royal caribbean cruise ship tour

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Royal caribbean introduces ultimate world tour, the farthest-reaching cruise to all seven continents.

MIAMI, Oct. 20, 2021* – Adventurers seeking to travel far and wide can now set off on a world tour of their own. Royal Caribbean International is raising the bar for world cruises with the debut of the inaugural Ultimate World Cruise , an epic 274-night adventure that visits all seven continents , more than 150 destinations in 65 countries and 11 great wonders of the world . This rich, immersive experience on Serenade of the Seas is the longest and most comprehensive world cruise out there, sailing roundtrip from Miami on Dec. 10, 2023 and through Sept. 10, 2024. Bookings for the full Ultimate World Cruise can be made by phone starting today , with an exclusive one-week window through Oct. 26 for Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society Diamond status members and above.

Travelers will sail to 57 destinations new to the cruise line and exclusive to the cruise itself. Highlights include Casablanca, Morocco; Qaqortoq, Greenland; and Shimizu, Japan – the gateway to Mount Fuji. Guests can delve deep into many of the world’s breathtaking wonders, from Peru’s Machu Picchu to the Taj Mahal in India, and experience distinct cultures and picturesque shores at every corner of the world all in one spectacular adventure – only on Royal Caribbean.

“This is the world cruise of world cruises,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International “Now more than ever, people have resolved to travel the world and make up for lost time. Royal Caribbean is making that a reality with the ultimate vacation that welcomes those seeking adventure and exploration to taste, dance and dream with us around the world. To travelers asking themselves where they should go next, we say everywhere.”

Guests ready to traverse the world can book the full Ultimate World Cruise today or choose from any of the four expeditions that will offer a wide range of destinations as soon as December 2021 – the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Mediterranean and Northern Europe:

  • Ultimate Americas Dec. 10, 2023 - Feb. 11, 2024 – Three continents, 36 destinations, four wonders The once-in-a-lifetime journey begins in Miami, the cruise capital of the world, and sets course for postcard-perfect Caribbean destinations – like the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) – before heading to glacier-studded Antarctica and around Cape Horn. Travelers can take in four of the world’s stunning wonders along the way in Central and South America, including Chichen Itza in Cozumel, Mexico; the largest art deco sculpture in the world, Christ the Redeemer , in Rio de Janeiro – where they’ll celebrate New Year’s Eve – and the largest waterfall system on the planet, Iguazu Falls near Buenos Aires, Argentina. One of the most iconic symbols of ancient Inca civilization and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu , awaits in Peru, while sunshine and glamour will welcome guests in Los Angeles.
  • Ultimate Asia-Pacific Feb. 11 - May 9, 2024 – Three continents, 40 destinations, three wonders Guests will venture miles from the ordinary in Oceania, Asia and beyond on the cruise’s next showstopping leg. They can discover the beauty and adventure throughout the Hawaiian Islands’ world-renowned mountainous landscapes and black sand beaches before sailing south to Moorea and Tahiti, French Polynesia, for sapphire blue skies and crystal-clear waters. The thrills continue with an exploration of New Zealand, before a deep-dive into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – the only living thing on the planet that’s visible from space. Pristine natural beauty in Bali, Indonesia, is soon followed by two of the most iconic manmade world wonders, the Great Wall of China and India’s Taj Mahal , and gems of the South Pacific – from Vietnam to Malaysia. Rounding out the expedition are endless possibilities in Japan, with unparalleled culture in Tokyo, street food in Osaka and the tropical beaches of Okinawa.
  • Ultimate Middle East and Med May 9 - July 10, 2024 – Three continents, 44 destinations, four wonders This expedition begins in glamorous Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and brings many of history’s greatest mysteries, myths and legends to life. Adventurers can uncover ancient sites and more world wonders from the times of emperors and pharaohs, like Jordan’s lost city of Petra , the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, Turkey, and the Colosseum in Rome. There are also less-traveled places to explore, such as Greece’s Olympia, once a sanctuary site to honor Zeus and the location of the first Olympic games. The journey only continues to even more destinations known for their storied history — like Split, Croatia, and Cannes and Provence in France.
  • Ultimate Europe and Beyond July 10 - Sept. 10, 2024 – Three continents, 40 destinations The final leg of the Ultimate World Cruise is an immersive, cultural experience that begins in the Mediterranean and heads north. At travelers’ fingertips is the opportunity to discover Barcelona’s brilliant architecture, including Antoni Gaudi’s famed Sagrada Familia and whimsical Park Guell , and savor new flavors across continents — such as an indulgent lunch in a Parisian bistro and a dinner of tagine and mint tea in Morocco. Museums, theaters and galleries line the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia, while larger-than-life fjords await in Norway. Guests can reflect on their epic voyage in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland before visiting New York on their way back to Miami.

Globetrotters will explore the world in style on board Serenade , thanks to Royal Caribbean’s award-winning experiences and amenities. And adventurers can stay close to the action with the ship’s acres of glass, which offer panoramic views, as they cruise from one destination, continent and world wonder to the next. From start to finish, guests who book the full Ultimate World Cruise can expect a seamless, world-class travel experience that includes business class airfare, premium transportation as well as an evening of festivities and accommodations at a five-star hotel before setting sail. Plus, Crown & Anchor Society Platinum status members and above will receive a bonus Seven New World Wonders shore excursion package in addition to other perks, including a Deluxe Beverage package, VOOM Wi-Fi, laundry service and more.

Bookings for the entire Ultimate World Cruise open today for Diamond and above Crown & Anchor Society members. Guests interested in booking can call Royal Caribbean’s dedicated line for the Ultimate World Cruise at 800-423-2100 (US toll free) or their travel advisor.

About Royal Caribbean International Royal Caribbean International has been delivering innovation at sea for more than 50 years. Each successive class of ships is an architectural marvel featuring the latest technology and guest experiences for today’s adventurous traveller. The cruise line continues to revolutionize vacations with itineraries to more than 270 destinations in 72 countries on six continents, including Royal Caribbean’s private island destination in The Bahamas,  Perfect Day at CocoCay,  the first in the Perfect Day Island Collection. Royal Caribbean has also been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 18 consecutive years in the  Travel Weekly  Readers’ Choice Awards.

