The cruise industry sails steadily towards sustainability

25 August, 2021

Transport connects us. It allows humans and goods to reach distant places in such short times that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago.

Yet this transport, which favours very high levels of mobility, forces us to pay a considerable environmental toll. The transport of people or goods is responsible for 24% of direct CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

For this reason, institutions and companies continue to seek solutions to achieve the desired balance.

The shipping industry is no exception. Regulatory and governing bodies such as the European Union and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have stepped forward and begun the transition to a sustainable future. The IMO has taken and will continue to take measures in order to move towards responsible transport in terms of emissions.

Efforts of the cruise sector

In the business sphere, the progress made in the cruise sector is a clear example of the effort made.

Shipping lines are taking every short-term measure available to them, both in the use of fuels and in the use of resources by passengers (total elimination of single-use plastics, for example).

The sustainability report of Costa Cruises already mentioned in 2019 the commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 compared to 2008. And it has taken action. For example, the launching of the Costa Smeralda, the company’s first ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas. This year the company plans to include a second LNG-powered vessel, the Costa Toscana.

LNG is currently the cleanest fuel available for heavy transport. Within the sector, LNG is presented as the only real alternative in the move towards decarbonisation. It reduces polluting emissions to the minimum, eliminating 100% of sulphur oxide (SOXX) emissions, while reducing nitrogen oxide (NOXX) emissions by 80–90% and CO2 emissions by 20–30%.

LNG is currently the cleanest fuel available for heavy transport

MSC Cruises and Chantiers de L’Atlantique are also committed to LNG. They are currently building the MSC World Europa, their first LNG-powered ship. The vessel, the first to be built in France, will be one of the most environmentally and technologically advanced LNG-powered cruise ships to date.

MSC World Europe, in addition to using LNG to produce heat and electricity, will also feature a new solid oxide fuel cell technology system, set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30% compared to a conventional liquefied natural gas engine.

We can also see how Nordic countries have started to use BioLNG as a marine fuel. The widespread use of biogas as a marine fuel had been delayed for a number of reasons, including cost and relatively limited availability. But biogas producer Biokraft has just signed a deal to supply bio-LNG for seven years to the Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten. This measure will have a major impact on the reduction of its emissions.