Icon of the Seas Sneak Peek
Part 1: The Eight Neighborhoods
I’m guessing by now you’ve heard of Icon of the Seas, the newest (and the world’s largest) cruise ship from Royal Caribbean? We’ve seen teasers of it on every media marketing application (tv, radio, social), so we weren’t surprised that when we visited the Cayman Islands after our 3-day sneak preview last week, everyone was talking about it.
As guests on the very first preview voyage – not as employees but as genuine passengers – we embarked on a three-night sneak peek and can’t wait to share all the amazing things we experienced in this short time. Because there was so much to do and see, I’ll be sharing everything Icon in a series of emails and blog posts, so stay tuned!
We’ll start with the eight (yes eight!) distinct neighborhoods on and around the ship, each tailored for unique experiences:
I was pretty concerned about getting through everything on Icon in three nights, but was pleasantly surprised by how much we got to see and how easy it was to navigate. While we didn’t get to see and do everything on the ship (it would be nearly impossible to do it all, even in a full week!), we did walk through and experience something in each neighborhood. It is a very intuitive, simply amazing ship.
The Royal Promenade: A Bright and Airy Transformation
Traditionally, the embarkation experience (especially on Royal Caribbean) has you starting in a dark and busy promenade area that feels almost like an indoor mall. Icon of the Seas breaks this mold with the bright, airy, and light-filled Royal Promenade. The ship achieves this by expanding at deck five, with a visually striking design that enhances the overall energy on board: the Pearl. A massive round structure, it not only serves as a centerpiece and stunning artistic element that changes colors, it also contributes to the ship’s structural integrity. Spread across two stories, The Royal Promenade has windows and lots of light, features dining venues past Royal Caribbean Cruisers would recognize as well as logo shopping, and has a lively, street-like atmosphere, which draws passengers out into the vibrant space.
The Suite Neighborhood: Comfortable Accommodations for Everyone
The Icon of the Seas was most definitely designed with families in mind, and the exclusive Suite Neighborhood is no exception. With different amenities based on suite categories, we stayed in one of the more family-friendly suite: a Surfside Family Suite. This granted us access to the whole Suite Neighborhood, not just our area, so we explored and enjoyed The Grove, a new covered area with a grab and go restaurant and full bar; there was also a hot tub and a pool. Most cruise ships’ club levels only have a hot tub, so that was impressive. The expansive deck space with plenty of loungers in this two-story neighborhood provide a peaceful and well-appointed area for families to unwind.
Chill Island: A Central Place to Relax in the Water
Occupying a good bit of the ship’s midsection, this three-story neighborhood with different bars on every story offers some truly unique swimming experiences. Bay Pool, the largest pool ever created for a cruise ship, features elevated whirlpools and in-water loungers. Then you have the Swim and Tonic swim-up bar, the first of its kind on board a ship, with its own dedicated area and more hot tubs. Finally, you’ll find the signature Lime & Coconut, their biggest ever, with live DJ’s and frozen cocktails. You will not want to miss out on this fun in the sun.
Thrill Island: Exhilarating Amusements for Everyone
Towards the back of the boat, you’ll find much more than your standard cruise ship pastimes. Everything is bigger and better on the Icon of the Seas, and there’s something for every adventurer here. The on-board water park offers six exhilarating high level water slides (one where the floor drops out beneath you), the Flow Rider surf simulator, miniature golf, Crown’s Edge ropes course that swings you out 150 feet over the water, and Base Camp – a dining venue offering a mix of complimentary and specialty options. Great for families since it offers activities for all ages and physical abilities, you’ll find delicious food to keep you going, like smash burgers, chicken sandwiches, pretzel bites and tater tots.
The Hideaway: An Adult-Only Space with Spectacular Views
As you pass through Thrill Island, you’ll find this adult-only space at the back of the ship, complete with a DJ playing upbeat music by the bar, which creates a kind of beach club or Las Vegas pool vibe. Not exactly the “quiet” adult area, The Hideaway features a suspended pool with breathtaking ocean views and lots of nooks and crannies to relax, as well as tons of space with loungers and chairs. This neighborhood, along with Chill and Thrill Island, has a counterpart on Perfect Day Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island; we’ll share more on that later in our series.
AquaDome: Unveiling the Dome
Positioned at the front of the ship, AquaDome outdid our expectations with its open-air design covered by a modern dome, with the largest waterfall at sea. The all-glass Overlook gives you tons of light, so you look out the front of the ship, lush with greenery, almost like they took Central Park and brought it inside. Easily my favorite spot on the ship, there are tons of couches and chairs, making it a great spot to grab a book and read or to do some quiet work on your computer. It is indoors, so it’s climate-controlled – just a beautiful spot. This unique space houses the Aqua Theater where we saw one of the first shows, as well as the Dome Marketplace, with diverse culinary options like crepes, Asian cuisine, sandwiches, salads, and a mac & cheese bar. You also have Rye and Bean, a dual coffee and cocktail bar, Hooked Seafood specialty dining, and Royal Bling – a store dedicated to logo jewelry.
Central Park: A Green Oasis
Usually a favorite of ours on any Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Central Park is an outdoor oasis with lush greenery that offers an immersive experience akin to strolling through a park. You can even hear the sound of birds chirping! With bars, restaurants, and shopping, it’s also traditionally been a great place to quietly work. Of course, Icon of the Seas has upgraded Central Park as well! There is definitely more foliage and a dedicated staff working on it; I get up early morning to walk the ship and would see them in there, tending to the plants. They’ve also added a Japanese hibachi and sushi bar with a walk-up sushi window in a a beautiful spot, as well as a jazz club with music flowing into the walkways at night and a walk up bar for a glass of champagne while you stroll. There are some standard offerings like Chops and the Trellis Bar, and they’ve added the Empire Supper Club just outside where you can enjoy a lavish eight-course meal and live music in an intimate setting.
Surfside: A Haven for Families
Occupying the space once known as The Boardwalk on Oasis-class ships, Surfside is in this unique area that has access for all the little kids and young families. This area features a large water playground geared toward smaller kids with a splash pad, smaller waterslides, a carousel, face painting, arcades, sports areas, and a DJ for added entertainment. Restaurants and bars make it easy for parents to grab something to eat or drink while the kids are playing nearby and not miss a beat. Easy access to Playmakers (the sports bar) and the ice rink make it an ideal spot for families; thoughtfully designed, Surfside most definitely has enough to keep kids of all ages busy!
So there you have it, my introduction to Icon of the Seas’ eight neighborhoods! We’ve only scratched the surface, and I’ll be going deeper into all that Icon of the Seas has to offer. Stay tuned for a more in-depth exploration of everything available on this amazing ship!
Ready to start exploring the Icon of the Seas? Contact us here and we’ll get started on your iconic adventure.
The Curated Travel Collection
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