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What you DIDN'T know about Royal Caribbeans newest ship: ICON OF THE SEAS

Icon of the Seas docked in St. Skitts @livingadventurestravelagency

As we approached the port, we anxiously waited in our Lyft for the drawbridge to lower so that we

could continue toward the ship. Our excitement was growing rapidly knowing we were just a few

minutes from seeing the massive engineering marvel up close that we were lucky enough to call home

for 7 days. Finally, we rounded the last curve, and we caught a glimpse of Icon of the Seas, sharing gasps

and smiles before parking to drop our luggage off.

Icon of the Seas in Miami Cruise Port @livingadventurestravelagency

After a quick and painless check-in at the terminal, we soon stepped foot on the beautiful vessel

welcomed by friendly smiles and champagne. The 3-story glistening engineering marvel, “The Pearl” and

the massive Promenade that greeted us provided “WOW” moments that need to be experienced in

person. We quickly realized that this ship was not just another cruise ship, but an evolution of many

thoughts, ideas, and years in the making. Exploring something new on the ship every day kept the magic

fresh, but there were definitely spots on the ship that drew our attention and kept us coming back.

Face painting in surfside featuring the custom carousel @livingadventurestravelagency

Surfside: This neighborhood on the aft of the ship was designed for families, and it surely

delivered. Splashaway Bay was a hit for our 5 year-old, with plenty of water features and even a deeper

pool overlooking the wake, the best view on the ship in our opinion. There was also Lemon Post,

featuring fun and tasty drinks for both the parents and the kids. All of these activities work up an

appetite, but you won’t have to go far to find a complimentary bite to eat. Surfside Eatery, a smaller

version of the Windjammer buffet that offers something for everyone and Surfside Bites, with delicious

churros and finger foods are located here. It definitely helped that our Surfside balcony room

overlooked the fun, imaginative neighborhood as it was easy to catch the closest elevator and head

down for a few hours of fun. Adventure Ocean is also strategically positioned right next to the Surfside

entrance, as opposed other ships that place Adventure Ocean at the front of the ship. This made it easy

to drop off and pick up the kids from their favorite kids club in the world in between meals and

activities. This Adventure Ocean groups kids 3-5 and 6-12, but there were many activities for our kiddos

to choose from and the staff was amazing as always. There was even a cute 3-D puppet show in the

theater that should not be missed!

Seating area in Chill Island next to Aquadome Market @livingadventurestravelagency

Hideaway/Chill Island: We mentioned the fun pool in Surfside for the younger kids, but our 10

year-old loved the variety of pools to be found and enjoyed spread out across the top decks. This is one

of the biggest gamechangers in the Icon class. Ships of the past featured pools in the middle or front of

the ships, but on Icon there are numerous pools scattered all over, each with its own vibe and most of

them with a beautiful outward-facing view with sweeping view of the ocean passing by. Royal Bay is the

largest pool at sea, ideal for families with kids of all ages or adults that just want to lounge on the

outskirts where only your feet are submerged with a margarita in hand. El Loco Fresh, the delicious

Mexican buffet will be waiting when you are ready for some tacos, loaded nachos or whatever your

stomach desires. There’s Swim & Tonic, the first Swim-up bar at sea destined to be a hit for those with the drink package. It has a refreshing menu and many seating options in the water to mingle and cool

off while you sip on your favorite drink. Cloud 17, originally designed for adults only features a small but

deeper pool facing the ocean and is positioned next to Lime & Coconut, where you can enjoy their

signature drink poured into a souvenir bucket. This pool is worth checking out for a quieter vibe and

beautiful sunsets. There is also a pool in the Suite neighborhood, which we were not fortunate enough

to experience for ourselves. The adults only section was relocated to the Hideaway, a neighborhood on

the back of the ship that features a DJ, hot tubs, Hideaway bar and the first ever suspended infinity pool

at sea with beautiful views of the ship’s wake almost 20 decks above the ocean. Depending on the time

of day, this area can either be a party or a nice place to watch the ship’s wake as you drink a Mai Tai.

This leaves us with our personal favorite, the Cove Pool. This pool is a sleeper, at it’s tucked away from

the crowds and has beautiful views of the ocean and enough room for the kids to swim around. It also

has loungers lining the shallow edges, allowing you to relax while also keeping an eye on the kids living

their best life.

Thrill Island at night @livingadventurestravelagency

Thrill Island: When you see Icon of the Seas advertised or pictured, this neighborhood is sure to

be featured. Crown’s Edge is for the adventurous, equipping you with a harness and suspending you 150

feet above the ocean after a short obstacle course leads you to a spot where the floor drops out and you

zipline to safety. It was originally $90 and comes with a recording of your experience, but on Day 1 they

opened up more time slots and cut the price to $39 on port days or $49 on sea days. Basecamp is

nearby with a mix of complimentary and low-cost snacks, a bar and Desserted, an over-the-top

milkshake bar including a $20 milkshake with a small piñata donkey on top that my daughter just had to

try. There is also Lost Dunes, a neat mini golf course themed with wreckage caused by a hurricane.

“Category 6” waterpark should satisfy anyone above 48” tall. With 6 record breaking waterslides, it

became a challenge to try them all that I felt the need to conquer. Some of us were more reluctant and

waited until Day 6, but we all experienced what each slide had to offer and have no regrets! It’s hard to

decide which was my favorite, as they each had their own features and were unique in their own way.

