Royal Caribbean continues to grow with even larger cruise ships, and now that Icon of the Seas is part of the fleet, many will wonder how the giant vessel compares with the second largest in the fleet. That’s why we’re taking you on a wow factor with Icon of the Seas vs Wonder of the Seas!
Wonder of the Seas made headlines when it debuted just a few years ago as the largest cruise ship in the world. However, as Royal Caribbean frequently does, the cruise line has something even bigger and better to follow Wonder of the Seas, in 2024.
Icon of the Seas sets sail for the first time this year and it’s been long-awaited as not only the next, biggest cruise ship in Royal Caribbean International’s fleet, but in the world. It’s also one of the line’s (and world’s) most extravagant and impressive cruise ships to date. Seemingly endless entertainment and dining options await cruisers who snag a spot on this ship in the coming months.
However, while both Wonder of the Seas and Icon of the Seas are impressive, new and overall mammoth, there are differences between the two ships — differences that may sway you to book a cruise on one over the other.
Wonder of the Seas is, of course, an Oasis-class ship, while Icon of the Seas introduces a new class of ships for Royal Caribbean, the Icon class, and that’s just where the differences start.
So, what can you expect and which should you book? Here’s everything to know about Icon of the Seas vs Wonder of the Seas.
Is Icon of the Seas Larger Than Wonder of the Seas?
As mentioned, while Wonder of the Seas is big in every sense, Icon of the Seas surpasses it, as the latest and greatest biggest cruise ship in the world at two decks higher, 10 feet longer, and 69 more staterooms. Here’s how the two measure up.
StatsIcon of the SeasWonder of the SeasGross Tonnage250,800235,600Length1,1981,188Passenger Decks1816Maximum Passenger Capacity5,6105,734Passenger Capacity at Double Occupancy7,6007,084Cabins2,8052,874Crew Capacity2,3502,300
You might notice something a little weird, though. While Icon of the Seas is, yes, technically larger than Wonder of the Seas by gross tons, with more passenger decks, it doesn’t have a higher passenger capacity at double occupancy.
Instead, the passenger capacity at double occupancy is decreased by about 100 people. However, the passenger capacity at maximum occupancy is larger on Icon of the Seas, by about 600 people.
What does this mean? Well, it means Royal Caribbean is likely expecting more suite stays on Icon of the Seas, with more than two passengers staying in a single accommodations option.
Overall, it seems like Royal Caribbean really focused on providing more fun, more options and more luxury to love in Icon of the Seas, versus simply just making a bigger ship to hold more people.
Icon of the Seas vs Wonder of the Seas: Construction Cost
Icon of the Seas was built at Meyer Turku in Turku, Finland and was one of the most expensive ships to build, ever, at a whopping $2 billion. She is also powered by Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).
Wonder of the Seas, in comparison, cost $1.35 billion to build, substantially less, yet still impressive. Wonder of the Seas was built at Chantiers de L’Atlantique in St. Nazaire, France.
Wonder of the Seas Construction
As the fifth Oasis-class ship, Wonder of the Seas was ordered nearly a decade ago, before construction began in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic did impact the ship’s construction, delaying the delivery date, originally slated for early 2021. The ship was, instead, delivered in early 2022, when it began sailing out of Florida.
Icon of the Seas was similarly ordered in 2016, as the very first in a new class of ships for Royal Caribbean. Construction for Icon of the Seas began in 2021, wrapping up in late 2023. A January 2024 christening and debut in Miami kicks off the ship’s upcoming year spent sailing the Caribbean.
Icon of the Seas vs Wonder of the Seas: Neighborhoods
Royal Caribbean’s ships are split into neighborhoods — areas of the ship designed around a certain theme, and often dedicated to a certain type of activity. Icon of the Seas features eight neighborhoods, including:
- Central Park
- Chill Island
- Royal Promenade
- Suite Neighborhood
- Thrill Island
- The Hideaway
Wonder of the Seas actually features eight neighborhoods as well, but the neighborhoods aren’t the exact same as those you’ll find on Icon of the Seas. Icon of the Seas features a few new neighborhoods, while also improving upon a few of the shared neighborhoods. Wonder of the Seas’ eight neighborhoods include:
- Central Park
- Royal Promenade
- Suite Neighborhood
- Pool and Sports Zone
- Entertainment Place
- Youth Zone
- Vitality Spa and Fitness
So what can you expect in each of these options? Well, among the ship’s shared neighborhoods, Central Park offers an indoor green space. Lush and airy, it’s a central hub in which you can find entertainment and dining venues.
