Silversea Cruises, an ultra-luxury brand owned by the Royal Caribbean Group, will introduce its next generation cruise ship in the summer of 2023, becoming possibly the first large-scale installation of hydrogen fuel cells for cruise ships. The first of three cruise ships to be built for the brand at Meyer Werft in Germany, the ships will feature a hybrid power plant combining the hydrogen fuel cells with batteries and dual-fuel engines using LNG.
"Silversea's newest ship class is a significant leap forward in our commitment to sustainable ship design and our journey to reduce our environmental footprint," said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group. "We first announced our fuel cell ambitions several years ago. Through dedication and perseverance, we are now proud to introduce the first ship with large-scale fuel cell technology capable of achieving emission-free port operations."
The cruise industry has begun multiple efforts responding to the pressures to improve the environmental performance and sustainability of its ships. Exhaust scrubbers have been widely adopted in the cruise industry while for the largest cruise ships the industry has begun to adopt LNG for propulsion power. Carnival Corporation was the first to adopt LNG although other companies including MSC and Royal Caribbean Group are also building LNG fueled ships. Lines including AIDA and MSC Cruises are also exploring technologies including batteries. Royal Caribbean, like many cruise lines, has also adopted technology enhancements for energy efficiency, waste treatment, and water management.
The expedition segment of the cruise industry has also been pioneering enhancements to improve the sustainability of cruise operations. Hurtigruten’s hybrid expedition cruise ship, the Roald Amundsen, introduced in 2019 and followed by a sister ship, was the first large-scale installation of batteries to power a cruise ship. Hurtigruten announced plans to convert more of its cruise ships to battery power. The French company Ponant recently introduced the Le Commandant-Charcot, the first hybrid-electric polar exploration ship powered by liquefied natural gas.
Royal Caribbean Group says that the new hybrid technology for the Silversea cruise ships not only helps in port but will also allow Project Evolution to achieve a 40 percent overall reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions per double occupancy when compared to the brand's previous class of ships. The ship class is also projected to achieve an Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) rating approximately 25 percent better than applicable IMO requirements.
The primary new feature being developed along with Meyer Weft for Project Evolution is the fuel cell system. Royal Caribbean says the hydrogen-based technology will supplement the main power supply and carry the ship's total hotel load up to four megawatts. A bank of batteries will support optimizing the overall ship power system.
Details regarding the size of the new Silversea ships are yet to be released. The ships were ordered in 2018 shortly after Royal Caribbean made its investment in Silversea Cruises. The cruise line is also currently building a luxury cruise ship due for delivery from Fincantieri in 2022.