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World’s largest cruise ship ‘Icon of the Seas’ embarks inaugural voyage amid environmental concerns over LNG-powered emissions

January 28, Colombo (LNW): The world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, embarked on its inaugural voyage from Miami, Florida, owned by the Royal Caribbean Group.

The vessel, spanning 365 meters (1,197 feet) with 20 decks and a capacity for up to 7,600 passengers, is powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Despite the grandeur of the seven-day island-hopping journey in the tropics, concerns have arisen regarding potential methane emissions from the LNG-powered ship.

Environmentalists caution that such emissions pose a threat to the environment.

Bryan Comer, Director of the Marine Programme at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), expressed reservations, stating, “It’s a step in the wrong direction.” According to Comer, the use of LNG as a marine fuel may result in over 120 per cent more life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than traditional marine gas oil.

This concern is substantiated by a recent report from the ICCT, highlighting that methane emissions from LNG-fueled ships surpass current regulatory assumptions.

Although LNG is considered a cleaner alternative to conventional marine fuels, the risk of leakage remains.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, traps 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Mitigating such emissions is crucial in the global effort to address climate change.

In response to these concerns, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean emphasised that Icon of the Seas exceeds energy efficiency standards set by the International Maritime Organisation by 24 per cent.

The company further outlined plans to introduce a net-zero emissions ship by 2035.

Notably, the ship’s naming ceremony on Thursday featured Lionel Messi, Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain currently playing for Inter Miami.

Messi partook in the traditional christening by placing a football on a specially-built stand, triggering the “good luck” breaking of a champagne bottle against the vessel’s bow.

Icon of the Seas, with a construction cost of $2 billion (£1.6 billion), boasts an array of amenities, including seven swimming pools, six waterslides, and over 40 restaurants, bars, and lounges.

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