New Delhi, Jan 28: The Icon of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, has commenced its inaugural journey from Miami, Florida However, it has raised environmental concerns over its methane emissions.
Owned by the Royal Caribbean Group, the 365m-long vessel, with 20 decks and a capacity for 7,600 passengers, is set for a seven-day Caribbean island-hopping adventure. However, environmentalists are cautioning against potential harmful methane leaks from the liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered ship.
Constructed at a shipyard in Turku, Finland, and registered in the Bahamas, the $2 billion Icon of the Seas boasts seven swimming pools, six water slides, and over 40 restaurants, bars, and lounges. Despite its grandeur, concerns arise as LNG, while cleaner than traditional marine fuels, carries a risk of gas escape leading to methane emissions—an especially potent greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide.
Methane, with the ability to trap 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide over two decades, poses a significant environmental threat. Royal Caribbean emphasizes that the vessel exceeds energy efficiency standards set by the International Maritime Organization, claiming to be 24% more en*ergy efficient. The company also aims to introduce a net-zero emissions ship by 2035 as part of its commitment to environmental sustainability.
Media reported that Cruise holidays, particularly popular among young people, contribute significantly to the tourism sector. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, the cruise industry contributed $75 billion (£59 billion) to the global economy in 2021. Despite the industry's economic impact, the environmental impact of large cruise ships remains a concern.