Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, has set sail from Miami, taking maritime engineering and on-board hospitality into new waters.
Large enough to accommodate 7,600 passengers – containing ‘eight neighbourhoods’, more than 40 restaurants and bars and seven pools, including the ‘largest waterpark’ at sea – the mammoth vessel’s impressive features extend far below the sight of most on-board visitors.
Powering Icon of the Seas are six dual-fuel diesel and natural gas tanks, with the ability to use liquefied natural gas (LNG), each weighing 307 tonnes and 90-feet long. Royal Caribbean said the technology allows for ‘virtually zero’ sulfur dioxides and particulates and ‘significant reduction’ in nitrous oxides.
Shore power connectivity aims to reduce emissions at port, and an advanced waste heat recovery system, using assisted pyrolysis technology, can repurpose heat as energy across the liner.
The use of LNG remains under intense scrutiny, however, on account of its methane emissions. The International Council on Clean Transportation states methane emissions from LNG-fuelled ships in the form of ‘methane slip’ contribute to climate change.
The Fugitive and Unburned Methane Emissions from Ships (FUMES) project found that methane slip measured in the plumes of 18 ships using the most common type of LNG marine engine (LPDF 4-stroke) averaged 6.4%, whereas EU regulations assume 3.1% methane slip and the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) assumes 3.5%. The report recommends that EU and IMO policymakers consider increasing the assumed methane slip for LPDF 4-stroke engines to at least 6%.
The Sun Princess, Princess Cruise Line’s newest ship, which is set to debut in the Mediterranean in early 2024, will also run on LNG. Around a third of the 75 cruise ships currently on order are set to be powered by LNG.
More LNG projects will need to come on line and more bunkering facilities to be completed in a short period of time if the industry is to cope with demand for LNG bunkering, according to research and consulting body Drewry Shipping.
Last week the US paused LNG export approvals in a move which was described as ‘short sighted’ and ‘devastating’ for industry growth and international relations (click here).