Media can stay up to date by following  @RoyalCaribPR on Twitter and visiting RoyalCaribbeanPressCenter.com. For additional information or to make reservations, vacationers can call their travel advisor; visit RoyalCaribbean.com; or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN.

Royal Caribbean International is applying the recommendations of its  Healthy Sail Panel  of public health and scientific experts to provide a safer and healthier cruise vacation on all of its sailings. Health and safety protocols, regional travel restrictions and clearance to visit ports of call, are subject to change based on ongoing evaluation, public health standards, and government requirements. U.S. cruises and guests: For more information on the latest health and travel alerts, U.S. government travel advisories, please visit  www.royalcaribbean.com/cruise-ships/itinerary-updates  or consult travel advisories, warnings or recommendations relating to cruise travel on applicable government websites.

*February 2022 update

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October 2021 – Adventurers seeking to travel far and wide can set off on Serenade of the Seas for a world tour on Royal Caribbean International’s first-ever Ultimate World Cruise. Sailing from Miami on Dec. 10, 2023, the farthest-reaching cruise invites travelers to visit 11 wonders of the world and 150-plus destinations in 65 countries on all seven continents.

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All Access Ship Tour

All Access Ship Tour – Behind The Scenes Of A Cruise Ship

The All Access Ship Tour is a cruise ship tour that Royal Caribbean offers.  Virtually unheard of and unadvertised, most do not know this is an option! If you are naturally curious like me, you probably want to explore restricted areas. Here’s your chance. Explore the behind-the-scenes operations of cruise ships and discover how it all works.

Learn how the food is prepared and where the ingredients are stored.  Travel through the underbelly of the cruise and see the crew corridors, the Engine Control Room, the Bridge, the ship’s navigational center, and even behind the theater curtain!

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I knew that these tours existed; I’ve cruised many times. However, I did not know the names or how to book, and I never really researched it until now! I recently cruised on Oasis of the Seas , where I first heard about this from another guest. Sadly, the tour was unavailable for us because cruising had just started post- COVID . Naturally, when I booked Wonder of the Seas to Bermuda , it was the first activity I booked.

FYI – The All Access Ship Tour is considered an “Excursion” and the listing lacks a full description of what it is.

All Access Ship Tour Includes:

  • Main Dining Room
  • Main Galley
  • Provision Area

Environmental Services

  • Engine Control Room
  • Laundry Facilities
  • Crew Corridor is I-95 – the long corridor in the crew’s area, named after the longest highway on the U.S. east coast.

This type of tour may not be available on cruises and is not always available on Royal Caribbean Cruises – it depends on the route and number of nights. Most cruise lines offer a similar type of tour, but they are all called something different.

The “All Access Ship Tour” of the Wonder Of The Seas is almost three and a half hours long. The experience was great, and we could see many areas of the ship that are usually off-limits to cruise ship passengers.

The galley is a kitchen on these impressive resort-like cruise liners. It’s more like a football field of kitchens! This will be your first stop on the All Access Ship Tour.

I’ve always been fascinated by how cruise ships handle food – especially food on board. The feat is almost astounding in light of the daily meals they prepare on a boat with over 3,000 guests and over 1,000 crew members. Chefs and kitchen staff on cruise ships deserve a lot of respect, no doubt about it.

The Galley

You get to see where and how all the dishes are made. A senior kitchen staff member will explain how his kitchens stay efficient, safe, and clean.

The staffing efficiency is unparalleled in a kitchen. They are just as well-oiled a machine as the engine! All I can say is wow! It takes some coordination and then some. You could get lost in here, never mind carrying out multiple orders.

The Galley

Food Storage

The Wonder of the Seas storage section stores all that food for the voyage. The refrigerated section alone is the size of a New York apartment!  The ship’s crew keeps everything fresh and ready for consumption here.

Food Storage

Crew Corridor – The I-95

This is another place where you could easily get lost. There are many doors, staircases, and crew members maneuvering behind the scenes of a cruise ship. You cannot photograph the crew areas or the confidential information on the walls. Once you start walking the I-95, you can not take photographs.

Crew Corridor - The I-95

Cruises get a terrible rap for omissions and other environmental concerns. I was impressed with how Royal Caribbean approaches recycling. Everything from broken plates to cans is recycled, and it’s all compressed on the ship. The incinerators burn non-recyclables, and they are huge.

Environmental Services

The ship’s environmental services officer knows more about maintaining and minimizing the ecological impact than most.  Our guide explained all the systems and protocols to ensure the ship maintains a low environmental impact. In addition to “scrubbers” that remove pollution from the smokestacks, the boat also uses recycled water and other materials, so it’s good to know it doesn’t harm the oceans.

Where Does the Poo Go?

I know you want to know. Everyone is curious! It gets explained before you can even ask.

The water is run through multiple filtration systems before it is returned to the ocean. This is the short answer to what happens to the poo flushed down the toilet.

The Engine Control Room

This is where any cruise fanatic, engineer, or person interested in nautical technology will have an orgasm. It’s also where most of the questions get asked. 

Prepare for a body scan to enter here. The security officers do not play. Not only will they scan you, but they will be inside with you, watching your every move.

Body Scan For The The Engine Control Room

Often called the “brain” of the ship – the engine control room where all systems are monitored. And, in the control room, they can override everything on the entire ship. A large cruise ship like the Wonder of the Seas relies on its engine control room as a nerve center. These include engine and propulsion systems, cooling systems, and environmental controls.

Ready for some more poo? Guess what? The engineers can see when we are using the bathroom! They cannot see you “using” it; they see the influx in the water flow. And, yes – this came up in the engine room.

The crew actively monitors every critical system aboard the ship. This room is continuously operated by someone who ensures the boat runs smoothly. In the middle of the room is a large table showing a schematic of the ship’s decks.

The Engine Control Room

Most guests don’t get to see all the decks of a boat or behind the scenes of a cruise ship. I found it interesting to see this highly guarded zone below the water level.

