Cool news coming out of Carnival Corporation & plc, which has just announced a memorandum of agreement with shipyards Meyer Werft and Meyer Turku for the delivery of three next-generation cruise ships to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas, or LNG.

Carnival's iconic funnel. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

New ships are coming for Carnival Cruise Line – and they’re going to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas, or LNG. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Already in use in Norway on ferry vessels like the trendsetting Viking Grace (operated by Viking Line, of no relation to Viking Cruises), LNG is the world’s cleanest-burning fossil fuel in the world. These ships will use LNG to generate 100 percent of the ship’s operational and hotel power, both in port and on the open sea. It’s an innovation that will significantly reduce exhaust emissions over current technology.

Two of the three as-yet-unnamed ships are destined for Carnival Cruise Line, and will enter service in 2020 and 2022 following their construction at Meyer Turku in Turku, Finland. The third vessel will be built for Southampton, England-based P&O Cruises UK, and will be constructed at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. It will enter service in 2020.

Carnival is no stranger to the LNG game: the line had previously announced LNG-powered newbuilds for its AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises brand, the first of which will enter service in 2019. In order to slot in this new order for Carnival and P&O, LNG-powered ships that were destined for AIDA and Costa in 2020 have now been pushed back to 2021.

With this order, Carnival Corporation now has a total of seven LNG-powered cruise ships on order for four of its 10 cruise brands.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of introducing LNG-powered ships to the cruise industry, working with our partners to achieve shipbuilding breakthroughs like this that will help us produce the most efficient and sustainable ships we have ever built,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc. “This is also an important step in our fleet enhancement plan that enables us to execute on our long-term strategy of measured capacity growth over time, while delivering innovative new ships that further elevate our already great guest experience. Every time we launch a new ship, we have a new opportunity to create excitement and show consumers why cruising is a great vacation at an exceptional value, especially for those who typically consider land-based vacations.”

So why should you care? LNG represents a substantial leap forward in maritime technology, with a fraction of the emissions that are pumped out of the funnels of modern cruise ships, almost all of which use marine-grade “bunker fuel”; a substance that is a few degrees of separation above asphalt. Using LNG – or liquefied natural gas – in place of bunker fuel dramatically reduces emissions from the ship’s exhaust systems.

LNG is a relatively new technology in the marine industry. The Viking Line ferry Viking Grace was the first large-scale passenger ship in the world to be powered solely by LNG when it debuted back in 2013, and its successful operation in the intervening years has been a marker of its long-term reliability and suitability for adoption by the cruise industry.

To date, Carnival Corporation is the only cruise company in the world that has committed to LNG propulsion and power systems on its newbuilds.

Bernard Meyer, managing partner of Meyer Werft, said: “We are excited to welcome P&O Cruises back to Meyer Werft in Germany and Carnival Cruise Line back to Meyer Turku in Finland. These new ships will be built in our most modern and environmentally friendly facilities, and we are very proud to design, build and deliver these ships that provide breakthroughs in innovation and for the environment.”


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