LNG as fuel was a prominent topic at the Seatrade Cruise Global conference and trade fair in Fort Lauderdale in March, with some commentators estimating that as much as 80% of the cruise fleet will be running on LNG by 2025.
While logistical issues relating to the use of LNG for passenger ships continue to be raised, new environmental legislation, including a 0.5% global sulphur cap in 2020 or 2025, make LNG an attractive option.
One concern is logistics, both from the point of view of availability of LNG in sufficient quantities to meet demand and also as regards adequate shore-side facilities to cater for it.
If cruiseships have been installing scrubbers as a means to overcome the low sulphur issue, they have also been investing in LNG as demonstrated when Carnival signed a contract last year for four LNG powered cruiseships with German shipbuilder Meyer Werft.
Another cruise company to move into the LNG as power sector is MSC Cruises, who recently announced a massive investment in shipbuilding at STX France’s facility at St Nazaire.
The privately owned MSC Cruises signed a letter of intent with STX France for the construction of up to four LNG-powered vessels of over 200,000gt in April. The four ships, the first one of which would be delivered in 2022, will be based on yet another advanced next-generation prototype and will form what will be known as the ‘World Class’.
A spokesperson for MSC said that they are not releasing further technical details of the new ship design for the moment. Commenting at the signing of the letter of intent, which took place in the presence of French president Francois Hollande, MSC Cruises executive chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago, said the announcement was “a reflection of our constant commitment to innovation, as we will partner with STX France to design yet again a completely new prototype already the sixth in our history. In fact, in yet another industry-first, the new MSC Cruise World Class prototype will feature - amongst other highly innovative elements - a record-breaking, futuristically-conceived design that will make the ship a truly unique place to be at sea, whilst maximising the open air space available to guests.”
The new orders, worth about €4 billion (US$4.52 billion), bring MSC’s investment in new cruiseships during a 10-year investment period to approximately €9 billion (US$10.18 billion). MSC Cruises’ investment plan includes orders with STX France for two Meraviglia and two further Meraviglia-Plus Class ships, as well as orders with Fincantieri for up to three next-generation Seaside Class ships. Additionally, the plan encompassed the €200 million (US$226.35 million) so-called Renaissance programme for four ships in the fleet, which was also carried out by Fincantieri.
MSC Cruises announced in January a partnership with Samsung to fully equip all of its next-generation ships, starting with MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside which come into service next year, with digital equipment including visual displays, mobile technology and medical equipment.
In considering the use of LNG for the cruise industry, some concerns centre on suitable training for crew members on cruiseships powered by LNG and also general safety issues for passenger ships when bunkering LNG while passengers embark or disembark.
Given the need to accommodate LNG tanks on vessels, most observers suggest that LNG as fuel is most appropriate for newbuilds. With most cruise lines involved in extensive newbuilding programmes, LNG is increasingly an option for the future.
Further questions surround connectivity, an issue that has raised its head for many years with cold ironing in ports as the environmental legislation began to bite.
Do cruiseships have fittings that are compatible with shore-side facilities as far as fuelling is concerned? According to Fred Danska, director of cruise business at Wärtsilä, who spoke at the Seatrade conference, it would be good to have standardised fittings for shore-side bunkering, and the supplier for the LNG ferry Viking Grace has made their design available for others in order to facilitate bunkering standardisation. Wärtsilä supplied the propulsion machinery for Viking Grace, the world’s first LNG powered passenger vessel which was launched in 2013.
Engine manufacturers like Wärtsilä have taken the view that “technology development did not end with the dual fuel engine” and it markets LNGPac, a complete system for LNG fuel handling, including the bunkering station, the storage tank and all essential control and monitoring systems.
One example of a cruiseship fitted for LNG is AIDAprima. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) completed delivery of the AIDAprima, the first of two large cruiseships being built for AIDA Cruises at MHI’s Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works in March.
The 125,000gt AIDAprima is 300m in length, it is the world’s first cruiseship equipped with the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS), MHI’s proprietary technology that enhances fuel efficiency. Air blown out from the vessel’s hull bottom produces small air bubbles that cover the vessel hull like an air carpet, reducing friction between the hull and seawater during navigation. MALS also enables a significant reduction in energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions.
Other cutting-edge technologies onboard that save energy, increase automation and reduce manpower needs, include a pod propulsion system, liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel supply system, the latest gas emissions treatment system, and a new air-conditioning system that saves on energy consumption by using waste heat.
Cruise companies’ Arctic programmes have meant investment in a wide range of technology, not least with the opening up of the Northwest Passage.
Crystal Cruises has selected Rutter’s sigma S6 Small Target Surveillance (STS) and Ice Navigator systems for the planned Arctic summer cruise in 2016 of the Crystal Serenity via the Northwest Passage.
The sigma S6 Small Target Surveillance system will be installed on Crystal Serenity and will provide enhanced small target detection of first-year and multi-year sea ice as well as other floating hazards to safe navigation.
