The world’s largest cruise ship has embarked on a historic maiden voyage from Miami. Weighing 250,800 tonnes and measuring 365 meters in length, the Icon of the Seas is built to accommodate up to 7,600 passengers. The ship features 20 decks, seven swimming pools, six water slides, and more than 40 restaurants, bars, and lounges. It was constructed in Turku, Finland, at a cost of $2 billion.
Despite the grandeur of the Icon of the Seas, concerns have been raised about its environmental impact. The ship is powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is considered a cleaner marine fuel than traditional options. However, environmentalists have warned that LNG-powered ships are likely to emit harmful methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, far more impactful than carbon dioxide.
According to Bryan Comer, director of the Marine Programme at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), using LNG as a marine fuel emits over 120% more life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than marine gas oil.
Royal Caribbean, the ship’s owner, has been challenged to address these concerns. The company claims that the Icon of the Seas is 24% more energy efficient than the requirements set by the International Maritime Organization and plans to introduce a net-zero ship by 2035.
The cruise industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors of tourism and made a significant contribution of $75 billion to the global economy in 2021. However, the impact of the industry on the environment has been a topic of concern. As awareness of climate change grows, it is essential for cruise companies to address environmental considerations in their operations.
The maiden voyage of the Icon of the Seas marks a new era in the cruise industry, one where sustainability and environmental impact are of paramount importance.
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