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Icon of the Seas: World’s largest cruise ship sets sail from Miami

The biggest cruise ship in the world, Icon of the Seas, just kicked off its first-ever journey from Miami, Florida. Picture this: a whopping 365-meter-long beauty with 20 decks and room for up to 7,600 passengers, owned by the Royal Caribbean Group. It’s all set for a week-long Caribbean adventure, making stops at various islands.

Now, this ship isn’t just big; it’s got the works—seven swimming pools, six water slides, and more than 40 spots to grab a bite or a drink. But, here’s the catch: folks are a bit worried about its environmental footprint. You see, this giant runs on liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is cleaner than the usual ship fuels, but there’s a chance it might release not-so-friendly methane into the air.

Built in Finland for a whopping $2 billion (£1.6 billion), this Bahamas-registered beauty has some environmentalists on edge. They’re saying that even though LNG is cleaner, it could still leak methane, a serious greenhouse gas. Bryan Comer from the International Council on Clean Transportation thinks LNG might be emitting way more greenhouse gases than good old marine gas oil.

The ICCT recently dropped a report saying that methane emissions from LNG-powered ships might be higher than we thought. And why should we care? Well, methane is a heavyweight in the greenhouse gas game, trapping way more heat than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Tackling these emissions is crucial to slow down global warming.

Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, insists that the Icon of the Seas is doing better than the rules demand. They say it’s 24% more energy-efficient than what the big shots at the International Maritime Organization say is necessary. Plus, they’ve got big plans—they’re aiming for a net-zero emissions ship by 2035.

Here’s a fun fact: the cruise industry is booming, especially among young folks. The Cruise Lines International Association spilled the beans, saying it pumped a whopping $75 billion (£59 billion) into the global economy in 2021.

To add a touch of glam to this mega-launch, soccer legend Lionel Messi, currently showing his skills at Inter Miami, joined the ship’s naming ceremony. He did the honors with a football, triggering the classic “good luck” move by breaking a champagne bottle against the ship’s bow. Cheers to that!

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