Sky-high demand for new world’s largest cruise ship leads to record bookings at Royal Caribbean

It looks like Royal Caribbean has a winner on its hands.

As we reported earlier this week, the first sailing of the line’s soon-to-debut Icon of the Seas — the world’s largest cruise ship — sold out within hours of opening for bookings on Monday. And now Royal Caribbean is saying the opening of bookings for the ship also drove total bookings across the line’s fleet this week to the highest level in 53-year history.

The line told TPG on Thursday that the company set an all-time, single-day booking record in the 24 hours after Icon of the Seas itineraries became available to book on the line’s website.

The much-awaited new ship, which is set to debut in January 2024, opened for bookings for the first time on Monday to members of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society. The general public could book starting Tuesday morning.

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“The enthusiasm and excitement for Icon are undeniable in more ways than one,” Royal Caribbean president and CEO Michael Bayley said in a statement sent to TPG. “The incredible response we have received from our loyal guests, vacationers new to cruising, crew members and travel partners continues to come in.”

The frenzy to book Icon of the Seas is perhaps to be expected, given that the ship will be the first of an all-new series of vessels at Royal Caribbean. This is the line’s first new series since the debut of its smaller Quantum class ships a decade ago.

Icon of the Seas also will break new ground in cruising on several levels.

Related: Icon of the Seas will set new size records

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Icon of the Seas will have lots of family-friendly attractions. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

At 250,600 tons, Icon of the Seas will be more than 6% larger than the current size leader among cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s 7-month-old Wonder of the Seas. It’ll also be able to hold up to 7,600 passengers — a new record for a passenger ship.

The bigger passenger capacity is in part due to the ship’s greater focus on family travelers. Notably, Icon of the Seas will have many more cabins that have plenty of extra bunks to accommodate families with many children. It’ll also have more amenities geared toward families, including a new-for-the-line outdoor “neighborhood” called Surfside dedicated to families with young children.

Related: Icon of the Seas will cater to families

As announced last week, Surfside will feature 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 drinks (mocktails for kids and cocktails for grownups).

An artist’s drawing of a balcony cabin on Icon of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

Icon of the Seas will also feature the largest water park ever built on a cruise ship, with a record six decktop waterslides.

In all, the ship will include eight neighborhoods — what Royal Caribbean calls the distinct areas of its bigger ships themed around specific activities. Five will be new to Icon and three will return from the line’s last series of giant ships, the five-vessel Oasis class. The current size leader in the cruise world, Wonder of the Seas, is part of the Oasis class.

As previously announced, the first sailings of Icon of the Seas will be seven-night voyages to the Caribbean out of Miami, starting on Jan. 27, 2024. The ship will alternate between Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean itineraries.

Related: The 6 types of Royal Caribbean ships, explained

On Monday, Royal Caribbean opened all of the ship’s departures through April 2025 to bookings.

It is currently under construction at the giant Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland. Icon of the Seas was ordered before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic brought a downturn in cruise bookings. It has been under construction since June 2021.

The ship 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.

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