Cruise Ship Fuel Consumption – All the Details

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Any large ship, like a cargo ship or container ship, will consume a significant amount of fuel, and cruise ships are no exception. But how much fuel do cruise ships use? Why do cruise ships need to use so much fuel? If these are questions you commonly have onboard your cruise, you’ve come to the right place to find answers. 

Keep reading to learn everything about cruise ship fuel consumption and more.

Cruise Ship Fuel Consumption: How Much Fuel Does a Cruise Ship Use?

Cruise ships consume a large quantity of fuel, but the exact amount depends on several factors. A large cruise ship, on average, uses as much as 250 tons every day, which is more than 80,000 gallons, much more than most people will use in their lifetime. 

Smaller cruise ships may have a little less fuel usage, at around 150 tons per day, which is still a significant amount. This leads to the question: if cruise ship fuel consumption is so high, how much fuel can cruise ships hold?

How Much Fuel Do Cruise Ships Hold?

To consume the large amounts of fuel that they do, cruise ships need to be able to hold a lot of fuel – a very large amount. 

Cruise ships hold various amounts of fuel, depending on their size. A large cruise ship can be up to 1,100 feet long and carry as much as two million gallons of fuel, while a smaller cruise ship can typically hold around 130,000 gallons.

Fuel Tankers Refueling Cruise Ship
Fuel Tankers Refueling Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock)

Now that you know about cruise ship fuel consumption and how much fuel cruise ships hold, let’s talk about the reason for cruise ship fuel consumption to be so high.

Why Do Cruise Ships Consume So Much Fuel?

Several factors affect cruise ship fuel consumption. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant ones.


Speed is one of the top factors in cruise ship fuel consumption. Similarly to how your car consumes more fuel the faster it goes, cruise ships burn more fuel when they go fast. This is due to the power needed to drive the ship forward.

Cruise Ship Wake
Cruise Ship Wake (Photo Credit: Tony Steinberg / Shutterstock)

To try to mitigate this, cruise ships often travel at a leisurely pace well below their maximum capability. The faster the cruise liner goes, the more power is needed to drive it forward. So when the ship stays at a leisurely pace, less power is needed to maintain that pace. 


It goes without saying that the farther a vessel travels, the higher its fuel consumption. In fact, a ship may burn an entire gallon of fuel for every 30 to 60 feet it travels!

Ship’s Engine and Design

A cruise ship’s engine and design contribute to its fuel consumption. Cruise ships use either diesel engines, gas turbines, and diesel-electric.

Diesel engines are the traditional type of engines used, but a diesel engine typically consumes a lot of fuel. Moreover, a larger vessel needs larger engines, which will consume more fuel.

Cruise Ship Engine
Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin / Shutterstock

Beyond that, much like cars, the design of the cruise liner also dictates how much fuel will be consumed. When a cruise ship is being designed, they consider how the water will affect the ship and consequently affect fuel consumption. 


Finally, the size of the ship plays a huge role in fuel consumption. The bigger the ship, the more fuel it needs to run. This is mainly due to the amount of fuel a large ship needs to stay afloat compared to a smaller ship.

Cruise Ship Fuel Consumption FAQ

How long does it take to refuel a cruise ship?

The length of time it takes to refuel a cruise ship depends mainly on the size of the ship and its fuel tank. Other factors that play a role include the capacity and capability of the refueling barge. That said, on average, refueling a cruise can be done at about 110 tons of fuel per hour. 

Does weather impact fuel consumption?

The weather can have an impact on fuel consumption in several ways. For example, if a ship needs to speed up to avoid a storm, it will consume more fuel. Don’t worry; the cruise line considers this possibility!

Summary: Cruise Ship Fuel Consumption

Cruise ships consume a lot of fuel, and it makes sense why. Any ship transporting thousands of people and operating as a mini city requires significant power. That said, cruise lines are always aware of their ships’ fuel usage and fuel efficiency and finding ways to improve them, such as using LNG to power cruise ships.

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