During the voyage, Crystal Serenity will be accompanied by an escort vessel that will carry additional safety and environmental protection equipment. A dedicated sigma S6 Ice Navigator radar system will be installed on the escort vessel to allow for the detailed sweep of the area in advance of Serenity. “Rutter’s sigma S6 and WaMoS enhanced marine safety, security and environmental monitoring radar systems are used globally, with extensive use for ships operating in the Arctic and Antarctic”, says Fraser Edison, Rutter CEO.
Following the launch of Crystal Yacht Cruises’ 62-berth Crystal Esprit, Crystal Cruises have announced an order for what it claims to be the world’s first purpose-built polar class mega-yacht, Crystal Endeavour. The 25,000tonne vessel will be 182m in length, with 200 berths. It will be designed for global expeditions in the Arctic, Antarctic and tropical conditions.
Although Crystal claim the mega-yacht will be the first purpose-built Polar Code compliant yacht in the world, with a PC6 Polar Class designation, Scenic have already announced Polar Class 6 for its Scenic Eclipse, also due for delivery in August 2018.
Both ships will thus be able to cruise in Polar Regions during the summer and autumn in medium first year ice, which may include old ice inclusions. Both ships will also be fitted with offshore dynamic positioning technology, with computer-controlled systems that automatically maintain the ship’s position using its propellers and thrusters.
With a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), expedition cruises will also be organised to see sunken galleons, warships, and other ships, such as White Star Line’s Titanic, lying at 3,800m (12,500 feet). Crystal Endeavour will also be equipped with Seabobs - technically advanced and powerful underwater scooters.
Steel cutting for the ship will begin May 2016 and Crystal will take delivery in August 2018. The ship is being built by Lloyd Werft.
The first piece of steel was recently cut at Meyer Werft in Papenburg for the construction of the second ship with the construction number S. 712 for Asian operator Dream Cruises, a sister company of Crystal Cruises.
Delivery of the ship is planned for autumn 2017. The sister ship will be delivered later this year. Both new ships for Dream Cruises will be about 151,000gt and have a capacity of more than 3,300 passengers.
Each ship is 325m in length, 39.7m across the beam and will reach a trial speed of about 23knots. These new ships are designed for the fast growing Chinese cruise market.
Crystal Cruises, a subsidiary of the Genting Hong Kong group, has an option to purchase the iconic USS United States which was signed in February. The company plans to carry out a feasibility study on whether the ship, which was built in 1952, can be restored with a view to serving once more as a luxury cruiseship. The conservation project, should it go ahead, is likely to prove a challenge for naval architects and others seeking to ensure the ship complies with up-to-date safety standards. The feasibility study is expected to be completed this year.
The Costa Group has also announced an order for two new ships to be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. The ships, each with 135,500gt and carrying 4,200 passengers, will be delivered in 2019 and 2020.
They will be operated by Costa Asia, the Asian brand of the Costa Group, and specifically designed for the Chinese market.
Costa Asia’s new ships are part of contracts signed recently by Carnival Corporation with Fincantieri to build five new ships by 2020 at the company’s shipyards in Monfalcone and Marghera.
Another cruise line to invest further in the expedition sector is Ponant of Marseilles, who has signed a letter of intent to order four new expedition ships, with the first to be delivered in 2018.
The additions will join the existing sailing yacht Le Ponant and the expedition ships Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial, with the new vessels designed to operate with 92 staterooms and a crew of 110. Ponant’s new ships will be Polar Class 6 ranked.
Finnish company Valmet will supply exhaust gas scrubber systems (EGCS) for two new cruise vessels, Mein Schiff 7 & 8, to be built by Meyer Turku for TUI Cruises. The scrubber system deliveries to the first vessel will start in the fourth quarter of 2016 and to the second vessel in the first quarter
The value of the order has not been disclosed. Typically, the order value of scrubber system deliveries ranges between €1 and 6 million (US$1.13 6.78 million).
The scrubber system delivery will include integrated hybrid scrubber systems for both engine rooms and all auxiliary systems with automation. The exhaust gas is washed with seawater in open loop mode and with recirculated water and alkali in closed loop mode. Wash water is cleaned with Valmet’s patented water treatment system. All emissions are continuously monitored and the complete exhaust gas scrubber system is controlled with Valmet’s proven marine automation.
Cruise companies’ approach to the scrubber versus low sulphur fuel issue has tended to vary, although Carnival Corporation announced a huge programme for fitting exhaust gas cleaning technology two years ago; the aim was to equip almost three quarters of its fleet with scrubbers in order to meet its own environmental targets.
New cruise developments Viking Sea, the second of six cruiseships Viking Ocean Cruises has ordered from Fincantieri, was delivered in March
With a gross tonnage of about 47,800tonnes Viking Sea has 465 cabins with accommodation for 930 passengers, and a total capacity of over 1,400 people, including the crew.
The ship has been designed by an interior design team of London-based SMC Design, and Los Angeles-based Rottet Studios. The Viking Ocean Cruises units are all built according to the latest navigation regulations and equipped with the most modern safety systems, including the safe return to port classification. In case of fire or flooding of some areas the ships are capable of returning to the nearest port thanks to plant design, guaranteeing redundancy and functionality of main systems needed for ship propulsion and passenger safety and comfort.