The Laundromat

I don’t think the laundromat fits the bill. It is a laundromat but – holly molly. There are industrial bus -sized machines in here that press bedding! I can’t even begin to phantom the technology used to bring this together. Thinking about it makes my head hurt. Here is like being in the heart of the boat and you know you are behind the scenes of a cruise ship.

Ironically, as impressed as I was, Wonder of The Seas still uses what’s considered a manual system that requires lots of humans. We were told that the newer ships have automated assembly line machines.

The Laundromat

This was a new addition to the tour, and there was some confusion with the timing. We got there as the show was closing. It was interesting to see behind the curtain, but I’ve been behind the curtain of much larger productions, so this part of the tour was not as fascinating. I didn’t take any photographs on this part of the tour. 

I can’t lie; I’ve always wanted to go on The Bridge of a cruise ship. Something about uniforms (especially American uniforms) has always captured my attention. Ok, fine, I’ve always been attracted to American men in uniform! An Officer and A Gentleman, anyone?

You’ll get to meet the captain; if you are lucky, you’ll chat with him. At a minimum, his team will pose for you.

The Bridge

While I got to see The Bridge, it was not as artsy-farty as I expected. It’s decadent and plush but a bit boring. Maybe the décor was not my style. I’m not sure, but other than the views of the ship (not the men), this was not my favorite part of the tour.

And, even if the captain was smoking hot. It would not have mattered. See the section below on what you need to wear. I looked like a right plank (pun intended) on this tour!

Clothing Requirements

  • High heels, flip-flops, and open-toed shoes are not permitted.
  • Shorts and skirts are prohibited.

Well…. Here’s a problem. I only wear flip-flops, I don’t wear pants, and I do not own a pair of sneakers, nor do I own a pair of shoes that are not open-toe. A girls’ girl dress-only girl who gave up shoes years ago! I do wear leggings sometimes, but who takes leggings on a cruise?

To my horror, my choices were either not go on tour or get creative.

Here’s what creative looked like. Me in Brian’s loungers’ pants, in his boots that are at least five sizes too big. And a beautiful peacock blue dress on top of it all. Pretty confident that my makeshift outfit that met the criteria was about as safe as jumping off the Empire State building. But it was required!

Clothing Requirements For All Access Tour

Jokes aside, if you plan to take The All Access Ship Tour make sure you pack the right clothes!

What You Need to Know About The All Access Ship Tour

  • To participate in this tour, guests must bring their SeaPass cards.
  • Bags and purses are a no-no.
  • Video cameras are not permitted; photography is still only allowed in certain areas.
  • You MUST reserve this as soon as you confirm your cruise. There is only space for twelve people per tour, and the number of times is limited.
  • People in wheelchairs and those with limited mobility should not select this tour.
  • Everyone must wear personal protective gear if and when provided.
  • You must walk, stand for extended periods, and climb numerous steps.
  • Photos and videos will be restricted in some regions of the ship.
  • Children must be six (6) years or older to participate in this tour.
  • A parent or adult must accompany children under 18.
  • Guests are required to wear KN95 face masks behind the scenes of a cruise ship.

How Much Does the All Access Ship Tour Cost?

The tour costs approximatly $150 per guest for three hours.  However, I seem to recall paying less. Regardless, it was worth it to go behind the scenes of a cruise ship.

Will You See Crew Cabins on the All Access Ship Tour?

The crew bar and crew cabins are sacred areas, so respect the crew’s privacy and peace. Don’t expect to hang out in them.

Is All Access Tour Worth It?

Yes, yes, yes! I’ve wanted to do this forever, and it exceeded my expectations.

How To Reserve the All Access Ship Tour?

You can reserve the All Access Ship Tour through Cruise Planner at the Shore Excursions desk or Guest Relations onboard the ship.

Closing Thoughts

The All Access Ship Tour was one of the highlights of our cruise. It’s not a tour I think I would do on every ship. At some point, it would become repetitive. This said, it was money very well spent, and I know I will do it on another ship!

Although cruising isn’t for everyone, it can be a great family travel option if you’ve never tried it before. Cruising is a fantastic way to enjoy well-earned time off , and there are many reasons to try it!

Looking for articles on cruising ? Start here:

  • 6 Reasons To Choose An Inside Cruise Cabin
  • 7 Ways To See Behind The Scenes On A Cruise Ship
  • 20 Ways To Save Money On Your First Cruise
  • 75 Plus Free Activities On The Oasis Of The Seas
  • Oasis of The Seas – The Amplified Version
  • Vacation On A Cruise – Why It’s For Everyone!

We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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royal caribbean cruise ship tour

Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job without breaking the bank. Nikki is always in search of off-the-beaten-track experiences and unique stays. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles annually and has visited 74 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com or follow along on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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Royal Caribbean International

Alaska Cruisetours

Alaska Cruisetours Overview

View the charts below to help you select the Cruisetour land package that best fits your individual interests and vacation plans. Each chart shows the duration of each Cruisetour, the activities included and cities visited. Tour packages are numbered and lettered with “A” for Cruisetours that occur after the cruise or “B” for tours that occur before the cruise.

royal caribbean cruise ship tour

  • 2025 Cruisetours
  • 2024 Cruisetours

Alaska Wildlife Express 1A

7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier Cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 3-night, post-cruise escorted land tour to Talkeetna, Denali and Anchorage.

Included Experiences — Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Denali Natural History Tour

2025 Departures — May 16 & 30, June 13 & 27, July 11 & 25, August 8 & 22

Alaska Wildlife Express 1B

2025 Departures — May 20, June 3 & 17, July 1, 15 & 29, August 12 & 26, September 9

Alaska Interior Express 2A

7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 3-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Denali and Fairbanks (2 nights).

Included Experiences — Denali Natural History Tour, Fairbanks City Tour, Gold Dredge 8

Alaska Interior Express 2B

Mountain valley explorer 3a.

7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 4-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Alyeska (Girdwood), Talkeetna, Denali and Anchorage.

Included Experiences — Alaska Sealife Center, Denali Natural History Tour, Wildlife Conservation Center

Mountain Valley Explorer 3B

This itinerary is conducted in reverse order of Tour 3A and offered as a pre-cruise option.

