Royal Caribbean Makes Another Step Towards a Sustainable Future

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Royal Caribbean’s drive towards a more sustainable future took another step on October 28 as the company became the first to use renewable diesel fuel on October 28. Navigator of the Seas took on the innovative new bunker fuel at the Port of Los Angeles. 

The search for new and innovative fuels has seen several options come up in recent weeks, from fuel cells and LNG-powered cruise ships to biofuel and now renewable diesel fuel.

This renewable diesel fuel is made from renewable raw materials and will reduce the amount of carbon emissions from exhaust gasses. 

Royal Caribbean International First to Use renewable Diesel

As part of Destination Net Zero, Royal Caribbean’s comprehensive decarbonization strategy, Navigator of the Seas became the first ship to take on a new renewable diesel fuel.

While fuel cell technology and LNG power are fast developing into viable alternatives for new ships, an option for vessels burning Marine Gas Oil was badly needed. 

Renewable diesel could be that alternative. Produced by hydroprocessing of fats, vegetable oils, and waste cooking oils, the fuel offers significantly fewer emissions than traditional maritime fuels while being chemically identical to standard diesel.

Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas
Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

“We are committed to investing in technologies and innovations that will help us reduce emissions and fulfill our purpose to deliver great vacations responsibly,” said Laura Hodges Bethge, Royal Caribbean Group’s Executive Vice President, Shared Services Operations. As we celebrate this milestone, we continue to set our sights on other leading alternative solutions to meet our net zero goals.”

The added benefit of renewable diesel is that it can be used as a drop-in fuel; in other words, there is no need to make any changes to ship engines to be able to use it. 

Royal Caribbean entered a partnership with World Fuel Services, which will supply the fuel when Navigator of the Seas sails its cruises to Mexico from Los Angeles. During this time, Royal Caribbean International will evaluate the fuel, and see if it is a viable option for extensive use across the fleet.

“We are extremely proud to be a part of Royal Caribbean Group’s journey toward making the cruise industry more sustainable by leveraging our renewable fuel distribution capabilities and technical expertise to facilitate the use of renewable fuel in a marine application,” said Michael J. Kasbar, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, World Fuel Services Corporation.

Net Zero by 2050

Cruise companies such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corporation have been hard at work developing technologies that drastically lower or even eliminate carbon emissions.

The reason is that the cruise industry as a whole has set itself the goal of becoming net carbon zero by the year 2050. Royal Caribbean itself has several initiatives besides renewable diesel fuel.

Royal Caribbean Group is set to debut the cruise industry’s first hybrid-powered ship in summer 2023 as part of Silversea Cruises’ newest class of ships, the Nova class. Royal Caribbean International will launch two LNG-powered cruise ships in the coming years, Icon of the Seas and Utopia of the Seas, which also use fuel-cell technology.

Royal Caribbean Galveston Terminal
Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

There are tests underway as well for the use of biofuels under Royal Caribbean’s joint partnership with Hapag Lloyd. 

Further developments include using shore power in PortMiami, and a new net-zero cruise terminal in the Port of Galveston. This terminal, which is 100% solar-powered, will be the most sustainable cruise terminal in the United States.

The goal of finding a magic formula for net zero carbon output is ambitious for an industry known as notorious polluters since cruising became popular.

However, the wave of new innovations and emission reductions is something that the cruise industry can be commended for. The hope is that these efforts really do lead to an industry that is able to reduce its emissions to zero.

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