Our 22 Expert Icon of the Seas Tips, Tricks, and Secrets

We spent ten days on this new cruise ship and have come up with 22 expert Icon of the Seas tips, tricks, and secrets that you need to know.

Our 22 Expert Icon of the Seas Tips, Tricks, and Secrets You Need to Know

Icon of the Seas is the world’s largest cruise ship and the first in a completely new class for Royal Caribbean. So, there’s a lot to learn before your cruise. We spent ten days on this new cruise ship and have come up with these 22 expert Icon of the Seas tips, tricks, and secrets that you need to know before setting sail.

Our 22 Expert Icon of the Seas Tips, Tricks, and Secrets You Need to Know

Don’t Let the Size Scare You

Yes, Icon of the Seas is over 250K gross tons with 20 decks, 8 neighborhoods, and over 40 restaurants, bars, and lounges. But, don’t let the size scare you. Having sailed on many of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class and Oasis-class ships, we personally enjoyed Icon of the Seas more.

Icon of the Seas Cruise Ship

In our opinion, we like the layout better and thought that the ship felt more spacious overall than Oasis-class vessels. The Royal Promenade is more open, and the reimagined neighborhoods help to disperse the crowds better.

In particular, there are dedicated areas for adults, families, and teens with all the amenities needed to stay all day. So, you can carve out your own space without feeling like you are surrounded by 6,000 other guests.

Be Sure to Try the New Free Dining Options

On a completely new ship, of course you’ll find several new dining options. While there are new up-charge venues, there are also many new casual and complimentary options. And we made sure to try them all!

Some of our personal favorites include the AquaDome Market, Pearl Cafe, and Surfside Bites. AquaDome Market is a new food hall serving up gyros, mac n’ cheese, small Asian dishes, crepes, and more. The Pearl Cafe is an evolution of the Cafe Promenade serving elevated breakfast, lunch, and to-go items throughout the day. Surfside Bites is a new takeout window in the family neighborhood serving up popcorn chicken, burgers, and churros.

While Park Cafe is a staple on many Royal Caribbean ships, this Central Park version features tapas in the evenings. There’s also Basecamp offering snacks in Thrill Island and a second buffet, Surfside Eatery.

Kids Eat Free at Pier 7

With the addition of new complimentary dining options, there are also a few new specialty dining options. Pier 7 is one of them. This casual restaurant in the Surfside neighborhood has a beachside vibe that is perfect for families.

The venue serves brunch and dinner with an a la carte menu featuring items like shrimp tostados, seafood cioppino, and a California burger, along with brunch items like Sunrise Benedict and pancakes.

And the best part is that kids under 12 eat free! Now, mom and dad can enjoy elevated menu items while still spending time with the kids.

Snag Your AquaTheater Seats Early

If you are familiar with Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class, then you probably know that the AquaTheater features some of the best production shows found anywhere at sea, or on land for that matter. While in a new location, you won’t want to miss these shows on Icon of the Seas either.

Instead of being outside in the Boardwalk neighborhood aft on the ship, you’ll find all the high-diving and acrobatics indoors in the AquaDome neighborhood forward on Deck 15 on Icon of the Seas.

The signature productions here do require reservations but seating is first come, first served. Thus, one of our expert Icon of the Seas tips is to scope out your ideal seats early. You can then grab a drink from the nearby Rye & Bean bar while awaiting all the action.

Prior to showtime, staff will come around to scan your SeaPass card to ensure that you do have a reservation. No, you won’t be able to sneak in to the show this way, as you will be asked to leave if you don’t have a reservation for that particular showtime.

You Can Do More With the App

Royal Caribbean is always looking for ways to innovate, and they’ve done that with all aspects of Icon of the Seas. Even the app has new features to streamline processes so you can spend more time enjoying the ship and less time waiting in line.

For instance, there is a new chat feature where you can ask questions instead of waiting in line at Guest Services. An AI-based “virtual assistant” is the first line of defense but someone onboard from Guest Services is also monitoring and will reply when needed.

You can also now view and order all your photos within the app. In fact, the entire Photo Gallery is essentially absent on Icon of the Seas aside from a small area behind the Pearl that doubles as a shore excursion and photo gallery desk and works off of a virtual queue system.

Know Your Cabin Options

Icon of the Seas introduced several new cabin options for Royal Caribbean. There are 28 different types of rooms, including the most controversial infinite balcony cabins. So, before you book your cruise, make sure you know all the cabin categories and subcategories. This will ensure you pick the right one for your travel party.

icon of the seas infinite balcony cabin

For instance, if you are looking at balcony cabins, you’ll have the choice between ocean view balconies, Central Park view balconies, Surfside family view balconies, along with infinite balconies.

