's largest cruise ships list (including vessels under construction ) owned by the best cruise line companies . This article is also integrated with our ship dimensions , passenger capacity , and old cruise ships surveys.
CruiseMapper's list of biggest cruise ships includes all vessels with gross tonnage/volume over 150,000 GT-tons .
Each one of these behemoth ships is an engineering marvel produced by our contemporary age of fun and super technologies. Kudos to their builders and double kudos to their proud owners who have invested so much in these newbuild projects!
Note: In the following table, all links are internal (CruiseMapper) and redirect to the liner's itinerary schedule where you can compare dates and prices per person (double occupancy cabin rates).
The world's largest river cruise ship is Victoria Sabrina . The 2020-launched riverboat is China-built, owned by Victoria Cruises China and deployed year-round on Yangtze River. The vessel has the impressive volume of 17000 GT-tons, LOA length 150 m (492 ft), width 22 m (72 ft), 7 decks (5 with cabins), 270 staterooms, max capacity 690 passengers plus 195 crew/staff.
Oasis-class - biggest cruise ship in the world ever built
World's currently largest cruise ship class is produced exclusively for RCI-Royal Caribbean andin 2 sub-series - Oasis-Class (Allure OTS, Oasis OTS) and Oasis-Plus (Harmony OTS, Symphony OTS, Wonder OTS). These are sisterships from the fleet of the second- largest cruise shipping company in the world - RCCL-Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (as shipowner) that follows only Carnival Corporation (as shipowner).
As to vessels' dimensions, each boasts the unimaginable weight of 227,000-230,000 GT / gross tons, LOA length 362 m (1187 ft) and waterline width 47 m (154 ft). The extreme breadth is over 60 m (198 ft). As the GT is a volume measurement, the ship's actual mass (called displacement) is approx 100,000 tons (the hull alone weighs about 54,000 tons). Surpassing all passenger ship standards, building cost and all previous ship travel vacation concepts, the Oasis-class ships are currently the only passenger shipping vessels of such immense size.
Other interesting numbers are the above waterline height (72 m / 236 ft), depth (23 m / 74 ft below waterline), 16 passenger decks, draft/draught (9,3 m / 31 ft), cruising/service speed 23 knots (26 mph / 42 kph), capacity 5400 passengers at double occupancy (max 6296 / 6870) and officers+crew capacity 2165.
The world's biggest cruise ship propulsion system guarantees the perfect maneuverability by 3 rotatable Azipod thrusters (suspended under the ship's stern), each with a huge electric motor and a 6 m (20 ft) propeller. The ship offers great stability due to its enormous size. And in times of need - there are 18 lifeboats, each with a capacity of 370 people.
Oasis-Plus class is also currently the world's most technologically advanced and energy-efficient cruise vessel ever built. It is equipped with a new-generation exhaust gas cleaning system (multi-stream scrubbers) and with a hull lubrication system allowing the ship to float on air bubbles (created around the hull) thus reducing drag and increasing fuel efficiency.
Regarding cruise accommodations , this class of vessels has some of the largest suites at sea - measuring 150 m2 (over 1600 ft2, balcony included). Another signature feature is the 7 "neighborhoods" (theme-park-like areas), 5 large swimming pools, a huge casino, a full-size volleyball/basketball court, large-capacity bars, and lounges. Oasis-Plus ships additionally have waterslides (created by Aquatic Design & Engineering) and a total of 23 "water fun" areas (swimming pools, large-size outdoor jacuzzies, waterslides, flowriders/surf simulators). The stern-located Ultimate Abyss water slide is 150 ft (45,70 m) above sea level. It features 31 sections, two 360-degree circles, 27-degree slide incline, 28 m (92 ft) serpentine-like drop, 13,14 seconds average sliding time (top to bottom), around 300 small LED lights and graffiti artworks throughout.
These phenomenal ships were manufactured by STX Europe (shipyard Turku Finland / Oasis-class) and in by STX France (shipyard Saint-Nazaire France / Oasis-Plus). The new Oasis ships are 2,15 m (7 ft) longer.
Biggest Carnival cruise ship - "Carnival Pinnacle" class
Watch this amazing YouTube video about the "Carnival Pinnacle cruise ship". The project was designed by the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri as their biggest ever passenger ship - GT tonnage 200,000 tons, capacity 6000 passengers, length 380 m (1246 ft), The "Pinnacle Project" was initiated by Carnival Corporation in 2004 to tip the scales in the "Carnival vs Royal Caribbean" competition.
Carnival Pinnacle was never built as the project was officially canceled (mainly due to the vessel's incredible cost at that time). However, many of the project's elements and innovative design features were later adapted for other large-sized cruise liners built for rival companies.
The World’s Largest Cruise Ship Is Nearly 1,200 Feet Long
Scheduled to debut in January, the vessel can accommodate 5,600 guests and 2,350 crew members
The world’s largest cruise ship is almost ready to set sail.
Royal Caribbean’s massive new ship, Icon of the Seas , passed its inaugural round of sea trials with flying colors, bringing it one step closer to hitting the open ocean with passengers, the cruise line announced late last month. If all goes as planned, the record-breaking vessel will begin sailing in the Caribbean in January 2024.
Just how big is Icon of the Seas ? Really big. As Jalopnik ’s Ryan Erik King writes, it’s the size of five Titantics. More specifically, Icon of the Seas measures 1,198 feet long—nearly a quarter of a mile—and has a gross tonnage of 250,800. All that space means it can accommodate 5,600 guests and 2,350 crew members.
