The four new Prima-class vessels being built for Norwegian Cruise Line will be larger and more environmentally friendly than its predecessor thanks to their use of green methanol as fuel.
In its quarterly update last week, the cruise line told investors that it had agreed with Fincantieri to modify the designs of two cruise ships scheduled for delivery in 2027 and 2028 to use the new alternate fuel that would decrease carbon dioxide emissions.
Norwegian Cruise Line executives have stated that the third and fourth ships of the Prima class would launch in 2025 and 2026, respectively, and will be around 10 percent larger in gross tonnage than the Norwegian Prima. The size of the fifth and sixth Prima ships, set to launch in 2027 and 2028, respectively, will increase by 20%, making them the biggest vessels in the whole fleet.
“In addition to making the ship larger to accommodate the methanol tanks, we’re also able to have greater scale on them, higher passenger count,” explained Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Harry Sommer.
Because green methanol isn’t a commonly available fuel source, all four ships’ launch dates have been pushed back.
Although methanol is one of the most sustainable alternatives to conventional marine fuel, its potential for reducing carbon emissions is unknown. Other options include natural gas in liquid form, fuel cells running on hydrogen, and promising biofuels.
Some of NCLH’s current new construction contracts have been modified, allowing for the expansion of the last four Prima-class ships in the NCL fleet.
Using green methanol as an alternative fuel source will also require adjustments to two of the four ships. A price rise of almost €1.2 billion is expected as a result of the change. The third and fourth ships in this generation of the Prima class will have a 10% increase in gross tonnage compared to the first-generation ships, while the fifth and sixth ships will see a nearly 20% increase.
As a result, the delivery dates for these ships have been altered, with one Prima-class vessel delivered each year from 2025 to 2028, in addition to the Norwegian Viva, which is scheduled to depart in June.
NCLH is now negotiating additional export-credit agency-backed funding to pay the costs of the enlargements.
Unlike other cruise lines, Norwegian opted to forego LNG-fuelled new builds in favour of a longer-term concentration on methanol. At the same time, the cruise line stated that biofuel mix testing on three of its ships had already been completed. Throughout November and December 2022, they tested 30 percent biofuel/70 percent marine gas oil (MGO) onboard the Norwegian Star, Norwegian Sun, and Norwegian Epic.