2025 Departures — May 19, June 2, 16 & 30 July 14 & 28, August 11 & 25, September 8

Wilderness Frontier Explorer 4A

7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 4-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Denali (2 nights) and Fairbanks (2 nights).

Included Experiences — Tundra Wilderness Tour, Fairbanks City Tour, Riverboat Discovery Cruise

Wilderness Frontier Explorer 4B

This itinerary is conducted in reverse order of Tour 4A and offered as a pre-cruise option.

Mountain Panorama Adventure 5A

7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 5-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Alyeska (Girdwood), Denali (2 nights), Talkeetna and Anchorage

Included Experiences — Alaska SeaLife Center, Denali Natural History Tour, Rail from Talkeetna to Anchorage, and more.

Mountain Panorama Adventure 5B

This itinerary is conducted in reverse order of Tour 5A and offered as a pre-cruise option.

2025 Departures — May 18, June 1, 15 & 29, July 13 & 27, August 10 & 24, September 7

Fjord & Tundra National Parks Explorer 6A

7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier Cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 5-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Seward, Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks (2 nights).

Included Experiences — Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise, Alaska Native Heritage Center, Tundra Wilderness Tour, and more.

Fjord & Tundra National Parks Explorer 6B

Grand mountain marvels 7a.

7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier Cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 6-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Seward, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali (2 nights) and Fairbanks.

Included Experiences — Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise, Anchorage City Tour, Anchorage Museum, and more.

Grand Mountain Marvels 7B

2025 Departures — May 17 & 31, June 14 & 28, July 12 & 26, August 9 & 23, September 6

Alaska Wilderness Spectacular 8A

7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier Cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 6-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali (2 nights) and Fairbanks (2 nights).

Included Experiences — Alaska Native Heritage Center, Tundra Wilderness Tour, Riverboat Discovery Cruise, and more.

Alaska Wilderness Spectacular 8B

Family tundra express 9a.

7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 3-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Talkeetna, Denali and Anchorage.

Included Experiences — Anchorage Museum & Imaginarium Discovery Center, Murie Science & Learning Center, Dog Kennel Tour, and ...

Family Tundra Express 9B

Destination denali 11a.

7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 2-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Talkeetna, Denali and Anchorage.

Included Experiences — Denali Natural History Tour

Departures — May 17 & 31, June 14 & 28, July 12 & 26, August 9 & 23

Departures — May 21, June 4 & 18, July 2, 16 & 30, August 13 & 27, September 10

Departures — May 20, June 3 & 17, July 1, 15 & 29, August 12 & 26 September 9

Departures — May 19, June 2, 16 & 30, July 14 & 28, August 11 & 25 September 8

Departures — May 18, June 1, 15 & 29, July 13 & 27, August 10 & 24 September 7

Included Experiences — Anchorage Museum & Imaginarium Discovery Center, Murie Science & Learning Center, Dog Kennel Tour

Protect Your Trip »

Icon of the seas: the best dining, amenities and more on royal caribbean's new ship.

This family-friendly megaship features plenty of activities, entertainment and restaurants.

Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Icon of the Seas.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Key Takeaways

  • Icon of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world, with 18 passenger-accessible decks, eight different neighborhoods and 2,805 staterooms.
  • Think of Icon of the Seas as an all-in-one adventure vacation contained on a ship. Young families and energetic travelers will enjoy it most.
  • Itineraries originate from Miami , sail to destinations around the Caribbean and include a stop at Royal Caribbean's private island , Perfect Day at CocoCay.

If you have any degree of interest in traveling or cruising, chances are you've heard the buzz around Icon of the Seas. Another record-breaking ship by Royal Caribbean International , Icon of the Seas debuted on Jan. 27, 2024, as the largest cruise ship in the world. It is epic in every sense, featuring 18 cruiser-accessible decks and stretching 1,196 feet from bow to stern.

With greatest-of-all-time soccer player Lionel Messi as the ship's godfather, the Icon of the Seas is truly iconic. Messi brought the entire Inter Miami team along for the opening ceremony and the big reveal of the team's new Royal Caribbean-sponsored jerseys. I was fortunate enough to attend this star-studded ceremony as part of the press preview sailing in the days leading up to the ship's grand debut to the public. It was everything I thought it would be and more, and nobody could have been more appropriate than Messi to send this ship on her maiden voyage.

Boarding a ship of this size can seem overwhelming, but not when you understand the layout. Icon of the Seas is broken up into eight distinct neighborhoods: AquaDome, Central Park, Thrill Island, Chill Island, Royal Promenade, The Hideaway, Suite Neighborhood and Surfside, a neighborhood built for young families looking for nonstop fun and kid-approved eats and treats.

In addition to these public areas, there are 2,805 staterooms spread across 12 decks. Icon of the Seas' capacity maxes out at 7,600 passengers and 2,350 crew members, but with the plethora of public spaces and variety of things to do and see, you can choose your own adventure without encountering more crowds than you want to.

Find your perfect cruise

Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Icon of the Seas.

Skye Sherman

Icon of the Seas itinerary

During its inaugural 2024-2025 cruising season, Icon of the Seas offers seven-night eastern or western Caribbean adventures from Miami, stopping at a variety of tropical destinations. All sailings include a stop at Royal Caribbean's award-winning private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, in the Bahamas . Other destinations include Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis ; Roatan, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico .

During the 2025-2026 cruising season, new destinations will include Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic ; San Juan, Puerto Rico ; Labadee, Haiti; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas (part of the U.S. Virgin Islands ). All sailings will originate from Miami.

No matter your Icon of the Seas itinerary, you'll visit beautiful places – but you can expect to feel torn about spending any time off the ship, because it's just that jampacked with things to do.

Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Icon of the Seas.

Who should sail on Icon of the Seas?

Icon of the Seas appeals not so much to a demographic as to a psychographic; you're going to need to be someone who likes to live life in all caps. Royal Caribbean set out to create "the world's best vacation" contained on a ship, so Icon of the Seas is for anyone who would enjoy the combination of a beach trip, a resort stay, a water park adventure and island-hopping.

