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Miami Launches World’s Largest Cruise Ship

Miami Launches World’s Largest Cruise Ship

Miami Launches World’s Largest Cruise Ship

Miami Launches World’s Largest Cruise Ship

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  • Icon of the Seas, world’s largest cruise ship, sets sail from Miami.
  • Concerns over methane emissions from LNG despite efficiency claims.
  • Messi at naming; $2 billion cost sparks debates on luxury cruising.
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Miami, Florida, witnessed the grand departure of the world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, on its maiden voyage from the bustling port. Owned by the Royal Caribbean Group, the colossal vessel, stretching 365 meters (1,197 feet) in length and featuring 20 decks, is set to embark on a seven-day island-hopping journey through tropical waters, accommodating a maximum of 7,600 passengers.

However, the much-anticipated launch has stirred environmental concerns, particularly regarding the ship’s methane emissions. Powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), the vessel has drawn criticism from environmentalists who warn of potential harmful methane leaks into the atmosphere. Bryan Comer, the director of the Marine Programme at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), expressed his reservations, stating, “It’s a step in the wrong direction,” and highlighted the ICCT’s recent report indicating higher methane emissions from LNG-fueled ships than current regulations assume.

Despite LNG being a cleaner alternative to traditional marine fuels, such as fuel oil, concerns persist due to the risk of leakage. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, traps significantly more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming.

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson countered the concerns, asserting that Icon of the Seas is 24% more energy efficient than the standards set by the International Maritime Organization for modern ships. The company also revealed plans to introduce a net-zero emissions ship by 2035.

In a symbolic ceremony earlier this week, Argentina’s football icon and Inter Miami player Lionel Messi participated in the ship’s naming ceremony. Messi placed a football on a specially-built stand, triggering the traditional “good luck” breaking of a champagne bottle against the vessel’s bow.

The construction of Icon of the Seas, with a staggering cost of $2 billion (£1.6 billion), has resulted in a floating luxury paradise boasting seven swimming pools, six waterslides, and over 40 restaurants, bars, and lounges. As the ship embarks on its journey, it raises questions about the balance between the allure of opulent seafaring experiences and the pressing need for sustainable practices in the maritime industry.

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