The cruise line is positioning the vessel as “the ultimate family vacation,” as CEO Michael Bayley told reporters earlier this year, per CNN ’s Maureen O’Hare.
“When you step back and look at all the energy and time that has gone into creating this ship, it is mind-blowing,” he added.
The previous world’s largest cruise ship was also a Royal Caribbean vessel, Wonder of the Seas , which spanned 1,188 feet long and featured 18 decks.
Crews in Turku, Finland, began work on Icon of the Seas in 2021. Last month, the vessel sailed the open ocean for the first time, as staffers spent four days testing the main engines, hull, brakes, steering system and other components. They also measured noise and vibration levels.
The vessel will undergo another round of sea trials later this year before officially launching in Miami early next year, according to Royal Caribbean. Icon of the Seas will primarily take cruisers to the islands of the eastern and western Caribbean on seven-night itineraries.
With progress on Icon of the Seas moving along, Royal Caribbean has already started building another large “icon class” ship. The cruise line expects that unnamed vessel to launch in 2025, per a statement .
Icon of the Seas has 20 total decks, 7 swimming pools and 8 “neighborhoods,” or distinct areas with entertainment and dining. Another noteworthy feature is Category 6, which will be the largest waterpark at sea when Icon of the Seas sets sail.
The ship will be equipped with a special grooming robot that will clean the hull whenever it’s in port to help reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency by 3 to 4 percent, reports TTG Media ’s Charlotte Cullinan.
Icon of the Seas will also be the first ship in the cruise line’s fleet to run on liquefied natural gas and fuel cells , which are similar to batteries but do not need to be recharged. Water is the main byproduct of fuel cells—which combine oxygen and hydrogen to produce energy—which should help the ship reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Liquefied natural gas , meanwhile, is a controversial energy source that involves cooling natural gas to a liquid state to make it easier to transport. The liquid version is “actually worse than ordinary gas,” writes the Natural Resources Defense Council . “The energy required to chill, ship and regasify the fossil fuel makes it far more carbon-intensive and increases the potential for leakage of dangerous methane,” according to the organization.
Royal Caribbean’s leaders say they view liquified natural gas as a “ transitional fue l,” and that they hope to continue to reduce the environmental impact of their ships moving forward.
"[Liquefied natural gas] is about 20-30 percent better for the environment [than heavy fuel oil], but it’s still not going to be the solution,” Bayley tells TTG Media . “We don’t know the answer, but the whole industry is working towards the answer.”
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Sarah Kuta | READ MORE
Sarah Kuta is a writer and editor based in Longmont, Colorado. She covers history, science, travel, food and beverage, sustainability, economics and other topics.
Icon of the Seas, biggest cruise ship ever, arrives in Florida for first sailings
The biggest cruise ship ever built is finally in position for its first sailings with paying passengers.
Royal Caribbean's massive, 20-deck-high Icon of the Seas arrived in Miami on Wednesday after undergoing regulatory inspections in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The long-awaited vessel, which is aimed at the family cruise market in a way we haven't seen before, will be based year-round at the port of Miami for seven-night sailings to the Caribbean . Fares for the voyages start at $1,707 per person, not including taxes and fees — an inordinately high price for a mass-market cruise ship that speaks to the strong demand for the vessel.
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Icon of the Seas' first sailing with paying passengers — a seven-night voyage to the Eastern Caribbean — is scheduled for Jan. 27. But TPG will get an early glimpse at the ship Thursday at an event in Miami (stay tuned for our first photos from inside the vessel).
A multiperson team from TPG will also be reporting live from a three-night Icon of the Seas preview sailing for media and travel agents scheduled for Jan. 20.
Biggest cruise ship ever built
At 250,800 tons, Icon of the Seas is the first in a new series of ships at Royal Caribbean that will be bigger than anything seen before.
The giant vessel is, notably, more than 6% bigger than the current size leader among cruise ships, Royal Caribbean's 1-year-old Wonder of the Seas . It's able to hold up to 7,600 passengers — a new record for a passenger ship.
Add in 2,350 crew members, and Icon of the Seas could sail at times with nearly 10,000 people on board — also a new record.
Icon of the Seas was built over nearly three years at the sprawling Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland — one of the only shipyards in the world big enough to construct a vessel of Icon of the Seas' size.
Related: Peek inside Icon of the Seas under construction
Weekly sailings to the Caribbean
While the first sailing of Icon of the Seas with paying passengers is an Eastern Caribbean itinerary, the vessel will operate voyages to the Western Caribbean, too.
The ship will rotate among four different itineraries across the Eastern and Western Caribbean that visit such destinations as St. Thomas; St. Maarten (the Dutch side of the island of St. Martin); Roatan, Honduras; and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico.
Every sailing of Icon of the Seas also will include a stop at Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay .
Cruising fans are particularly excited about the arrival of Icon of the Seas as it will mark the first time in 15 years that a cruise line has launched a new class of ship that will eclipse all others in size and amenities. The last time that happened was in 2009 when Royal Caribbean unveiled its much-ballyhooed Oasis Class of vessels.
R elated: Royal Caribbean just took delivery of a ship that can hold 10,000 people
The Oasis Class included the previous size leader in the cruise world, Wonder of the Seas.
Icon of the Seas size and features
Icon of the Seas boasts 18 passenger decks — two more than Wonder of the Seas. There also are two crew-only decks at the bottom of the ship, giving it a total of 20 decks.
Icon of the Seas also is longer than Wonder of the Seas, by a tad. It measures 1,198 feet long — 10 feet longer than Wonder of the Seas.