Fun-loving travelers and families with kids of varying ages will do best on this ship; it feels a little bit like Disney World with over-the-top everything and a truly massive sprawl. Older travelers who prefer a more quiet, refined experience may want to opt for a less kid-friendly ship. Still, even couples without children will find plenty of fun adult-friendly things to do and romantic places to tuck in.

The Royal Promenade can be quite loud and buzzy, but simply relocating to another onboard neighborhood can completely shift the vibe. Also, keep in mind that the ship really is huge, and walking from end to end can be a hike, so those with limited mobility or endurance might want to look into a smaller ship.

Icon of the Seas prices are high in its opening season, but cruisers with big dreams and small budgets can expect rates to drop by the time the next ship in the series debuts.

Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Icon of the Seas.

The stateroom

With a ship this overstimulating, it's imperative that your stateroom is a haven. Luckily, Icon of the Seas offers peaceful rooms, many of which feature ocean or Central Park neighborhood views. Cruise ship accommodations are stereotypically compact – even cramped – but the floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows in Icon of the Seas' cabins (with the exception of the windowless interior rooms) lend an airy, open feel. The cabin layouts are also optimized to provide the maximum amount of storage, floor space and comfort.

Stateroom decor is mildly nautical- and tropical-themed, with calming hues that mimic the scenery outside your window (think blues, beiges and whites). High-tech elements include smart TVs, LED mirrors and the ability to control many aspects of your room from an app.

My husband and I stayed in an Ocean View Large Balcony Stateroom, a 204-square-foot refuge from the hustle and bustle of the ship (the balcony adds another 65 to 70 square feet). This room type can sleep up to four people with a sofa bed for one or two; the room also features twin beds that convert to a king bed for couples.

My husband is 6 feet, 3 inches tall, and we were comfortable in our room, even though our quarters included a large bed, a bathroom, a sofa and a desk. We loved sitting on our private balcony and watching the deep blues of the Atlantic Ocean flow by.

If money is no object, the Ultimate Family Townhouse – an over-the-top eight-guest, three-story pad with a private whirlpool on the balcony, three bathrooms, a slide that connects the second and main levels, an in-suite cinema, a dining room and a kitchenette – looks epic. But keep in mind, it costs nearly $100,000 for the week.

The Sunset Corner Suites (about one-fifth of the cost of the Ultimate Family Townhouse, but still expensive) are also pretty sweet, with a wraparound balcony and a bed facing the sea.

Luckily, not all rooms break the bank; with four main stateroom categories (suite, balcony, ocean view and inside) and 28 subcategories, there's something for everyone.

Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Icon of the Seas.

Best amenities on Icon of the Seas

It's almost impossible to run out of things to do aboard Icon of the Seas.

For thrill-seekers, the largest water park at sea – Category 6 – features the Frightening Bolt (the tallest waterslide on a ship) and the Pressure Drop (the first open freefall waterslide on a cruise vessel).

If you've tired of the seven swimming pools, six waterslides, laser tag, mini-golf, rock climbing wall, escape room, sports courts, outdoor decks, theater, spa and all-day programming, simply take a stroll down the Royal Promenade for Las Vegas -style people-watching. The Royal Promenade has 15 restaurants, bars and lounges, as well as a Starbucks that seems to have a line no matter what time you go. The neighborhood feels a bit like a shopping mall … if a shopping mall had floor-to-ceiling ocean views made possible by the world's largest kinetic art sculpture.

The Pearl, a feat of engineering, is one of the most unique aspects of the ship's design. This art piece is actually a load-bearing structure supporting three decks, but it looks and feels like an interactive art experience designed solely for the enjoyment of guests. The multisensory immersive structure has 3,000 kinetic panels and moody ever-changing lighting. It is one of the first things guests will see when they walk on board, as it stretches from the Royal Promenade up to Central Park.

My husband and I spent most of our time at the FlowRider surf simulator – his favorite amenity – but we made sure to leave time for Taylor Swift trivia at Spotlight Karaoke and the superhuman stunts of the Aqua Theater show, a must on any Icon of the Seas voyage. The ship even has a massive ice arena called Absolute Zero for ice skating (the 20-minute sessions are complimentary) and impressive shows.

We also loved lounging in The Overlook Bar & Pods, an area at the very front of the ship (behind the AquaDome) that features two levels of floor-to-ceiling wraparound windows. It felt airy and open, which can't be said about many cruise ship interiors.

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Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Icon of the Seas.

Best dining venues on Icon of the Seas

There are more dining options aboard Icon of the Seas than you can fit in on a seven-night cruise – but you can give it the old college try. Thirteen of the dining venues are complimentary, while 14 are specialty restaurants (which cost extra; fees vary). There are also 18 bars and lounges.

The best meal we experienced on the ship was at the Chops Grille specialty eatery. When we spotted Royal Caribbean CEO Jason Liberty and a group of bigwigs at a table next to us, we knew we were in the right place. We loved sitting outside and enjoying the breezes of Central Park while we chowed down, but you can eat indoors for an elegant steakhouse experience and a view of the open kitchen and butcher's display, which shows off specialty cuts like high-grade wagyu and bone-in tomahawks.

While I'd never turn down a swanky steak dinner, grabbing quick poolside bites at El Loco Fresh and indulging in some food hall-style grazing at AquaDome Market were equally enjoyable. We also had no complaints eating several meals at Windjammer, the classic complimentary cruise ship buffet.

Even though we don't have children, we stopped into Surfside Bites for a very kid-friendly meal, complete with soft serve ice cream cones from Sprinkles (because no cruise is complete without soft serve). We didn't try anything from the open-air, lemonade stand-inspired Lemon Post bar, but its menu of cocktails and mocktails looked delicious.

And since you're on vacation, be sure to check out the milkshake bar Desserted, where the sugary creations are as photo-worthy as they are decadent. They're worth the upcharge.

Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Icon of the Seas.

Best excursions on Icon of the Seas

Depending on what's on your Icon of the Seas itinerary, you may be able to book activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, tropical jungle adventures, visits to Mayan ruins, volcano hikes, rainforest zip lining, relaxing beach days or cultural immersion tours.

Note that Royal Caribbean features the same options on many of its other Caribbean cruises; none of the excursions on offer are exclusive to Icon of the Seas.