Similarly, each ship’s Royal Promenade is likewise a hub of activity, where you can go to people watch or find your way to the various venues along the promenade, including restaurants and retail. However, Icon of the Seas does feature that Iconic Pearl feature.
Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas
Both ships’ suite neighborhoods are exactly what they sound like: a neighborhood specifically designated for suite guests. Here, the ship’s VIP cruisers enjoy a bit of privacy from the rest of the cruising masses, with their own private pools and restaurants.
This is where the ships’ shared neighborhoods end. On Wonder of the Seas, you also have the boardwalk neighborhood, with its true boardwalk feel, with games, bright lights and plenty of activity.
The pool and sports zone is what you’d expect, with the ship’s pools and sports courts. Entertainment Place is likewise self-explanatory, housing the theater and casino, among other entertainment venues. The Youth Zone houses the ship’s children’s programming, including the Adventure Ocean kids club, arcade, and teen club. Lastly, the ship’s spa and fitness center get their own neighborhood.
On Icon of the Seas, the AquaDome is a new neighborhood that encompasses the AquaTheater, which you may have seen on past Royal Caribbean ships. It also, though, offers a bit of a nightlife location, with bars and restaurants.
Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas
Chill Island is the new name for the ship’s pool area. There are four pools here (though you’ll find three elsewhere on the ship). There are also several bars in the pool area.
Thrill Island offers more water-themed fun, with six new water slides. When the ship debuts, it will boast the tallest drop slide on a cruise ship to date, as well as a few “first” water slides for a cruise ship, such as a mat-racing duo slide and an open free-fall slide.
Surfside is all about families. This is where you’ll find the kiddy pools, but also the sports courts and children’s programming. The Hideaway is just that — a tranquil spot where those looking for something quieter can escape. There’s an infinity pool here, plus a bar.
As already mentioned, while Icon of the Seas is definitely larger than Wonder of the Seas, Icon of the Seas can hold fewer passengers at double occupancy, but more passengers at overall occupancy — which basically translates to a focus on suites and other accommodations options where there will be more than two cruisers staying in a single stateroom or suite.
Panoramic Ocean View Cabin on Icon of the Seas
Regardless, what kind of staterooms can you expect on both ships? Icon of the Seas introduces a few new stateroom categories to Royal Caribbean cruisers. New staterooms aboard Icon of the Seas include:
- Inside Plus staterooms
- Panoramic Ocean View staterooms
- Family Infinity Balcony staterooms
- Surfside Family View interior cabins
- Infinite Ocean View balcony cabins
- Infinite Central Park View balcony cabins
An Inside Plus stateroom is an interior stateroom, upgraded. It offers a more luxurious experience with more privacy. Panoramic Ocean View staterooms are exclusively situated in the AquaDome neighborhood.
The Infinite Ocean View balcony cabins provide something that you may have seen on other cruise ships (in some version or another), but is a first for Royal Caribbean. The infinite balcony is separated from the rest of the cabin with a glass wall, and that glass wall can be lowered and raised to create an indoor-outdoor space that feels larger, airier and more ocean-view-perfect than ever before.
Icon of the Seas Ocean View Balcony
Family Infinity Balcony staterooms feature the ships’ infinity balconies, which allow you to enjoy a mix of indoor-outdoor space thanks to that wall that’s partially removable; the family versions can fit more cruisers. In the new Surfside neighborhood, Family View interior cabins replace the boardwalk cabins from prior ships.
