Royal Caribbean has announced that its newest class of ships will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The company signed a memorandum of understanding with shipbuilder Meyer Turku for the new class of vessel under the project name Icon.
The vessels will be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024.
Royal Caribbean will begin testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship in 2017 and run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum-class vessels being built in the next several years.
“With Icon class, we move further in the journey to take the smoke out of our smokestacks,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises. “We are dedicated to innovation, continuous improvement, and environmental responsibility, and Icon gives us the opportunity to deliver against all three of these pillars.”
“Our guests expect us to push every envelope we can,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “And on this new class of ship, we began by challenging ourselves to find a new approach to power and propulsion that is safe, reliable, and more energy-efficient than ever before.”
“Our partnership with RCL has created a number of ground-breaking ship classes, such as Oasis, Celebrity Solstice, Quantum, and Mein Schiff, and we are grateful that Royal Caribbean is again giving us the opportunity to partner with them on a new class of ships,” said Jan Meyer, the CEO of Meyer Turku.
“Increasing the commitment to LNG makes it easier for suppliers to make their own infrastructure commitments,” added Fain. “As more ships are built for LNG, the number of ports that support it will grow.”
The Icon ships are expected to run primarily on LNG but will also be able to run on distillate fuel, to accommodate occasional itineraries that call on ports without LNG infrastructure.
“We believe fuel cells offer very interesting design possibilities,” said Harri Kulovaara, RCL’s chief of ship design.
“As the technology becomes smaller and more efficient, fuel cells become more viable in a significant way to power the ship’s hotel functions. We will begin testing those possibilities as soon as we can, and look to maximise their use when Icon class debuts.”
“There is a long lead time for Icon class, and we will use that time to work with Meyer Turku to adapt fuel cell technology for maritime use,” he added.