Because our press preview sailing only visited Perfect Day at CocoCay, we did not experience any of the shore excursions. Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas was plenty of fun, even though we didn't plan anything in advance.

If we had made plans, we would have liked to check out the Up, Up and Away tethered hot air balloon, which wasn't running that day, and the overwater cabanas at Coco Beach Club, which were all booked. Thrill Waterpark (which features the tallest waterslide in North America), Oasis Lagoon (the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean) and the adults-only Hideaway Beach are other highlights of Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Icon of the Seas.

Overall impressions of Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean seems to be focused on superlatives. It has the biggest, best, tallest, largest and most of everything – especially when it comes to Icon of the Seas. If you like jampacked, adventurous vacations that squeeze a lot of adventure and relaxation into one memorable week, Icon of the Seas is probably for you.

While I love seeing Royal Caribbean push the limits of what cruises can be, the ship may almost be too big for some. It's an all-out Vegas-esque vessel that feels more like a floating city; you will probably forget (more than once) that you're not on dry land.

That's not necessarily a bad thing – if Icon of the Seas looks fun to you, it probably will be – but my husband and I tend to gravitate more toward authentic, immersive, on-the-ground cultural experiences when we travel. While Icon of the Seas is a lot of things, it's not that. We had a fantastic time and have already started planning a future Royal Caribbean cruise with a group of friends and family, but we also sympathize with the anticruisers of the world. Vacationing does not a traveler make.

Still, the shows are entertaining, the service is attentive, the music is jamming, and the architecture and design are incredibly impressive. I have no real complaints and suspect that most cruisers will have the time of their lives on Icon of the Seas – exactly as the minds at Royal Caribbean envisioned when they dreamed up this iconic ship.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Skye Sherman has been cruising since childhood, when her parents took her on her first cruise through the Caribbean. She has sailed various ocean cruise lines, gone off the grid for a six-day riverboat expedition deep into the Amazon River and even planned a European river cruise with 48 of her closest family and friends. She's a fourth-generation Floridian and hopes to visit every country in the world during her lifetime. She covers travel and lifestyle topics for major publications including U.S. News & World Report.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Newest Royal Caribbean Ships
  • Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival
  • The Largest Cruise Ships in the World
  • The Best New Cruise Ships
  • The Best Cruise Insurance

Tags: Travel , Cruises , Royal Caribbean Cruises

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Coco Beach Club Aerial, Perfect Day at Coco Cay

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Nude cruise to set sail from Florida next year: Here are the starting costs, itinerary

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The "Big Nude Boat" cruise, which allows passengers to bare all − yes, even at the buffet − is set to sail from Florida next year.

The "11-day adventure" to the Caribbean is set for the first two weeks of February on the Norwegian Pearl, according to the Bare Necessities Tour & Travel website.

"Bare Necessities’ newest nude cruise is a private island double-dip with a brand new travel partner!" the company wrote on its website.

The trip which embarks from Miami, includes "an exclusive visit to an idyllic private island" in The Bahamas as well a another exclusive stop on the way back to the Port of Miami.

"Two opportunities to enjoy a new slice of Bare-adise, coupled with a beautiful selection of Eastern Caribbean island stops, will make this a can’t miss Big Nude Boat experience," the travel company posted.

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Big Nude Boat cruise sailing dates and destinations:

The ship departs from the Port of Miami on Feb. 3 and returns to the same port on Feb. 14.

The itinerary includes stops at the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Dominica, Martinique and St. Lucia.

How much does the Big Nude Boat cruise cost?

Rates for an inside cabin start at $2,000 per person.

They stretch as high as $33,155 for the top room on the ship: a Haven three-bedroom garden villa.

Laws of the land (and sea)

Guests are encouraged to park their bare behinds on towels provided on board in areas including the pool deck and the buffet area, according to the website.

"Passengers can easily follow our rule on nudist etiquette by always placing a towel down before sitting," it reads. "Remember to pack a swimsuit; not all excursions are clothing optional."

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on X @nataliealund.

WTOP News

Icon of the Seas: The Best Dining, Amenities and More on Royal Caribbean’s New Ship

U.S. News & World Report

May 9, 2024, 8:00 PM

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If you have any degree of interest in traveling or cruising, chances are you’ve heard the buzz around Icon of the Seas. Another record-breaking ship by Royal Caribbean International , Icon of the Seas debuted on Jan. 27, 2024, as the largest cruise ship in the world. It is epic in every sense, featuring 18 cruiser-accessible decks and stretching 1,196 feet from bow to stern.

With greatest-of-all-time soccer player Lionel Messi as the ship’s godfather, the Icon of the Seas is truly iconic. Messi brought the entire Inter Miami team along for the opening ceremony and the big reveal of the team’s new Royal Caribbean-sponsored jerseys. I was fortunate enough to attend this star-studded ceremony as part of the press preview sailing in the days leading up to the ship’s grand debut to the public. It was everything I thought it would be and more, and nobody could have been more appropriate than Messi to send this ship on her maiden voyage.

Boarding a ship of this size can seem overwhelming, but not when you understand the layout. Icon of the Seas is broken up into eight distinct neighborhoods: AquaDome, Central Park, Thrill Island, Chill Island, Royal Promenade, The Hideaway, Suite Neighborhood and Surfside, a neighborhood built for young families looking for nonstop fun and kid-approved eats and treats.

In addition to these public areas, there are 2,805 staterooms spread across 12 decks. Icon of the Seas’ capacity maxes out at 7,600 passengers and 2,350 crew members, but with the plethora of public spaces and variety of things to do and see, you can choose your own adventure without encountering more crowds than you want to.

Icon of the Seas itinerary

During its inaugural 2024-2025 cruising season, Icon of the Seas offers seven-night eastern or western Caribbean adventures from Miami, stopping at a variety of tropical destinations. All sailings include a stop at Royal Caribbean’s award-winning private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, in the Bahamas . Other destinations include Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis ; Roatan, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico .

During the 2025-2026 cruising season, new destinations will include Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic ; San Juan, Puerto Rico ; Labadee, Haiti; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas (part of the U.S. Virgin Islands ). All sailings will originate from Miami.

