New Technologies Make Ships More Eco-Friendly Than Ever

Perhaps the most obvious goal for the cruise industry is to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, a process that, like much of the mechanized world, is neither simple nor straightforward.

Indeed, cruise lines have already been making strides to make their ships more eco-friendly. Many parts of the world require lines to use cleaner-burning marine gas oil instead of traditional heavy bunker fuel, and several lines have begun the switch to liquefied natural gas, which they say reduces emissions further still.

While new cruise ships, like Carnival’s Mardi Gras (pictured above), P&O Cruises’ Iona and next year’s new ship class from Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, use LNG, ship operators like Hurtigruten and Silversea are taking a different tack, refitting existing vessels with hybrid technology — we’re talking new engines, catalytic reduction modules, new green hydrogen fuel cells and even dead fish as a fuel source; or in the casi of Silversea, pioneering “multi-hybrid” technology (see below).

The conversion process, undertaken in conjunction with Kongsberg Maritime, is one of the largest environmental upgrade programs ever undertaken in Europe, according to the Norway-based company.

Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam told Cruise Critic he believes ports should consider turning away vessels that do not reach environmental standards.

“The regions and the ports need to be a lot tougher when it comes to setting demands for cruise lines,” he said. “They need to insist on standards when it comes to fuel type, use, size and whether the ship is equipped with shore power technology.”

Ship design is also key to increasing efficiences, as Captain Henrik Loft Sorenson, who helms Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Wonder of the Seas explained onboard. Using an Air Lubrication System (ALS), bubbles are created below the hull of the ship to allow it to glide through the water more easily.

Should you sail on a ship that has hybrid technology or reliance on fuels other than heavy bunker oil? It’s always at the discretion of the cruiser. However, at this stage, it is worth noting that a lot of the real hybrid technology is being done on smaller expedition vessels that visit some of the most remote parts of the world. Smaller ships also have an advantage in that battery options are possible in powering these ships for the short term, and wind power is also possible — think of the sailing ships from Windstar or Star Clippers, for example, for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Further muddying the waters is that LNG has been called a “transition” option by many in the industry as it looks for better ways to fuel its vessels. Viking, for example, has said it will run its new cruise ships using hydrogen, which Chairman Torstein Hagen says is a cleaner option than LNG. (Viking did not attend the Seatrade conference.) Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald even noted at the State of the Industry panel that some great breakthroughs had recently been made using “fusion” (e.g. nuclear).

Beyond power, lines have been leading the way when it comes to recycling, elimination of single use plastics (remember all those plastic straws onboard ships? — gone) and reducing food waste — one of the big complaints levelled at lines.

Carnival Corporation for example has just completed the installation of nearly 600 food waste biodigesters across its entire global fleet. The technology naturally breaks down food waste using a mix of natural aerobic digestion and microorganisms.

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BA’s culture fosters an atmosphere of commitment of meeting our Client’s needs and expectations on each project we undertake through embracing innovative design, applying the latest technologies, and ensuring functionality is achieved, resulting in intelligent, sustainable solutions that enrich the built environment.

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BA has played a major role in the development of cruise destinations, private islands, waterfronts, and port facilities by delivering innovative solutions to the growing and changing demands of the world’s seaports and communities. We develop forward thinking strategic plans based upon solid financials and flexible operations to meet the needs and expectations of the clients and users.

BERMELLOAJAMIL© 2022