Personally, we prefer a traditonal balcony when compared to an infinite balcony; thus, we stayed in an ocean view balcony while sailing on Icon of the Seas. It really all comes down to your personal perferences and your budget when deciding on a room type.

Get Familiar With the New Layout

Even if you’ve sailed on other Royal Caribbean megaships, it’ll take a bit to get your bearings on Icon of the Seas as the layout is fairly different. We suggest you review the deck plans prior to your sailing and then spend some time on embarkation day exploring the different areas. This will help ensure that you don’t miss out on anything.

For starters, you’ll notice the Royal Promenade is much larger and now two stories. Here, you’ll find some new venues along with some that have been relocated like The Attic comedy club and Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen.

First Impressions Icon of the Seas

Further, there is no Boardwalk neighborhood; instead, there is the new Surfside neighborhood dedicated to families with small children. Subsequently, the AquaTheater is relocated to the front of the ship.

It also takes some manuevering to find Absolute Zero, the new ice rink, which can only be accessed by walking through Playmakers. The kids and teens areas are found nearby as well. Similarly, there’s an escalator off the Promenade that you’ll need to take down to the casino.

You Can Get Sushi Without an Izumi Reservation

Izumi is one of the most popular Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants. On Icon of the Seas, this venue has been relocated to Central Park with sushi and hibachi options. Like any specialty restaurant, Izumi requires reservations and has an associated fee to dine at the venue.

However, one of our Icon of the Seas tips is that you can actually get sushi without a reservation at the brand-new Izumi in the Park take-out window.

The menu features grab-and-go items at a la carte prices that guests can enjoy anywhere, any time of day. So, if you’re in the mood for some sushi but don’t want to take the kids to a 2-hour sit-down dinner, this is the perfect compromise.

We suggest you try the bubble cones too!

You Can Get Starbucks Drinks With Your Beverage Package

If you have a Royal Caribbean drink package, you CAN get Starbucks drinks that are included but you just need to know where!

On Deck 5 of the Royal Promenade, there is a licensed Starbucks kiosk. Here, you can get frappucinos, refreshers, teas, espresso, cold brews, and other coffee-based drinks. These drinks WILL cost you extra money though.

Icon of the Seas Cruise Review

One deck above, there’s the Pearl Cafe. Pearl Café is open 24 hours a day and is your go-to spot for snacks and coffee. This drink menu also features espresso and coffee-based drinks, cold brew, teas, and frappucinos. While not as extensive of a beverage menu, these Starbucks drinks WILL NOT cost you extra money if you have a drink package. Cafe Select coffee cards can also be used on these drinks.

Of course, if you don’t have a drink package, you’ll pay a la carte for the drinks at either location.

But Milkshakes Aren’t Included

Speaking of what’s included and what’s not included in the drink packages on Icon of the Seas, let’s talk milkshakes. As many Royal Caribbean cruisers probably know Johnny Rockets milkshakes are included on other ships in the fleet. However, there’s no Johnny Rockets on Icon of the Seas. Instead, there’s the Desserted Milkshake Bar.

Located in Thrill Island on Icon of the Seas, you might almost miss it amongst all the thrills. Whether the kiddos want a traditional milkshake or adults want to indulge on a boozy concoction, these will cost you extra. They are not included in any drink packages, and prices range from $9 to $18 for milkshakes and $7 for floats.

Our vote is to skip them as they look better than they taste.

Desserted Milkshakes on Icon of the Seas

There Are More Dining Times Available

When it comes to the Main Dining Room, Icon of the Seas offers a pretty typical cruise experience. The 3-story grand dining room is located on Decks 3, 4, and 5 and has both traditional and My Time dining options. Like other ships in the fleet, guests can enjoy a rotational menu that changes nightly regardless of which dining option they choose.

My Time Dining is available from 6:30 PM to 9 PM daily in the Deck 3 dining room. However, instead of your typical Early and Late seating for traditional dining, Icon of the Seas actually has 4 different dinner times. The Deck 4 dining room has a 5 PM and 8 PM seating and the Deck 5 dining room has a 5 PM, 6:45 PM, and 8:30 PM.

Icon of the Seas Restaurants

This gives cruisers even more options. Personally, 5 PM is too early for us and 8 PM is too late, so we love the addition of the 6:45 PM timeslot.

Crown’s Edge is Cheaper on Port Days

The Crown’s Edge is Royal Caribbean’s attempt at a ropes course on one of its ships. However, unlike the ropes courses on NCL or Carnival, this activity is an up-charge. We’ll give Royal Caribbean that it is more themed with adventurers needing to escape from Thrill Island. But, the only real draw of this 90-second attraction is when the floor drops from beneath you and you zip line over the edge of the ship.