Still, the ship's biggest difference may be in the number of passengers it holds. Its maximum capacity of 7,600 is 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 was built with a lot more cabins that have plenty of extra bunks to accommodate families with many children. It also has more amenities geared to families, including a new-for-the-line outdoor "neighborhood" called Surfside, dedicated to families with young children.
Related: TPG's ultimate guide to Icon of the Seas
Surfside, notably, features 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.
Icon of the Seas also features the largest water park ever built on a cruise ship, with a record six decktop waterslides. In addition, it'll have a record seven pools, including what Royal Caribbean is billing as the first suspended infinity pool at sea.
In all, the ship offers eight neighborhoods, as Royal Caribbean calls the distinct areas of its bigger ships themed around specific activities. Five of the neighborhoods are new to Icon: the Surfside area mentioned above; Thrill Island, which is home to the ship's waterslides; Chill Island, which encompasses the ship's pools complex; the AquaDome, a massive, glass-enclosed area at the top of the ship housing its AquaTheater; and The Hideaway, a pool retreat with a beach vibe.
Three neighborhoods — the plant-lined Central Park, the indoor Royal Promenade and the Suite Neighborhood — are returning from the line's last series of giant ships, the five-vessel Oasis Class.
The eight areas feature more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges, including entertainment across four stages. There are 2,805 cabins on the ship spread across 28 types of accommodations.
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, Utopia of the Seas , on order for delivery later this year.
The arrival of the Icon Class is one of the biggest stories in the cruise world in more than a decade — on a scale with the debut of the Oasis Class in 2009.
Royal Caribbean's first Oasis Class ship, Oasis of the Seas, began sailing in 2009. The line added additional Oasis Class vessels in 2010, 2016, 2018 and 2021, with each of the vessels being a little bigger than the last.
Ranging from 226,838 to 235,600 tons, the five Oasis Class ships are, in turn, more than 10% bigger than any other cruise vessels afloat.
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The world’s largest cruise ship has 20 decks, 7 pools and would cover almost 4 city blocks
The ship is the size of almost four city blocks and runs nearly 1,200 feet (365 meters) from bow to stern. AP Video by Daniel Kozin.
FILE - The Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, sits docked after arriving to its home port in Miami, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas is leaving South Florida on Saturday, Jan. 27, for its first seven-day island-hopping voyage through the tropics. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
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FILE - Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, sits at dock as it prepares for its inaugural public voyage later this month, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, at PortMiami in Miami. Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas is leaving South Florida on Saturday, Jan. 27, for its first seven-day island-hopping voyage through the tropics. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
FILE - Waterslides are seen atop a deck overlooking floors of rooms aboard Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, during a media day preview as it prepares for its inaugural public voyage later this month, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, in Miami. Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas is leaving South Florida on Saturday, Jan. 27, for its first seven-day island-hopping voyage through the tropics. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
FILE - Employees and visitors walk in the Royal Promenade area of Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, during a media day preview as it prepares for its inaugural public voyage later this month, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, at PortMiami in Miami. Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas is leaving South Florida on Saturday, Jan. 27, for its first seven-day island-hopping voyage through the tropics.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
Inter Miami soccer player Lionel Messi, center, bumps fists with a member of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers bagpipe band, left, during a naming ceremony for Royal Caribbean International’s new cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Miami. Inter Miami CF has formed a partnership with the cruise line Royal Caribbean International. At right is Jason Liberty, president and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
MIAMI (AP) — The world’s largest cruise ship — the size of almost four city blocks — is set to begin its maiden voyage Saturday as it leaves from the Port of Miami.
Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas runs nearly 1,200 feet (365 meters) from bow to stern.
The ship, which is leaving South Florida for its first seven-day island-hopping voyage through the tropics, was officially christened Tuesday with help from soccer legend Lionel Messi and his Inter Miami teammates.
At a glance
The Icon of the Seas:
- can carry up to 7,600 passengers and 2,350 crew members
The ship has:
- six waterslides
- seven swimming pools
- an ice-skating rink
- more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges
“Icon of the Seas is the culmination of more than 50 years of dreaming, innovating and living our mission – to deliver the world’s best vacation experiences responsibly,” Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO Jason Liberty said earlier this week. “She is the ultimate multigenerational family vacation, forever changing the status quo in family travel and fulfilling vacation dreams for all ages on board.”
The ship sets sail as Royal Caribbean’s cruises are having a moment online. Since December, the company’s 9-month “Ultimate World Cruise” has captivated — and confused — a following of avid watchers on social media.
Millions are following the journey through the eyes of the passengers, as they live and post their lives aboard a vessel they’ll be on for nearly a year. If it sounds like a reality show, that’s exactly what some watchers have turned it into.
When the Icon of the Seas was first revealed in October 2022, the ship spurred the single largest booking day and the highest volume booking week in Royal Caribbean’s then 53-year history, according to the cruise line.
A dancer performs in front of Inter Miami soccer player Lionel Messi, second from left, seated, during an event on the world’s largest cruise ship Icon of the Seas, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Miami. The MLS soccer team Inter Miami CF has formed a partnership with the cruise line Royal Caribbean International. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
The Icon of the Seas is divided into eight neighborhoods across 20 decks. The ship includes six waterslides, seven swimming pools, an ice skating rink, a theater and more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges. The ship can carry up to 7,600 passengers at maximum capacity, along with 2,350 crew members.
It is powered by six dual-fuel engines, which can be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), a fuel alternative that the Cruise Lines International Association says reduces sulfur and greenhouse gas emissions. However, some environmentalists worry LNG-powered ships increase methane emissions . Other say that vacationers generate eight times more carbon on a cruise than they do on land.
