Icon of the Seas: World's largest cruise ship, five times the size of the Titanic, sets sail despite environmental fears

The world's largest cruise ship, the Icon of the Seas, has set sail from Miami in Florida on a seven-day island voyage
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At the weekend the world's largest cruise ship set sail from Miami, Florida on a seven-day island voyage in the Caribbean. The cruise ship, named the Icon of the Seas, is 365m long and has 20 decks.

It is owned by the Royal Caribbean Group and can hold a maximum of 7,600 passengers. The ship cost £1.6bn to build and has more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges, seven swimming pools and six water slides. 

It also comes with a 55ft indoor waterfall, is longer than the Eiffel Tower is high, is five times the size of the Titanic and has been branded the “biggest, baddest ship on the planet” by Royal Caribbean president Jason Liberty. According to Royal Caribbean's website tickets range from $1,723 to $2,639 per person, and a high-season cruise around Christmas costs $5,124 per person.

The world's largest cruise ship, the Icon of the Seas, has set sail from Miami in Florida on a seven-day island voyage. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)The world's largest cruise ship, the Icon of the Seas, has set sail from Miami in Florida on a seven-day island voyage. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)
The world's largest cruise ship, the Icon of the Seas, has set sail from Miami in Florida on a seven-day island voyage. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

The ship set sail on Saturday 27 January - but environmentalists are warning that the liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered ship will leak harmful methane into the air. LNG burns more cleanly than other marine fuels such as fuel oil but there is a risk that some gas escapes causing the greenhouse gas, methane, to leak into the atmosphere.

Bryan Comer, director of the Marine Programme at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency that it is “a step in the wrong direction”. He said: “We would estimate that using LNG as a marine fuel emits over 120% more life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than marine gas oil.”

Royal Caribbean says the Icon of the Seas is 24% more energy efficient than required by the International Maritime Organization for modern ships, and the company plans to introduce a net-zero ship by 2035. It comes as several European cities, such as Venice, Barcelona, and Amsterdam, have introduced restrictions on cruise ships in their ports to curb their environmental impact.

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