After almost a thousand days dedicated to the construction of this imposing ship in a shipyard in Finland, the Icon of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, set sail last Saturday from Miami for its maiden voyage transporting a population equivalent to a small town. Her baptism took place in style when Argentine star Lionel Messi pressed a button to make a bottle of champagne crash against the bow.
Costing approximately $2 billion, Royal Caribbean's Icon of The Seas has been described as a floating "Disneyland." The monster liner, registered in the Bahamas, features seven pools, including a 40,000-gallon "lake," six water slides, a carousel that is the largest ice rink at sea, and more than 40 restaurants and bars. In addition, it has 20 decks and a maximum capacity for 7,500 passengers, including crew and tourists.
At 365 meters in length, the Icon will snatch the title of the world's largest cruise ship from one of its slightly smaller housemates, the Wonder of the Seas. However, despite its enormous size, this new Royal Caribbean ship is equipped with cutting-edge technology that aims to be more environmentally friendly than some smaller cruise ships.
Icon runs on liquefied natural gas, although some experts say that systems of this type can release harmful amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere.
"It is a step in the wrong direction," said Bryan Comer, director of the Marine Program of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), quoted by the Reuters news agency and published in a BBC Mundo story.
"We estimate that using LNG as a marine fuel emits more than 120% more greenhouse gas emissions over its life cycle than marine diesel," he said.
Considered one of the wonders of the modern world, the Panama Canal has become one of the greatest tourist attractions in terms of cruise travel offers. Companies such as Royal Caribbean itself, Norwegian Cruise Line, or the shipping company Carnival Cruise Lines offer routes through the Caribbean that include passage through the Panama Canal. That is why many wonder if the Icon of The Seas will pass through the Isthmus.
Unfortunately, the answer right now is no. According to the Royal Caribbean website, the Icon of the Sea will currently operate three routes: Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean, and the Eastern Caribbean Cruise with a cost ranging between $1,723 and $2,500 per person.