The world’s largest cruise ship set sail on its inaugural journey from the port of Miami on Saturday. Royal Caribbean’s “Icon of the Seas” departed from Miami harbor, marking the beginning of its maiden voyage.
A Titanic Feat: Icon of the Seas Embarks on its Journey
Spanning approximately 1,200 feet (365 meters) from bow to stern, the Icon of the Seas rivals the height of the Empire State Building, standing at around 1,250 feet (381 meters), excluding its antennas and pinnacle. The magnitude of this vessel surpasses all previous cruise ships, making a grand entrance into the maritime world.
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Maiden Voyage Commences with Lionel Messi’s Support
Prior to its departure from South Florida on Tuesday, the ship was officially christened with the help of football maestro Lionel Messi and his Inter Miami teammates, who supported the ship’s seven-day island-hopping inaugural journey to the warm-climate regions.
According to Jason Liberty, the President and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group, the Icon of the Seas represents over 50 years of dreams, innovation, and a commitment to living out their mission. Liberty highlighted that it is a multigenerational family vacation, transforming the landscape of family travel and realizing the holiday dreams of each traveler responsibly.
First Cruise: Royal Caribbean’s 1,200-Foot Mark on the Sea
Spread across 20 decks, the Icon of the Seas boasts eight neighborhoods for organized activities. The ship features six water slides, seven swimming pools, an ice-skating rink, a theater, and more than 40 restaurants, bars, and lounges. With a total capacity, the ship can accommodate 7,600 passengers and 2,350 crew members. While the world’s largest cruise ship is set to depart on Saturday, environmental organizations fear that, along with other large cruise ships in the future, its liquid natural gas engines could pose a threat to the climate due to methane emissions.
Riding the Wave of Popularity: Royal Caribbean Launches Icon of the Seas
Capitalizing on the growing popularity of cruises, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has launched a new liner, Icon of the Seas, with 20 decks capable of seating 8,000 people. The ship departs from Miami and, although LNG burns cleaner than traditional maritime fuels, leading to higher methane emissions, it has been designed to run on LNG. Due to its short-term negative impacts, environmental groups claim that the ship’s engines’ methane emissions pose an unacceptable risk to the climate.
South Florida’s Pride: Lionel Messi Seals Iconic Seas
Lionel Messi and his association with Icon of the Seas have created a sensation in South Florida. The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) announced that Brian Comer, its Director of Marine Programs, considers it a step in the wrong direction. It is estimated that cruise ship engines emit more than 120 times the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy produced compared to traditional marine fuels, emphasizing the urgency of reducing emissions to slow global warming.
Royal Caribbean’s CEO Reflects on 50 Years of Maritime Symbolism
According to Royal Caribbean, the new ship is 24% more carbon-efficient than the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulatory standard worldwide. Steve Saou, Chief Operating Officer of CLNG, the main lobbying group for LNG, states that most of the world’s seabed runs on very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO), which produces more carbon emissions than LNG. Cruise ship engines convert natural gas into electricity in a cylinder, and Wärtsilä, the company that makes the engines, has said that it is crucial to convert all natural gas energy. Wärtsilä’s natural gas engine technology produces 90% less methane during the combustion process than it did 20 years ago, according to Juha Kytölä, Chief Technology Officer at Wärtsilä. What does not change can be burned during the combustion process and can escape into the atmosphere.
Unveiling the Broken Record: Launching a Symbol of Maritime Conservation History
Studies conducted in 2024, supported by ICCT and other stakeholders, estimate that the average methane slip in cruise ship engines is 6.4%. IMO has set the methane slip at 3.5%. “Methane is coming under greater scrutiny,” said Anna Barford, a non-profit organization’s shipping campaigner in Canada. IMO has previously said that addressing methane emissions is part of its efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions.