LNG-Powered Next Generation Cruise Ships
Our vision of the cruise of the future is guided by our determination to continue to pre-empt the industry by introducing pioneering and sustainable solutions. This, in turn, depends on the research and development of innovation. While providing a trend-setting travel and vacation experience designed to change over time, Costa new ships will be the first cruise vessels to be LNG-powered. Tackling climate change while protecting natural resources is something that concerns the company, fully aligned with Carnival Corporation & plc strategy, Costa Cruises Group is continuously working to reduce the intensity of CO2 emissions and improve air quality by evaluating emerging technological solutions. The new LNG-powered ships embrace this vision and constitute a crucial part of the company blueprint for the future for the cruise industry as a whole. In this context the choice to embark on this path has been designed with the aim of favoring cooperation and exchange with all key stakeholders that will be crucial to enable the implementation of this complex and challenging project.
The Carnival Group’s significant investment in ships powered by LNG, the world’s cleanest-known fossil fuel, is a very important example of responsible innovation and the pursuit of solutions enabling the introduction of newer and more fuel-efficient vessels. By the end of 2018, the Costa Cruises Group will be the first company to launch LNG-powered cruise ships that use gas as fuel. Transitioning to LNG is no simple task, and the demands – technical or otherwise – associated with its implementation make it something of a milestone both for the company and the wider cruise industry.
When designing the vessels, focus had to be also on analyzing ships likely itineraries to ensure optimum arrangements were made on board, one of the key element was deciding upon the total volume of LNG needed to be stored on board. Even if LNG has about half as much density as conventional fuel it requires, therefore, larger tank volumes. The first vessels are designed to be able to operate for 14 days between refueling with a combined volume of approximately 3,600 cubic meters of LNG stored on board.
Even though worldwide natural gas is plentiful, it is not available everywhere in liquid form. As for that suitable infrastructure and dedicated logistics available will be crucial to provide LNG in specific locations at specific quantities. To reach this goal ports need to be involved since the beginning thus to enable them on planning and investing in infrastructural upgrade programs. While waiting for this development at port level, bunkering operations will be granted by a ship to ship solution on the open sea starting in late 2018.
There are also regulatory challenges to overcome, as there are no internationally agreed rules for cruise ships bunkering LNG. The Corporation together with the company is working with various stakeholders including local authorities, ports, flag states, classification societies and suppliers to ensure that they have a secure and reliable supply of LNG for the future and to ensure the benefits of LNG are clear to all.
Liquid natural gas has been around for decades but a series of obstacles have until recently kept it from the cruise industry. Once completed, the transition to LNG-driven vessels will lead to a considerable reduction in emissions and demonstrate to others, in the overall maritime industry, that LNG is a viable alternative and, above all, a sustainable choice in the long term. LNG emits zero sulfur dioxides, and compared to marine diesel oil, has a 95 to 100 percent reduction in particulate matter, an 85 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides and a 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions.
LNG is odorless, nontoxic and non-corrosive and is considered the world’s cleanest-burning fossil fuel. Natural gas is converted into liquid by cooling it to -162°C, which shrinks its volume by a factor of 600 and allows it to be transported both efficiently and safely.
In the overall this strategic choice will contribute to push in the maritime industry to build ships that can utilize cleaner burning fuel and at the same time will support to enable infrastructure development particularly as the 2014/EU directive comes into force.