Norwegian Cruise Line and its parent company are adopting green methanol as their prefered decarbonization strategy. While Carnival Corporation, MSC Cruises, and Royal Caribbean Group are all bringing LNG ships to their fleets, Norwegian has opted to explore methanol while taking intermediate measures on its existing cruise ships.
The parent company of many cruise lines recently joined the Methanol Institute, the trade group for the developing methanol industry, and is preparing to conduct various experiments with the fuel and eventually include it onboard its cruise ships. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the publicly listed parent company of the cruise lines, has inked a deal with MAN Energy Solutions for a project to upgrade a medium-speed MAN 48/60 engine to make it capable of dual-fuel diesel/methanol operation.
The MOU calls for a multi-part investigation on cruise ships’ potential for using methanol as a fuel. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings presently has 29 cruise ships in operation across its three brands, with an additional eight ships on order and expected to arrive by 2027. The third and last phase of the proposed project, as described by MAN, is the completion of field testing of the dual-fuel engine capable of methanol operations and the delivery of the engine to NCLH for commercial operation.
Norwegian Cruise Line President Harry Sommer announced to the press in New York during the ship’s U.S. debut that the company is considering testing and installing methanol tanks on some of its cruise ships. He reported that the company experimented with running ships on methanol while docked and eventually retrofitting future cruise ships with methanol-ready tanks. He talked about how difficult it would be to add tanks to the company’s older ships.
TUI Cruises, another major cruise line based in Germany, is looking at methanol as a potential alternative fuel for its ships in the future alongside Norwegian. In June, Meyer Turku began construction on the Mein Schiff 7, the first newbuild cruise ship to be built with methanol readiness in mind. The 111,500 gross tonne cruise ship, scheduled to begin service in 2024, will be able to run on methanol or bio-methanol once these fuels are commercially accessible.
Sommer claims that the availability of gasoline is a significant barrier to Norwegian’s efforts to switch to alternative fuels for its cruise ships. Methanol’s rising use in commercial applications should make the chemical more accessible in the future. According to Sommer, green methanol production should increase over the next few years. He also mentioned that they’ve had talks with shipyards about using hydrogen fuel cells but that the infrastructure to provide the fuel reliably is still in its infancy.
In the meantime, Norwegian Cruise Line is enhancing its cruise ships’ functionality by using the most up-to-date technologies. Despite being the same size as the company’s earlier cruise ships, the Norwegian Prima (143,500 gross tonnes) uses less power and gasoline thanks to its Azipod propulsion.
In addition, Norwegian has plans to start experimenting with biodiesel fuels on certain of its cruise ships. According to Sommer, there is no need to alter the framework of the fuel tanks or the engines because the gasoline is compatible. The testing, he added, should give a near-term roadmap for the corporation because biodiesel has almost zero emissions on a well-to-wake measure. While biodiesel has been extensively tested in the commercial sector and accepted by numerous major maritime firms, it has only just undergone its initial testing in the cruise industry.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings plans to make significant expenditures to achieve its objective of nett zero glasshouse gas emissions by 2050.