Are you eyeing a cruise on Royal Caribbean‘s Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship? Get ready to pay a hefty premium.
With demand for the much-awaited new vessel through the roof, initial Icon of the Seas sailings are selling at fares that are more than 50% higher in some cases than other Royal Caribbean ships on similar itineraries.
As of Tuesday, for instance, seven-night Icon of the Seas voyages to the Eastern Caribbean out of Miami in February 2024 — the ship’s first full month in operation — were priced starting at $1,259 per person. By comparison, similar seven-night Eastern Caribbean sailings out of Miami on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas for the same month are available starting at just $728 per person.
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In other words, you’ll pay a 72% premium to sail on Icon of the Seas.
The starting fares listed above are for the least-expensive, windowless interior cabins on the ships. But it’s not just entry-level cabins that cost significantly more on Icon of the Seas. There’s a sharp differential in pricing for higher-level cabins on the two ships, too.
As of Tuesday, balcony cabins on Icon of the Seas sailings to the Eastern Caribbean in February 2024 started at $1,658, compared with $908 for similar cabins on Oasis of the Seas sailings for the same month.
That works out to an 83% premium for a balcony cabin on Icon of the Seas.
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The two Caribbean itineraries are roughly the same, with both starting in Miami and offering several sea days plus a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas.
The Icon of the Seas itinerary offers additional stops at St. Thomas and either St. Kitts or St. Maarten (the Dutch side of the island of St. Martin). The Oasis of the Seas itinerary offers additional stops at Labadee, Haiti, and either St. Thomas or Falmouth, Jamaica, with some departures also including an additional stop at Nassau in the Bahamas.
The sky-high pricing for Icon of the Seas is a sign of just how much excitement among cruising fans there is for the ship — the first in a new series of vessels at Royal Caribbean that will be bigger than anything seen before in the cruise world and have more amenities than most other cruise ships.
Cruise executives at Royal Caribbean and other major lines have long said many cruising fans are most drawn to the biggest cruise vessels that have the most restaurants, bars, showrooms and decktop attractions.
Pricing driven by supply and demand
Royal Caribbean sets and adjusts pricing for specific ships and itineraries based on supply and demand, resulting in sometimes sharp differentials between vessels sailing in the same parts of the world.
The starting fares for the Icon of the Seas sailings in February 2024, for instance, also are significantly higher than the fares for similar Royal Caribean voyages to the Caribbean that month out of Port Canaveral, Florida, and Galveston, Texas, on the line’s Wonder of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas, respectively.
However, you’ll only pay a 36% premium for the Icon of the Seas sailings as compared to the voyages out of Port Canaveral. By contrast, you’ll pay an enormous 134% premium as compared to the sailings out of Galveston.
As of Tuesday, sailings out of Port Canaveral and Galveston started at $928 and $538, respectively.
The differential in Icon of the Seas pricing continues beyond February 2024. Seven-night Icon of the Seas sailings to the Eastern Caribbean in April 2024, for instance, start at $1,128 — 59% more than similar sailings on Oasis of the Seas.
The pricing differential for Icon of the Seas as compared to other Royal Caribbean ships beyond April 2024 cannot be calculated yet as Royal Caribbean hasn’t opened bookings on other vessels in the Caribbean beyond that month.
Last week Royal Caribbean opened bookings for sailings for Icon of the Seas through April 2025.
The differential in Icon of the Seas pricing, notably, is even bigger when the vessel is compared to the ships of Royal Caribbean rivals sailing out of Miami. Seven-night Eastern Caribbean sailings out of Miami in February 2024 on MSC Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line ships start at $449, $579 and $659, respectively.
That means that you’ll pay about 174%, 117% and 91% more, respectively, to sail on a seven-night voyage on Icon of the Seas out of Miami in February 2024 than you would on ships operated by those three lines.
The new giant of the seas
Cruising fans are particularly excited about the arrival of Icon of the Seas in 2024 as it will mark the first time a cruise line has launched a new class of ship that will eclipse all others in size and amenities in 15 years. The last time that happened was in 2009 when Royal Caribbean unveiled its much-ballyhooed Oasis class.
Ranging from 226,838 to 235,600 tons, the five ships of the Oasis class are the current size leaders in the cruise world, with even the smallest among them being nearly 10% bigger and more amenity-packed than any other cruise vessel afloat.
Each of the Oasis-class ships offers dozens of restaurants, bars, lounges and decktop attractions, making them the biggest resorts in the world that float.
At 250,600 tons, Icon of the Seas will be more than 6% bigger than the biggest of the Oasis-class ships, the 7-month-old Wonder of the Seas. It’ll be able to hold up to 7,600 passengers — a new record for a passenger ship. That’s about 7% higher than Wonder of the Seas’ maximum capacity of 7,084 passengers.
The bigger passenger capacity is in part due to the ship’s greater focus on family travelers. Icon of the Seas is being built with a lot more cabins that have plenty of extra bunks to accommodate families with many children. It’ll also have more amenities geared to families, including a new-for-the-line outdoor “neighborhood” called Surfside dedicated to families with young children.
As announced earlier this month, 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 mocktails for kids and cocktails for grownups.
Icon of the Seas will also feature the largest water park ever built on a cruise ship, with a record six decktop waterslides.
Icon of the Seas 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. The line also has one more Oasis-class ship on order for delivery in 2024.
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