Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Icon of the Seas arrived to her homeport of Miami for the first time earlier this month. Along with all of the fanfare that comes with being the first ship in a new class — not to mention the largest cruise ship in the world — is another kind of excitement: Royal Caribbean’s first resident dog. That’s right, a female golden retriever named Rover is now living on board Icon of the Seas.
In a short video posted on Royal Caribbean’s social media channels, the line introduced Rover as “everyone’s favorite new crew member” and “family dog” of Icon of the Seas. To solidify her place among the staff and crew on the ship, the five-month-old pup even has an official title: Chief Dog Officer — Royal Caribbean’s first and only one. (The line has not announced plans to have a resident dog on any of its other ships.)
Everything You Want to Know About the Dog on Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas
Rover boarded the ship when it docked in Puerto Rico earlier this month along with her Chief of Staff Alison Hubble, an Australian crew member who has been working for Royal Caribbean for over five years. “As a crew member on Icon, Rover’s job is to bring joy and happiness to her fellow crew and guests on board,” the video continues. “All the while, she gets to explore the Caribbean shores and beautiful ports.”
Many Royal Caribbean fans have been wondering whether Rover is just a fun addition to Icon of the Seas or whether she’s a service dog. We reached out to the cruise line for some more information and while they didn’t answer that question directly, they did say that “Rover’s Chief of Staff was carefully handpicked with the support of welfare experts at the American Humane Society.” This points toward the notion that Rover is indeed a pet that Royal Caribbean has been planning for Icon of the Seas for some time, and that Alison’s primary role on board is to be her handler and best friend.
RCI also said that “under the supervision of Rover’s Chief of Staff, guests will have the chance to meet and interact with [her].” In social media posts made by invited passengers, Rover has already been out and about meeting new people onboard — some of which have been shared in stories on the dog’s official Instagram account.
Can you bring your dog on Icon of the Seas?
The addition of a permanent resident dog to a ship in its fleet has led many people to ask Royal Caribbean whether this means they’ll now be able to bring their own pets aboard. The answer is no; guests’ pets are still not permitted. Only service dogs may sail with Royal Caribbean (along with most other cruise lines in the world). Facilities are available for whatever a service dog needs during a sailing, including a “relief box” filled with mulch in a crew area of the ship.
You may be wondering whether any cruise ship allows pets. There is just one major cruise ship that allows dogs and cats: Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. More utilitarian than for pleasure, the vessel allows guests to board their canine or feline family member as the ship traverses across the ocean on week-long transatlantic crossings. While owners can go visit their pets during designated time frames, they must stay in the kennel area of the ship on deck 12, which has room for just 24 pets total.
Who will care for Rover?
Back to Rover, we saw some comments in relation to veterinary care for Rover if/when it’s needed, since she’s now a permanent cruise ship resident and these vessels are not designed to include medical care for dogs. In reply to a comment about this on Facebook, Royal Caribbean said “Rover’s Chief of Staff has extensive training in canine first aid, and we have a network of veterinary care facilities in the Caribbean identified for her care, including her main vet in Miami. So, she’s covered from paw to paw no matter where she is!”
To commemorate its first Chief Dog Officer, Icon of the Seas’ indoor promenade has a dog statue — replacing the classic car installation that’s usually on the Royal Promenade. What is this dog statue doing? Lifting its leg next to a lightpost, of course! It’s a funny little tribute to the ship’s sweet four-legged resident.
To keep up with Rover, you can follow her on Instagram @chiefdogrover.
More on Icon of the Seas
Icon of the Seas is the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s Icon-class, and will set sail on her official maiden voyage on January 27th. The Icon-class is set to include a second ship Star of the Seas (due to debut in August 2025) as well as a not-yet-named third vessel set to debut in 2026.
Icon of the Seas is now the largest cruise ship in the world at 250,800 gross tons. The previous largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, comes in at 235,600 gross tons.
Icon of the Seas will sail to the Caribbean year-round from Miami, offering alternating seven-night eastern and western Caribbean voyages.
What do you think about a dog living on Icon of the Seas? Are you eager to meet this furry, four-legged friend? Drop us an anchor below to share your reactions to Royal Caribbean’s Chief Dog Officer, Rover.