As I walked up to the Royal Caribbean cruise terminal in Miami to step onboard Icon of the Seas for its first-ever sailing, I didn’t know what to expect. I had read a lot about the world’s new largest cruise ship, but there were still a lot of unknowns about the 7,500-passenger, 20-deck, 250,800 gross-ton ship. After three days onboard—which is not enough time to see and do everything the ship offers—I can confidently say that Icon of the Seas is worth all the hype it’s been getting.
Right when I walked onto the ship I was greeted by one of the 2,350 crew members offering to take my photo with The Pearl, a stunning kinetic art installation inside the ship's Royal Promenade neighborhood. This is going to be a popular Instagram photo spot for sure.
Pro tip: Wait until later in the evening or even the following days to take your photo inside the Pearl. The space is crowded upon embarkation, but gets less busy throughout the sailing.
After exploring and eating my way through the ship, here are the things you won't want to miss on Icon of the Seas.
The Best Food and Drink on Icon of The Seas
With over 40 different dining and drinking options on Icon, I wasn’t able to get to all of them in three days, but I did try a lot of the items to figure out the best bites and sips. Here are the highlights:
Over at Rye & Bean in the AquaDome, there is an espresso martini on tap that’s excellent. Just be sure to ask for the cold foam on top for a fun twist on the classic cocktail.
I love milkshakes, so the aptly named Desserted milkshake bar was a must-do at Thrill Island. I tried the Stranded Burro, which is an over-the-top cinnamon sugar-flavored shake with a miniature piñata on top. Of course, adults can get this and all of the milkshakes as a boozy treat by adding a shot of liquor. The Stranded Burro can be made for adults with a shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.
Another fun option on Icon is waffle chicken nuggets from Basecamp at Thrill Island. The quick-service spot is dishing out chicken nuggets that are wrapped in sweet waffle batter and served with a side of maple syrup for dipping. The sweet and savory bites were the perfect snack after hitting the water slides.
I would also highly recommend the Bubbles, a walk-up Champagne bar tucked into the ship's Central Park neighborhood. After you’ve had your fill of Champagne, Central Park is also home to a sushi window called Izumi.
Exploring the 8 Neighborhoods of Icon of the Seas
Across the ship, there are eight distinct areas, called neighborhoods, that range from entertainment and dining zones to kid's play places and even an adults-only oasis. I found that the neighborhood concept helped me easily navigate the huge ship and remember what dining or activities were where.
This forward-facing neighborhood is home to the AquaTheater where diving and acrobatic shows take place in the evening. There are also two bars, a specialty dining restaurant called Hooked, and Royal Caribbean’s first food hall concept called AquaDome Market where I enjoyed sweet crepes filled with strawberries and Nutella. While the AquaAction show wasn't completely ready for prime time the sneak peek that I got proved that the show would be worth getting to the theater early for. From diving and synchronized dancing to areal acrobatics and robotics, this show really has it all.
Central Park is my favorite neighborhood because it’s home to thousands of live plants, a sushi window, and a Champagne window. This is a great spot to chill out and enjoy the breeze without having to be up on one of the upper pool decks since it’s open to the sky. I also loved getting to enjoy the jazz bar, where nightly performances wowed the audience.
This quiet spot is home to four of the seven pools onboard and has plenty of deck chairs for everyone. Here, Royal Caribbean’s first swim-up bar, Swim and Tonic dishes out tropical drinks to those cooling off in the water. I found myself walking through this area more than actually enjoying it, but on a longer seven-night cruise I'm sure I would find one of the shaded loungers worthy of taking a break from the bustle of some of the busier neighborhoods.
The Royal Promenade is the place to be once the sun goes down since it’s lined with bars with live music, including a dueling pianos bar, a comedy club, and direct entrance to see entertainment inside the Royal Theater. Be sure to get reservations for The Wizard of Oz, which is the premier show in the theater. This was one of the best shows I’ve seen on a cruise ship ever, and it featured special effects that are really pushing what a cruise ship show can be.
The Surfside neighborhood is designed for young families, with kids splash pads and a small water park, eateries that cater to youngsters, and the Lemon Post bar with “mommy and me” style drinks where kids won’t feel left out by not having something fun to sip on just for them. I tried the Pink Mermaid, a fun non-alcoholic drink that’s bright Barbie pink thanks to the dragon fruit syrup. It's also served in a pseudo-Capri Sun-style bag so you can take it and walk with it and not have the fear of spilling a drink all over.
There’s an exclusive neighborhood just for suite guests where a private pool, bar, and Mediterranean-inspired restaurant called Coastal Kitchen. Since I wasn't a suite guest, I didn't spend much time here.
Adults looking for a spot of their own will want to head to The Hideaway, an adults-only retreat with the first suspended infinity pool at sea and a bar that overlooks the wake of the ship. Hideaway Bar is home to the Bae at the Beach cocktail, which infuses the flavors of grapefruit and lemon into a light and refreshing poolside drink. This was my favorite neighborhood to hang out at throughout the sailing. After spending time at Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal's private island, I plopped down in the infinity pool with a drink in hand to take in the view of the island and the transparent lack of people in the usually bustling neighborhood.
Thrill Island is home to some of the biggest water slides at sea at Category 6 Water Park. Here, I also tested out my courage on Crown’s Edge, which is part obstacle course, park ropes course, and part zip line that has you dangling out 17 stories over the open ocean off the side of the ship.
Overall Impressions of Icon of the Seas
Over just three nights, I feel like I got a sense of what Icon of the Seas is all about. It’s a great ship for multi-generational families since there’s so much to see and do for every age or interest. The cheapest cruise on Icon of the Seas currently starts at $1,723 per person based on double occupancy in January 2026. Cruises in 2024 average closer to $3,500 per person based on double occupancy.
The entertainment onboard pushes boundaries with new technology and incredible performers, ranging from powerhouse singers and high-divers to talented pianists and graceful ice skaters. I loved the cocktails and zero-proof mocktails onboard, which varied from venue to venue. And even though I didn’t get to dine at every single restaurant—there are more than 20—the food I did try was delicious and would keep me and my family happy for seven nights.
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