One man got down on his knees and kissed the rug emblazoned with the ship’s logo. Another lifted his wife and swung her around, ecstatic to be among the roughly 5,000 passengers to embark on the inaugural sailing of the world’s largest cruise ship, the Icon of the Seas.
For months, the 250,800-ton ship, which can carry nearly 8,000 people, has been making headlines — including some that have criticized its size and potential to damage the environment. But the passengers who plunked down $1,800 to $100,000 and boarded the ship at Port Miami in Florida on Jan. 27, said nothing could have prepared them for the vessel’s sheer scale.
“It’s stunning,” said Christina Carvalho, a 43-year-old accountant from Oakland, Calif., as she stood on the ship’s Royal Promenade, gaping up at “The Pearl,” a gigantic kinetic art installation. “It feels even bigger than I expected.”
While Royal Caribbean has packed the ship with amenities to craft “the ultimate family vacation,” the company’s design team has tried to defy negative stereotypes like crowded decks and long lines. Instead of steel walls, the interior is open and airy, with floor-to-ceiling windows to bring passengers closer to the water and make the central thoroughfare feel less like a shopping mall.