This Week in Cruise: New Ships Emphasize Sustainable Travel

A fuel cell provided some of the power for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s Excalibur technology reveal event.

Sustainability is in the spotlight in the cruise industry this week, with a number of upcoming new ships looking to incorporate environmentally conscious features.

Lindblad Expeditions just signed a deal for a new expedition cruise ship that will incorporate an X-Bow design, which the cruise line says will improve fuel efficiency and also increase guest comfort while navigating rough seas. The ship is scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2020, with an option for two additional ships to be delivered in subsequent years.

Carnival Corporation is in the midst of building a number of new cruise ships, and this week its Carnival Cruise Line brand inked an agreement with Shell to fuel its new vessels with liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is said to be a lower-carbon option than traditional cruise ship fuel. As part of the agreement, the two new ships will be fueled through Shell’s LNG Bunker Barge (LBB), which is part of Shell’s strategic plan to develop a global LNG bunkering network.

The two new Carnival Cruise Line vessels will be fully powered by LNG both while in port and at sea, which the cruise line said is an industry first and an environmental breakthrough that will improve air quality with cleaner emissions and produce the most efficient ships in company history. The new ships are expected to launch in 2020 and 2022.

Looking further ahead, at this week’s reveal event for Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.’s Excalibur technology initiative, cruise line representatives told Travel Agent that they hope to one day power the company’s entire fleet with fuel cells. Fuel cells, which work by combining hydrogen and oxygen via a chemical catalyst to produce electricity, produce no carbon emissions at all; instead, the only byproducts are water vapor and heat. In fact, the reveal event was powered by a fuel cell that Royal Caribbean will now test on Oasis of the Seas.

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