Concrete progress has been made by the cruise industry to advance its environmental and sustainability agenda.
Data from the 2023 orderbook also illustrated that cruise lines continued to invest in new vessels with 44 new ships on order during the next five years, representing an investment of $62 bill since 2019, according to Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) 2023 Global Cruise Industry Environmental Technologies and Practices Report.
Within the orderbook, 25 cruise ships will be LNG- powered and seven will be either methanol ready on delivery, or methanol capable, representing an investment in new engine technologies that will accelerate the maritime transition towards a future of low to zero carbon fuels.
Examples of progress highlighted in CLIA’s report was the number of alternative fuels’ pilot programmes and trials currently taking place with cruise ships.
In addition, an increasing number of vessels sailing and delivering over the next five years will either use alternative fuels or will be able to incorporate zero carbon fuels when they become available.
The report also outlined other significant investments cruise lines are making to reduce emissions while berthed and at sea, such as shoreside electricity, which allows cruise ships to switch off their engines resulting in significant emissions reduction while in port.
More cruise lines are diversifying their energy solutions by incorporating multi-fuel engines, trialling fuel cell technology, wind (including solid sail) technology, as well as photovoltaic solutions and battery storage for power shaving.
Efficiency tracking systems are now in use on 171 CLIA-member ships, representing 60% of the global fleet, with many more systems planned.
In addition, cruise lines are pursuing fuel flexibility, investing in propulsion technologies with conversion capabilities for the future. Some 32 pilot projects and collaborative initiatives are underway with sustainable fuel producers and engine companies.
CLIA President, and CEO, Kelly Craighead (pictured), said: “Cruise lines continue to transform the modern fleet to protect the oceans, air and destinations enjoyed by millions of passengers each year.
“Our data shows a step change in the uptake of new environmental technologies by our cruise line members. Already today cruise lines are building the ships of the future, which will run on new, more sustainable engine technologies.
“The introduction of these new technologies and the many pilot programmes and trials in place reveal how the cruise industry is an innovator and early adopter of technologies that are helping us sail to a more sustainable future,” she said.
The availability of sustainable marine fuels remains essential to achieving the maritime industry’s de-carbonisation goals and underscores the need for governments to support research efforts to accelerate development of these fuels so that they are safe, viable and available for use, the report stressed.
CLIA Chairman, MSC Cruises’ Pierfrancesco Vago, said: “Achieving our collective sustainability ambitions requires substantial investment from the public and private sector. The cruise industry, as part of the broader maritime sector, is doing its part by building the future of cruise into our ships today.
“We need governments to support research efforts, as well as provide a clear and stable regulatory landscape, so that fuel suppliers and others can do the critical work needed,” he stressed.
Highlights of progress in emissions reduction in the report included:
Shoreside Electricity (SSE) Capability – Plugging into shoreside electricity allows ship engines to be switched off, reducing emissions by up to 98%, depending on the mix of energy sources, while a ship is in port, according to studies conducted by a number of the world’s ports and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Across the CLIA cruise-line member fleet, 120 ships (46% of the total and a 48% increase in the number of ships with SSE since 2022) are equipped to connect to shoreside electricity, with 86% of CLIA member ships (representing 95% of global passenger capacity) coming online between now and 2028 specified for shoreside electricity system.
- Currently 32 ports (compared to 29 ports in 2022), representing fewer than 2% of the world’s ports, have at least one cruise berth with plug-in capability.
- By 2028, more than 210 ships with shoreside power capability are expected, plus additional ships to be retrofitted with the capability, representing a total of 72% of ships and 74% of global passenger capacity.
- In 2022, CLIA announced that its ocean cruise line members made a commitment that all ships calling at ports capable of providing shoreside power will be equipped to either use SSE by 2035, or be able to use alternative low-carbon technologies, as available, to reduce emissions in port.
- As part of the EU’s ‘Fit for 55 green’ programme, by 2030, major ports in Europe will be required to have shoreside power, which will further accelerate the available port infrastructure investment in that region.
Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems – As part of their sustainability focus, cruise lines have committed to not discharging untreated sewage anywhere in the world, during normal operations.
- Across the CLIA cruise-line member fleet, 202 ships (77% of the total), representing 80% of global passenger capacity (a 12% increase from 2022) are equipped with advanced wastewater treatment systems. These systems operate to a higher standard than shoreside treatment plants in many coastal cities.
- All CLIA-member cruise line newbuilding ships are specified for advanced wastewater treatment systems— which will bring the total to 242 ships, representing 80% of the fleet and 84% of global capacity.
- In addition, since 2019, the number of ships with advanced wastewater treatment systems capable of meeting the more stringent standards of the Baltic Sea Special Area has increased 167%. Today, nearly one third of CLIA member ships have this capability.
Renewable fuels and alternative energy sources – Various CLIA member lines are trialling, using, and incorporating into newbuildings the capability to run on renewable fuels, including biofuels and synthetic carbon fuels.
- Within the CLIA member fleet, four ships sailing today use renewable biofuel as an energy source—and an additional four newbuildings are expected to be configured for renewable biofuels.
- In addition, 24 ships have biofuel trials and two have synthetic carbon fuels trials.
- Seven newbuildings are anticipated to run on zero carbon fuels, including five ships envisioned to use green methanol and two projected to use green hydrogen.
- Some 15% of newbuilding cruise ships entering service in the next five years are anticipated to be equipped with battery storage and/or fuel cells to allow for hybrid power generation.
LNG as a Fuel – As the cruise industry anticipates the transition to a future of sustainable, renewable fuels, several cruise ships are utilising LNG. Ships designed with LNG engines and fuel supply systems are able to switch to bio or synthetic LNG in the future, with little or no modifications.
- The 2023 report found 48% of newbuilding capacity will be designed with LNG engines and fuel supply systems. These ships are part of a future generation of vessels that will be capable of running on renewable marine fuels once fuel providers are able to make them available at scale.
- Based on analyses by Sea-LNG and others, LNG is currently the fossil fuel available at scale that has the best performance in reducing atmospheric emissions. LNG has virtually zero sulphur emissions and particulate emissions, reduces NOx emissions by around 85%, and achieves up to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.