Norwegian Cruise Line Completes Exhaust Gas Cleaning Two Years Ahead of Schedule

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The environment is becoming a significant factor in how cruise lines operate. From ships that run on LNG to hypermodern onboard systems that deal with everything from wastewater, sewage, sludge, and exhaust gases, the improvements the industry has put through in recent years are staggering.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is next to complete a major project that has seen Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) installed on about 70% of the company’s ships across Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas.

Environmental Program Completed Nice and Early

The installation of the new Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems for Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway marks the completion of a $200 million investment from NCLH to make the cruising world a little environmentally friendlier.

NCLH President & CEO Frank Del Rio: “Approximately 70% of our operational capacity, or 13 ships, are now equipped with this innovative environmental technology and all but one ship is equipped with a hybrid system which can operate in closed or open loop. We took the opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic related voyage suspension to accelerate installations on existing ships and complete this project nearly two years ahead of schedule.”

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: SebZet /

The EGCS system reduces the environmental footprint of cruise ships significantly. The system is placed inside the smokestacks onboard and removes sulfur oxides and particulates from exhaust gases. In turn, this reduces emissions and improves air quality.

Also Read: 10th Norwegian Cruise Line Vessel Returns to Service With Cruises from Tampa

In June of last year, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced an effective environmental strategy that would consist of three main approaches. The first is to reduce carbon intensity by minimizing fuel consumption and increasing energy efficiency.

Second, investing in technology such as EGCS, with the ultimate goal of eliminating CO2 emissions. And implement a voluntary carbon offset program, purchasing carbon credits to offset three million MTCO2e over three years. All this is bound within NCLH’s Sail & Sustain program.

Will These Systems Eliminate the Black Soot From Cruise Ships?

One area that has been in the news multiple times over the years is when cruise ships beach out large plumes of black smoke when in port. In essence, this is a build-up of soot and carbon in the smokestacks blown out by the ship’s systems. It becomes particularly obvious when a vessel starts the main engines after a day in port.

Norwegian Cruise Ship at Port of Miami
Photo Credit: Ovidiu Curic /

While the scrubber, or EGCS, will not eliminate that problem, it does help to make it considerably less. In essence, the EGCS washes the exhaust gases before it leaves the ship. It uses seawater or freshwater mist that takes out nearly 98% of the contaminants. Ideally, the only thing left is clean white steam.

Giovanni Canu, vice president special projects and operational support of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.: “Protecting the environment is vital to our business and we continually seek and invest in new, cutting-edge technologies and innovations, like exhaust gas cleaning systems, to reduce our environmental impact,”

Strangely enough, the system also allows NCLH to use heavy fuel oil instead of MGO’s, or marine gas oil, as the primary fuel source. HFO’s will result in less CO2 emissions than when using MGO’s.

Worth Reading: Things to Know About the Norwegian Getaway Cruise Ship

NCLH’s Sail & Sustain program focuses on several key areas where the company can impact society and the environment. Some of the pillars the program has been built on include Reducing Environmental Impact, Sailing Safely, Empowering People, Strengthening our Communities, and Operating with Integrity and Accountability.

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