Environmentalists denounce the world’s largest cruise ship

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The world’s largest cruise ship – measuring almost four city blocks – is sparking environmental concerns after setting sail on Saturday.

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas is powered by six dual-fuel engines, which can be fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG), an alternative fuel that, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, reduces sulfur and gas emissions Greenhouse.

However, some environmentalists fear that LNG-powered ships will increase methane emissions. Others say vacationers generate eight times more carbon on a cruise than on land.

Royal Caribbean says every kilowatt used on Icon of the Seas “is scrutinized for energy efficiency and emissions reductions.”

The ship, which measures nearly 365 meters from bow to stern, left Miami on Saturday for its first seven-day island-hopping voyage through the tropics, after being christened last Tuesday with the help of the legend football Lionel Messi and his Inter Miami teammates.

WATCH | The world’s largest cruise ship plunged into controversy:

World’s largest cruise ship sets sail amid controversy

Royal Caribbean International’s latest addition to its fleet, Icon of the Seas, began its maiden voyage from Miami this weekend. The ship, which is more than 350 meters long and can carry up to 7,600 passengers, has a crew of more than 2,000 people. But environmental groups fear the ship, built to run on liquefied natural gas, could leak harmful methane into the atmosphere.

“Icon of the Seas is the culmination of more than 50 years of dreaming, innovating and fulfilling our mission: to responsibly deliver the best vacation experiences to the world,” said Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, earlier this week.

“She represents the ultimate multi-generational family vacation, forever changing the status quo in family travel and making vacation dreams of all ages come true on board.”

Royal Caribbean cruises are having a moment online. Since December, the company’s nine-month “Ultimate World Cruise” has captivated — and confounded — an eager viewing audience on social media.

Millions of people follow the journey through the eyes of the passengers, who publish their lives aboard a ship on which they will stay for almost a year. If this sounds like a reality TV show, that’s exactly what some observers have made of it.

When Icon of the Seas was first unveiled in October 2022, the ship generated the largest booking day and largest booking week in Royal Caribbean’s 53-year history, according to the cruise line.

Icon of the Seas is divided into eight districts spread over 20 decks. The ship features six water slides, seven swimming pools, an ice rink, a theater and more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges. The ship can carry up to 7,600 passengers at its maximum capacity, as well as 2,350 crew members.

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