Icon-class ship will ‘inevitably’ homeport in Europe, says Royal Caribbean chief

An Icon-class ship will “inevitably” homeport in Europe as global demand for Mediterranean sailings continues to grow, according to Royal Caribbean International president and chief executive Michael Bayley.

Speaking to Travel Weekly during the launch of the line’s first ship in its Icon class, Icon of the Seas, Bayley said he was also “committed” to bringing the new class to the UK to showcase it to agents and allow them to experience it first-hand.

The second ship in the Icon class, Star of the Seas, is scheduled to enter service in August 2025 followed less than a year later by the third in class, which is as yet unnamed but referred to as Icon III.

More: UK agents hail new Royal Caribbean ship Icon of the Seas

“We would love to put an Icon in Europe and it’s going to happen for sure,” said Bayley. “We are not sure [which ship] but it’s inevitably going to happen.

“We had spoken about Icon of the Seas coming into Southampton [prior to launch], but then the pandemic happened and there were delays so we ended up bringing it straight to the US. But with Icon II and Icon III, if we can, we are committed to bringing those ships to Southampton to show them off.”

Ben Bouldin, vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said it would be “phenomenal” for an Icon class ship to homeport in Europe, which is home to one of the most “iconic and strongest performing” itineraries in the line’s portfolio.

He said he hopes the demand for Mediterranean sailings from the US market will support Europe’s pitch to become home to an Icon-class ship, and he has his sights set on Icon III.

“One of the world’s most iconic and strongest performing routes that we have is our Barcelona-Barcelona seven-night itinerary around Europe,” he said. “We have great destinations that are on many US guests’ bucket lists and in the same way Brits want to go to the Caribbean, many Americans love coming to Europe and that’s a big part of the decision [of where to homeport the Icon-class ships].”

He added: “It comes down to pure economics and where it makes the most sense for us to put a ship…but I think Icon III is a good opportunity,” he said.

Bouldin encouraged agents to capitalise on the increased interest in cruise and to use Icon of the Seas as an example of the type of holiday customers could experience.

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