No matter your Icon of the Seas itinerary, you’ll visit beautiful places — but you can expect to feel torn about spending any time off the ship, because it’s just that jampacked with things to do.

Who should sail on Icon of the Seas?

Icon of the Seas appeals not so much to a demographic as to a psychographic; you’re going to need to be someone who likes to live life in all caps. Royal Caribbean set out to create “the world’s best vacation” contained on a ship, so Icon of the Seas is for anyone who would enjoy the combination of a beach trip, a resort stay, a water park adventure and island-hopping.

Fun-loving travelers and families with kids of varying ages will do best on this ship; it feels a little bit like Disney World with over-the-top everything and a truly massive sprawl. Older travelers who prefer a more quiet, refined experience may want to opt for a less kid-friendly ship. Still, even couples without children will find plenty of fun adult-friendly things to do and romantic places to tuck in.

The Royal Promenade can be quite loud and buzzy, but simply relocating to another onboard neighborhood can completely shift the vibe. Also, keep in mind that the ship really is huge, and walking from end to end can be a hike, so those with limited mobility or endurance might want to look into a smaller ship.

Icon of the Seas prices are high in its opening season, but cruisers with big dreams and small budgets can expect rates to drop by the time the next ship in the series debuts.

The stateroom

With a ship this overstimulating, it’s imperative that your stateroom is a haven. Luckily, Icon of the Seas offers peaceful rooms, many of which feature ocean or Central Park neighborhood views. Cruise ship accommodations are stereotypically compact — even cramped — but the floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows in Icon of the Seas’ cabins (with the exception of the windowless interior rooms) lend an airy, open feel. The cabin layouts are also optimized to provide the maximum amount of storage, floor space and comfort.

Stateroom decor is mildly nautical- and tropical-themed, with calming hues that mimic the scenery outside your window (think blues, beiges and whites). High-tech elements include smart TVs, LED mirrors and the ability to control many aspects of your room from an app.

My husband and I stayed in an Ocean View Large Balcony Stateroom, a 204-square-foot refuge from the hustle and bustle of the ship (the balcony adds another 65 to 70 square feet). This room type can sleep up to four people with a sofa bed for one or two; the room also features twin beds that convert to a king bed for couples.

My husband is 6 feet, 3 inches tall, and we were comfortable in our room, even though our quarters included a large bed, a bathroom, a sofa and a desk. We loved sitting on our private balcony and watching the deep blues of the Atlantic Ocean flow by.

If money is no object, the Ultimate Family Townhouse — an over-the-top eight-guest, three-story pad with a private whirlpool on the balcony, three bathrooms, a slide that connects the second and main levels, an in-suite cinema, a dining room and a kitchenette — looks epic. But keep in mind, it costs nearly $100,000 for the week.

The Sunset Corner Suites (about one-fifth of the cost of the Ultimate Family Townhouse, but still expensive) are also pretty sweet, with a wraparound balcony and a bed facing the sea.

Luckily, not all rooms break the bank; with four main stateroom categories (suite, balcony, ocean view and inside) and 28 subcategories, there’s something for everyone.

Best amenities on Icon of the Seas

It’s almost impossible to run out of things to do aboard Icon of the Seas.

For thrill-seekers, the largest water park at sea — Category 6 — features the Frightening Bolt (the tallest waterslide on a ship) and the Pressure Drop (the first open freefall waterslide on a cruise vessel).

If you’ve tired of the seven swimming pools, six waterslides, laser tag, mini-golf, rock climbing wall, escape room, sports courts, outdoor decks, theater, spa and all-day programming, simply take a stroll down the Royal Promenade for Las Vegas -style people-watching. The Royal Promenade has 15 restaurants, bars and lounges, as well as a Starbucks that seems to have a line no matter what time you go. The neighborhood feels a bit like a shopping mall … if a shopping mall had floor-to-ceiling ocean views made possible by the world’s largest kinetic art sculpture.

The Pearl, a feat of engineering, is one of the most unique aspects of the ship’s design. This art piece is actually a load-bearing structure supporting three decks, but it looks and feels like an interactive art experience designed solely for the enjoyment of guests. The multisensory immersive structure has 3,000 kinetic panels and moody ever-changing lighting. It is one of the first things guests will see when they walk on board, as it stretches from the Royal Promenade up to Central Park.

My husband and I spent most of our time at the FlowRider surf simulator — his favorite amenity — but we made sure to leave time for Taylor Swift trivia at Spotlight Karaoke and the superhuman stunts of the Aqua Theater show, a must on any Icon of the Seas voyage. The ship even has a massive ice arena called Absolute Zero for ice skating (the 20-minute sessions are complimentary) and impressive shows.

We also loved lounging in The Overlook Bar & Pods, an area at the very front of the ship (behind the AquaDome) that features two levels of floor-to-ceiling wraparound windows. It felt airy and open, which can’t be said about many cruise ship interiors.

Best dining venues on Icon of the Seas

There are more dining options aboard Icon of the Seas than you can fit in on a seven-night cruise — but you can give it the old college try. Thirteen of the dining venues are complimentary, while 14 are specialty restaurants (which cost extra; fees vary). There are also 18 bars and lounges.

The best meal we experienced on the ship was at the Chops Grille specialty eatery. When we spotted Royal Caribbean CEO Jason Liberty and a group of bigwigs at a table next to us, we knew we were in the right place. We loved sitting outside and enjoying the breezes of Central Park while we chowed down, but you can eat indoors for an elegant steakhouse experience and a view of the open kitchen and butcher’s display, which shows off specialty cuts like high-grade wagyu and bone-in tomahawks.

While I’d never turn down a swanky steak dinner, grabbing quick poolside bites at El Loco Fresh and indulging in some food hall-style grazing at AquaDome Market were equally enjoyable. We also had no complaints eating several meals at Windjammer, the classic complimentary cruise ship buffet.

Even though we don’t have children, we stopped into Surfside Bites for a very kid-friendly meal, complete with soft serve ice cream cones from Sprinkles (because no cruise is complete without soft serve). We didn’t try anything from the open-air, lemonade stand-inspired Lemon Post bar, but its menu of cocktails and mocktails looked delicious.