Other staterooms on Icon of the Seas include:
- Standard interior cabins
- Spacious interior cabins
- Central Park View interior cabins
- Ocean view cabins
- Ocean view balcony cabins
- Ocean view large balcony cabins
- Central Park balcony cabins
Staterooms on Wonder of the Seas include:
- Studio single cabins
- Virtual balcony interior cabins
- Spacious interior family cabins
- Promenade view interior cabins
- Boardwalk and Central Park interior cabins
- Boardwalk and Central Park balcony cabins
- Ocean view cabins
- Family ocean view cabins
- Spacious balcony cabins
- Ultra-spacious family balcony cabins
Most of these staterooms are pretty self-explanatory. Promenade, Boardwalk and Central Park cabins are obviously located in those neighborhoods within the ship, and their balconies overlook that space rather than the ocean. Virtual balcony cabins feature virtual balconies that display views from the exterior of the ship in real time.
Wonder of the Seas Balcony Stateroom
The ultra-spacious family balcony cabins can fit a max of six passengers, with 270 square feet inside and 80 square feet outside (the spacious interior family cabins are very similar, just minus the balcony). The spacious balcony cabins can fit four passengers, with 180 square feet inside and 55 square feet outside.
The family ocean view cabins are even more impressive and should really be considered more of a suite, since there are two bedrooms, with one tucked away behind a divider. Studio single cabins are designed for single cruisers in mind, and are a budget-friendly steal.
On new ships like these, you can expect some truly stellar suite options. Suite options aboard Wonder of the Seas include:
- The Ultimate Family Suite
- Junior suites
- Grand suites
- AquaTheater suites (with either one or two bedrooms)
- Owners suites
- Crown Loft suites
- The Royal Loft
The Ultimate Family Suite made its debut on Wonder of the Seas and was an instant hit. However, it gets an upgrade on Icon of the Seas, as you’ll see below. Suite options aboard Icon of the Seas include:
- The Ultimate Family Townhouse
- Surfside Family suites
- Junior suites
- Sunset Junior suites
- Sky Junior suites
- Sunset suites
- Panoramic suites
- Infinite Grand suites
- Owner’s suites
- Grand suites
- The Royal Loft
- Icon Loft Suites
Some of these suites may be familiar to you, from past Royal Caribbean ships, but others might not be. For example, the Surfside Family suites are new for Royal Caribbean, and place families right in the heart of that family-friendly Surfside neighborhood.
The Ultimate Family Townhouse
The Ultimate Family Townhouse is an upgrade of the Ultimate Family suite introduced on Royal Caribbean several years ago, with plenty of over-the-top amenities for families, such as a theater, in-suite slide and more.
Read Also: Icon of the Seas Cabins and Suites Guide
Icon Loft suites offer two floors and lots of privacy for up to four cruisers. Infinite Grand suites feature that new infinite balcony, and Panoramic suites are in the new AquaDome neighborhood.
Do you have a favorite Royal Caribbean restaurant that you make a point of dining at every single time you’re on a cruise? If so, you’ll be glad to know that when it comes to Icon of the Seas vs Wonder of the Seas, both of these ships feature staple Royal Caribbean favorites, alongside lots of new, fun options. However, the dining options aren’t identical. Here’s what to expect:
Restaurant/Dining OptionFeatured on Icon of the Seas?Featured on Wonder of the Seas?150 Central ParkNoYes AquaDome MarketYes NoBasecampYes NoCafé PromenadeNoYes Celebration TableYes NoChops GrilleYes Yes Coastal KitchenYes Yes Dog HouseNoYes El Loco FreshYes Yes Empire Supper ClubYes NoGiovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine BarYes Yes Hooked SeafoodYes Yes Izumi Hibachi & SushiYes Yes Izumi in the ParkYes NoJohnny RocketsNoYes Main Dining RoomsYes Yes Park CaféYes Yes Pearl CaféYes NoPier 7Yes NoSolarium BistroNoYes Sorrento’s PizzaYes Yes StarbucksYes Yes Sugar BeachYes Yes Surfside BitesYes NoSurfside EateryYes NoThe GroveYes NoThe Mason JarNoYes Vitality CaféNoYes Windjammer CaféYes Yes WonderlandNoYes
These ships both contain restaurants that Royal Caribbean has long featured on its ships, when it comes to Icon of the Seas vs Wonder of the Seas. Beyond the main dining room and classic cruise ship buffet (Windjammer Café), there’s also Sorrento’s Pizza, a Starbucks outpost, the tech-heavy restaurant Wonderland, Giovanni’s for Italian, Chops for steak and Izumi for Japanese.
