Egad, does it really cost that much?
Cruise fans looking to book the hottest new ship of the year, Royal Caribbean‘s giant Icon of the Seas, experienced sticker shock when it first went on sale in 2022. But in hindsight, the pricing then wasn’t bad at all — at least compared to what it is now.
Pricing for 2024 and 2025 sailings of the much-awaited vessel, which debuts this week in Miami, have only gone up — and by a lot.
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In a research report out this week, Wall Street analyst Brandt Montour of Barclays said ticket prices for the new world’s largest cruise ship are running nearly twice the level of ticket prices for the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet, according to the firm’s proprietary analysis of online fares — 95% higher, to be exact.
That’s up from an initial premium of 40% to 60% after the ship first opened for bookings in October 2022, Montour noted.
The increase, in part, is due to the enormous amount of press the first-of-its-kind ship has been getting of late, which is contributing to an imbalance between supply and demand that is allowing Royal Caribbean to raise prices.
“Icon has received much greater organic attention from the mainstream media than the company has ever seen for a new cruise ship, which appears to be driving outsized demand,” Montour said.
Alas, don’t expect fares for the ship to come down anytime soon.
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“While this strong pricing would seemingly set Icon up for tough ship-specific comps to lap in 2024, management expressed confidence it can grow yields in year two,” Montour said, citing conversations between top Royal Caribbean executives and Wall Street analysts during preview events on board the vessel.
Montour did note that pricing for Icon of the Seas was even higher on a relative basis than other Royal Caribbean ships during the fall of 2023. For a time, pricing for the ship was running about 150% higher than the average Royal Caribbean ship, he said.
How much does Icon of the Seas cost?
Just how high have Icon of the Seas fares soared? As of this week, the least expensive sailing on the vessel available to book was a seven-night Caribbean voyage departing from Miami on Jan. 10, 2026. It started at $1,775 per person, not including taxes, fees and port charges.
Compare that to starting prices of $1,259 per person, not including taxes, fees and port charges, that were available for sailings on the ship shortly after it opened for bookings in 2022.
That’s a 41% increase in the starting price for the vessel in just over a year.
With the increase, the starting price to sail on Icon of the Seas is now three or four times the starting price of some other Royal Caribbean ships operating similar routes.
Similar seven-night Caribbean cruises on Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship, Grandeur of the Seas, for instance, start at just $469 per person, not including taxes, fees and port charges, for sailings in January 2026. That’s just 26% of the cost of a sailing on Icon of the Seas during the same month.
Like Icon of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas sails seven-night Caribbean voyages out of Florida, albeit from Tampa instead of Miami.
You can even book much newer, more amenity-filled Royal Caribbean ships, such as the 8-year-old Harmony of the Seas, for less than half the cost of Icon of the Seas.
Seven-night Caribbean cruises scheduled for January 2026 on Harmony of the Seas — one of Royal Caribbean’s giant Oasis Class ships — start at just $699 per person, not including taxes, fees and port charges. That’s just 40% of the cost of a sailing on Icon of the Seas.
Harmony of the Seas will be based in Galveston, Texas, in early 2026.
The starting fares listed above are for the least-expensive, windowless interior cabins on the ships. But it’s not just entry-level cabins that cost significantly more on Icon of the Seas. There’s a sharp differential in pricing for higher-level cabins on Icon of the Seas, too.
As of this week, balcony cabins on Icon of the Seas sailings to the Caribbean in January 2026 started at $2,426 per person, compared with $949 for similar cabins on similar Harmony of the Seas sailings for the same month.
That works out to a 155% premium for a balcony cabin on Icon of the Seas.
Why does Icon of the Seas cost so much?
The sky-high pricing for Icon of the Seas is a sign of just how much excitement among cruising fans there is for the ship — the first in a new series of vessels at Royal Caribbean that is bigger than anything seen before and has more amenities than most other cruise ships.
Cruise executives at Royal Caribbean and other major lines have long said many cruising fans are most drawn to the biggest cruise vessels that have the most restaurants, bars, showrooms and decktop attractions.
The pricing differential between Icon of the Seas and other ships, notably, is even bigger when the vessel is compared to the ships of Royal Caribbean rivals. Seven-night Caribbean sailings in January 2026 on MSC Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line ships start at $459, $509 and $649, respectively.
That means that you’ll pay about 386%, 347% and 291% more, respectively, to sail on a seven-night voyage on Icon of the Seas in January 2026 than you would on ships operated by those three lines.
A new icon of cruising
Cruising fans are particularly excited about Royal Caribbean’s unveiling of Icon of the Seas as it marks the first time in 15 years a cruise line has launched a new class of ships that eclipse all others in size and amenities. The last time that happened was in 2009 when Royal Caribbean unveiled its much-ballyhooed Oasis Class of vessels.
Ranging from 226,838 to 235,600 tons, the five ships of the Oasis Class were long the size leaders in the cruise world, with even the smallest among them being nearly 10% bigger and more amenity-packed than any other cruise vessel afloat. When the first Oasis Class vessel was unveiled, it was around 40% bigger than the next-biggest ship.
Like Icon of the Seas, each of the Oasis Class ships offers dozens of restaurants, bars, lounges and decktop attractions, making them among the biggest resorts in the world that float.
Still, at 250,800 tons, Icon of the Seas is more than 6% bigger than the biggest of the Oasis Class ships, the 22-month-old Wonder of the Seas. It can hold up to 7,600 passengers — a new record for a passenger ship. That’s about 7% higher than Wonder of the Seas’ maximum capacity of 7,084 passengers.
The bigger passenger capacity is in part due to the ship’s greater focus on family travelers. Icon of the Seas was built with a lot more cabins that have extra bunks to accommodate families with children. It also has more amenities geared to families, including a new-for-the-line outdoor “neighborhood” called Surfside, dedicated to families with young children.
Icon of the Seas also features the largest water park ever built on a cruise ship, with a record six decktop waterslides. It also has seven pools.
Icon of the Seas is just the first of three sister ships Royal Caribbean has ordered for delivery by 2026 that will make up its new Icon Class. The line also has one more Oasis Class ship, Utopia of the Seas, on order for delivery later this year.
Icon of the Seas’ first sailing with paying passengers will take place Saturday.
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