The Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, has embarked on its inaugural journey from Miami, Florida. However, there are concerns about the ship’s methane emissions. The 365m-long vessel, which is owned by Royal Caribbean Group, boasts 20 decks and can accommodate up to 7,600 passengers. Its seven-day itinerary includes visits to various tropical islands.
Environmental advocates have expressed concern that the ship, which is powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), will emit harmful methane into the atmosphere. Bryan Comer, director of the Marine Programme at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), described this development as a “step in the wrong direction”. He stated that using LNG as a marine fuel results in over 120% more life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than marine gas oil.
Earlier this week, the ICCT published a report indicating that methane emissions from LNG-powered ships were higher than previously assumed. While LNG burns cleaner than traditional marine fuels such as fuel oil, there is a risk of leakage.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that traps 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Reducing these emissions is considered vital in mitigating global warming. A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean claimed that Icon of the Seas is 24% more energy efficient than the standard set by the International Maritime Organization for modern ships. The company aims to launch a net-zero ship by 2035.
Lionel Messi, Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain who currently plays for Inter Miami, participated in the ship’s naming ceremony on Thursday. He placed a football on a specially-designed stand to initiate the traditional champagne bottle breaking against the ship’s bow for good luck.
The construction of Icon of the Seas cost $2bn (£1.6bn). The ship features seven swimming pools, six waterslides, and over 40 restaurants, bars and lounges.