The debut of Royal Caribbean’s new Icon of the Seas is just weeks away, with media and staff previews being held right now. Royal Caribbean bills this ship as the “Ultimate Family Vacation,” with a variety of new features to make this ship more family-friendly than ever. But in doing so, many have wondered if Royal Caribbean went too far on the family aspect, making the ship unfriendly to those who aren’t sailing with children. Now, we hear that in a last-minute move, they are significantly downsizing the adult-only area.
No Solarium on Icon of the Seas
Traditionally, Royal Caribbean ships have an adult-only area called “The Solarium.” This area is reserved exclusively for guests 18 and up, although enforcement of that policy is lax. On Oasis-class and Quantum-class ships, this area is at the front of the ship, offering amazing panoramic views, beautiful pools, hot tubs, a bar, and a dining facility. But because the Icon-class ships will have the AquaDome at the front, the Solarium was no longer available to be an adults-only area.
The originally planned Cloud 17 Adult-only area
Even though Icon of the Seas wasn’t going to have a Solarium, they still wanted an adult-only getaway, so they created “Cloud 17.” This area would have many things that The Solarium would often have, but even better. Located in the middle of Deck 17, this large area would have a large infinity pool overlooking the starboard side, a dedicated Lime & Coconut bar, a hot tub, many loungers and other comfortable seating options, and a smoking area.
A last-minute change of plans
According to Kristen Adaway and Chris Gray Faust, two editors from Cruise Critic who were invited for a media preview, Royal Caribbean has changed plans at the last minute. Cloud 17 will no longer be adult-only, and instead, that will be moved to The Hideaway.
Adult-only area is now The Hideaway
The Hideaway is a new area located on Deck 15. This “Beach Club” area is at the aft of the ship and has a large, suspended infinity pool right in the middle. It offers some of the best views of the ship, looking over the ship’s wake as it sails through the turquoise Caribbean waters.
The area has a large bar, a dedicated menu as well as tiered seating, and two hot tubs. Unlike Cloud 17, or the Solarium, this area is built much more as a Beach Club / Bar, with lots of bar seating and tables and fewer sun loungers. They do have some beautiful sun beds, but they’ll cost you $250-$350 per day to sit in.
A big downgrade for adults on Icon of the Seas
So what does this mean for guests who would enjoy the adults-only area on the Icon of the Seas? It’s a big downgrade. According to deck plans provided by Royal Caribbean, The Hideaway is roughly 1/3 smaller than Cloud 17.
Looking at the deck plans, Cloud 17 had around 120 loungers, 24 bar stools, and 8 clamshells. The Hideaway has 1/3 as many loungers and 1/2 as many barstools. While these deck plans don’t represent the true layout that will be in place, they give an idea of the space that’s available.
The pool on the Hideaway is 40% smaller according to deck plans, with 3 private deck beds in the middle of it that are reserved for a cost of several hundred dollars each. The area does have an extra whirlpool compared to Cloud 17.
A puzzling change before the ship even sails
A change this late in the game is fairly odd. Royal Caribbean has been talking about these neighborhoods for a year, and their intent was pretty clear. It’s very odd to see them make this change when the ship hasn’t even sailed once with paying passengers or massive amounts of children on board.
Royal Caribbean’s Chief Innovation Officer Jay Schneider told Cruise Critic that part of the reason for this change is consistency. Royal Caribbean is launching a new area on Perfect Day at CocoCay this month, called Hideaway Beach, which will be the only adults-only area on the island. To be more consistent, they said it made sense if The Hideaway on the ship was also adults-only. They didn’t seem to mind the inconsistency that Hideaway Beach is an additional charge and The Hideaway is not.
Our take: A sign Icon of the Seas might not be good for people without kids
Over the past year, I’ve been pretty adamant that while Icon of the Seas will have a lot of kids onboard, the way it was designed should still make the ship appealing to everyone. Royal Caribbean’s neighborhood setup is excellent at keeping crowds split up but this ship takes it to the next level. With a dedicated family area that includes a dry play structure, arcade, splash pool, kid’s pool, a separate family buffet, and the kid’s clubs in the Surfside Neighborhood, it’s very possible the rest of the ship would be more balanced and not kid-heavy. Now though, we’re questioning that.
There are a few reasons Royal Caribbean could have made this change. One is that they saw the demographics of who had booked, and there were so few people without children that they saw less of a need for an adult-only area. Or it could be they saw an opportunity to make more revenue since The Hideaway charges for day beds in a premium location. It also protects the pricey pool daybeds that would be a horrible experience with children splashing around in front.
Since we were not invited to any media previews or press events, we can’t see first-hand how this change will affect guests, but it will be interesting to see guests’ reactions. At this point, I’m reluctant to recommend Icon of the Seas, or sister ship Star of the Seas, to anyone who is not traveling with children.
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