And since you’re on vacation, be sure to check out the milkshake bar Desserted, where the sugary creations are as photo-worthy as they are decadent. They’re worth the upcharge.

Best excursions on Icon of the Seas

Depending on what’s on your Icon of the Seas itinerary, you may be able to book activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, tropical jungle adventures, visits to Mayan ruins, volcano hikes, rainforest zip lining, relaxing beach days or cultural immersion tours.

Note that Royal Caribbean features the same options on many of its other Caribbean cruises; none of the excursions on offer are exclusive to Icon of the Seas.

Because our press preview sailing only visited Perfect Day at CocoCay, we did not experience any of the shore excursions. Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas was plenty of fun, even though we didn’t plan anything in advance.

If we had made plans, we would have liked to check out the Up, Up and Away tethered hot air balloon, which wasn’t running that day, and the overwater cabanas at Coco Beach Club, which were all booked. Thrill Waterpark (which features the tallest waterslide in North America), Oasis Lagoon (the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean) and the adults-only Hideaway Beach are other highlights of Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Overall impressions of Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean seems to be focused on superlatives. It has the biggest, best, tallest, largest and most of everything — especially when it comes to Icon of the Seas. If you like jampacked, adventurous vacations that squeeze a lot of adventure and relaxation into one memorable week, Icon of the Seas is probably for you.

While I love seeing Royal Caribbean push the limits of what cruises can be, the ship may almost be too big for some. It’s an all-out Vegas-esque vessel that feels more like a floating city; you will probably forget (more than once) that you’re not on dry land.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing — if Icon of the Seas looks fun to you, it probably will be — but my husband and I tend to gravitate more toward authentic, immersive, on-the-ground cultural experiences when we travel. While Icon of the Seas is a lot of things, it’s not that. We had a fantastic time and have already started planning a future Royal Caribbean cruise with a group of friends and family, but we also sympathize with the anticruisers of the world. Vacationing does not a traveler make.

Still, the shows are entertaining, the service is attentive, the music is jamming, and the architecture and design are incredibly impressive. I have no real complaints and suspect that most cruisers will have the time of their lives on Icon of the Seas — exactly as the minds at Royal Caribbean envisioned when they dreamed up this iconic ship.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Skye Sherman has been cruising since childhood, when her parents took her on her first cruise through the Caribbean. She has sailed various ocean cruise lines, gone off the grid for a six-day riverboat expedition deep into the Amazon River and even planned a European river cruise with 48 of her closest family and friends. She’s a fourth-generation Floridian and hopes to visit every country in the world during her lifetime. She covers travel and lifestyle topics for major publications including U.S. News & World Report.

You might also be interested in:

— The Newest Royal Caribbean Ships

— Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival

— The Largest Cruise Ships in the World

— The Best New Cruise Ships

— The Best Cruise Insurance

More from U.S. News

The 4 Newest Royal Caribbean Ships

Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival: Quick Comparison Chart

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Icon of the Seas: The Best Dining, Amenities and More on Royal Caribbean’s New Ship originally appeared on usnews.com

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royal caribbean cruise ship tour

royal caribbean cruise ship tour

Meet the Norwegian-owned cruise challenger to Carnival and Royal Caribbean that just raised $1.54 billion

Viking had humble beginnings. 

The now-listed cruise company was once just a venture by “two guys with two mobile phones and four river ships,” as the company’s CEO Torstein Hagen puts it in Viking’s prospectus .

But a lot has changed in 27 years. Now, the Norwegian-owned, Bermuda-based business has a staff of 10,000 catering to guests with a taste for the finer things in life. 

The cruise operator, which made its name in European river tours, launched its initial public offering at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. It raised $1.54 billion , according to Reuters, making it the biggest listing in the U.S. this year. 

Viking rebounded strongly after the COVID-19 pandemic decimated cruise travel and its public listing comes as luxury consumers are spending more on travel and personalization, and less on shopping. Some of Viking’s competitors, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, have seen record demand for cruises—opening a world of opportunity for the smaller company.    

Viking’s beginning

Viking was founded in 1997 by Hagen, who controls most of the company with his daughter, Karine Hagen.

From the start it aimed to give travelers an immersive experience in local cultures as they toured in one of its four river vessels. In the last three decades or so, Viking has expanded its fleet to 92 ships offering three types of experiences via rivers, oceans and expeditions.

The company has also benefited from some savvy marketing plays—it sponsored Masterpiece and Downton Abbey and offered themed trips linked to those shows. 

Between 2015 and 2023, Viking’s revenue grew at a compound annual rate of 14.4%, outpacing the rest of the cruise industry in the river and luxury ocean segments during this period, the company said in a public filing .

Viking has carved its strategic niche among older, well-off customers, a group it believes is “underserved.” These are not boozy party boats, and there are no kids allowed. 

“Our target demographic has greater financial stability, which can make them more resilient to economic conditions and more willing to invest in high-quality travel experiences,” Viking said. 

And that’s the space it hopes it can dominate, with the help of its IPO funds.

The Viking founder and road ahead

Hagen didn’t enter the world of cruises till the 1970s. 

A physics major in school, Hagen did his MBA at Harvard University before entering management consulting. He dabbled with entrepreneurship a few times before finally succeeding, Bloomberg reported .

When business for Viking’s river cruises, its first service, began to pick up, Hagen expanded to offer journeys worldwide—from expeditions in Antarctica to river cruises in Vietnam. 

Viking is on an expedition of its own now that its shares are traded. Last year, the cruise line hosted close to 650,000 guests and generated $4.7 billion in revenue, up by almost 50% from 2022. Its underlying profits were $1.1 billion for the same period, according to Viking's prospectus.

The cruise company is still much smaller than rivals like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. But it’s a global leader in some segments, such as luxury ocean cruises. 

Following a strong open, Viking’s market valuation is over $10 billion, putting Hagen’s wealth at $5 billion.

As the appetite for luxury travel builds , Viking is ready to ride the wave. 

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

A Viking Sea cruise ship in Marseille, France.

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