Cool Vacations


Royal Caribbean Provides Updates on New Icon of the Seas Cruise Ship


Image: Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas (Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

Image: Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas (Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

Mia Taylor

by Mia Taylor
Last updated: 3:30 PM ET, Wed August 16, 2023

Set to be an extravaganza of water slides, pools, entertainment, unique neighborhoods, and luxe accommodations, travel advisors were given a glimpse this morning of the latest jaw dropping details of Icon of the Seas, a ship that will be the largest in the world.

“The theme of ‘water, water everywhere’ is exactly what you’re going to feel when you step on board this ship,” Joanne Schimelman, vice president of sales and national accounts for Royal Caribbean, said during today’s Coffee Talk with Royal Caribbean, a monthly gathering that provides updates on Royal Caribbean news.

During the one hour webinar-style program, Schimelman and host Vicki Freed shared the latest progress on the ship, which is slated to embark on its first sailing in January 2024.

In addition to showcasing the latest images of the ship’s interior, the briefing included discussion about the many neighborhoods on Icon of the Seas, its entertainment offerings, and its staterooms and family suites. And of course, there was plenty of discussion about the mind boggling water slides and water spaces aboard the ship. 


One of the most unique spaces on the ship is a massive sun-filled space known as the Aquadome, which will be the largest freestanding dome at sea and one that includes 180 degrees of uninterrupted ocean views.

The Aquadome will also be the location of the ship’s high-tech Aquatheater. The main show that the theater will host is titled Aqua Action, which as the name implies, will be an action-packed performance featuring the latest technology.

“The show will be exactly what it says…it will be a lot of action in the aqua,” said Nick Weir, senior vice president, Royal Entertainment & Royal Caribbean Productions.

“Because the venue is so spectacular, we just thought why not make the venue the star?" added Weir. “We’re really celebrating all of the amazing technology…We’re adding all sorts of new elements.”

Normally, creative people are handed a theater and then they are tasked with finding a way to fit the show into the limitations of a theater, Weir explained. But that’s not the case with the Aquatheater on Icon of the Seas. Instead, the theater was build to accommodate a show idea.

“This is really taking live theater into the movie business. This is how you create a movie. You come up with an idea and build the sets. In this case, we had come up with an idea for a show and built a theater around it with the latest technology,” said Weir.

There will even be robots utilized to construct scenery for the theater. 

“It’s going to be the biggest wow anyone’s ever seen. Not just at sea. It will be the biggest wow anyone’s ever seen in any theater anywhere in the world,” added Weir.

And keeping the ship’s goal of being the ultimate family vacation in mind, the theater will also be staging a production of the beloved family movie The Wizard of Oz.

“We’re going to do something to The Wizard of Oz that’s never been done,” Weir said, “ We are going to take the best elements that have ever been created from the stage performances of Wizard of Oz and we’re going to take the best iconic moments from the movie versions and meld them together. It’s going to be a version of Wizard of Oz no-one has ever imagined.”



Royal Caribbean International, Icon of the Seas, rendering

Rendering of Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas. (photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

Thrill Island

Thrill Island is the ship’s adrenaline pumping water park, a space designed to defy all previous versions of ship water parks.

“We’re going to measure our success of Thrill Island by the volume of the screams. And I mean fun screams, where the kids are having a great time,” said Schimelman.

When designing the space for Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean looked to the success it had with Perfect Day at Coco Cay and Thrill Water Park.

“You almost feel like you are in Thrill Water Park at Coco Caye when you are in this area of the ship. The size of the slides are just draw dropping,” said Schimelman. “We’re going to have a lot of family fun in this area.”

There are two family raft slides and one of the slides within the space is clear acrylic at the bottom and extends off the side of the ship.

Thrill Island, includes far more than slides, as well. There’s also a comfortable Base Camp area, a spot designed to be a gathering and relaxation space for guests, while family members are scattered enjoying Thrill Island. Additional features include complimentary and for-pay food options, an adult’s bar, and a milk shake bar.


Icon of the Seas, Chill Island, Royal Caribbean

The all-new Chill Island on Icon of the Seas. (photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)



Chill Island

Need a little relaxation? Head to the Chill Island neighborhood. Located on an upper deck neighborhood and includes four pools and six whirlpools. One of the pools is the largest pool ever to set sail.

“This one is massive and its deeps and it’s going to have a couple of hot tubs and whirlpools in the pool. So it will be part of the same space,” explained Schimelman.

Yet another pool called Cloud 17, is an adult only offering for those who are 18 and above. This pool will include its own bar, and a water’s edge pool.


Royal Caribbean International, Icon of the Seas, Surfside

Icon of the Seas' Surfside neighborhood. (photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)



Yet another neighborhood aboard Icon of the Seas, Surfside is an area that’s designed to be a family neighborhood offering plenty of ways to play.

“This is really a stay-all-day area with many ways to splash, play, sip, and eat,” said Freed. “Everything your family needs for a day a fun is here in Surfside.”

Highlights include a Splashaway Bay aqua park and a Baby Bay designed to be appropriate for the youngest children. There’s also a pool for adults in the same area, so that all members of the family are happy, said Freed. Surfside will also feature a custom-designed carousel and family friendly dining venues.

Royal Promenade

The promenade space aboard Icon of the Seas has also been revamped and rethought compared to previous promenade spaces on other ships.

In the past, guests would board the ship promenade and there would be shopping and food, and it would be a “transit space.” The new promenade is a striking two-story space designed to be the heart of the ship that includes floor to ceiling windows and a blend of entertainment, shopping, and restaurants. The space will include Pearl Cafe, 1400 lobby Bar, Dueling Pianos, Music Hall, Schooner Bar, and Spotlight Karaoke, among many other offerings.

“We call this the best family vacation in the world, but families come in all shapes and sizes,” said Schimelman. “Families aren’t necessarily just people with kids…There are so places and spaces and venues and activities and experiences for couples and adults as well.”


Princess Cruises Opens Bookings for 2024/25 Season

By NewsdeskAug 15, 2023 07:50am

Princess CruisesAntarcticaSapphire PrincessInternational Association of Antarctica Tour Operators



The line is offering four Antarctica voyages for the 2024/25 season (Princess Cruises)

Princess Cruises has unveiled four Antarctica voyages for its 2024/25 season onboard Sapphire Princess.

In 2024/25, Sapphire Princess will again take guests to Antarctica where they can witness diverse landscapes, spot Falkland Islands’ penguins and visit Elephant IslandAntarctic Sound and Gerlache Strait. Princess is a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, placing a priority on environmental responsibility and safe travel at the forefront of every voyage.

Sapphire Princess will also embark on a series of South American itineraries, joined by Majestic Princess. With two ships, 26 destinations and 14 countries, the 2024/25 season includes 15 total departures on 11 itineraries. New this season is a 17-day Antarctica voyage sailing roundtrip from Buenos Aires, featuring an overnight in the city. Departure dates: December 1, 18, 2024 and January 4, 20, 2025.

Furthermore, a 51-day “South America Grand Adventure” awaits guests sailing on Majestic Princess between Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale, highlighted with overnight stays in LimaBuenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

Majestic Princess will also sail a 14- or 15-day “Cape Horn & Strait of Magellan” voyage on December 19, 2024, from Santiago to Buenos Aires. Sapphire Princess will offer reverse itineraries on February 7 and 21, 2024 and March 7, 2025.

The 18-day “Andes & South America” itinerary aboard Majestic Princess departs on December 1, 2024, and aboard Sapphire Princess on March 21, 2025. Additionally, the 18-day “Brazilian Adventure” will be offered onboard Sapphire Princess on November 13, 2024, and onboard Majestic Princess on January 3, 2025.

Guests can also opt for “Grand Adventures” that range from 32 to 51 days. Highlights include the 33-day “Andes & Cape Horn Grand Adventure” aboard Majestic Princess (December 1, 2024); the 32-day “Andes & Cape Horn Grand Adventure” aboard Sapphire Princess (March 7, 2025); the 33-day “Brazilian and Cape Horn Grand Adventure” aboard Majestic Princess (December 19, 2025); the 35-day “Antarctica & Brazilian Grand Adventure” aboard Sapphire Princess (November 13, 2024); and the 51-day “South America Grand Adventure” aboard Majestic Princess (December 1, 2024).

Guests can also combine a pre- or post-cruise land tour will have a choice of two cruisetours in South America, namely the “Iguazú Falls Adventure” and “Machu Picchu Explorer” itineraries.

Cruises and cruisetours are on sale now. Guests who book before August 25, 2023 will receive up to $2,300 in onboard spending money and shore excursion credits.


Celebrity Cruises Expands Caribbean Itineraries

By NewsdeskAug 17, 2023 10:34am

Celebrity CruisesCruise InformationCaribbeanCelebrity Apex


Celebrity Constellation

Celebrity Constellation (Celebrity Cruises)

Celebrity Cruises has unveiled all-new Caribbean offerings for the winter 2024-2025 season on board four ships—Celebrity ApexCelebrity ConstellationCelebrity Equinox and Celebrity Summit. Embarking from three Florida ports: Central Florida’s Port CanaveralWest Florida’s Port Tampa Bay, and South Florida’s Port Everglades, travelers will enjoy more than 40 new itineraries, all open for booking on August 22, 2023. The new program offers a wide range of experiences, from quick getaways to weekly seven-night cruises and up to nine-night escapes. Transporting guests to tropical hotspots from Belize and Bimini to Grand Cayman and San Juan, a select number of itineraries also offer the opportunity to visit Perfect Day at CocoCay

Expanding its offerings from Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, the line will include more opportunities to set sail on Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Summit. From October 23, 2024, to March 8, 2025, travelers can enjoy five new sailings on Apex, ranging from six- to seven-night itineraries visiting destinations like St. MaartenSan JuanGrand Cayman and Mexico, as well as select sailings to Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

A vibrant private island located in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay offers miles of pristine white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. Other amenities include a heated infinity pool, specialty restaurant, 20 exclusive overwater cabanas and more. Debuting in January 2024, Perfect Day at CocoCay will introduce Hideaway Beach—an adults-only beach, with private cabanas and a new signature food outlet. 

Additionally, from February 25, 2025, to April 10, 2025, Summit will offer five new itineraries ranging from five-to-nine nights across the Western and Eastern Caribbean. 

For the first time ever, Celebrity Cruises will sail out of Orlando’s Port Canaveral with 20 new itineraries, from November 21, 2024, to April 19, 2025, on board the intimate Celebrity Equinox. With most itineraries spanning seven nights, travelers will have the opportunity to visit Caribbean destinations like the Bahamas, Belize, Grand Cayman, Mexico, San Juan, and St. Maarten. Just in time for the Spring Break season, two sailings on March 1 and March 15, 2025, will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Celebrity will revamp its current Caribbean program out of Port Tampa Bay. Guests can now enjoy more frequent opportunities to set sail with six- to seven-night cruises on board Celebrity Constellation. The new program expands the brand’s offerings with four new itineraries and a total of 14 sailings for the season from January 2, 2025, to April 6, 2025. These itineraries will visit destinations like Belize, Honduras, Key West, Mexico, and New Orleans during Mardi Gras, scheduled for March 1, 2025. 


The Top Romantic Getaways in Ireland

Jul 24, 2023

Hotels and Resorts  Romance  Western Europe  



The author (left) and her husband at Ashford Castle, a Forbes Five-Star Hotel
Credit: 2023 Tykesha Burton Photography

Research shows that doing new things together is one of the best ways to trigger oxytocin, the love hormone, so what better way to help your coupled clients fall even more in love than adventuring on the Emerald Isle? In Ireland, your clients can explore new and unique experiences together that are vastly different from anywhere else on Earth.

