World's largest cruise ship, "Icon of the Seas," which includes the largest swimming pool at sea and an "Ultimate Family Townhouse" costing $100,000 per week, sets sail on its first voyage

Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's newest ship, is the largest cruise ship in the world (previously). It set sail Saturday, January 27, out of Miami on its first voyage, a sold-out seven-night Caribbean cruise. The massive ship, which cost 2 billion dollars to build, is 1200 feet long and weighs over 250,000 gross tons. It's the first in Royal Caribbean's new class of ships, the "Icon" class which seems to me to translate into whatever is bigger, longer, taller, and more excessive than whatever has come before. The ship can carry 7,600 guests and 2,350 crew members. Here's some of what's on board:

  • 7 swimming pools
  • 20 decks
  • A 17,000 square-foot water park—the largest at sea
  • 6 water slides, including the tallest drop slide at sea (46 feet)
  • The first at-sea family raft slides
  • An infinity pool
  • The largest swimming pool at sea (40,000 gallons)
  • The argest ice arena at sea
  • 50 entertainers including musicians and comedians
  • The first at-sea performance of "The Wizard of Oz," including flying monkeys
  • An on-board dog, Rover (Chief Dog Officer)
  • Royal Caribbean's first swim-up bar at sea
  • More than 40 onboard restaurants, bars, lounges
  • 28 kinds of accommodation, from 157-square-foot interior cabins (starting at $2600 per week for 2 people) to the 3-story "Ultimate Family Townhouse"—"with its own wraparound deck, cinema, outdoor hot tub and spiraling slide to ride between decks that averages $100,000 per week and can accommodate eight people"
  • A gigantic orb structure called the "Pearl," which is a "five-deck-tall glass surface supported by steel and lined on the inside with more than 3,000 tiles."
  • An 82-foot-tall steel and glass Aqua Dome, which houses "a theater where high-divers perform, a 55-foot-tall water curtain feature, a bar and Royal Caribbean's first food hall."
  • 8 "neighborhoods": AquaDome; Central Park; Chill Island; Royal Promenade; Surfside; Suite Neighborhood; The Hideaway; Thrill Island

Royal Caribbean provides some "environmental fast facts" about the Icon of the Seas on its website—which include that its 6 dual-fuel engines have the "ability to use liquefied natural gas (LNG)"—and is touting this ship as being "24% more energy efficient than required for ships designed today." However, some environmentalists aren't impressed. BBC explains:

But environmentalists warn that the liquefied natural gas-powered ship will leak harmful methane into the air.

"It's a step in the wrong direction," Bryan Comer, director of the Marine Programme at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

"We would estimate that using LNG as a marine fuel emits over 120% more life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than marine gas oil," he said.

Earlier this week, the ICCT released a report, arguing that methane emissions from LNG-fuelled ships were higher than current regulations assumed.

If you want to see some footage of this behemoth, check out the video, below. Cruise ship enthusiasts Trev and Chels are on the first voyage and uploaded this video yesterday.