The Mason Jar on Wonder of the Seas
However, each ship also offers a few favorites that the other does not. For example, Wonder of the Seas has Johnny Rockets, the boardwalk classic; Vitality Café, for healthful eats near the spa; The Mason Jar, which was Royal Caribbean’s take on a southern-style restaurant; and the Dog House, for quick hot dogs and similar bites near the pool.
Icon of the Seas brings new offerings such as the AquaDome Market, a food hall concept; Empire Supper Club, a fine-dining option with 1920s flair; and Izumi in the Park, for window ordering sushi.
Icon of the Seas Dining, Empire Supper Club
Other new options include Celebration Table for special events; Pearl Café for casual bites; Basecamp for fun, theme park-esque options; The Grove, for Mediterranean; and Pier 7, for all-day brunch. With Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean truly brings the culinary magic.
Bars and Lounges
There’s also a wealth of watering holes to be found on both Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas. Some of these bars and lounges are new, while others are tucked away inside of restaurants, while still others are staples on Royal Caribbean ships (like the English pubs and Playmakers sports bar).
Bar/Lounge OptionFeatured on Icon of the Seas?Featured on Wonder of the Seas?Bionic BarNoYesBolerosYes YesCantina FrescaYes YesDiamond ClubYes YesEnglish PubYes YesPlaymakers Bar & ArcadeYes YesPool BarYes NoRising Tide BarNoYesSchooner BarYes YesSolarium BarNoYesSuite LoungeNoYesSwim & Tonic Pool BarYesNoThe AtticYes YesThe Hideaway BarYesNoThe Lime & CoconutYesYesTrellis BarYes YesWipeout BarNoYesVue BarNoYes 1400 Lobby BarYes NoBasecamp BarYes NoBubblesYesNoCasino BarYes YesDueling PianosYes NoGiovanni’s Wine BarYes YesLou’s Jazz n’ BluesYes NoRye & BeanYes NoThe Grove BarYes NoThe Lemon PostYesNoThe OverlookYes NoMusic HallYes No
Just as Icon of the Seas brings the culinary magic, it also brings all the libations one could need. You’ll find the line’s first swim-up bar (in addition to all the other pool bars), bars at many of the brand-new restaurants on the ship, and cool new lounges where you can catch unique drinks and live music, such as Lou’s Jazz n’ Blues.
Swim & Tonic Pool Bar on Icon of the Seas
Wonder of the Seas features many of the classic bars and lounges you likely know to expect on a newer Royal Caribbean ship, but has a few that Icon of the Seas does not, such as the Solarium bar (Icon of the Seas ditched the entire Solarium as a whole), and the Bionic Bar, with its robotic twist.
Activities and Entertainment
Both of these ships feature plenty of fun things to do. Beyond the pools, waterslides, and shows further detailed below, both ships also offer lots of extra fun spaces and activities, such as:
- Mini-golf course
- Sports court
- Rock-climbing wall
- Comedy Club
- Escape Room
- Ice skating
- Laser tag
Entertainment that you’ll find on Icon of the Seas, but not Wonder of the Seas, includes a ropes course named Crown’s Edge. This feature is part skywalk and part ropes course that even takes guests extended out over the ocean! Wonder of the Seas offers a zip line instead. However, otherwise, the ships offer mostly the same entertainment options.
Pools and Waterslides
Both ships are packed with fun ways to soak up the sun and splash in the (manmade) waves. They both ships feature Royal Caribbean’s requisite FlowRider surf simulator. Both feature waterslides and hot tubs. However, there are differences.