Often, when travelers think of Ireland, they mostly picture the rural landscapes. So, it will come as a pleasant surprise when clients also experience the eclectic ambiance of the vibrant, colorful cities; the cheerful people; the lively river dancing; the uniquely Irish food; and the stunning architecture.  



The Burren is known for its rocky landscape.
Credit: 2023 Denys Zlobin

Here are a few Irish destinations that travel advisors can recommend lovebirds flock to. 


The capital and largest city in Ireland, Dublin offers plenty for couples. Clients can stroll around St. Stephen's Green park, explore the iconic Temple Bar along Grafton Street or visit the Guinness Storehouse, where they can pull their own pint and take in some of the best views of Dublin. If you suggest the Library of Trinity College, have your clients prebook their time slot. 

Where to Eat: For those who wish to experience uniquely Irish food, The Hairy Lemon makes Dublin Coddle, an Irish stew. For a more upscale dining experience, The Saddle Room or No.27 The Shelbourne Bar at The Shelbourne hotel are great options.

Where to Stay: For an ultra-luxurious experience, suggest The Shelbourne, an Autograph Collection property. Located across from St. Stephen's Green, it offers a world-class spa along with a historic presence (it's where the Irish Constitution was drafted and signed in 1922). The Grafton, meanwhile, is a good option for clients seeking a more modern hotel with a boutique feel. Known as one of Dublin’s hip properties, it's located in the heart of the creative quarter. 


Killarney is a beautifully quaint town southwest of Dublin that's known for Killarney National Park — Ireland’s oldest national park, where couples can explore by foot, bike or even a jaunting car (a horse-drawn carriage). 



Take a romantic carriage ride to Killarny’s Ross Castle.
Credit: 2023 Denys Zlobin

Where to Stay: Situated on 6 acres of beautiful gardens right in the heart of Killarney town, the historic Great Southern Killarney was established in 1854 and still retains its original Victorian architecture. Couples will love the Wine Room, where they can try wines by the glass from the Enomatic wine-serving system — the only of its kind in County Kerry — as well as traditional afternoon tea service in one of the Victorian drawing rooms.

What to Do: Suggest clients go into the 15th-century Ross Castle inside the national park grounds, walk around the town, or go for a scenic drive along the Ring of Kerry. In town, they’ll find great vibes and incredible food at Harrow, known for its steak, seafood and hand-crafted cocktails. 



The author and her husband along the Ring of Kerry
Credit: 2023 Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle is vibrant, surprising and delightful in every single way, from the eclectic pubs and the colors of the painted houses to Michelin-recommend restaurants such as The Chart House. (Fun fact: Parts of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” were shot on the Dingle Peninsula.) 

Where to Stay: An intimate boutique hotel in the heart of Dingle, Dingle Benners Hotel is the oldest hotel in the area and dates to the 1800s. The property offers honeymoon and other packages for couples, who can also opt to take part in its award-winning daily afternoon tea service. 

What to Do: Clients should not miss Slea Head Drive, a stunning circular route that starts and ends in Dingle. This scenic tour takes travelers through Irish-speaking villages, historical sites, cultural landmarks and the Stars Wars filming location. For music and dancing, suggest The Dingle Pub, where they can dance with five-time world champion Irish dancer David Geaney.

The Burren

There’s no other way to describe this area than “otherworldly” — being in Burren will make your clients feel like they’ve escaped to another planet altogether. It’s home to some of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, including the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands, and it offers much in the way of romance. Picture this: your clients walking hand in hand along the trail of the dramatic cliffs in County Clare — a true fairy-tale getaway.