The raft slides are definitely a win for families of 3 or 4, with Storm Surge and Hurricane Hunter. I don’t

want to spoil the surprises found inside, but make sure you check them out when heading to Thrill

Island. Pressure Drop and Frightening Bolt are definitely on the more extreme side and will quickly raise

your heartbeat as you plummet into the unknown. I was worried that these slides would be rough on my

back, but thankfully this was not the case, and I really enjoyed the thrill of riding these. The longest mat

racers at sea are surprisingly fun, with mesmerizing lights and a quick view of the ocean as you zoom

around the curves before splashing down at the end. Make sure you cover your face with the mat

toward the end, or you’ll end up spitting water out at the end like my wife!

Aquadome @livingadventurestravelagency

Aquadome: This new neighborhood just might be my favorite, and if you end up on Icon you’ll

see why. Amazing aerial aqua shows, a food market and a coffee cocktail bar were just some of my

favorites in this massive glass dome at the front of the ship. You’ll also find the Overlook, a quiet place

to hang out at night with it’s own bar and overlook “pods” that have charging stations and are

individually air conditioned. Sometimes it felt a little out of the way since most of our activities seemed

to be on the aft of the ship, but it was well worth it most of the time to enjoy some delicious crépes!

Chill Island play area, drinks from Lemon Post bar in Surfside, smart stateroom features @livingadventurestravelagency

PROS: There are too many good things to say about this ship to keep prevent becoming a novel,

but the highlights for us listed above in addition to these make this ship a 10 out of 10 for all of us:

  •  Plenty of new complimentary dining options, many creative crafted cocktails

and more quick-bite options.

  •  Destination elevators, escalators, abundance of venues and activities to spread

guests out, and the ability to get around the ship made the seamless flow of

guests make the ship feel much less crowded

  • The shows are amazing and cannot be missed. Wizard of Oz was spectacular and the features and technology were top notch. Since we were on the first voyage, one aqua show “Pirates and Mermaids” wasn’t ready yet and parts of the other shows weren’t fully operational. In the future, we’d love to sail on Icon again to get the full experience. You’ll never get bored with all of the activities, shows, music and venues to check out.

  •  Smart staterooms: Control the lights, tv and A/C with your Royal app. The ship

also has many energy saving features, including turning off your A/C with the

balcony open or when you depart the ship. Don’t worry, it will turn back on as

soon as you board the ship so the room is set to a comfortable temperature

when you get back!

Admiral Awesome during a gameshow at Surfside @livingadventurestravelagency

  •  “Admiral Awesome” was a fun addition to Surfside and led some of the activities

for the kids including bedtime stories, games, steel pan jams and dancing.

  •  If love engineering and the environment, this class of ship is for you. This ship

runs on Liquid Natural Gas, which burns much cleaner than Diesel fuel and

won’t emit dark exhaust like ships previously. It also has a “bubbler” system

under the hull and a redesigned parabolic bow, helping it glide through the

water and reduce friction. It also features advanced wastewater and trash

treatment that even help the ship turn waste into energy.

CONS: Not everything can be perfect, and hopefully these improve on or get redesigned as the

new Icon ships roll out or even in future dry-dock maintenance for Icon:

  •  Sometimes it felt like there weren’t enough bathrooms, especially in the

Hideaway and Surfside. There were only two or three family bathrooms, which

often left people waiting (hopefully) to use the bathroom after getting out of

the pool.

  •  My son met the height and weight requirements for Crown’s Edge, but he was

turned away due to the harness not fitting properly. I definitely understand

safety is imperative for this attraction, but the lack of variety of harnesses was

definitely disappointing after hyping it up for him leading up to the cruise.

  •  The price makes it unavailable for most families. We were lucky enough to book

it the morning bookings open and secure a decent price, but as long as people

keep paying the inflated prices for the new ship it will make it hard for most

people to experience Icon anytime soon. These prices are highlighted by the

$70-80,000 per week Ultimate Family Townhouse.

Menu from Desserted Milkshake Bar @livingadvenurestravelagency

  •  Some of the food quality wasn’t the best. The milkshake quality from Desserted

did not live up to the price tag (and not eligible through any drink package, dining plan, or vouchers) and some of the complimentary offerings in

Surfside and Basecamp could use some work. GNGR in the Aquadome

Marketplace was mostly disappointing, but the egg rolls and noodles were tasty.

  •  Ships of this size with this much to see and do can be exhausting, so bring your

walking shoes! For someone like me that likes to see and do it all, I easily surpassed 20,000 steps almost every day. But for people with limited mobility or trouble walking long distances, it may be harder to enjoy all of the ship than others.

  •  Limited itineraries: One of the major drawbacks to these massive ships is that

they are literally too big to fit in many of the ports, so if you become avid

cruisers like us you will eventually find yourself sailing to the same destinations. However, there may be a smaller class on the horizon that offers more options so stay tuned!

Overall, ICON OF THE SEAS is an amazing ship and Royal Caribbean truly has cornered the market on the ultimate family vacation. There is something for everyone onboard and the cruise itself is a vacation- with destinations and ports of call being a BONUS.

Ready to book? Contact Living Adventures Travel Agency for your quote and experience this amazing ship yourself. LIVE YOUR ADVENTURES.

Photography: Living Adventures Travel Agency

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