With amenities like an onboard water park, seven pools, and a waterfall, Royal Caribbean's upcoming Icon of the Seas is set to be one of the most attention-grabbing cruise ships on the market. But if you're a fan of affordable vacations, no onboard feature will make your jaw drop more than the price of a vacation on this vessel.
As demand for cruises has increased, so have fares: In 2024, the cost of a vacation at sea is projected to shoot past 2019 levels. Cruise line companies like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are now reporting increasing demand and pricing for late 2023 into next year.
Part of Royal Caribbean's success could be attributed to the Icon, its upcoming world's largest cruise ship, which has already been "driving a huge amount of demand and great rate," Royal Caribbean International's CEO Michael Bayley said in a call with investors in May.
Travelers love new shiny objects, including cruise liners. Because of this, new ships generally have a "superior pricing premium historically between 20% to 50%," Patrick Scholes, an analyst at Truist Securities, told Insider in October. However, he believes it's "at least 50% if not more for the Icon."
"You're seeing incredible pricing for the Icon," Scholes said. "I was definitely surprised how high it is. I was like, 'Oh my gosh.'"
In 2024, the cheapest Icon itinerary starts at about $260 per day for the $1,820 per person seven-night February sailing in an interior stateroom, according to Royal Caribbean's website. This cost goes up to over $7,580 per person for a high-end suite during a late March seven-night cruise. (The suites for this itinerary are already sold out.)
To compare, the cheapest sailing for the Wonder of the Seas, the next newest ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet and currently the world's largest, starts at only $766 per person for a similar seven-night cruise.
Despite its drawbacks, it seems travelers can't wait to sail on the upcoming mega vessel. Royal Caribbean saw its largest booking day ever when it opened reservations for the Icon of the Seas in October 2022 — before the ship was even complete. And throughout 2023, the cruise line has reiterated this incredible demand: It's "by far the best-selling product we've ever launched in the history of our business," Bayley said in a call with investors in late October, echoing what he had already been saying since February.
"Icon is significantly more booked for her inaugural season at materially higher rates than any other Royal Caribbean ship launch," Liberty told investors in May.
Along with these stunning fares, there will be plenty of opportunities for travelers to spend big on the ship. The upcoming vessel has 22 dining venues, about half of which are "specialty" that come at an
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