The maiden voyage for Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas will be full of many monumental firsts, and the giant vessel just surpassed a milestone almost as big as the ship: making her first official port call. While Icon of the Seas had visited other ports before as she prepared to enter service, this is the first time she arrived at a port with paying passengers onboard.
The island of St. Kitts, a popular destination in the Caribbean, celebrated the arrival of the world’s largest cruise ship with messages of joy at a special ceremony commemorating the occasion.
Icon of the Seas debuts in St. Kitts
Of all the cruise ports in the world that Royal Caribbean’s newest ship could sail to on the first official voyage, the cruise line selected the island of St. Kitt’s and Nevis.
Icon of the Seas, which is making waves as the world’s largest cruise ship at 1,198 feet from bow to stern and weighing in at 250,800 gross tons, embarked on her maiden voyage on January 27, 2024, from Miami.
As an exciting milestone in her inaugural sailing, Icon of the Seas made her first port call with paying passengers onboard at St. Kitt’s on Tuesday, January 30, 2024, after a day at sea.
The new ship docked at Port Zante in Basseterre early in the morning, which is the historic capital city of St. Kitts.
The Eastern Caribbean destination saw the arrival of the 7,600 passenger ship as an honor and a landmark achievement to be celebrated, with Icon of the Seas’ arrival spelling good news for the local economy and tourism sector.
With the Caribbean island expecting a larger than usual cruise tourism season for early 2024, the arrival of the world’s largest ship further ingrains the idea that a new chapter is beginning for the nation’s thriving tourism industry.
“Our economy becomes the fortunate recipient of great opportunities, as the arrival of the largest cruise vessel in the world anchors our nation firmly on the global map of commerce. It ushers in new possibilities for economic investments and employment, important aspects of economic development,” said the Honorable Dr. Terrance Drew, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The prime minister’s remark was made during a special ceremony to present Icon of the Seas with her inaugural cruise call plaque, during which he acknowledged the significance of the ship’s arrival and highlighted the commitment to sustainable tourism that is shared between the government and Royal Caribbean.
“We have dedicated our efforts to creating an environment that effortlessly blends the preservation of our natural heritage with sustainable tourism practices. This is an important tenet of this government’s agenda to ensure that St. Kitts and Nevis becomes a sustainable island state. This agenda correlates perfectly with Royal Caribbean Group’s commitment to sustainability, or as they call it ‘Sea-stanability.’,” added Drew.
Where Will Icon of the Seas sail next?
St. Kitt’s was only the first port call on Icon of the Seas’ maiden voyage. The inaugural 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise will also sail to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island, before returning to Miami on February 2, 2024.
At least for the foreseeable future, the first of the Icon-class ships will homeport in Miami Cruise Port. For the rest of the year and well into 2025, Icon of the Seas will be alternating between 7-night Western Caribbean and Eastern Caribbean sailings, with the ship scheduled to return to St. Kitt’s several times.
Tourism officials at St. Kitt’s highlighted a shared vision between Royal Caribbean and the cruise port to continue to cultivate a lasting relationship, and cheered the prospect of Icon of the Seas returning to St. Kitts on several more occasions in the future.
“It is an absolute delight to have this magnificent vessel docked in our port today, and the prospect of it making regular visits to St. Kitts and Nevis is truly exciting for us,” said Ellison “Tommy” Thompson, CEO of St. Kitts Tourism Authority.
Authorities within St. Kitts’ travel sector have been working hard to promote growth in cruise tourism, making an effort to improve tourism infrastructure and services. The island nation experienced an increase of 270,097 cruise passengers visiting the island in 2023 compared to the previous year – growth which the ongoing relationship with Royal Caribbean will continue to help support.