The global focus on going green is forcing cruise operators to rethink their business models, leading to the development of more eco-friendly fleets with new fuel sources to reduce their carbon footprint.
Big picture, cruise ships account for a small portion of greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. But as climate regulations intensify, the industry needs to get on the right course.
These emergent approaches to improving cruise ship energy efficiency include:
• Alternative fuels: Royal Caribbean (RCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) have ordered ships that run on methanol. Other potential fuel alternatives include liquefied natural gas and hydrogen. It’s important to add that these alternative fuels may still use fossil fuels for production.
• Plug-in ports: Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) has equipped 50% of its ships to plug into local power grids to avoid running on fuel while docked. California has a state-level law requiring cruises to do so while docked at high-traffic ports along its coast.
• Alternative power generation: Cruise lines are testing solar or wind energy to power onboard electronics.
After a pandemic-induced slump, the number of passenger cruises this year is expected to jump to more than 31 million, up from just around 20 million last year.
This resurgence in popularity is putting the industry under scrutiny. The cruise renaissance has also led certain cities to limit the number of cruise ships that visit. Whether the cruise industry’s attempt at going green will change that remains to be seen.
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