Furthermore, they feature the most advanced technologies for energy saving, including energy-efficient hybrid engines and an exhaust gas cleaning system.
The first of the series, Viking Star, was delivered in spring 2015 from the shipyard in Marghera, while Viking Sky, recently launched in Ancona, is scheduled for delivery in February 2017. Viking Star, was the first ship built by Fincantieri to have two closed-loop scrubbers, which remove sulphur oxides from the ship’s exhaust gas by scrubbing it with sea water or
Two new cruise vessels being built for US-based Seabourn Cruise Line by Fincantieri will feature a broad assortment of Wärtsilä propulsion, electrical and automation solutions. The Seabourn Encore is already under construction and Seabourn Ovation is scheduled to join the Seabourn fleet in 2018. The contracts with Wärtsilä for the vessels’ navigation and automation systems were signed in December 2015. The engine orders were signed in late 2014 and in the third quarter of 2015.
Royal Carribbean is continuing its newbuilding programme with the arrival of the 168,666gt Ovation of the Seas from Meyer Werft in Papenburg and Harmony of the Seas from STX France at St Nazaire weighing in at 227,000gt with passengers and crew totalling over 9,000. Both ships are following in the Royal Caribbean tradition of providing novelty entertainment and technological innovation for passengers.
Passengers will be provided with RFID technology-enabled Royal WOWBands which can be used to enter cabins, purchase beverages, merchandise and anything else Royal Caribbean sells. Plus, WOWbands serve as an easy way to distinguish which muster station each passenger is assigned to. Also fitted is a high-speed internet experience known as VOOM, which is six times faster than any other Internet service at sea according to tthe company.
Those in inside cabins will have virtual balconies, where a high-definition LED screen offers floor-to-ceiling real-time views from specific points on the ship, including natural sounds that are piped into the cabin to provide as authentic an experience as possible.
Harmony of the Seas is powered by three 18,860kW Wärtsilä 16V46 16-cylinder main generator diesel engines and three similar Wärtsilä 12V46 12-cylinder engines producing 13,860kW each. The propulsion power will be provided by three ABB Azipod electric azimuth thrusters, and manoeuvring will be assisted by four 5,500kW Wärtsilä CT 3500 tunnel thrusters. The shipboard electricity will be supplied by two MTU 16V4000 emergency generator diesel engines. The propulsion system will enable the ship to sail at a speed of 23knots.
Ovation of the Seas has four bow thrusters with 4,694 horse power each, can travel at 22knots at cruising speed and has an engine output of 67,200kW.
After a successful pilot project on Celebrity Silhouette, Ovation of the Seas will join its sister ships in deploying a full air lubrication system. This system uses air bubbles to reduce the resistance between the ship’s hull and the ocean, thereby increasing fuel efficiency. The new system along with its newly designed podded propulsion system, bow thrusters, and fin stabiliser pockets helps reduce resistance to the hull, increasing its fuel efficiency.
Building on the lessons learned from previous new ships, all incandescent lighting has been removed from Ovation of the Seas and the ship was designed and built to only use LED or fluorescent lights. This design feature will reduce the amount of energy consumed while producing the same amount of light emitted. In addition, LEDs and fluorescents also produce less heat, requiring less cooling in comparison to traditional incandescent bulbs.
Ovation of the Seas is one of the first cruise ships to be designed and built with a multi-stream exhaust gas cleaning system, or Advanced Emission Purification (AEP) system. The system is designed to treat exhaust gases created by the ship’s generators, by injecting water into the exhaust stream and removing approximately 98% of sulphur dioxide emissions, 60-80% of particulate matter, and, as a by-product, some nitrogen oxides, although it is not designed to remove NOx.
The environmental officer onboard oversees operations to ensure compliance with the company’s compliance policies, which include daily testing, monitoring, and recording of the AWP, AEP, and ballast water systems’ and waste management performance.
Ovation of the Seas was built with an Advanced Wastewater Purification System that is designed to be twice as stringent as US federal standards for in-port wastewater discharge. In addition, Ovation’s AWP system will also be one of the first such systems designed to meet the new IMO special area requirements under MARPOL Annex IV (Sewage) for nutrient reduction.
The ship has been fitted with a ballast water treatment system in advance of the international requirements to have such a system. Ovation’s system will treat the ballast water both as it enters and leaves the ship, greatly reducing or even eliminating its potential to transfer non-indigenous species to local environments as it is expelled.
Another ship entering service this year is Holland America Line’s Koningsdam, which has been built at Fincantieri’s Marghera yard. At 99,836gt, the ship is 299.65m long, 35m across the beam with a draught of 7.95m. The ship has 18 decks, with passenger cabins totalling 1,331 and 588 for crew accommodation. With a service speed of 18knots, propulsion is provided by two pods of 14,000kW and three 2,200kW bow thrusters. The ship is classed by Lloyd’s Register.