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Royal Caribbean Shares News on World's Next Biggest Cruise Ship

The cruise line has said very little about Icon of the Seas, the first ship in the new Icon Class, but a new video reveals all sorts of details.

Royal Caribbean International (RCL) has traded the "world's biggest cruise ship" title between its Oasis-class ships, Most recently, Wonder of the Seas claimed the crown from its sister ship, Symphony of the Seas.

There's not all that much difference between Wonder of the Seas and Symphonies with the bigger "sister" coming in at 1,188-foot-long, 210-foot-wide weighing 236,857 gross tons while its predecessor comes in wider at 215 feet wide and the same length  1,188 feet long, but weighing a svelte 228,081 gross tons.

Both ships are actually strikingly similar with the biggest differences being cosmetic (Wonder of the Seas was designed to sail out of China) and Wonder offering the cruise line's new Mason Jar, a southern restaurant and bar.

Icon of the Seas, however is going to be different. It's not a tweak to the Oasis-class design, it's a grounds-up complete new build. A number of Royal Caribbean executives and people involved with building the new ship shared the first real info on Icon of the Seas in a video released by Royal Caribbean.

Wonder of the Seas Lead JS

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas Has a Mystery

"Icon is truly the best of everything Royal Caribbean has built up over the past 50 years," said Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley in the video, which is the first in a series on the new ship.

The video shows the ship being built as well the mysterious "sphere" that has led to a lot of speculation. Bayley has fueled that speculation by sharing "Hmmmmm what could this iconic thing be?" along with a link to images of the object posted on Royal Caribbean Blog (which is not affiliated with the cruise line).

While there are images of the "sphere" in the new video, that mystery is not answered.

What We Now Know About Icon of the Seas

"We really looked at how can we bring the best of all experiences and vacation types into one place," Yael Steinhart, the cruise line's innovation director, said. "So think about city getaways, beach retreats, all-inclusive resorts, and amusement parks. You have to dream as big as you can."

Work on designing the ship began more than five years ago, essentially with a blank piece of paper. The design for Icon of the Seas will include many familiar features, but it will also feature an evolution of familiar Royal Caribbean features based on customer feedback.

One thing the ship will be doing is connecting passengers to one key thing.

"Icon really is about bringing our guests back to what surrounds them when they're on a cruise, which is the ocean," senior producer owner Jay Rosser said. "In every way that the guests interact with the ship, there's always a connectivity back to the water."

That will likely translate into more areas onboard where passengers can see the ocean (something that's not always easy to do on an Oasis-class ship).

Royal Caribbean also addressed adding "adrenanline-pumping thrills" to Icon of the Seas. That may be a direct response to rival Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) beating it to the punch with Bolt, the first rollercoaster on a cruise ship, on its current flagship Carnival Mardi Gras and the upcoming Carnival Celebration.

"As we started seeing more and more excitement for a lot of our thrilling experiences, we said, How can we take that to the next level? How can we offer something that is really for the bold, for the brave, for the fearless and experience something that they've never been able to do anywhere else," said product owner Emily Rodriguez.

Royal Caribbean has everything from zip lines to water slides and a skydiving simulator on various ships in its fleet.

The cruise line also wants Icon of the Seas to lean into its family-friendly reputation.

"One of the things that stands out to me the most about the insights that we've received from our guests is that bonding with family, friends, or whoever you're traveling with always comes to the top," said Associate Vice President of Product Development Claudia Diaz-Gonzalez.

In addition, Royal Caribbean made it clear that the new ship would offer "a celebration of food and beverage."

"The food is diverse so you can try things you've never tried before, you can try things you love. It can be a little bit of a spin," said Product Development Vice President Tim Klauda. "You can get access to that food in ways we have never done before."

Icon of the Seas is expected to set sail with passengers in fall 2023.