So, we do think the price is a bit steep. Even though the price dropped drastically since it’s initial launch at $89, it was still $49 on our sailing for a sea day or $39 for a port day. If you really want to test out this attraction, we suggest you sign up in the app for a port day to save some money.

Alternatively, you can also check your cruise planner for any sales and promotions pre-cruise as some cruisers have recently reported even lower prices.

Know the Requirements for Category 6

If you and the family plan to test out the thrilling Category 6 water park on Icon of the Seas, you’ll want to know the requirements first. These attractions are really geared for tweens and teens, so the younger kiddos probably won’t make the cut.

The Category 6 Waterpark is home to 6 slides and 5 unique attractions. These waterslides include two body slides, two family raft slides, and two mat racing slides.

  • Pressure Drop
  • Frightening Bolt
  • Storm Chasers
  • Storm Surge
  • Hurricane Hunter

Cruisers must be 52” tall to ride the body slides, Pressure Drop or Frightening Bolt. To compete against family and friends on the Storm Chasers mat-racing duo slides, riders need to be at least 48” tall. Likewise, all family members must be at least 48” tall to ride the Hurricane Hunter or Storm Surge family raft slides.

Our 22 Expert Icon of the Seas Tips, Tricks, and Secrets You Need to Know

There Are Outlets Around the Ship for Charging Devices

The days of disconnected cruising are in the past. Regardless of whether or not you want to disconnect from the outside world while on vacation, you’ll likely still use your smartphone. Even if it’s only to chat with members of your travel party or to view the daily schedule.

Likely though, you’ll have smartphones, earbuds, tablets for the kids, and maybe even laptops that will need to stay powered. Luckily, there are several spots around Icon of the Seas with outlets for charging such devices.

The Pearl Cafe and the Overlook in the AquaDome are two such places. So, you can relax with a view and maybe even grab a snack or a drink while you let your devices charge. This eliminates the need of having to return to your stateroom to charge them up. Of course, we always bring a portable power bank as well especially when going ashore.

Icon of the Seas Cruise Ship

Don’t Let the Elevators Out Smart You

While intelligent elevators have been a thing on land for a while now, they’ve only just begun popping up on cruise ships. When we heard that Icon of the Seas would have them, we were skeptical. Our first experience with such elevators was on an MSC ship and it was a disaster. So, how would they work on the largest cruise ship in the world?

Luckily, Icon of the Seas has plenty of large elevator banks, so there were never any issues requesting a ride up or down throughout the day. Even during busy times, like after a show or after dinner, the system had no issues finding space for everyone needing a lift.

All guests need to do is select a deck and an elevator will be assigned to them. When the elevator arrives, it will take you (and the other guests also assigned to the elevator) to your desired destinations without any fumbling with elevator buttons. During our sailing, this process was quick and efficient, often giving us an express ride with few stops. So, we’ll take that as a win!

Icon of the Seas Cruise Review

There’s a Sea Day Brunch

As a relatively newer offering, Royal Caribbean ships now have a sea day brunch. This occurs on the first sea day and is distinct from the other days of the sailing which offer breakfast and/or lunch. The menu is a hybrid of breakfast and lunch items. It includes dishes like a cheese plate, potato soup, omelets, pancakes, chicken and waffles, steak frites, and more.

Brunch is available from 8:30 AM to 12 PM in the Deck 3 MDR, and there is no additonal charge for this meal. It’s the perfect way to start your cruise if you choose to sleep in a bit on that first sea day. Even though we wouldn’t recommend sleeping in as there is so much to do and see in just seven days!

Book Early for the Best Price

This Icon of the Seas tip actually applies to all cruises. But, as the newest and largest ship in the fleet, Icon of the Seas comes with a hefty price tag. Thus, it’s even more important to book your Icon of the Seas cruise early to secure the best price.

We typically book our cruises 8 months to a year in advance. Though, Royal Caribbean has Icon sailings open to book through April 2026. So, planning a trip for one or two years in the future is definitely possible. Of course, there is always the potential for last minute deals, but we generally find that the price of a sailing only goes up over time.

icon of the seas infinite balcony cabin

Booking ahead of time not only gives you lower fares, but it also gives you a better selection of cabins and more time to pay off the cruise. Further, it gives travelers time to review the ports of call, plan their time ashore, and consider other add-ons like drink packages or specialty dining.  

