carnival cruiseThe push for cruise lines to one-up their rivals is increasingly going beyond onboard enhancements, with the big players now battling it out for the most impressive green credentials on the global stage.

Carnival Cruise Lines led the charge with scrubbers in 2013, fitting the emission-reducing technology to its fleet as part of a major environmental overhaul. The move has been followed by a number of other industry heavyweights including Royal Caribbean Cruise Line which earlier this year announced four vessels in its fleet will be retrofitted with the technology to reduce carbon emissions.

But Carnival has again been the first off the mark to adopt a new “green cruising” power base for four new ships to be built by Germany’s Meyer Werft shipyard, with the vessels to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

The ships – which form part of a previous agreement to deliver nine new ships by 2022 – will feature hybrid engines for use in port and at sea, with LNG to power all onboard functions as the company looks to replace its smaller vessels with larger fuel efficient ships.

Two of the ships, which will each carry 6600 passengers, will be deployed to German-based AIDA Cruises, with the other two earmarked for either Costa Cruises or AIDA Cruises.
Marking the first initiative of its kind, the move once again raises the benchmark for other cruise lines to follow – which no doubt they will in due course.

To date, cost has been a restrictive factor for cruise lines, with some technology simply out of reach without passing costs on to consumers. But interestingly, Carnival claims that the new ships will be no more expensive to build per passenger than other ships currently on order.

To the contrary, the company claims that the ships will be cheaper to run in terms of fuel. That’s only part of the package – with capacity for the new ships also trumping that of RCCL’s Oasis and Allure of the Seas which hold around 6300 at maximum capacity.

Major cruise operators like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings are not to be discounted, with both companies heavily investing in new ships to lower fuel costs, carry more passengers and improve onboard amenities.

While the focus on rolling out new on-board enhancements continues with pace, some of cruising’s greatest critics are taking notice of the fact that cruise lines are throwing more weight behind green innovations. The question remains, where to next?

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