LNG Cruise Ships – the New Normal?
The cruise industry is booming. By March 2018, there were about 18 LNG cruise ships under construction, representing 20% of all newbuilds for the cruise industry. Among them was the world’s first cruise ship that can run on LNG fuel in port and at sea AIDAnova, launched in December. This year out of the 100 vessels currently on order, 20 are LNG ships. What’s behind this growing trend of LNG cruise ships?
According to an investigative report authored by Dr Ryan Kennedy and commissioned by international environmental organisation Stand.earth, air pollution on cruise ship decks can be worse than in Beijing, China and Santiago, Chile – some of the world’s most polluted cities.
Dr Kennedy writes that particulate matter (PM) from ship exhaust can have toxic or carcinogenic properties. It not only affects people in coastal cities and port communities, but also passengers on the cruise ship themselves. The study of four Carnival Corporation ships showed that despite being in the open air, cruise ship travellers are exposed to elevated concentrations of PM. With more than 30 million people expected to go on a cruise in 2019, it can pose serious health risks.
Carnival Corporation is dedicated to fighting this issue. Already in 2018, the company achieved its 25% carbon reduction goal three years before the set deadline. It managed that by installing Advanced Air Quality Systems on more than 70 ships in its fleet and powering 11 of its next-generation cruise ships, powered by LNG, including the above mentioned AIDAnova. Orders for LNG cruise ships cover the AIDA, Princess, Costa, P&O and Carnival brands.
Despite being a part of the hospitality sector, cruise ships still belong to the maritime industry and are bound to its rules. On 1 January 2020, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will enforce a 0.5% sulphur limit on all marine fuels. To comply with the regulations, shipowners have different options to choose from, including low-sulphur fuel oils, scrubbers or using LNG as fuel.
Cruise lines are confident about using LNG for their vessels, as it can reduce sulphur emissions by more than 99% and nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 85%. However, switching to LNG requires a lot of space and significant costs, meaning that unlike other options, it can only be viable with a newbuild ship.
But some cruise companies are not averse to the idea of expanding their fleets with LNG cruise ships. Along with the already mentioned Carnival’s orders, Royal Caribbean will launch its first LNG ships in 2022 and 2024, with TUI Cruises ordering two new-concept, LNG-powered ships to be delivered in 2024 and 2026 and MSC preparing five LNG ships expected to be launched from 2022 to 2027.
Fuelling cruise ships is not the only way LNG can help fight climate change. Other industries can also benefit from this environmentally-friendly option. Find out more about it at the 4th International LNG Summit in Oslo, Norway on June 18th! Get all the details and register to attend at www.lngsummit.org.