Royal Caribbean has announced that their newest class of ships will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and use fuel cell technology, which will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The new class of ships has just been signed into agreement with Meyer Turku, and is under the project name “icon.” The vessels will be delivered in 2022 and 2024. Before then, the line plans to begin testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship next year, and will run larger fuel cell projects on upcoming Quantum-class ships.
The switch to LNG has been coursing through the cruise industry, as Carnival Corporation recently announced their plans to begin using the alternative energy source for some of their upcoming ships as well. Royal’s Icon class ships are expected to run primarily on liquefied natural gas, but will also be able to run on distillate fuel to accommodate ports that don’t possess LNG infrastructure.
Royal Caribbean’s been eyeing fuel cells for almost a decade, and now believes that technology is at a stage of development that justifies their investment. There is a long lead time for the Icon class, which gives the line, along with the shipyard, time to adapt the technology for maritime use. Because of this, many Icon design elements are still in early stages, but are expected to accommodated 5,000 passengers.
Icon is the first new class for the company since Celebrity’s new Edge class, which will debut in 2018. The company is also expanding with new Oasis and Quantum-clas ships.
The order is contingent upon many factors, such as documentation and financing, but final contracts should be finished by the end of the year.