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CLIA Releases New Environmental Data Report for Cruise Industry

CLIA Releases New Environmental Data Report for Cruise Industry

A new environmental data report from Cruise Lines International Association confirms progress in the cruise industry’s uptake of new environmental technologies.

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Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has released its 2023 Global Cruise Industry Environmental Technologies and Practices Report, demonstrating the sector’s tangible progress in advancing its environmental and sustainability objectives.

The data shows investment in technologies and alternative fuels that will accelerate the cruise industry’s transition towards net zero.

2023’s order book data shows that cruise lines are continuing to invest in new vessels with 44 new ships on order during the next five years, representing an investment of $62 billion since 2019.

Twenty-five of the new ships will be liquified natural gas (LNG) powered, and 7 will be either methanol ready-on-delivery, or methanol capable—an investment in innovative engine technology that is driving the maritime transition to a future powered by low- to zero-carbon fuels.

During the next five years, an increasing number of cruise ships sailing and launching will either use alternative fuels or will be able to include zero-carbon fuels when they become available.

Shoreside electricity will reduce carbon emissions in port

The 2023 study also shows other substantial investments cruise lines are making to cut emissions at berth and at sea—including shoreside electricity (SSE), which allows cruise ships to switch off engines in port, resulting in significant carbon reductions.

Related: Cunard Enables Shore Power Capability Across the Fleet

Plugging into SSE can reduce emissions by up to 98% while a ship is in port, according to studies conducted by a number of the world’s ports and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Cruise lines diversifying energy options

According to a CLIA press release, more cruise lines are diversifying their energy options by combining multi-fuel engines, experimenting with fuel cell technology, wind (including solid sail) technology, solar solutions, and battery storage for power shaving.

Sixty percent of CLIA-member ships—171 in total—currently use efficiency tracking systems, with many more systems planned for the future.

CLIA reports that cruise lines are pursuing fuel flexibility, investing today in propulsion systems with conversion possibilities for the future. Currently, 32 pilot projects and collaborative activities are underway with sustainable fuel providers and engine companies.

“Cruise lines continue to transform the modern fleet to protect the oceans, air, and destinations enjoyed by millions of passengers each year. Our data shows a step change in the uptake of new environmental technologies by our cruise line members,” said Kelly Craighead, CLIA’s President and CEO.

“Already today cruise lines are building the ships of the future which will run on new, more sustainable engine technologies. The introduction of these new technologies and the many pilot programs and trials in place reveal how the cruise industry is an innovator and early adopter of technologies that are helping us sail to a more sustainable future,” Craighead continued.

CLIA says cruise sustainability will need public and private investment

The availability of sustainable marine fuels is critical to reaching the maritime industry’s decarbonization targets, underscoring the importance of governments supporting research efforts to accelerate the development of these fuels so that they are safe, viable, and ready for use.

CLIA Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said in a press release, “Achieving our collective sustainability ambitions requires substantial investment from the public and private sector. The cruise industry, as part of the broader maritime sector, is doing its part by building the future of cruise into our ships today. We need governments to support research efforts, as well as provide a clear and stable regulatory landscape, so that fuel suppliers and others can do the critical work needed.”

The report highlights how member cruise lines and ports are reducing emissions

The new report’s data shows that CLIA’s ocean-going cruise lines are continuing their work to reduce emissions. Progress highlights include:

  • Across the CLIA member fleet, 120 ships (46% of the total and a 48% increase in the number of ships with SSE since 2022) are equipped to connect to shoreside electricity, with 86% of CLIA member ships (representing 95% of global passenger capacity) coming online between now and 2028 slated to include a shoreside electricity system.
  • Currently, just 32 ports—representing fewer than 2% of the world’s ports—have at least one cruise berth with plug-in capability. This number is up compared to 2022’s 29 ports.
  • By 2028, more than 210 ships with shoreside power capability are expected, plus additional ships to be retrofitted with the capability, representing a total of 72% of ships and 74% of global passenger capacity.
  • In 2022, CLIA announced that its ocean cruise line members made a commitment that all ships calling at ports capable of providing SSE will be equipped to either use the technology by 2035 or use alternative low-carbon technologies, as available, to reduce emissions in port.
  • By 2030, as part of the EU’s Fit for 55 green program, major ports in Europe will be required to have shoreside power, further accelerating the available port infrastructure investment in that region.
  • As part of their overarching sustainability focus, cruise lines have committed to not discharging untreated sewage anywhere in the world, during normal operations.

More cruise ships feature advanced wastewater systems in 2023

Across the CLIA member fleet, 202 ships (77% of the total), representing 80% of global passenger capacity (a 12% increase from 2022) are now equipped with advanced wastewater treatment systems. These systems operate to a higher standard than shoreside treatment plants in many coastal cities.

All CLIA new build ships are specified for advanced wastewater treatment systems which will bring the total to 242 ships, representing 80% of the fleet and 84% of global capacity.

Since 2019, the number of ships with advanced wastewater treatment systems capable of meeting the more stringent standards of the Baltic Sea Special Area has increased by 167%. Today, nearly a third of CLIA member ships have this capability.

Many new build ships will use renewable fuels

Several CLIA member lines are using or testing the ability to run on renewable fuels, such as biofuels and synthetic carbon fuels, on new build ships.

Four CLIA ships sailing today use renewable biofuel as an energy source, and an additional four new ships are expected to be configured for renewable biofuels. In addition, 24 ships are in biofuel trials and two have synthetic carbon fuels trials.

Seven new-build ships are planned to run on zero-carbon fuels, including five ships that will use green methanol and two envisioned to use green hydrogen.

In the next five years, 15% of new build cruise ships entering service are anticipated to be equipped with battery storage and/or fuel cells to allow for hybrid power generation.

Several cruise ships are using liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the cruise industry prepares for a future powered by sustainable, renewable energy sources. Ships built with LNG engines and fuel supply systems can switch to bio or synthetic LNG in the future with minimal or no modifications.

CLIA’s 2023 report has identified that 48% of new-build capacity will be designed with LNG engines and fuel supply systems. These ships are part of a future generation of vessels that will be capable of running on renewable marine fuels once fuel providers are able to make them available at scale.

Based on analyses by SeaLNG and others, LNG is the fossil fuel currently available at scale that has the best performance in reducing atmospheric emissions. LNG has virtually zero sulfur emissions and particulate emissions, reduces NOx emissions by approximately 85%, and achieves up to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

To view the data tables for this year’s report, visit CLIA’s 2023 Global Cruise Industry Environmental Technologies and Practices Report.

About the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

CLIA is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association. On behalf of its members, affiliates, and partners, the organization supports policies and practices that foster a secure, healthy, and sustainable cruise ship environment.

The CLIA community includes ocean, river, and specialty cruise lines; a widespread network of stakeholders, including ports and destinations, ship development, suppliers, and business services; and certified travel agent members. The organization’s global headquarters are in Washington, DC, with regional offices located in North and South America, Europe, and Australasia.

This year, CLIA forecasts that the number of cruise ship passengers will reach 31.5 million, surpassing 2019 levels.

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What are your thoughts about CLIA’s 2023 Global Cruise Industry Environmental Technologies and Practices Report? Is the cruise industry moving quickly enough toward sustainable cruising? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Carrie Ann Karstunen