PortMiami welcomes world’s largest cruise ship after record-breaking year

Icon of the Seas RC
Its inaugural voyage is on Jan. 27.

PortMiami just docked the largest cruise ship in history — after recording its biggest business year ever.

The “Cruise Capital of the World” on Wednesday morning welcomed Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, a 1,198-foot vessel capable of carrying 5,610 guests, into its harbor.

The massive, $2 billion ship features six waterslides, seven pools, eight “neighborhoods,” 28 cabin types and 40 dining and drinking destinations.

It’s the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s Icon Class, powered with fuel cell technology and liquified natural gas, and it’ll homeport in Miami year-round. At least two more Icon Class vessels are on the way: Star of the Seas in 2025 and another in 2026.

For now, the 250,800-ton, 20-deck, 2,850-stateroom cruise titan will travel to the Caribbean on trips of a week or less. Its inaugural voyage is on Jan. 27, with stops in St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Thomas, and the small island of CocoCay to which Royal Caribbean holds exclusive tourism rights.

“Welcoming Icon of the Seas to the Royal Caribbean family is a remarkable accomplishment years in the making for thousands of innovators, engineers, architects and designers,” Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said in a statement. “Seven years ago, we had an ambitious idea to create the first vacation truly made for every type of family and adventurer; now, it’s in our hands, and in this final stretch, we’ll bring it all to life for the biggest debut in our history in January 2024.”

Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Miami-Dade County is “thrilled” to receive the Icon of the Seas, “which will attract cruise passengers from around the world and positively impact our economy.”

“Not only are we celebrating the delivery of the largest cruise ship in the world,” she said, “but the most sustainable ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet to date.”

After a pandemic that plunged the cruise industry into peril and prompted Miami-Dade to offer its cruise partners an up to $285.5 million bailout to keep them afloat, business roared back in 2023 with record-breaking business.

PortMiami welcomed nearly 7.3 million passengers in fiscal 2023 — a new high and a 7% increase over the harbor’s previous, pre-pandemic record in 2019.

“The port’s success is a direct result of its strong partnerships,” PortMiami Director and CEO Hydi Webb said. “I want to thank the entire Royal Caribbean team for their support and for choosing PortMiami as the Icon of the Seas’ home.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • The Dude

    January 10, 2024 at 8:02 pm

    Looky here. Another mega ship calling South Florida home. I believe the ship carries over 7000 passengers. People defying the stupidity of the NAACP and the Wokesters. Coming to Florida and spending their money. By the way the port in Miami is going through a rapid expansion. Sorry libs the state of Florida is still strong. Thanks to Governor DeSantis.

    • Ron DiSaster

      January 11, 2024 at 4:47 pm

      This cruise ship is here despite Ron DiSaster, not because of him.
      You do remember when this moron of a Governor actually tried & failed to go to war with the cruise ship industry a couple of years ago, don’t you?

      He tried to force them, private businesses that aren’t even registered in the United States, to not mandate vaccines or masks on board. But what could go wrong? It’s only a contained cruise ship where everybody is in close quarters for days at a time? Cruise companies wanted to keep their customers safe. But nah, Ron DeSantis wasn’t going to let that happen.
      It got to the point that Florida was the LAST state the cruise ship industry started sailing from again after they resumed operation.

      But this is what Ron DiSaster does. He picks stupid fights with huge industries in his state out of spite, idiocy, and bad politics. Then he wonders why his campaign for president has been a complete failure and his approval rating has slid underwater.

      Ron DeSantis is a complete f*cking moron, and sooner or later you’ll figure that out.

  • PeterH

    January 11, 2024 at 10:48 am

    A floating “party time” Petri dish for the masses! Cruise ships like this enable Viking Cruise Ships to remain number one in the industry! You couldn’t pay me to set foot on this behemoth!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704