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Are 'green' cruise ships good for the climate?

Many cruise companies are touting their green credentials. But can cruise ships ever be sustainable?

The Icon of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, is powered by liquefied natural gas. Credit: Getty Images

In January, the world's largest cruise ship set sail on its seven-day maiden voyage from the Port of Miami. The vessel, named Icon of the Seas, cost Royal Caribbean bn (£1.6bn) to build, has 18 decks, seven swimming pools and more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges. It is 365m (1,195ft) long – 35m (115ft) longer than the Eiffel Tower and about five times as large as the Titanic.

The ship is powered by liquified natural gas (LNG) which Royal Caribbean has described as the "cleanest-burning marine fuel available". But environmental campaigners say LNG harms the climate because it leaks polluting methane into the atmosphere, which is about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 20-year time span.

The industry's impact on the natural world is only set to grow as cruising booms. Ticket sales for cruise ships in 2024 have reached an all-time high. [continue]