Royal Caribbean says every kilowatt used on the Icon of the Seas “is scrutinized for energy efficiencies and emission reductions.”
We Sailed on the World's Largest Cruise Ship. Here's Our Honest Review.
W hether you’re an experienced cruiser or a first-timer, you’ve probably heard of Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Icon of the Seas . Dubbed “The World’s Largest Cruise Ship” and aimed at delivering “the world's best family vacation,” this revolutionary liner is garnering plenty of attention for its truly iconic offerings.
In advance of its highly anticipated inaugural cruise, we were able to explore the ship during its pre-inaugural preview sailings, and we’re sharing everything you need to know (along with plenty of insider photos!) to help you plan.
Picture this: Twenty stories, more than 50 dining experiences, seven pools, over 2,800 staterooms and a capacity of 5,610 guests (plus staff!). Add to this an expansive two-level shopping promenade and a reimagined Central Park (complete with 30,000 living plants and trees), and you'll very quickly forget you’re on a boat once you board the Icon of the Seas. The ship itself is 1,198 feet long and 250,800 GT (gross tonnage; or the internal volume), making it over five times as large as the Titanic (which was 46,328 GT).
In fact, Icon of the Seas is so big that it’s broken up into eight different "neighborhoods." It has just started sailing and will depart from Port Miami in Miami with seven-day cruises through the Eastern Caribbean or the Western Caribbean. Regardless of which trip you take, you’ll stop at Royal Caribbean’s award-winning private island, “Perfect Day at CocoCay.”
What’s so special about the Icon of the Seas?
It turns out that bigger really is better. Not only is it the biggest cruise ship in the world, but it’s also home to many “biggests” and “firsts” at sea. It has the largest water park at sea (including the first family raft slide), the first (and only) suspended infinity pool at sea and the biggest swim-up bar at sea — plus, there are six thrilling water slides and a 50-foot-tall waterfall. It even has the first dog at sea — a golden retriever named Rover who lives on board to bring joy to guests and the crew.
And while family fun is front and center on Icon of the Seas, it is thoughtfully designed to cater to every type of traveler. There’s something for every age group and trip preference, and it does a great job of separating these offerings into distinct neighborhoods (e.g., adult-only travelers and families with young kids can have little to no interaction with one another if they choose). From a variety of new room choices to seemingly endless dining and entertainment options, the offerings of the Icon of the Seas have raised the bar for cruise vacations.
A significant aspect in which Icon stands out from other cruise ships is in its having a whopping 28 different room types. Many staterooms are similar to those on other large ships and sleep from two to four people, but there are a variety of more spacious rooms available to make your stay more comfortable, especially if you’re traveling as a family .
Rooms are outfitted with tons of USB-A ports and electrical outlets in all the right places (and some even with USB-C ports by the vanity). Our team was impressed with the amount of storage in every room, including drawers and multiple closets (complete with a good number of hangers) and nooks to stash your things. Royal Caribbean has even made sure the space under the beds is perfectly sized for tucking away carry-on luggage . Rooms come in two categories, Staterooms and Suites, and below are the most common types for each class:
Staterooms are the more affordable way to experience the ship. They come in various sizes and each is outfitted with a mini beverage fridge, but no other food or beverage amenities. All come with basic bathroom amenities, meaning standard bar soap and a shower with a single wall-mounted dispenser with hair and body wash but no conditioner lotion. “I’m not a regular cruiser, so I was very surprised to discover there wasn’t any conditioner in the room — and I regretted not bringing my own,” said one guest. (Of course, there’s an easy solution: If you stay in a stateroom, consider yourself warned and bring some!) Here’s what else you should know before choosing your stateroom.
It’s the smallest class and has no windows, but it’s also the cheapest way to experience the ship’s grandeur. This type of room is not recommended for anyone who is prone to feeling claustrophobic.
You get a window, but not fresh air from a balcony.
These rooms have an outdoor balcony that faces an interior neighborhood (such as Central Park or Surfside).
Ocean View Balcony
As the name implies, this room’s exterior balcony gives you views of the ocean while the ship is sailing.
Ocean View Infinite Balcony
Unlike a regular balcony room with a separate outdoor space, this type of room has a large window that opens wide enough to feel like a balcony. When the window is open, you feel exactly as if you’re on a balcony, but you gain valuable interior living space when the window is closed.
Family Ocean View Infinite Balcony
Giving families more space to spread out, these have a bed and a pullout sofa in the main area, along with a separate nook with bunk beds. They are designed for groups of four to six people. The main living and sleeping area feels very comfortable and spacious (like a regular hotel room), but the kids’ nook is smaller in person than it appears in photos. One standout plus: the split bathroom, one part with a toilet and a sink, the other with a sink and a shower. It’s a huge bonus and almost feels like two full bathrooms instead of one divided into two. The kids’ nook can also come in handy as a changing room for everyone, thanks to its curtain “door.”
For more space, added in-room amenities in Icon’s suites such as a Lavazza espresso coffee machine and soft drinks, luxury bathroom amenities from Malin+Goetz (including conditioner and lotion), plush bathrobes and access to other exclusive offerings deliver a more elevated ship experience. These rooms are available in three classes:
Rooms in this category include Junior Suites , which give you a bit more space than regular staterooms and can sleep up to four on a pullout sofa. You get access to the suite-exclusive Coastal Kitchen restaurant (for dinner only).
You get everything in Sea Class as well as concierge service, full access to the suite-exclusive neighborhood and priority boarding and departure. A variety of suites are available that sleep up to four or five, many of which are newly available on Icon. The most common suite in this class is the Surfside Family Suite, which we got to experience with two adults and two children during our preview. Although the shared pullout sofa bed was on the smaller side, it was great to have the separate space for kids and all the perks that came with the suite class.
This top tier includes everything in Sky Class along with premium seats for entertainment, complimentary dining packages and more. You even get a “genie” – i.e., a personal concierge. Only nine suites in this class are available, including seven Icon Lofts, one Royal Loft and one Ultimate Family Townhouse, a three-level paradise that even has an in-suite slide, gaming area, movie room, patio and more. It can cost over $80,000 for a week — and it is already sold out for all of 2024.
Neighborhoods and activities
The Icon is so big that it’s broken up into eight distinct neighborhoods:
Located at the back of the ship, this is the home of all of the action and adventure on board. Its Category 6 waterpark has six large water slides, including ones with big drops, zero-gravity suspensions and even the first family raft slide at sea. There’s also the Crown’s Edge , a daring adventure course that leaves you dangling 154 feet above the ocean. (Just note that there's an added fee for Crown’s Edge.)
Other highlights include the Adrenaline Peak rock climbing wall, the Flowrider surf simulator, the Lost Dunes mini golf course and a sports court.
This is where you can find four of the seven pools, which are spread out over three separate decks. It is home to Swim & Tonic, the biggest swim-up bar at sea (and the first for Royal Caribbean) as well as Royal Bay Pool, the largest pool at sea.
Designed as a family-friendly area (especially for younger kids), this neighborhood is intended to be used as a spot where families can spend their entire day. There’s a carousel (with whimsical motifs instead of horses), a dry climbing area, a splash park (including smaller water slides) and an arcade.
There’s also a lounge area for grown-ups to hang out near their kids. The kids’ club and kid-friendly dining options are also located in this area.
This is a breathtaking indoor space at the front of the ship. During the day it’s meant to be a “tranquil oasis” with ocean views and a picturesque waterfall. At night, it’s a buzzing hot spot with restaurants, bars and entertainment in the AquaTheater.
An adults-only area at the back of the ship, it has the first suspended infinity pool at sea, offering stunning views of the water and beach club vibes.
Located in the middle of the ship, this is the indoor entry point when passengers embark, and it serves as a central hub. You’ll find many of the restaurants in this area as well as shops, guest services, a shore excursions desk and more. There’s a Royal Promenade on many Royal Caribbean ships, but it’s elevated on the Icon thanks to The Pearl, a massive orb structure that’s just as functional in the ship’s architecture as it is a piece of art.
An open-air area in the middle of the ship, this neighborhood features trees and living plant walls that make you feel as if you’re in an actual park while at sea. There are Central Parks on other Royal Caribbean ships too, and like the others, this one has several restaurants and bars.
For guests staying in the Sky and Star Class suites, this area is toward the front of the ship (near the AquaDome) and offers amenities like a private pool, a sun deck, a lounge, a restaurant and more.
As on other Royal Caribbean ships, there’s also an ice-skating rink (which converts into a laser tag arena), a spa, a fitness center and more activities available, including an escape room.
The Icon has over 20 places to eat and boasts more than 50 dining experiences, some of which are included in the main charge and others of which cost extra. There’s a three-floor main dining room and a buffet (the Windjammer) available at no charge.
Other complimentary options include the Aquadome Market (the first ever food hall on a Royal Caribbean ship), Sorrento’s (a pizza place), El Loco Fresh (Mexican fare), Park Café (a deli), Surfside Eatery (a kid-friendly buffet) and more. “We loved the grab-and-go and serve-yourself options at El Loco Fresh,” said one guest. “I could eat those quesadillas all day long.” In the main buffet, the Indian counter was also exceptionally delicious.
Then there are specialty restaurants you have to pay for such as Chops Grille (a steakhouse with out-of-this world crab cakes), Giovanni’s (Italian), Izumi (hibachi and sushi) and Hooked (seafood). For fancier options, there’s the Empire Supper Club (with an extravagant eight-course menu with a ritzy New York theme) and Celebration Table (a VIP experience for 12 people).
There are plenty of other places to grab snacks (including ice cream!) throughout the day as well as quick-service spots (Izumi in the Park has out-of-this-world bubble waffle creations) and even a Starbucks on board the ship. For a great place to start your morning, the Pearl Cafe is a comfortable and centrally located cafe on Deck 6. Head over to the Vitality Spa on Deck 14 for juices and smoothies.
Entertainment and nightlife
Royal Caribbean stands out from other cruise lines for its shows, and the Icon takes it to another level. It has The Wizard of Oz as a Broadway-style show and Aqua Action, which features water-based stunts in its signature AquaTheater. There’s also an ice skating show called Starburst: Elemental Beauty and live music (including rock, blues and a DJ), dueling pianos, karaoke and comedy shows. All shows are included as part of the cruise.
Beyond the shows, there are a casino (called Casino Royale) and plenty of bars, from sports bars to more swanky venues.
The Icon of the Seas is sailing from and to Miami and currently offers two itineraries:
- 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise to Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas
- 7-night Western Caribbean cruise to Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico; Cozumel, Mexico and Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas
Both itineraries include stops at Royal Caribbean’s private island, CocoCay (which previously won a Good Housekeeping Family Travel Award ). It offers water parks, beaches, pools and more – and the best part is that it's all just steps from the ship. For the other stops, you can book shore excursions directly through Royal Caribbean.
A 7-day sailing on the Icon of the Seas typically costs around $2,000 per person.
