Royal Caribbean Advances Biofuel Use in Months-Long Test

Symphony of the Seas spent the summer season sailing in Europe with biofuels, proving the sustainability of the fuel source for large ships.

In a historic maritime achievement, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas completed weeks of extensive summer biofuel trials in European waters while sailing various itineraries with guests. These tests aim to reduce the global carbon footprint of large cruising vessels through the use of biofuel blends, demonstrating that sustainable cruising can be a reality.

Symphony of the Seas’ Biofuel Testing

Royal Caribbean International’s 228,081-ton Symphony of the Seas has made a positive, green step forward for the maritime sector. The company successfully tested a biofuel blend for the massive ship while it was based out of Barcelona during the 2023 summer season. 

This biofuel initiative aims to curtail a vessel’s overall carbon footprint. The testing, which took place over 12 uninterrupted weeks, saw the ship undergo extensive biofuel trials in European waters.

“Following our successful trial of biofuels this summer, we are one step closer to bringing our vision for net-zero cruising to life,” Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty remarked. “As we strive to protect and promote the vibrant oceans we sail, we are determined to accelerate innovation and improve how we deliver vacation experiences responsibly.”

During the extensive testing, the ship’s technical systems operated without safety or quality concerns. In fact, guests onboard were none the wiser about the test as they enjoyed their cruise vacations.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas (Photo Credit: Mia2you / Shutterstock)

The company began biofuel trials last year, expanding this summer to two ships in Europe, including Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex. All of the data from these trials has provided valuable insight into biofuel availability and regional scalability.

Sustainable biofuel blends, created by refining renewable materials like waste oils and fats and mixing them with traditional fuel oil, proved to be cleaner and more sustainable. 

Furthermore, these biofuel blends are already accredited by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC), an organization focused on verifying biofuel sustainability and emissions reductions.

Symphony of the Seas and the 129,500-ton Celebrity Apex, sailing out of Barcelona and Rotterdam, respectively, used biofuel on multiple voyages, yielding valuable information. Symphony of the Seas sailed to destinations like Naples, Palma De Mallorca, Civitavecchia (Rome), and Marseille during the testing period, while Celebrity Apex visited ports like Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, and others.

Celebrity Apex
Celebrity Apex (Photo Credit: kees torn / Flickr)

These findings will accelerate Royal Caribbean Group’s biofuel experiments during the 2023 autumn sailing season in Europe. The company is also exploring partnerships with suppliers and ports for reliable biofuel supply and maritime sustainability infrastructure in the future. 

Royal Caribbean Group’s commitment to greener technology is part of its “SEA the Future” campaign, which is a driving force behind the company’s pursuit of lower-carbon energy solutions and emission-reduction methods.

A Focus on Industry-Wide Carbon Reduction 

The trend in the cruising industry is to reduce, if not eliminate, carbon emissions from ships and related operations. Biofuels, liquefied natural gas (LNG), turning onboard waste into fuel, and other efforts are all focused on this goal.

These efforts align with the cruise sector’s ambitions to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. 

Another brilliant demonstration of carbon reduction technology can be found in MSC GROUP’s remarkable net zero greenhouse gas voyage, which took place during the first week of June 2023.

The 183,500-ton MSC Euribia achieved net zero greenhouse gas emissions during its trailblazing four-day trial cruise. The vessel embarked from Saint Nazaire in France and sailed to Copenhagen in Denmark, earning MSC Euribia the distinction of being the world’s first net zero greenhouse gas emissions cruise ship voyage.

MSC Euribia Cruise Ship
MSC Euribia Cruise Ship (Photo Courtesy: MSC Cruises)

This achievement — along with Royal Caribbean’s successful blended biofuel use testing — marks a significant milestone for the cruise industry as it sails toward an eco-friendlier future.

SEA the Future Program

“SEA the Future” is Royal Caribbean’s wide-ranging initiative that concentrates on different ways to protect the world’s oceans, support the local communities where the company’s vessels visit, and deliver exceptional vacation experiences to guests in an environmentally responsible manner. 

The “SEA the Future” strategy is centered around three key pillars: environmental protection, community support, and responsible tourism. The successful use of biofuel blends goes a long way toward reaching these goals — especially when it comes to safeguarding the world’s oceans.

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