Celebrity Cruises’ fifth Edge class ship will be outfitted with new power technology enabling her engines to run on multiple fuels, including the environmentally friendly methanol, as the line moves toward a carbon-free-cruising future.
The upmarket line Celebrity Cruises, a brand of Royal Caribbean Group, announced on March 28 that technology firm Wärtsilä will design a so-called flex fuel engine for its next Edge class ship, which is not yet under construction. The ship will be the first in the industry to use the hybrid engine.
Multi-Fuel Engine for Next Edge-Class Cruise Ship
In partnership with Helsinki-based Wärtsilä and the Chantiers de L’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, Celebrity Cruises will bring another innovation to its Edge class vessels when the fifth ship in the series begins construction. Wärtsilä will design two converted 8-cylinder Wärtsilä 46F engines that allow them to use three fuel sources, including methanol.
Compared to conventional fuels, renewable methanol cuts carbon dioxide emissions by up to 95%, reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80%, and completely eliminates sulfur oxide and particulate matter emissions, according to the Methanol Institute, the trade organization for the methanol industry.
Celebrity Cruises said that the technology company will provide two 8-cylinder Wärtsilä 46F engines capable of operating with methanol as fuel, two 12-cylinder Wärtsilä 46F engines, and one Wärtsilä 32 engine. The 46F engines will be converted to run on methanol at the shipyard.
Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO Jason Liberty said, “As we innovate our ship design and offerings, we’re also focused on equally evolving the fuel and technology landscape that powers them. By incorporating tri-fueled engines, we are ensuring that as alternative, low-carbon-based solutions become more viable, our ships will be ready to adapt and drive the industry forward to a more sustainable and net zero emissions future.”
Royal Caribbean Group, which also owns the cruise brands Royal Caribbean, Silversea Cruises, TUI Cruises, and Hapag-Lloyd, has said it envisions its entire fleet will operate with net zero emissions by 2050.
The company said that 70% of its ships across all brands are already equipped with Advanced Emissions Purification systems, which remove roughly 98% of sulfur dioxides from the ships’ exhaust.
Celebrity Cruises has three Edge class ships currently operating: Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Beyond. The fourth, Celebrity Ascent, is under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard and slated to debut on December 3, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale. Celebrity Ascent was floated out of the shipyard on January 21, 2023, and work on the 140,600 gross ton vessel continues at her mooring location, prior to sea trials later this year.
Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said, “With the launch of our Edge Series of ships in 2018, we set ambitious sustainability goals to make these ships the most energy efficient large vessels at sea. Working collaboratively with our partners, we have continued to develop new technologies and achieve breakthroughs with each subsequent ship.”
Making Inroads With Alternative Fuels
In researching future carbon-neutral fuels for the marine industry, Wärtsilä said methanol has emerged as one of the most promising candidates. The company said that the planned Edge class vessel will be the second methanol-fueled engine conversion it has completed, and the first with the Wärtsilä 46F engine.
Building the fifth ship in the line’s Edge class with methanol-fuel capabilities will mark a first for the French shipyard.
Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard General Manager Laurent Castaing said, “Development and integration of methanol systems on a cruise ship is a new challenge for Chantiers de l’Atlantique and, for the first time, is part of our decarbonization program.”
Other cruise companies are embracing methanol as an alternative fuel. A partnership announced in February 2023 between Costa Group and methane producer Proman, headquartered in Wollerau, Switzerland, will boost the decarbonization of Costa Group’s fleet. Costa said its plans include retrofitting existing ships to enable them to run on the clean fuel and the construction of methanol-fueled new builds.
Just one new-build cruise ship currently is being constructed with the ability to run on green methanol, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 7. Due to launch in 2024, the ship will run on lower-emission marine diesel but be fitted for methanol fuel as well.