However, you can often find promotions from Royal Caribbean, and we even discovered some options in 2025 that let you book for around $1,000 per person. The pricing varies based on room type, dates and availability, but Icon is considered more of a luxury cruise than a budget option. That said, the price covers much of the food, amenities and experiences throughout your week-long vacation.
Bottom line: Is sailing on Icon of the Seas worth it?
Yes. While it's certainly not for everyone because of its size and price, we were impressed by the innovation this cruise delivers. The highlights compared with other cruises were the family-friendly room layouts, the next-level activities and the design of the neighborhoods.
For instance, on other Royal Caribbean ships you'll find the carousel for kids located next to the sports bar and in the same neighborhood as the AquaTheater, which gets congested around showtimes. With this new layout, there’s less overlap and it’s easier to navigate the experiences.
Meet Your Icon of the Seas Guides
- Lexie Sachs is the executive director of strategy and operations at the Good Housekeeping Institute , where she oversees travel content ranging from the best luggage to Good Housekeeping’s Family Travel Awards . Lexie has been on eight cruise ships from a range of cruise lines (including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival) and has sailed through Alaska, the U.S. East coast, the Caribbean, Bermuda, South America and Europe. She attended a preview sailing on the Icon of the Seas with her husband and two daughters.
- Laurie Jennings is the Good Housekeeping Institute’s general manager and lead consumer tester across categories like travel, home, automotive and more. This was Laurie’s first overnight cruise experience. Her multigenerational group included her mother, a seasoned cruiser (who raved, “Everything about this ship is perfect! It will blow you away,”) as well as her daughter, 9, and her nephew, 11. During her sailing, Laurie visited all 28 room classes as well as every neighborhood and restaurant available for viewing.
Good Housekeeping’s 2023 Best Bedding Awards: Pillows
Watch CBS News
A look inside the Icon of the Seas, the world's biggest cruise ship, as it prepares for voyage
By Kris Van Cleave, Analisa Novak
January 18, 2024 / 12:14 PM EST / CBS News
Royal Caribbean is redefining the cruise industry with its latest ship, the Icon of the Seas. This $2 billion floating resort is largely booked until 2026.
Spanning nearly 1,200 feet, the cruise ship has 20 decks, which makes the Icon of the Seas the world's largest cruise ship.
It's a city at sea, accommodating up to 7,600 passengers in 2,805 staterooms and nearly 10,000 people, including the crew. The ship offers different experiences that include seven pools — one is the largest on any ship — the world's first onboard water park with six water slides, theaters, a casino and over 40 dining and drinking spots.
Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean's Chief Product Innovation Officer, says the cruise ship is more than just its amenities.
"It's really about iconic experiences," he said.
And despite its massive size, Schneider said the ship is designed to avoid feeling overcrowded.
"We have purposely designed the ship to give more space for people," he said. "We believe, even at 7,500 guests, it won't feel to you like your entire hometown has joined the ship," said Schneider.
Luxury comes at a price on the Icon. A weeklong Caribbean cruise costs about $3,500 for two people in an average stateroom. For those seeking more luxury, the Ultimate Family Townhouse – a three-story suite complete with touchscreen tables and a slide – can go for up to $100,000 per trip. The Royal Loft, aimed at high-rolling adults, offers two bedrooms, a private hot tub, and a spacious balcony starting at $40,000.
Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief at Cruise Critic, said that bigger ships benefit both passengers and cruise lines.
"It means more people can experience something. It means that there's a lot more amenities and activities onboard the cruise ship," McDaniel said. "The more people they can put on a cruise ship, of course, the better business they do, the more money they make."
Kevin Curran says the Icon took his breath away. Having followed the ship's construction for over a year, the Oregon resident said he's thrilled to be on its inaugural cruise from Miami.
"The more I watched the videos, the more I understood this was something special," he said.
Cruising is surging in popularity. Last year, passenger volume outpaced pre-pandemic numbers, and this year is expected to hit a new high of 36 million as spending on experiences has climbed 65% since 2019.
From the bridge, Captain Hendrik Loy is overseeing what amounts to a three-day test drive to the Bahamas.
"There is still fine-tuning that needs to take place," said Loy.
The Icon also champions environmental responsibility. It's powered by liquefied natural gas, treats its own waste, and produces its own water.
Kris Van Cleave is CBS News' senior transportation and national correspondent based in Phoenix.
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The World's Largest Cruise Ship Is Coming in January—Here's What It's Like Inside
By Jessica Puckett
The biggest thing to ever hit cruising is coming in January 2024, when Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas —which will be the largest cruise ship in the world —will debut to passengers for the first time.
With capacity for nearly 10,000 passengers and crew, Icon of the Seas is billed as part all-inclusive resort, part theme park, and a massive destination unto itself . Clocking in at 250,380 gross tons and measuring nearly a quarter mile long (1,198 feet to be exact), the vast ship will sport a total of 20 decks, 18 of which will be accessible to guests.
The ship will be divided into eight different “neighborhoods,” each with their own distinct atmospheres, dining options, and activities. “ Icon of the Seas is truly what we call a white paper ship,” Anna Drescher, manager of architectural design, new building and innovation for Royal Caribbean group, said in a video statement . “The reason that we call it that is we start with a blank sheet of sketch paper, so it truly is starting fresh.”
In June 2023, the ship hit a major milestone when it completed its first sea trials outside the shipyard in Turku, Finland. Next up is the colossal new ship’s first voyage, slated to depart on January 27, 2024. It will sail roundtrip from Miami to the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts, St. Thomas, and the Bahamas.
