Icon of the Seas: New Maritime Horizons

En el epicentro de la polémica por los efectos nocivos del turismo masivo, este enero se bota el crucero recreativo más grande jamás construido. Recibido con críticas sardónicas por unos y con entusiasmo por otros, esta nave que quintuplica el tamaño del Titanic zarpa convertida en un parque temático en alta mar.

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Dream holiday for some, hellscape for others: Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas is the biggest passenger cruise ship to sail the oceans, and a controversial vessel in a controversial industry. While some see this floating hotel as an escape from daily chores (such as cooking or cleaning) or a way to dedicate one’s entire day to trying out all kinds of entertainment options, others regard it as an undesirably kitsch commercial aberration or simply excessively wasteful.

caribbean stops

The new cruise ship, five times the size of the Titanic, will set sail in early 2024. Its itinerary will take it along the eastern and western Caribbean, docking in three countries: the United States, Honduras, on Roatán Island, and Mexico, at Costa Maya and Cozumel. It also stops at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s own private island.


Icon of the Seas has a crew of 2,350 and can host up to 7,600 passengers. Prices vary widely and tickets can cost from €1,667 to €4,476 per person. Cabin types include suites and even two-floor lofts. The twenty-deck ship has seven pools and nine whirlpools. It boasts the world’s biggest pool on a cruise ship as well as the biggest offshore water park.


Entertainment on board aims to please all tastes. A walkway on the side of one of the boat’s highest points leads directly into the open air above the ocean; those who dare venture into open sea are secured to the ship by a belt. Families can enjoy a full summer day at a water park. There are a number of venues to enjoy all types of shows, including the Aquadome, with its cylindrical centre-stage waterfall, or the Absolute Zero, which has an ice rink.



However, even before its launch, the Icon of the Seas has been given the unglamorous nickname of “Human Lasagne”, which ridicules the whole concept of the giant multi-layered luxury liner. This adds to the mounting environmental and health concerns voiced by climate activists and members of the public. While Royal Caribbean claims that a vessel like the Icon of the Seas takes environmentally-friendly actions, using liquefied natural gas and producing over 93 per cent of its fresh water on board, this type of holiday still has a reputation for being among the most polluting on the planet.  

Remarkable Ships

The oceans are filled with an unimaginable number of fascinating ships. Whether it is their glamour, their size or their capabilities1, some of these industrial wonders embrace excess above all others:

1. The biggest container ship

Sailing under the Panama flag and active since 2022, the Ever Alot is is the largest container ship in the world. Spanning the equivalent of three football fields and with a capacity for 24,000 containers, it is operated by the Evergreen Marine Corporation.

2. The most glamorous yatch

The Eclipse is a 162.5-metre-long motor superyacht has sixty-six crew members, two helicopter pads, a top speed of 21.5km and can accommodate up to thirty-six guests in its eighteen staterooms. The third longest yacht in the world, the Eclipse is one of only sixty-eight existing motor yachts longer than a hundred metres. The yacht is owned by the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and is worth an estimated €340 million. The Eclipse is equipped with a missile detection system, missile launchers and self-defence systems.

3. The largest warship

The deterrenceUSS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier is the lead ship of her class in the US Navy, as well as the world’s largest aircraft carrier and the largest warship ever constructed. Named after Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the United States, its construction began in 2005 in Newport News, Virginia. It was delivered to the Navy in 2017. In October 2023, the day after the Hamas attack on Israel, the US Secretary of Defense directed the ship to the Eastern Mediterranean as part of regional efforts.

4. The nicest sailboat

The SVGolden Horizon is the very opposite of the mass entertainment offered by the Icon of the Seas, this 1912 ship is a distinctly exclusive experience in which relaxation is a top priority. A total of 324 guests have cabins with a sea view, choose between an elegant restaurant with live music or a refreshing dinner on the wide open decks, and visit remote locations, among other leisure and cultural on-board activities. Its large, impeccably white sails make this vessel look stunning.


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Este artículo pertenece al número de january 2024 de la revista Speak Up.

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