This summer, Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) will test alternative fuel use when Celebrity Cruises’ ’Celebrity Apex’ and Royal Caribbean International’s ’Symphony of the Seas’ operate in Europe using sustainable biofuel to meet part of the ships’ fuel needs.
The trials will contribute critical data and research on the fuel’s capabilities and supply chain infrastructure needed to further the industry’s alternative fuel ambitions, RCL said.
During the three-month trial, ’Celebrity Apex’ will depart from Rotterdam and Symphony of the Seas will leave Barcelona, using a biofuel blend that reduces the ships’ carbon emissions.
The biofuel blend is produced by purifying renewable raw materials, such as oils and fats and combining it with fuel oil to create an alternative fuel that is cleaner and more sustainable.
“Biofuels will play an increasingly important role in achieving, not only our own, but the entire maritime sector’s de-carbonisation goals in the short and medium term. We take great pride in continuing to push our industry forward in exploring innovative fuel solutions that reduce carbon impact and preserve the vibrancy of the oceans we sail,” said Jason Liberty, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group.
RCL plans to continue increasing the use of alternative lower carbon fuel to meet the needs of its ships across the fleet, it said. After the trials are completed this summer, the Group plans to scale up the use of alternative fuels, including biofuels, across forthcoming European summer sailings.
“With our sights set on a bright and sustainable future, we are committed to collaboration and innovation to ensure we deliver great vacation experiences, responsibly. With the completion of the trials our hope is to advance our ships’ ability to meaningfully reduce emissions and propel forward strategic partnerships with suppliers and ports to ensure there is sufficient availability of biofuel and infrastructures to make maritime energy transition a reality,” Liberty added.
This initiative follows a biofuel trial on RCL’s California-based ’Navigator of the Seas’, which became the first a cruise ship to sail from a US port while using renewable diesel fuel last Autumn.
Building on a robust portfolio of technologies that improve energy efficiency, water treatment and waste management, trialling biofuels is a step that moves the company closer to achieving Destination Net Zero, its vision for net-zero emissions by 2050, RCL said.
In addition, RCL has extended its investment in OceanScope, an open-source data programme that provides
scientists with critical information to study climate and ocean conservation, for another four years.
Collaborating with key programme partners, including the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the programme’s
renewal builds on over 20 years of ocean and marine life research from RCL Group ships.
OceanScope leverages a unique, comprehensive suite of oceanographic and meteorological instruments, located on board the cruise ships, that generates continuous, simultaneous collection of the ocean’s vital signs, such as the structure of currents, sea surface temperature, CO2 concentrations, and salinity taken along the repetitive ship routes – which allows scientists to monitor changes on scales of seasons, years, and even decades.
“At Royal Caribbean Group, every day is World Oceans Day – and we are thrilled to renew a programme as impactful to oceanic research as OceanScope,” Liberty said.
“We’re dedicated to sustaining our planet and delivering the best vacations, responsibly – and our decades-long support of this unique initiative is testament to that.
“We can’t wait to see how OceanScope, and our scientific collaborators progress our understanding of ocean health and Conservation,” he said.
As of 2023, data has been collected from over 100,000 nautical miles sailed from four ships, travelling across the Caribbean Sea, Galapagos, North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea.
RCL’s ‘Allure of the Seas’ and ‘Adventure of the Seas’ and Celebrity Cruises’ ‘Celebrity Flora’ and
‘Celebrity Equinox’ are currently providing data to scientists at NOAA, the University of Miami Rosenstiel School, and the community at large.
RCL’s conservation work extends beyond OceanScope, with the company championing a broader commitment to sustaining the planet as part of its SEA the Future platform.