The ship's typical seven-day itineraries include three at-sea days, so passengers have time to fully enjoy the endless choices of amenities on board. “We want guests to walk up to the ship and just have this moment of: I can’t believe that’s where I’m going ,” said Jennifer Goswami, the line’s senior manager of product development.
Here's a look at the enormous scale of the new ship and what to expect on board.
When it begins sailing, the Icon of the Seas will offer a total of 2,805 staterooms that can hold 5,610 passengers at double occupancy, or a maximum of 7,600 guests. Passengers can choose from a whopping 28 different room types, including Sunset Suites with wraparound balconies and Family Infinite Balcony staterooms with bunkbeds fit for a family of up to six.
The largest suite on board will be the three-story, 1,772-square-foot “Ultimate Family Townhouse,” which comes with its own movie theater, ping-pong table, karaoke, and a slide between floors. It can sleep up to eight people and costs approximately $75,000 per week.
Among the eight "neighborhoods," or sections of the ship with distinct ambiance, are Central Park, which offers greenery and sidewalk cafes, and The Hideaway, which aims for a European beach club aesthetic. There's also The Suite Neighborhood, Surfside, Thrill Island, Chill Island, The Royal Promenade, and the Aquadome.
The ship's 2,350 crew members will also get their own neighborhood, complete with amenities like a gaming room and hair salon.
Another superlative for Icon will be sporting the largest waterpark at sea. The park, called Category 6, features six different record-breaking waterslides, including the tallest onboard waterslide. There will also be a free-fall slide, plus a raft-style slide for four passengers to ride together.
Crai S. Bower
Seven pools and nine whirlpools will be located throughout the ship, including the first infinity pool on a cruise ship to be suspended in the air. The Royal Bay pool, located on the 15th deck, will break the record for largest pool at sea, holding an astounding 40,000 gallons of water.
Across the towering vessel, there'll be more than 20 food venues and 15 bars and nightlife experiences, including a sweeping three-level main dining room.
Among the options for grabbing a drink will be the line's first onboard swim-up bar, a walk-up Champagne bar, and a bar specializing in coffee cocktails like espresso martinis.
On the entertainment front, Royal Caribbean has hired 75 performers to titillate guests across three cavernous theaters. The Absolute Zero ice arena will feature shows with Olympic-level skaters, while the AquaTheater will combine the talents of divers, robots, and skateboarders.
In the Royal Theater, a 16-piece orchestra (the largest one at sea), will accompany shows like the Wizard of Oz.
In smaller venues throughout the ship, like the dueling piano bar, 50 live musicians and comedians will perform each night, making it possible for every type of passenger to find something that fits their style.
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Biggest Cruise Ship Ever Passes First Round of Sea Trials
The biggest cruise ship ever built, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, completed a major construction milestone this week when the vessel passed its first round of sea trials.
Icon of the Seas hit the open ocean for the first time completing its first, crucial sea trials in Turku, Finland. The cruise ship is currently under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard.
More than 450 specialists ran four days of preliminary tests on the cruise ship’s technical areas, like the main engines, bow and propellers, and even noise and vibration levels. This is all in preparation for the second round of sea trials that will push Icon of the Seas to its limits later this year.
Icon of the Seas is the largest cruise ship ever built at over 250,000 gross tons, more than six times larger than the RMS Titanic.
Here is a look at what will be included on the world’s largest cruise ship:
Royal Caribbean is expected to take delivery of Icon of the Seas in late 2023. The cruise ship will make its debut on January 27, 2024, a seven night cruise to the Eastern Caribbean from Miami, Florida.
The cruise ship will offer weekly cruises from Miami to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.
View Cruise Itineraries and Prices on Icon of the Seas
Icon of the Seas is the first of three Icon class ships from Royal Caribbean, the world’s largest cruise line.
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Travel | travel: what it’s like to sail on the world’s largest cruise ship.
Haters gonna hate, as the expression goes, and did they ever on social media the instant Royal Caribbean International ( royalcaribbean.com ) announced plans to build not only the world’s largest cruise ship (again), but one that sails with nearly 10,000 people.
“Floating hellscape.” “Horror at sea.” “Impersonal.” “Monstrosity.” “Lumbering behemoth.” These internet-formed icebergs were meant to sink Icon of the Seas more than a year before anyone, including a boatload of vitriol-spewing critics, had not stepped even a single flip-flop on the 1,198-foot-long luxury liner.
Well, this veteran cruiser just did, and with dropped jaw now back in place, I can emphatically say that the hasty cyber cynics are all wet. Icon of the Seas is neither hellacious, horrendous, impersonal, monstrous nor lumbering. What it is, besides a multi-categorical record breaker five times the size of Titanic, is an engineering marvel that lives up to Royal Caribbean’s chest-beating claim of it being “the world’s best vacation” … albeit with an asterisk to be explained later.
Icon of the Seas is 250,800 gross tons of all-time highs, industry firsts and bar-raising features. From the largest water park at sea and first swim-up bar on a ship to the 28 different stateroom categories and most elaborate stage productions this 63-time cruiser has seen, each maritime milestone was mind blowing on a recent preview cruise of some 5,000 media and travel advisors. Considering how well things went ahead of Icon’s inaugural cruise — it sold out within 24 hours on Oct. 25, 2022 — smooth sailing can be expected, weather providing, when the ship hosts 7,600 paying passengers along with the standard number of 2,350 crew. The first at-capacity weeklong Caribbean voyages out of Miami aren’t expected until summer, according to Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean president and CEO; for now, the ship will sail at around 80% capacity, a typical ramp-up for new vessels.
