How Much Fuel Does a Cruise Ship Hold?

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While modern cruise ships can be considered small cities on the water, you shouldn’t forget that you’re on a moving ship powered by fuel. When you think of it this way, you may wonder exactly how much fuel your cruise ship holds.

Not only are modern cruise ships massive vessels, but they are also at sea for days, if not weeks at a time. Therefore, it’s valid to wonder how big of a fuel tank these ships need to complete a sailing. Well, you’ve come to the right place to find out. In this article, you’ll learn how much the fuel capacity of a cruise ship is and more.

How Much Fuel Does a Cruise Ship Hold?

Generally, a large cruise ship up to 1,100 feet in length can carry as much as two million gallons of fuel on board. A smaller cruise ship can typically hold around 130,000 gallons. This is a significant amount of fuel. To compare, smaller yachts usually carry 200 to 1200 gallons of fuel onboard.

Cruise Ship Refueling
Cruise Ship Refueling (Photo Credit: Riccardo Arata / Shutterstock)

In 2016, the Guardian reported that Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas – previously the largest cruise ship in the world – has two four-story-high 16-cylinder Wärtsilä engines. Each diesel engine would burn 1,377 US gallons of diesel fuel an hour running at full power, or about 66,000 gallons a day.

Considering the Oasis-class Royal Caribbean vessel is made to sail for at least seven-day itineraries, you can only imagine how much diesel fuel the 227,500 gross ton Harmony of the Seas could truly hold. 

Now, let’s consider the factors affecting how much fuel a cruise ship can hold.

Factors That Affect the Amount of Fuel a Cruise Ship Holds

Several factors affect the amount of fuel a cruise ship can hold. However, the most important factor determining this is the cruise ship’s size.

Size is an essential factor in cruise ship fuel consumption and fuel efficiency. With the same distance, a smaller ship will have less fuel consumption than a larger ship, similar to motor vehicles on the road. A small sedan will hold significantly less fuel than a truck.

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

Cruising speed is also another factor that you must take into consideration. Larger cruise ships require more fuel to reach certain speeds due to the power needed to propel the vessel forward. Therefore, you can expect these larger cruise ships to hold more fuel.

Read Also: What Fuel Do Cruise Ships Use?

Finally, the length of the sailings the ship is built for can also affect how much fuel the ship can hold. The longer the ship’s sailings, the more fuel it’ll be required to hold, as cruise lines would want to keep refueling stops during the cruise to a minimum.

Cruise Ship Fuel FAQ

How much does it cost to fuel a cruise ship?

A cruise ship that holds about 1,000 passengers can spend over $15,000 a day on fuel, depending on fuel prices. A typical seven-day cruise can cost over $100,000 in fuel alone

For reference, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas can hold 6,000 passengers, so you can do the math to figure out how much fueling that ship could cost. 

How often does a cruise ship refuel?

The frequency at which cruise ships need to refuel depends on how much fuel the cruise ship holds, which in turn depends on the size of the ship and other factors. However, most cruise ships can only spend about 12 days at sea without refueling. 

However, you’ll find cruise ships refueling more often than that, as they don’t typically like to run on empty!

How do cruise ships make sure they have enough fuel?

Cruise ships are always equipped with enough fuel before leaving the port. That said, there’s no need to worry about your cruise ship ever running out of gas. There are over 400 ports around the world that offer marine fuel, so chances are there will always be fuel available no matter what ship you’re on.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, cruise ships take a lot of fuel – millions of gallons worth. Although it may be hard to fathom this amount of fuel, it makes sense for massive ships that spend days or even weeks at sea. 

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about your ship’s fuel capacity. The only takeaway you need to know is that your cruise ship will never run out of fuel!

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