Construction has started on the first of seven next-generation cruise ships for Carnival Corporation brands to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The vessels are claimed to be the first in the cruise industry that can use LNG to generate all of their power both in port and on the open sea.

They are due for delivery between 2018 and 2022 and will be built by German and Finnish shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Meyer Turku.

The first is due to be delivered to German line Aida Cruises next autumn.

Following the introduction of Aidanova in 2018, Costa Cruises brand will debut the industry’s LNG-powered cruise ship in 2019 – the first steel-cutting ceremony for this ship is to take place at the Meyer Turku shipyard next week.

LNG-powered ships for Carnival Cruise Line and P&O Cruises will follow in 2020.

Costa Cruises and Aida Cruises will each receive an additional LNG-powered ship in 2021, followed by an additional ship for Carnival Cruise Line in 2022.

Aidasol was the first cruise ship in the world to be supplied with power by an LNG hybrid barge as a pilot project in 2015.

Aidaprima became the first cruise ship to routinely use LNG with a dual-fuel powered engine while in port last year.

Sister ship Aidaperla entered service in April with the same technology.

Carnival Corporation president and chief executive, Arnold Donald, said: “Today marked a significant milestone in the construction of this next-generation of Carnival Corporation ships featuring our ‘green cruising’ design, which will be the most environmentally friendly ships in our company’s history.

“We are committed to continuing to reduce air emissions and improving air quality by evaluating both new and established solutions, including LNG.

“We are proud to be on the forefront of advancing LNG as a fuel source for the cruise industry, and we appreciate our long-standing partnership with Meyer Werft and Meyer Turku.”