World’s Largest Cruise Ship Arrives in the Caribbean for the First Time

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The people of Ponce, Puerto Rico, are the first to see Icon of the Seas in all her glory, as the world’s largest cruise ship arrives in the Caribbean following her transatlantic crossing from Spain. The Meyer Turku shipyard handed over Icon of the Seas on November 27, 2023, as she is being prepared for her arrival in PortMiami on January 9. 

Icon of the Seas Docks at First Caribbean Port

Although she is still without guests onboard, Icon of the Seas has arrived at her first Caribbean port on January 2. The biggest cruise ship ever constructed arrived at Ponce, Puerto Rico, on the southern coast of the island early in the morning. 

The cruise ship left the Spanish port of Algeciras on December 23, where she took on thousands of plants and 2,500 cubic meters of LNG. Since then, she spent the past nine days crossing the Atlantic Ocean. 

During the call to Ponce, Icon of the Seas will welcome onboard new crew members and shipyard workers will be disembarking and returning home after putting the finishing touches to the vessel. What remains are inspections from the US Coast Guard, and other regulatory bodies.

Michael Bayley, the CEO and President of Royal Caribbean International, had the following to say during the arrival to the first-ever Caribbean port of call: “Oh look who just arrived early this morning into the port in Ponce, Puerto Rico! ICON!”

“Next few days lots of regulatory inspections, loading and offloading equipment, yard workers going home, more crew arriving along with a very special crew member. Preparations going well for the arrival into Miami Jan 9th where we will host the ICON arrival party.”

The identity of the special crew member remains a mystery. Speculation suggests it might be football legend Lionel Messi, the ship’s icon, who is scheduled to preside over the naming ceremony on January 23.

Sailing the Eastern and Western Caribbean Starting January 27

Although Icon of the Seas will arrive in PortMiami on January 9, the first guests will need to wait a couple of weeks before they are allowed onboard. The first official cruise will set sail on January 27. Before that date, Icon of the Seas will sail on a series of shakedown cruises, voyages designed to test all guest features with media and travel agents onboard.

The first 5,610 guests, or possibly even more as the giant Royal Caribbean ship has a maximum capacity of 7,600 passengers, will visit St. Kitts, St. Thomas, and Perfect Day at CocoCay during a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise.

Following that voyage, Icon of the Seas will alternate between the eastern and western Caribbean, also visiting Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, and St. Maarten. 

Anticipation Builds For Arrival to PortMiami

One of the most eagerly anticipated cruise ships ever constructed, Icon of the Seas is already a game changer. Not only did it take over seven years for Royal Caribbean International to design and develop the 250,800 gross tons cruise ship, but the actual construction of the behemoth took an additional 900 days since the ship’s first steel was cut in June 2021

“Seven years ago, we had an ambitious idea to create the first vacation truly made for every type of family and adventurer; now, it’s in our hands, and in this final stretch, we’ll bring it all to life for the biggest debut in our history in January 2024,” Bayley said.

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas (Photo Copyright: Jarp2)

Onboard, guests can enjoy a variety of innovative amenities on Icon of the Seas. The ship boasts the AquaDome, the largest glass and steel structure on a cruise ship, which houses spectacular aqua shows and the highest waterfall at sea. 

Seven pools, of which one is the largest at sea and six unique waterslides on Thrill Island and Splashaway Bay, offer aquatic fun for every preference. The ship also boasts an incredible 20 different restaurants, from a high-end steakhouse to comforting bar food. 

Icon of the Seas is scheduled to make its much-anticipated arrival in Miami on January 9 at approximately 7 AM. Royal Caribbean International is set to unveil further details about the exciting events and activities planned for the ship’s welcome celebration in the upcoming days.

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