Make Sure to Complete Your Check In Early

You’ll want to keep an eye on your Royal Caribbean app when it gets closer to your sailing date. The app will let you know when check-in opens but it’s usually around 45 days prior to your cruise. It’s important to complete this check-in early to secure an early boarding time. After all, the earlier you board the ship, the sooner your vacation starts!

The check-in process also entails inputting your personal information, uploading a security photo, linking a form of payment for onboard purchases, adding passport information, and signing the cruise contract. Once all this is complete, you’ll be “cruise ready” and able to use the Express lane at the terminal on boarding day.

Find Your Pool Vibe

Along with the other reimagined spaces on Icon of the Seas, there are also some differences when it comes to the traditional “pool deck”. This outdoor space now features three distinct neighborhoods: Chill Island, Thrill Island, and The Hideaway. And there are seven total pools on the ship! This means there’s always a pool to fit your vibe.

In Chill Island, there’s the Cloud 17 pool on Deck 17 which offers a more relaxed setting for all cruisers, with plenty of padded loungers and a small infinity pool. The Deck 16 Swim and Tonic is another popular spot, as it’s Royal Caribbean’s first swim-up bar at sea. On Deck 15, there’s the record-breaking Royal Bay Pool on the starboard side and the secluded Cove Pool for those seeking some shade on the portside.

Adults will want to check out the Hideaway. Overlooking the wake, this venue features the first suspended infinity pool at sea, along with signature cocktails and a beach club vibe. And families with little kids can access the Surfside neighborhood’s Water’s Edge pool on Deck 7, along with a separate splash pad and even a water feature for babies adjacent to this pool.

Don’t Miss All the New Bars

Similar to dining, Icon of the Seas also debuts several new bars and lounges with signature cocktails and entertainment that you won’t want to miss. In fact, there are ten completely new concepts for Royal Caribbean.

Within the Royal Promenade, there’s the 1400 Lobby Bar and Dueling Pianos. The lively Dueling Pianos is wildly popular, so be sure to arrive early if you want a chance at getting seats for a show. We also really enjoyed the signature cocktails and glamourous decor at the 1400 Lobby Bar.

Some of our other favorite drinks can be found at the Lemon Post in the Surfside neighborhood and Rye & Bean in the AquaDome. There’s also a walk-up champagne window and Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues in Central Park, a frozen Lime & Coconut bar, and the tasty Overlook Spritz served at the Overlook Bar.

This “drink around the ship” is going to take some strategy to accomplish!

Be Sure to Make Your Entertainment Reservations

Royal Caribbean is always in the forefront when it comes to entertainment, and Icon of the Seas lives up to that reputation with some of the best production shows we’ve ever seen.

The signature entertainment on Icon of the Seas occurs in one of four venues: Royal Theater, AquaTheater, Absolute Zero, and The Attic. The Wizard of Oz and AquaAction were our favorites, but the newly redesigned ice rink is quite impressive as well.

All of these shows do require advanced reservations which can be made pre-cruise in your online cruise planner or once onboard the ship. We recommend that you book these shows as soon as you can because they should not be missed.

If for some reason you can’t get reservations, all hope is not lost. We were unable to get reservations for the comedy show in The Attic but were still able to see the show using the standby line. Just be aware that the queues start forming well before showtime.

Our 22 Expert Icon of the Seas Tips, Tricks, and Secrets You Need to Know

Prepare Your Cabin

Regardless of your cabin selection, you should do several things on the first day of your cruise to organize the room. We always recommend packing magnetic hooks to hang items like bags, hats, and coats.

Another packable item we always take is an over-the-door shoe organizer. Here, you can place accessories and toiletries like suntan lotion, sunglasses, jewelry, cords, and small electronics to help you save valuable counter space.

Also, you will want to make sure you unpack your clothes. Packing cubes will make this task easy and organized, especially given the new metal baskets in the closet. Then, with your bags unpacked, make sure to place your suitcase under the bed; that way, you have as much space as possible in your stateroom.

Another item we always suggest is a cruise-approved power adapter for charging devices. However, Icon of the Seas does have quite a few outlets, including USB and USB-C, so it might not be necessary this trip.


Do you have any other Icon of the Seas tips to add to our list? Have you cruised on this new Royal Caribbean ship yet? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences sailing on the world’s largest cruise ship.

Heidi is a physical therapist by profession, cruise enthusiast at heart, and Princess all the time! She is a self-confessed thrill seeker, obsessive planner, and over-packer. She is always looking for the latest and greatest adventures onboard and ashore, enjoys researching top things to do in ports of call, and loves dressing up for formal nights.
Heidi Bucolo
Previous Post «
Next Post »
Cruiseline module – Remove Title

Be the first one to post comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin This: