“World’s Largest Cruise Ship, Icon of the Seas, Departs from Miami”

The largest cruise ship in the world, the Icon of the Seas, set sail from Miami, Florida on its maiden voyage, boasting impressive dimensions of 365m in length and 20 decks to accommodate up to 7,600 passengers. However, concerns have been raised about the vessel’s methane emissions, as it is powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The ship, owned by Royal Caribbean Group, is embarking on a seven-day island-hopping voyage in the Caribbean, but environmentalists warn that the LNG-powered ship could leak harmful methane into the air. Despite the fact that LNG burns more cleanly than traditional marine fuels, there is a risk of gas escaping, leading to methane leakage into the atmosphere. Methane is known to be a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The ship, reportedly costing $2bn to build, features seven swimming pools, six water slides, and over 40 restaurants, bars, and lounges. However, Bryan Comer, director of the Marine Programme at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), expressed concerns about using LNG as a marine fuel, stating that it emits over 120% more life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than marine gas oil.

Royal Caribbean claims that the Icon of the Seas is 24% more energy efficient than required by the International Maritime Organization for modern ships and plans to introduce a net-zero ship by 2035. Despite the concerns, the cruise industry is rapidly growing, with young people showing particular interest in cruise holidays. The industry reportedly contributed $75bn to the global economy in 2021.

The Icon of the Seas was recently highlighted for its naming ceremony, which featured Lionel Messi, the World Cup-winning captain of Argentina and current player for Inter Miami, triggering the traditional “good luck” breaking of a champagne bottle against the vessel’s bow.

The ship’s maiden voyage will stop in Saint Kitts and Nevis and Charlotte Amalie in the US Virgin Islands. With impressive dimensions and luxurious amenities, the Icon of the Seas is certainly making waves in the cruise industry.

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