Jul 15, 2023 - Economy

How to make a cruise ship go viral

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas
Rendering: Royal Caribbean International

The Icon of the Seas is a 2,805-room cruise ship sleeping up to 7,600 guests serviced by 2,350 staffers. It has more than 20 restaurants and 15 bars, as well as seven pools (including one "suspended infinity pool"), six waterslides, a theater, and everything else you expect to find in a resort destination.

Driving the news: After the ship set sail for the first time, it started to go viral on social media.

  • The pictures that got everybody talking, however, were not the images of the real ship afloat on a real sea. (It looks like... a very large cruise ship.)
  • Instead, it was earlier renderings, like the one above, that captured the popular imagination — and not always in a good way. (Words like "monstrosity" and "dystopian" got thrown around.)

Between the lines: Cruises are back, and Royal Caribbean is seeing strong demand for space on what will be the largest cruise ship in the world.

  • The first sailings in February are already almost sold out, although I did manage to find a 390 sqft "sunset suite" in the stern priced at $23,666 for seven nights.

The bottom line: These renderings, redolent of a delirious postmodern fantasy from Bruce McCall or maybe Michael Graves, are selling exactly the kind of candy-colored escapist post-pandemic YOLO dream that has driven "Barbie" anticipation to a fever pitch.

  • The purpose of these images is not to sell the Icon of the Seas to jaded devotees of David Foster Wallace. It's to persuade the millions of people who already want to take a cruise that the time has come to pull the trigger and book one.
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