Cliffs of Moher is one of the most iconic destinations in Ireland.
Credit: 2023 Denys Zlobin

Where to Stay: For the ultimate couples' experience, book clients at Gregans Castle Hotel, where beautiful flowers are in bloom all around the property. The property offers a wonderful juxtaposition between the stark, rugged rocks of the Burren landscape and vibrant, colorful gardens and luxurious amenities such as gold faucets. (Note: If clients are traveling by train, you must book ahead and arrange transport to the Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands. If they’re driving, the coast is about 30 minutes from the hotel.)


Along the Ring of Kerry just outside Sneem is Parknasilla Resort & Spa, a world of its own offering couples access to the sea and mountains. Focused on wellness and rejuvenation, the property features activities such as sea kayaking, golf, nature hikes, yoga, archery, cycling, tennis, wild swimming and an impressive nighttime guided walk along the property to experience the night sky reserve. 

What to Do: With absolutely stunning views across 500 acres of land — along with access to islands, inlets and hidden beaches — there’s no shortage of adventures for lovebirds to have or new activities to try together here. Animal lovers will enjoy the hotel’s owl and falcon experience, while couples who love a puzzle will geek out over solving the Murder Mystery, a complimentary activity where clues are scattered around the resort. 

Cong (Ashford Castle)

Another destination unto itself — and the ultimate couples' playground — is the iconic, 800-year-old Ashford Castle in Cong, County Mayo. Located on a 350-acre estate along the Wild Atlantic Way, this Forbes Five-Star Hotel and former home of the Guinness family offers clients an ultra-luxurious experience. 

What to Do: Partners can relax in the hotel's award-winning spa or take part in more than 20 outdoor adventures, from clay shooting and falconry to ziplining. 


Celebrity Cruises Launches New Caribbean Program for Summer ’24

By NewsdeskJul 7, 2023 10:14am

Celebrity CruisesCelebrity BeyondCelebrity ReflectionPerfect Day at CocoCay


Perfect Day at CocoCay-PierEntrance

Perfect Day at CocoCay (Royal Caribbean)

Celebrity Cruises has announced a refreshed Caribbean program for summer 2024. Starting next April, travelers can enjoy the Caribbean onboard Celebrity Beyond and Celebrity Reflection. The new program has doubled the brand’s number of year-round Caribbean sailings and introduced its first weekend itineraries, but the news is that both ships will now offer guests with the chance to experience Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Located in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay offers white sand beaches and crystal-clear water, as well as the largest freshwater pool in the Bahamas, a swim-up bar and more. Guests can also head to Coco Beach Club, which has a heated infinity pool, specialty restaurant and 20 overwater cabanas. Hideaway Beach, a new adults-only offering, offers private cabanas as well as a new signature food outlet.


Celebrity Beyond_Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity’s newest Edge Series ship, Celebrity Beyond, will now be available year-round from South Florida (Celebrity Cruises)

Sailing out of South Florida year-round, Celebrity Beyond will offer a mix of six- and eight-night journeys, visiting destinations such as Grand Cayman, the BahamasMexico, and the Dutch Caribbean islands of ArubaBonaire and Curacao, along with Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Launched in April 2022 in Europe and in November 2022 in North AmericaCelebrity Beyond is the newest member of the brand’s Edge Series vessels. Signature offerings of the series include over 30 F&B options, an outward-facing design that maximizes outdoor spaces and ocean views and production shows, besides staterooms that range from Infinite Verandas, which open with the push of a button, to the wellness-focused AquaClass, and the first-ever two-story suites known as the Edge Villas.

For the first time, travelers will have the opportunity to getaway every weekend on Celebrity Reflection’s new three- and four-night itineraries. From Friday to Monday, travelers can break free from their routines and recharge in the Caribbean. Nearly 40 itineraries will offer the chance to enjoy Perfect Day, while also taking guests to the picturesque streets of Key West, and the white sand beaches of Bimini. Both these destinations are known for their laidback lifestyle, allowing only one ship per day.