Pools and Slides on Wonder of the Seas
Wonder of the Seas, for example, features The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, which has appeared on a range of Royal Caribbean ships over the years. It also features the Ultimate Abyss, which is a dry slide. In total, Wonder of the Seas features five pools and four hot tubs.
Pools and Slides on Icon of the Seas
Icon of the Seas, however, features a whopping six waterslides, including record-breaking slides such as Pressure Drop, the first open free-fall slide to appear on a cruise ship; Frightening Bolt, the current tallest drop waterslide on a cruise ship; Storm Chasers, the first mat-racing slide on a cruise ship; and Storm Surge & Hurricane Hunter, the first family-friendly raft ride on a cruise ship.
Icon of the Seas features seven pools and nine hot tubs, including the Royal Bay Pool, the largest pool in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Another first is the first suspended infinity pool at sea, located in The Hideaway neighborhood. Located aft of the ship in the Surfside neighborhood, the younger guests can also enjoy the Splashaway Bay aquapark.
AquaTheater and AquaDome
Both of these ships feature the AquaTheater, but only one features the AquaDome: Icon of the Seas. Additionally, Icon of the Sea’s AquaTheater has received some upgrades.
Photo: Royal Caribbean
On Icon of the Seas, the AquaDome is situated in the ship’s new AquaDome neighborhood. The theater’s tech upgrades make each show even more immersive and impressive.
If you never take a cruise without checking out what’s playing in the onboard theater, then you’ll definitely want to be sure to make time in your busy vacay itinerary to catch one of the shows playing on either Icon of the Seas or Wonder of the Seas, whichever you choose.
Wonder of the Seas offers shows at the AquaTheater, as well as ice-skating shows at its ice rink. Theatrical shows include musical reviews, and you can find smaller, music-focused shows in more intimate settings throughout the ship (such as in the lounges) regularly.
Icon of the Seas AquaDome (Image Courtesy: Royal Caribbean)
Icon of the Seas’ shows include two AquaDome shows that take advantage of the AquaTheater’s unique space; live music performances; an ice-skating performance; and theatrical performances, including a family fairytale-type show entitled “Once Upon a Time: The King’s Royal Ball” and “The Wizard of Oz,” a classic.
Which Ship is Better?
So, which one is better, Icon of the Seas vs Wonder of the Seas? Whether you book your reservations for an upcoming cruise on Wonder of the Seas or Icon of the Seas is really going to be a personal decision that you’ll base on your own preferences; however, there are some elements that may sway you.
Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas
If you’re a cruising fanatic and you love cruising on the biggest, best cruise ships, and being the first of your traveling friends to do so, you’ll want to, obviously, get on Icon of the Seas as soon as humanly possible. This ship has been making headlines for a reason. Avid travelers, and particularly cruisers, can’t wait to see what the latest and greatest from Royal Caribbean has in store, first-hand.
Worth Reading: Wonder of the Seas vs. Titanic – A Giant Comparison
Likewise, if you’ve traveled on Wonder of the Seas before, or just traveled with Royal Caribbean on the line’s newer ships frequently, you may be craving something brand new, and, if so, Icon of the Seas fits the bill.
Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas
However, if you would like to avoid those huge crowds of eager travelers flocking to Icon of the Seas, you may prefer Wonder of the Seas. This ship is still relatively new and offers lots and lots of fun to love, so you won’t be missing out on all that much. You will, though, be missing out on all those crowds, which is a plus.
Lastly, on Icon of the Seas vs Wonder of the Seas, think about destinations. While you might be more interested in the ship than where it’s going, destination still matters. Getting to the departure port will be an added cost to consider, and you’ll likely want to disembark at least for some of the days in port. Would you rather disembark in the Mediterranean or the Western Caribbean, or the Bahamas? Do you want to have a Perfect Day at CocoCay?
Regardless, though, both ships are excellent options for a range of cruisers, whether you’re a single traveler or couple looking for luxury and lots to do, with plenty of entertainment, dining and drinking options, or you’re a family who wants to take the kids on an unforgettable trip.
Appeared first on: Cruisehive.com