That every new or enhanced feature appears to work well right out of the shipyard is as impressive as how easy the mega of all megaships is to navigate. Built with bi-level shortcuts, a two-story Royal Promenade with no dead ends, and smart elevators that use machine learning to whisk guests up and down 18 public decks, the new flagship abounds in intuitive innovation. Dividing the ship into eight “neighborhoods” aids guest flow, not unlike the role “lands” play at Disney theme parks. Spreading passengers out in neighborhoods debuted with Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class in 2009, and its new Icon class takes the concept to another level not only by making each area more distinctive, but by adding wow factor from bow to stern.
Icon of the Seas, like its two sister ships scheduled to launch in 2025 and 2026, is designed with five neighborhoods new to the fleet. The signature zone, if we have to choose just one, is AquaDome, named for the 363-ton apparatus made primarily of glass and steel. Here on decks 14 and 15 is a next-gen edition of the water and aerial show staged on Oasis-class ships, and it’s spectacular. The pulsating show, dubbed “Aqua Action!” makes the most of an amphitheater that is a marvel unto itself. Bringing the show indoors is better for the audience and cast, some of whom are asked to dive from 60-foot-high platforms or rhythmically perform while tethered overhead. Steps away are unique dining and drinking venues including AquaDome Market, the cruise line’s first food hall where the made-to-order gyros and dessert crepes are so worth the calories, but the mac and cheese bar isn’t … unless bland and watery is your thing.
Watery and anything but bland are the four other debuting neighborhoods. Thrill Island (decks 16-17) is home to such fleet mainstays as the FlowRider surf simulator and rock wall, and new adventures highlighted by Crown’s Edge that has plucky passengers literally walking the plank, and Category 6, an honest-to-goodness water park with a half-dozen adrenaline-pumping slides. Chill Island (decks 15-17) contains four of the ship’s seven pools in addition to the industry-first swim-up bar; Surfside (deck 7) is geared to young families; and The Hideaway (deck 15) is an adults-only escape with beach club vibes and paradisical views in and out of the first suspended infinity pool at sea.
The three neighborhoods carried over from Oasis ships are reimagined on Icon, and all for the better. The bougiest of the stateroom categories are within the Suite Neighborhood, topped by the 1,772-square-foot, three-story Ultimate Family Townhouse that sleeps eight. It’s got a multi-level slide, a wraparound balcony, whirlpool, areas for karaoke and watching movies, and even a patio with ping-pong. Bad news: It’s sold out through 2024. Good news: You have more time to come up with the $80,000. Better news: At press time, inside cabins (156 square feet) were going for as low as $1,200 double occupancy, plus taxes and fees, starting in March 2025. A couple Benjamins more get you a balcony.
Rounding out Icon’s eight sectors, Central Park on deck 8 has grown by 20% in terms of greenery over the most recent layout on Wonder of the Seas, now the second-largest ship in the world. Beautified with nearly 31,000 plants, this personal favorite spot is not only lusher on Icon, it’s livelier with the addition of Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues, a walk-up champagne bar and an inconspicuous shortcut to the bustling Royal Promenade neighborhood on decks 5 and 6. The 362-foot long, two-deck hub of activity keeps abuzz with 15 restaurants, bars and lounges, one being Dueling Pianos, the cruise line’s first double-pianist bar where two ivory-tickling musicians take requests each evening. Royal Caribbean, usually the industry pacesetter, is seven years behind Holland America Line with this concept — shocking, right? — but what is completely new on Icon’s vibrant Royal Promenade is The Pearl.
Talk about wow factor. Visible right off the main gangway for maximum shock and awe, The Pearl is three decks high, measures 50 feet in diameter, and is both an interactive artwork and integral part of the ship’s superstructure. This multi-sensory immersive feature boasts 3,600 kinetic panels that change color and mood to create a sense of water and light through reflective movement. The white steps inside the sphere connect the lower level of the Royal Promenade to the popular Pearl Café, a 24-hour eatery for sweet and savory bites (included) and specialty coffees (not included).
Icon has more than 40 other places to dine and drink, more than half being new to the fleet. The food that comes with no extra charge can be iffy on mainstream cruise ships, but what was served on the preview sail was quite good overall, and that includes the main dining room and Windjammer buffet. The most elevated dining experience on Icon is at the Empire Supper Club, where an eight-course meal comes with old New York ambiance, live music, exquisite cocktails and a $200 per person upcharge. The hot spot seats just 40 each night, so book early if you hunger for a Staten Island spritz, oysters Rockefeller, Wagyu ribeye and the gorgeous “Chocolate Beehive” made with actual honey from the Big Apple.
From New York City to the Emerald City, Icon features the first at-sea production of “The Wizard of Oz.” The plotline hasn’t been changed — there’s still no place like home for Dorothy — but leave it to Nick Weir, Royal Caribbean’s envelope-pushing entertainment czar, to come up with a fresh take that shows tremendous heart, brains and courage for 90 mesmerizing minutes. Weir’s penchant for pizzazz also dazzles with the new “Starburst: Elemental Beauty” ice show (on the largest rink afloat, of course) and the aforementioned Aqua Action! spectacular, which features the first-ever cast made up of high divers, aerialists, synchronized swimmers, skateboarders and robots.
Now, for that asterisk. Spacious as Icon of the Seas may feel across most of the ship, there’s a large population of cruisers who would never consider sailing with 1,000 people, let alone nearly 10,000. For them, “the world’s best vacation” is spent with as few others as possible. But for those who live by the mottos of “the more the merrier” and “bigger is better,” there’s a new wonder of the world sailing out of Miami these days, so climb aboard.
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