Why The World's Largest Cruise Ship Has Travelers Worried

Royal Caribbean is getting ready to set the world's largest cruise ship, named Icon of the Seas, to sail in January 2024. The vessel boasts a water park with six water slides, seven pools, an ice skating rink, multiple dining options, nightlife, and much more to keep its guests entertained. There are several other things that many people didn't know they could do on this cruise ship. Recently, Royal Caribbean released image renderings to the public which have since garnered mixed reviews. Some are impressed by the ship's enormity, while others believe it's gaudy.

The ship is large and colorful, as the renderings show, and people's reactions to those renderings are just as strong. "I feel like the picture above looks like a barely balanced stack of full plates of food; packed, chaotic, messy, possibly precarious, definitely nothing I want to be a part of," one Reddit user commented. Another person on Reddit emphasized the ingenuity behind it all. "Have gripes about how it looks all you want, but you can't deny it's a marvel of modern engineering," they said.

Environmental impact and safety

People voiced additional concerns about the ship's environmental impact and safety. Royal Caribbean says it's doing everything it can to be environmentally safe. "We have a responsibility to our planet to continue to evolve and get our ships to be as sustainable as they possibly can be," Royal Caribbean Group CEO and president Jason Liberty said on an episode of Making an Icon. "And so for us, it's not just to go out and deliver the best vacations in the world, but [also needing] to make sure we're doing that on a responsible basis." Royal Caribbean has taken multiple steps to minimize its emissions while at sea, and while there's been progress, environmentalists remain skeptical.

As for safety, Royal Caribbean claims to have utilized state-of-the-art technology in its design to make its journeys as safe as possible. They've put the ship through testing and have planned out detailed evacuation measures for cases of emergencies. "Our marine safety record over our 42-year history clearly illustrates our commitment to the safety of the millions of guests and crew that sail on our ships," their website reads.

Clashing opinions explained

Psychologist and professor at the University of Alabama Tom Davis believes that strong reactions result from people's personal experiences, assumptions, and anxieties about cruises in general. "For some, a vessel this size with so much packed on it likely represents a lot of fun with ongoing activities and freedom from boredom," he told CNN. "For others, they may have never been on a cruise and think this is too much to take in all at once."

Even with all of the controversy, Royal Caribbean is optimistic about the Icon of the Seas and expects to see large profits. While people have shared opinions that the ship is unsightly and a potential disaster, thousands more have disregarded such opinions. The first voyage is sold out already, as are many of the following planned trips. When booking for the Icon of the Seas opened back in 2022, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson told CNN that they saw the largest volume in booking after Icon of the Seas was made available. 

In addition to making a profit, Royal Caribbean's goal is to give its guests a memorable, iconic experience at sea. "The driving force behind everything we do at Royal Caribbean International is to deliver the best vacations on earth," associate vice president of product development at Royal Caribbean International Claudia Diaz-Gonzalez told Royal Caribbean.