Skip to content Skip to footer

The Pleasures and Pain of Earth’s Largest Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Icon of the Seas, is a floating list of superlatives: biggest cruise ship ever. Biggest swim-up bar on a cruise ship ever. It is the first ship ever to have a suspended infinity pool, the first ship ever to have six waterslides, and the first ship to have a 16-piece live orchestra, in its production of The Wizard of Oz. That’s the biggest live orchestra at sea ever.

First this, biggest that, the list goes on. With all of the hoopla surrounding this record-breaking sea vessel, there are also critics who recoil at the sight of a mammoth ship like this. Observe deck after bulging deck towering precariously over the ocean, with multicolored neon water slides piled atop it all like innards of an eviscerated sea monster, and imagine the thousands of sunburned passengers crammed on board with screaming kids in tow, fighting with strangers about who is hogging the pool chairs. The bigger the ship, the more people there are on board, and the more claustrophobic it gets out there on the ocean. 

In the world of cruise ships, is bigger really better?

According to Royal Caribbean, Icon can sail with 5,610 passengers, but don’t be fooled by that number. It’s based on double occupancy, when each cabin carries only two guests. In reality, parents will share a cabin with their children, and groups of friends share cabins together. Icon of the Seas is actually equipped to hold passengers more in the range of 7,600. When combined with the 2,300 crew members, that adds up to almost 10,000 people onboard. 

Icon of the Seas:
Passengers: 5,610 (double occupancy)
Crew: 2,350
Decks: 18 guest decks, 2 crew decks
Inaugural voyage: January 2024
Size: 250,800 gross tons, 1198 feet/ 365 meters long, 213 feet/ 65 meters wide
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h)
Booking: 866/562-7625;